Mildew and Drizzle and Cliff Mass

 This is the piece published in the Quilcene Community Center (online only) Newsletter for June.                               

Promising Sunshine, Threatening Rain

This time of year, the too-brief period between Memorial and Labor Days, the season where we can, at least, turn down the heat we’ve been running pretty much non-stop since, at least, the day after Halloween; the weather can offer pretty much anything except, maybe, snow and/or ice. Thunder and lightning; oh yeah, that can happen; rare but sometimes sensational.

While the everchanging weather is usually spread out over the length of a day, or days, we often can get our atmospheric variety show’s highlights in an amazingly short period of time.

“Don’t like the local weather?” Yeah, you know the answer. “Wait an hour (or a minute- varies).  

In the midst of the brightest, purest sunlight, the wind blowing up the Hood Canal and the rain drifting in from over the Olympics can unite, and we get, yes, wet.

There is a reason Quilcene is always in contention for the Mildew Capital of Western Washington. Yeah, yeah, Lilliwaup, Eldon; close, but we have mildew changing, in any season, from the common and traditional green to orange, yes, orange, the orange-er the better.

And thick enough to peel.

Not just mildew and mold and lichens, not just funguses and algae, Quilcene is also know for drizzle. It’s real, it’s here. Yes, I know, you can look on the doppler and, no, no rain; and then look outside. Drizzle.

It is a conspiracy, obviously designed to fool potential tourists into venturing over to the Peninsula, and then, when they look our way from the Hood Canal Bridge, they opt for Sequim or Port Townsend. The dirty work of doppler manipulation, I’ve heard whispered, is carried out by corrupt meteorologists. I’m still undecided, but the evidence, well, it’s there.    

I am not an expert on weather. Need one? Cliff Mass. He puts out weather analysis and forecasts for the Great Northwest so detailed and science-based and data-driven that I can’t even begin to follow. He does have a great voice; used to love hearing him on the radio.

Even with all that, even Cliff leaves himself an out. “Possible.” “A good chance.” That kind of thing. “Not my fault.” Oh, but it is.

Basically, from what I can comprehend, our weather is influenced by several factors, evidently in some sort of constant struggle against each other. Our proximity to the tentacles of the Pacific Ocean, our location on the lee side of the Olympics, the fact that Canada and its Frazier River Valley can give us the coldest winter and the driest, hottest summer days, the variants in the ambient pressure and the… okay, I’ve lost myself.

I’ll just look outside. Oh. Drizzle. Again.

Just starting to turn a lovely shade of orange. Wait for it… wait…

One would think, with the summer solstice on, historically, June 21, we might be blessed with bright and sunny days. No. Sorry. June Gloom is a thing up and down the West Coast. In San Diego it meant overcast conditions until about 10 am. Here it means drizzle until 11:48 (or so).

It seems logical that the amount of non-drizzle/overcast-ness would be pro-rated from there to here. Probably not.

Anyway, being someone dependent on the weather for work, I have learned to basically ignore forecasts; this despite Trish updating me on the latest from channels 4, 5, and sometimes 13. “Okay, it’s raining now,” I might say, “but…”

Not to get too deep in conspiracies, but TV weather folks do enjoy scaring us; and there has to be some connection with the guy selling the expensive gutters during the segments. Suspicious.

I have been known to take a van-nap during a weather delay. It is my policy on painting exteriors to always paint the areas that are the least protected first, saving the covered areas for the less-than-perfect conditions. For this reason, I love eves. Thirty-six inches; great.

It has been presented to me as a fact, an almost-fact, or near-fact, that the weather gets drier the farther one gets between Quilcene and Port Townsend. So, I’ve been told, at Highway 104, half as much rain, Chimacum halved again, Port Townsend… yeah, I expect it to never rain there.

I have been fooled; expected sunshine, got drizzle. D R I zzzzzzz L E. Really. You never hear that advertised.

People from elsewhere often ask me what time it gets dark on the longest day up in these parts. For comparison, I might say, in San Diego, where I haven’t lived for well over forty years, the sun goes down on the longest day somewhere just after 8pm.

“Well,” I say, “around here it gets dark around 3:30, 4pm. The sun goes down at, like, quarter to ten.”

I could be exaggerating. Check with Cliff.    

Legends and the Rest of Us

Here’s what, before I actually start writing it, this piece is meant to include: A remembrance of a local surfing/boatbuilding legend; something nice about a local living legend; and something not too whiny or snarky about how many asterisks are attached to my own advanced-age surfing.

Okay, we’ll see how it turns out.

The first thing Clint Thompson, temporarily back on the Olympic Peninsula to do what he does (extremely fine carpentry on expensive boats) reported seeing (to Adam Wipeout) was, when he got a view of the lineup, me burning Tim Nolan. Not the first time, and I did, as I did the last time, apologize to Tim for shoulder-hopping, with the excuse/explanation, “I didn’t think you would have made the wave.” True, I believe, this time, probably not true of the previous infraction.

Yes, guilty with no credible explanation. Place that asterisk next to my name. *Greedy wavehog.

Michael “Miguel” Clay Winterburn is a name I have heard for many years, though, to my knowledge, I never met him. A pioneer of Northwest surfing, held in the highest esteem in the world of boat building, he passed on late last month. His obituary is online in the “Port Townsend Leader” and the “Peninsula Daily News.” I took the photo I am using and more information from the Port Townsend Marine Trades Association.

I recommend checking the testimonials out. Particularly interesting to me was the Leader article mentioning he left behind five children, numerous grandchildren, several siblings, and “Three beautiful wives.” Obviously Miguel also left behind hours of stories from the Santa Cruz surfing and shaping scene, to the boat-building/sailing days, to his life as an instructor for others. Highly regarded. Legend. True.

May be an image of 1 person, beard and outdoors

If this man is not familiar, the pose is. A moment, perhaps, of contentment, a view of the water.

I have seen surfboards Miguel made, some still in use. Rico, better hang on to that one.

Here’s a photo of Tim Nolan receiving an award for his boat designing achievements from his contemporaries. High praise, indeed. I found this while researching Miguel Winterburn.

Maybe it’s coincidental, but Tim, Miguel, and Clint are all part of a world I bump up against but have very little knowledge of. Boatbuilding. As surfers, they are not, of course, alone in this. In fact, I know several other local surfers who have a connection (“Boatyard” Mike, Lacy the sailmaker, for example) to the industry.

What we seek, as surfers, is some closer connection to the water. Since I also mentioned Adam James of HamaHama Oysters here; yeah, with his time out on the tide flats and in the water, Adam does have a chance to keep tabs on where what is happening, combo-ing checking oyster beds with a rising swell. The closest I come is painting houses on waterfront. No, haven’t painted any at a potential surf spot in a while.

Because I collect all the little bits and pieces and irritations and joys of life, then try to assemble the random parts, attempt to transform the mundane into some sort of story, and because… okay, mostly I’m full of shit. What I was thinking about on my way out to search for waves and hopefully find and ride some was this: Anticipation, I decided, is a mixture of considering just how excited it would be if the waves were glassy, uncrowded, lined-up; and the mental preparation for having to accept that the surf might be blown out, totally overcrowded, crappy, or just not there.

I figured my chances were about 60/40. Yet, there I was, speeding, only vaguely letting the truth set in that anyone who would be competing for waves was either ahead of me or already there, and there was no way anyone was going to pass me.

No, this didn’t slow me down.

Okay, I have other things on my ‘must do’ list. I’ll get into my other faults next time, or the time after that. What I had planned on writing about was ‘harshing one’s paradigm,’ a phrase I heard a few years ago, one that didn’t catch on enough to be overused. The context here is that I believed I was surfing well the last time I paddled out, felt that combination of contentment and exhaustion, actually got a few compliments.

It took a day or two for the head-swelling to go down and the asterisks to start kicking in. *I have a big-ass board (actually 10’6″), *use a paddle, *surf almost entirely on my knees. *Add in the previously mentioned wave hogging and *lack of etiquette (I actually, even with earplugs, heard a guy in the lineup tell a woman, ‘No, there’s no rotation here’), *factor in that the surf spot is not, like, super critical, that *I’m fat and *old, and you get… shit, I suck.

Fine. Okay. The thing is, and I told several people this: “I am totally aware of the asterisks next to my name, and I don’t give a fuck.”

But, of course, I do. Probably 65% don’t care, 35% care too much.

So much of surfing is so connected to the ego, our self-image. The session before last, I was at a difficult, critical spot. I caught, maybe, twenty waves, got thrashed by four or five, got pitched, got rag-dolled, got three or four decent rides, got one really good ride (in my own judgment), and freely admitted I was eighth best out of seven surfers. *With asterisks.

I still count it, as I do almost every session, as totally worth it. Enjoyable.

What we do, too often, is harsh other surfer’s paradigm. My friend (apologies for ranting on) told his girlfriend, Sierra, both of them watching two young girls having a ball in tiny, blown out waves, that that is what surfing is supposed to be. Maybe I’ll get into more apologies next time, but I would like to apologize to Concrete Pete for kind of wrecking his story of a young surfer who was so impressed by some of the older folks out there in the water going for it.

Meanwhile, surf in peace, live in peace. For those who pass on, rest in peace.

Out on Surfroute 101- Thinking and…


A Washington State Patrol officer was seriously injured Tuesday morning when the driver of a stolen pickup struck his vehicle on U.S. Highway 101 at Discovery Bay. (Photo courtesy of the Washington State Patrol)
Gasoline and Craziness out on Surfroute 101. Photo from Peninsula Daily News

This scene is about ten miles from my house.

I was kind of looking for the photo of the individual accused of perpetrating this and other crimes a couple of days ago; the photos Trish showed me while I was trying to eat dinner and watch a recorded episode of “Jeopardy.” It might be better that I didn’t immediately find it. The mug shots from some previous arrest of the, um… thinking of a word… individual who started a rampage by dousing patrons at the gas pumps at the Long House, adjacent to the Casino at the tight little curve in 101 at the corner of West Sequim Bay.

“You know. I get gas there. There. He was shooting them… with the gasoline… gasoline. With the… nozzles. He set this van on fire; before he stole the pickup. A guy at the Long House… they can shut down the pumps. Look.”

I had to turn away from “Jeopardy,” put down my milk glass to check out the photos.

“Uh huh.”

Trish continued to read the account from the online version of the PDN (Peninsula Daily News). The perpetrator stole a pickup truck (used by either a glass installer or marble countertop person- empty at this time), hauled ass down 101, passing people on the right, in unsafe spots. When he got to Discovery Bay, there was the Washington State Patrol inspection vehicle (above) on the side of the highway, the officer having just inspected a semitruck.


The result: The Officer and the alleged asshole both had to be airlifted to Harborview in Seattle. The Officer was, last I heard, in stable condition, the suspect under arrest, medical condition… don’t necessarily care.

But, here’s the thing: I had kind of been kept abreast of this during the day. Two vehicles past my place while I was loading up; lights and sirens, heading north. I was heading to Port Townsend, and ordinarily would choose 101 to State Route 20; but, because I had to go to the Post Office in Quilcene, Trish had time to warn me off that route. “Big accident,” she said. “Road’s closed.” Center Road. Okay.

When I got to the house I am working on in PT, the homeowner was aware of the situation. Internet. And I got a call from Reggie, stuck in the backup long enough to call off meeting with me. Okay.

Now, these road closures for accidents, with pretty much only one road from everywhere else to the north Olympic Peninsula, happen occasionally. Too often. But, what made me pause, made me think, made me pause “Jeopardy,” was Trish saying, “If you had been there, at the gas pumps, you would have killed the guy.”

Wait. “What?”

“I mean, if he sprayed you with gasoline, held out a cigarette lighter toward you.”


No. No. I don’t think… No, I don’t want to kill anyone.

Okay, so that’s the thinking. Here’s the rethinking: I am so close to having enough faith in my manuscript for “Swamis,” and a critical part of the plot is that Chulo is doused with gasoline and set alight (yeah, ‘set alight’ is in there), and yet, pretty much every night I’m rethinking some little element of the story that might not make total sense to the reader. A couple of nights ago it was a fight scene. How would Rusty react if Jumper and Jody were teamed up? Okay, go back, address that.

But last night it was whether I have put enough drama into Jumper’s reaction to his friend having been doused with gasoline. The incident is revealed in several parts, but never directly described. If you’ve ever had gasoline spilled on you, you know it, at least, stings. If you’ve ever, stupidly, tried to use gasoline on a burn pile or camp fire, then had it flash back at you when you tried to light it; if you’ve had the hair on your arm singed or your eyebrows curled… no, none of that is enough. Drama.

Now, I could use this time to actually go back into the manuscript instead of posting this. Maybe I’m not quite ready. There are options. I’m thinking, rethinking, oh, so close.

Crazy road closures; yet another reason for any reasonable surfer to choose Westport. Always waves, always a party!

Spinning Lights Overlapping

Since I haven’t a real clue as to how to market my manuscript for “Swamis,” I have decided to…

…let me rethink this.

Um, yeah; I’m doing some… adapting. Episodes.

Episode One starts with surfing, ends with Joey’s father sideslipping off the highway to his death.

So, yeah; there’s some drama. Visual stuff. Critical to this is the bubblegum lights on top of old police vehicles, now replaced by light bars, lights around the radiator, all kinds of lights. But, back in 1969… Here’s an example:

See the source image
This unit has the varmint light on top. More often there would be one with each of the side view mirrors.

So, imagine the light (the bubblegum nickname is in reference to long-gone machines from which one could extract a ball of bubblegum) spinning… imagine whatever you know of late 60s psychedelic light shows; this is part of what Joey sees when he goes into a state of “Absensce,” a medical term, from the French, referring to those periods of time when someone who suffers from, say, epilepsy, seems to be ‘out of it,’ not there, possibly with the ‘thousand yard stare.’

“Swamis,” Episode One- “Ten seconds.”

Working on it.

Oh, and there are two encounters with Virginia Cole, setting up for… more.

In Episode Two…

Yeah, teasers; building the hype… from the laptop I share with Trish, from my living room, when I have time. And now I don’t. If you’re out looking for waves, good luck.

Going all Rhapsodic on Surfing- Part I

It is, too often, unclear to me if I actually wrote about some particular subject event, or just thought about the subject or event and talked about it enough, with enough different people (embellishing and polishing the story further with each retelling), that I have come to believe I wrote and then posted a written version to, yeah, this place, realsurfers.

The site is so basic, one page, really, and it’s kind of a struggle to scroll down. My fault. I could say I’m working on it. No, not yet.

I have written (more correctly, have a first draft, in Microsoft Word, of) a piece on surfers getting poetic about their attitude towards and the atmosphere around surfing. Surfers edit our memories, highlight and preserve the rare moments, discarding or ignoring the hold-downs and the awkward falls and the difficulties in the impact zone.

Unless the struggle is what you hold on to.

Let me think. Uh. Um. Yeah, I can remember my injuries, my near-panics. I don’t need to cough out something more foam than air after being slammed and rolled and bounced off a reef to recall the experience. So, yes, a little of that… along with the idealizing. Sure.

A pile of rocks is a pile of rocks unless… unless you give it a name or a purpose or pile them for some particular person or reason, or…

Okay, I scrolled down until it just got too overwhelming, so I will assume I haven’t written about this.

Reggie was talking to me about another surfer. I shouldn’t name him, but, since I am only telling the truth; Daniel. “Daniel.” “Daniel; the guy with the hat… claimed I yelled at him.” “Yeah.” “With the hat… on, in the water.” “That’s him.” “I told him no extra points for wearing the hat.” “You did.” “He claimed he wasn’t in my way; he was just ‘observing,’ from the shoulder.” “He did, he said that.” “I didn’t yell, Reggie.” “Your regular voice is like yelling.” “Sure. So, what about this… Daniel.”

“Daniel; he’s a poet.” “Oh?” “Yeah, he writes little poems, gives them to women… surfers, women surfers; says, ‘I wrote this for you.'” “Oh. So, um, how do they, women surfers, how do they… take this… poetry?” “I’m not sure; but he also stacks rocks and says, ‘I stacked these… for you.'”

“There’s a name for that.” “Yeah, it’s called hitting on chicks.” “No, the rocks. It’s, uh, damn, it’s the same name as… Australian surfer, back in the sixties, part of the Australian… when they went to the North Shore. Damn.” “I just call it a pile of rocks, but Daniel, he…” “I’m calling Keith. He’s a librarian; he’ll know.”

“Cairns. Yeah; Ian Cairns. Okay. Thanks, Keith. No, we’re working. I don’t know; buoys don’t look… okay.” “What’d he say?” “He said he had to go.” “No; about the rocks.” “Cairns. The rock stacks. Reggie; you write any… poetry?”

“I wrote one. ‘Here’s my story, you might think it’s funny…'” There’s another line. It’s kind of, um, bawdy; not that there’s anything, given the history of poetry, un-poetic about that. I can’t swear I have even the first line of Reggie’s poem right. It may not be an exact quote. As with the above dialogue, I may have taken a certain amount of… license. I wouldn’t say ‘poetic license,’ that would sound kind of pretentious.

If you want the second line of Reggie’s poem, ask him.

Still, here’s part of a song (song sounds less pretentious or fake high brow than poem) I wrote:

Don’t tell me you’re a poet, I saw you at the laundry; your costume in the dryer and your quarters keeping time…

There’s more; like six verses worth, stacked up, like rocks on a rocky beach, like… Hey, next time, Part II.

“SWAMIS” news: I’m somewhat adrift, waiting for Dru to finish re-formatting the manuscript, scheming on how to actually sell the thing. Yes, I have a couple of dream scenarios. It’s rather like the classic surfer thing: Mind-surfing the waves, timing the lulls, looking for a channel. Best to you.

The End of “Swamis”

At this point, the last words of my novel, “Swamis,” are, “So green.”

That might change, but not by much. “Yea!” and “yeah!” and “yes!” and, “Holy Shit, the book is done; now what?”

See the source image
Swamis, by any light… if there are waves, there are surfers on them, others watching

This isn’t the first time I have made it to “The End” of the manuscript. The first completion produced the “Unexpurgated Version.” At around the same length as the current novel (125,000 plus words, 300 plus pages at 12 point, Microsoft word, with each of the forty-six chapters starting at the top of a page), that work became part of the learning process.

What I learned is what I was told by a professional writer, forty years ago, in a phone conversation, me in one of a line of booths at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, on my lunch break, he in a home office (with assistant/intern) in Port Ludlow (and he wasn’t even, like, a famous writer- he was part of a group that wrote some briefly-noted book with ‘naked’ in the title). Because I couldn’t remember the name of the agent who wanted a complete version of the novel I was working on at the time (and I didn’t realize how rare having any positive response from an agent is), and because I chuckled (or giggled), mostly from embarrassment/intimidation, he said, “Look, son; you seem pretty flippant. You’ll never be a successful writer with that attitude.”

“Oh, (giggle), what if I do become a successful writer; can I be flippant then?”

“You’ll be too tired.”

If he meant because the art is in the concept, the storylines weaving and crashing; the work is in the re-working and polishing and the deleting and the making sure the logic line is solid.

It is work; and I love it.

My loving my work doesn’t, unfortunately, mean it’s great. Here is an example: The paragraph, above, the one with all the little breaks in parentheses… yeah, I would probably have to simplify that (periods and such). Ha! Flippancy.

More than a first draft, a copy of the unexpurgated “Swamis” is in a box, each page printed on one side. It is also, along with various other versions, on my laptop. I also have, at over fifty thousand words, a file titled “Sideslipping.” I have shared some of those outtakes on this site. Stories. It’s all I have wanted to do, tell stories; make every fictional character seem as real to the reader as they become to me; real people with real lives. Having known almost seventy years worth of real people does help in this effort; a little of that person, a bit of that one.

I did get feedback, positive and negative, on that version; advice that I took to heart.

Currently, my daughter, Drucilla, is tasked with re-formatting the manuscript, taking out several places where sentences got underlined and her father couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the lines; possibly changing the font. Essentially, making it prettier, more professional. Hurry up, Dru! Oh, and thanks.

Anyway, I am not tired. Then again, I’m not there yet. I have never been particularly good at selling… anything. Never did a yard sale, never won a bargaining session.

So, I need an agent. If you know one or are one, I can be contacted at

Editing the Dream

The dream was going along as dreams do, dreamily; but I decided to edit it.

See the source image
“Wait, America; I can’t quite hear you.”

Actually, that dream did not include the dude pictured above, cosmically connecting with the pillow guy, trying to get a connection with Don, Don Junior, Carlson or any other Tucker, Tucker’s mother, any Karen willing to take his call. Little Don already, obviously, has a connection, others are… shit, I don’t know… he is on my don’t call, stay the fuck out of my dreams list.

But another dream did, ending, after some editing, after Trish and I (both of us obviously younger), following (more like chasing) her (late) father through some sort of town setting. We go into a bar (maybe), he orders a plain cup of coffee. “Fifty cents,” the guy behind the bar says, “Fifty-five with tax.” I, at Trisha’s urging, shove my father-in-law (gently) down the way. The bartender says, “Five dollars,” then says, “Ten dollars; eleven with the tax.” “Oh,” I say, placing fifteen bucks (a ten and a five) on the bar, “If I can also get the…” looking the other way (away from Trisha’s dad) “The paper.” “Sure thing,” the bartender says. Just then Rudy Guliani (sp? like I care), in a nice brown suit, grabs the paper. “Wait,” I say, “That paper’s paid for.” Rudy just smiles, folds the paper, sticks it under his arm, says, “Yeah; someone paid for it.”

Okay, that was just unacceptable. So, staying asleep, or partially, I went back, deleted Rudy, replaced him with Arnold Schwartzisnamer (sp? again, don’t care), who still kept the paper, but was nicer about it. AND THEN, just to add some drama…

SO, HERE’S WHERE I AM ON “SWAMIS:” I am fourteen pages from the last ending, BUT, because I’ve made so many changes in the manuscript, the exciting conclusion, despite my deletions and additions, keeps staying just that tantalizingly close to completion.

STRAIT SURF UPDATE: NO surf, but Rippin’ Reggie Roy (Reggie’s preferred nickname) reported seeing two guys with soft tops (I’m sure he meant surfboards) and a guy in a white Roxy wetsuit splashing about in waves so small he said “Even you wouldn’t try to surf them.” FORECAST: More of the same, with occasional rumors.

OKAY, I have to go. I’ll edit this… later.


As Surfers Get Older, Some Never…

…actually mature. I’m not writing about what it means to be mature, or even old; I don’t have time to write about anything, really; and it’s frustrating as hell. Fifteen pages or so to go on my latest edit of “SWAMIS,” with a new twist to the ending that requires me to go back and make some changes in the first two hundred and eighty-six pages to make it all make sense; and I don’t have time to do that. It’s suddenly high painting season, and, hey, wait a minute… If you look carefully at the image, below, that I spent way too much time searching through bing images to find, you can see, in the background, a ladder and a guy on the second floor, quite possibly painting, while the guy with the Chevy, Butch Vanartsdalen-looking dude, is off to ride some waves.


Anyway, the piece below that is one I was forced to write for the Quilcene Community Center monthly newsletter; and is what I call ‘kind of generic humor.’ Not that it’s not amusing. Check it out; I was two hours late when I woke up. As that was, shit, shit, two hours ago.

This whippersnapper is more than likely older than I am; unless it actually is Butch Van Artsdalen; in which case… RIP Ripper.

                            A Few Opening Lines On, Uh, Um, Wait a Minute… Aging

ONE: There is, evidently, a significant difference between one asking, “Where was I” and “Where am I?”

TWO: I had, over a few days a few weeks ago, several, in fact, way too many reminders, and not that I needed any of them, that I am now, how should I phrase this, too old to die young.

I was hired, as I often am, to finish a painting project someone else started, which is to say, to paint the ‘high stuff.’ The homeowner on a new home construction project was planning on doing the painting on the two-story structure; but was convinced by the carpenters (young whippersnappers in their forties) he was a bit too old (no, they would have said something more like “not quite nimble enough,” he was writing the checks) to do the high ladder work.

Okay. Fine. But, somewhere in conversation with the fogey it was discovered he and I are almost exactly the same age. Class of ‘69. Yea! 69! Okay, end of celebration.

The next day (or so, not sure exactly) someone (can’t remember who, exactly) said, in the course of a conversation not centered on my advanced years, “You’re, like, seventy, right?” “No! Not yet!” Not quite yet… anyway. August, end of August. Still a (don’t read too much into this) sexagenarian.

So much for my believing I look ‘good for my age’ or have, or ever even did have, kind of a baby face.

Not that I look in mirrors any more often than necessary, or that I wear glasses if I must subject myself to my reflected countenance. Blurry is sometimes better. And I cannot say that I am not shocked when I do catch the occasional and accidental glimpse of my face and/or physique; and I should confess to the immediate reaction of shuddering and shaking before realizing it is not an attack by the Klingons.

Not that there’s anything wrong with shuddering and shaking; it’s almost like dancing- close enough.

THREE: I am known to, occasionally, burst into song. I, at least, do have various tunes enter my head, sort of, possibly, related to what I’m doing or how I’m feeling. When, in the course of a working day, I start feeling tired, the words and music to the theme song for “Petticoat Junction” might just enter the closed captioning in my brain (and, incidentally, I recommend and am totally dependent on it for TV and movie viewing- not just because of reduced neighbor complaints). If you are too young to know this, “Petticoat Junction” was a spin-off of “Green Acres,” which might have been a spin-off of… doesn’t matter; if you remember watching either of these shows when they originally ran… well… you know, it was ages ago. Ages.

If you don’t remember ancient TV, some GEN X-er or younger will no doubt look at you with wonder and amazement, and, without the constraints members older generations labored under, might actually ask something like, “Wait, and it wasn’t even in… color?” Or worse.  

“Petticoat Junction” might have actually been in ‘living’ color. Anyway, the line is, “And there’s Uncle Joe, he’s a movin’ kinda slow… at the junction…” But wait, another line just popped into my head: “Lot’s of curves, you ew ew bet, even mo-ore, when you get… to the junction…” Yes, I am trying to help you with the phrasing should you feel inclined to start singing, randomly.

An action isn’t crazy or some signal of dementia if you can explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. Example: “Really, Officer? I know seat belts are legally required, pants, that’s kind of a gray area, isn’t it?”

FOUR: No one says a young person is spry. If this word is used on you as some sort of attempt at a compliment, you are, in my mind, justified in being somewhat insulted. “Spry? Me? Oh, thank you, kind young-en, let me see how far your fingers bend… backwards.

FIVE: We Jefferson County folks used to make fun of how old people are in Sequim. “If you want to avoid crowds at Costco,” someone might tell you, “It is open until 8:30 on weeknights, but the folks are all asleep by, like, seven-thirty, eight if they stay up to watch ‘Jeopardy.’” Well, sorry, but, like, demographically, our county is now, statistically, older. Somewhere in the mid-to-high 60s. Ouch.

SIX: Do you need a nap? Can you name even one rap star? Can you recite any lyrics to a Mylie Cyrus song? Did I spell Mylie correctly? Do I care if I didn’t? Do you even know what ‘woke’ is supposed to mean? Does Robert Redford still seem like a hunk to you? Do actors who try to come back in their old roles just look tired? Do you need a nap? Did I already ask that?

SEVEN: I looked up (yes, Googled) filial piety and dotage for this piece, so, durn it, I am going to include them. So… there.


There’s not much to recommend being… older, except, here’ one thing: I’ve been surfing almost my whole life. I was never considered as cool because of this as I considered myself. But now, and it’s, admittedly, mostly due to attrition (more from quitting than from dying); if I don’t get what might pass for respect that I’m still getting out there in the water… no, I shouldn’t brag about my perceived coolness, it’s not cool.

No, I don’t have an ending for this piece. I am not finished, and neither are you.

Rule of the Parking Lot

Here’s a rule many surfers go by: It can’t be good, there’s no one out. A subset of this mindset is this: It must be Sooooo good because it it soooo crowded; so, yeah; I should join in, paddle out, share in the good times. A further subset is: Whoa, the surf is soooo fantastic, I should call all my surfing buddies, some kooks, and…

good times, bad times, you know I’ve had a few; but the surfing’s really much more fun, when I bring along a crew… ew, ew, ew, come on down, now

There are rules of the parking lot. Okay, so here’s the story: I got skunked at one spot along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a notoriously (and rightfully, objectively so) fickle stretch of almost-always flat conditions (if you don’t count big-ass winds coming from north, south, east, and west, three of which will, believe me, blow the hell out of any weak and lost swells that venture in from the distant Pacific Ocean), the only other person showing up to even check the conditions being one Reginald Rory Smart (so, for scorekeepers, Smart and Dence). “Hey,” Ripping Reggie said, “what about _______–______?” “Oh, um… maybe.”

SOOO, thinking the limited parking available at this spot might be overwhelmed by Karens and Tuckers and hipsters and rippers and semi-locals and vagabonds and hobos, I hauled ass in that direction, AND, and, and when I got to the last hairpin turn, got a glimpse of the parking lot…

Empty. No one there, no one waiting for someone to leave, no one. SO, I cruise in, get my choice of parking locations, consider hiking quite a distance to even get close enough to see if there is anything even close to a rideable wave. THEN Mr. Smart cruises in. He wants to do the hike, I choose, because there might still be ample parking available for a while, to drive to a place where I can see… flatness, utter flatness, and fog, and just the start of an oncoming wind. West.

THIS doesn’t necessarily mean waves might not just show up. SO, I go back. I decide to take a nap. Reggie, in his much more accommodating accommodations in one of the vans he upgrades for the van-vagabond crowd, also naps.

BECAUSE trying to nap sitting up in a seat that, due to rusting and age, will no longer recline, I wake up after about fifteen minutes. Lo and behold, there is another vehicle in the lot; a Sprinter van. “Hey, man,” I say, approaching the open driver’s side window, “don’t you know the rule of the parking lot?”

“I’m not from around here,” is the reply. “Never say you’re not a local, man.” “I kind of thought the California plates might give me away.” “Oh.”

“SO, the rules of the parking lot; what are they?”

“Well, first, if it’s a surf spot and there are no cars (rigs is an acceptable NW alternative), it probably isn’t breaking. If there are cars, but there are boards on or in them, it probably isn’t breaking. If there are cars that seem to belong to surfers and there are no boards, it might, just might be breaking.”


So we went and looked. Almost breaking, almost rideable, almost ready to get blown out, tide almost too low to surf without damaging one’s self or equipment. A short time later (by Beach Hanging time, faster than Working/School/Zoom Meeting/Church time, somewhat slower than in-the-water time), Adam Wipeout showed up, board under his arm. He, obviously, didn’t want to do the hike twice; but, after introductions and such, he said he would sacrifice this one for the cruel gods of the Strait and go.

Reggie left, my new friend, Joel, who said he was from Oceanside, but when I said I was raised in Fallbrook, admitted he was raised in Vista… another time on our connections… ANYWAY, we both went out. His fin hit a rock on his first attempt at a ride, I got several ten foot rides on ten inch waves, and, when I eventually gave up, what with rapidly outgoing tide, increasing west wind, and no increase in swell, and trudged back to the parking area…

Joel was on a Zoom call. I changed out, left. His van was the last rig in the parking lot.