Downloads and Backwash

My artistically talented sister, Melissa Lynch, has shifted her focus, somewhat, to doing some sculptures. Actually, she’s on a sculpture bender of sorts. And, off course, she excels. I’ve been bugging her to do another drawing (as many as she’s willing to do, really. Really) for realsurfers. What I’ve asked for is something to illustrate “The Other Other Woman,” wherein I can discuss (further) my belief that, for many of us, surfing and the love of surfing, is the competition for the affections of our real love.

I should add that both, and any love, come with struggles, and also with that feeling of… there are so many different exquisite feelings connected with love. Anyway, having had this threesome for so many years,I will, when I actually write this, stress that the real other woman is… well, wait for the real piece.

Illustration-wise, I asked Melissa to do a nude; tasteful of course; with the waves beyond fully rendered, and the woman in the foreground somewhat out of focus, but with enough detail to show the woman is  intentionally alluring.  Okay, mind blip while I consider the “You’re looking at the surf, aren’t you?” backstory. If I drew it, despite having once done a lot of nudes, I might be considered (or discovered), um, slightly more perverted, but if Melissa did it…

So, here’s a recent example of my sister’s work.  “Okay, now, Melissa; can you drive it to some water somewhere, and, then, what we want here is…”


It came out a little smaller than I’d anticipated. Sorry, Melissa. Here’s another. “So, now, what’cha do is…”


UPDATE: Archie Endo should be home from his extended business/some surfing trip to Asia, but, maybe because I have his recent mail (and three copies of “The Surfer’s Journal”, fully read) in a box at my house, and his electricity might be cut off and he never did establish a way to leave a voice message on his phone, I haven’t heard from him yet. He’s probably enroute to some rivermouth break right now.

MEANWHILE: Stephen Davis is supposed to be on a train right about now, somewhere between the Midwest and Seattle. There’s a forecast swell  that may (or may not) find its way into the Straits of Juan de Fuca in a few days, and I fully intend to hit it, and I’d love to hit it with two of my surfing friends. And, another meanwhile; I couldn’t wait to meet up with Keith Darrock, camping with his family this weekend, and went surfing on Wednesday; possibly the only surfer out on the Straits, SUP-ing some lined-up rock-skimmers. Though the surf dropped on Friday, it may be coming back up right… right now.

SO: Here’s a photo of Cosmo, landscaping engineer in Chicago (formerly of Port Townsend- check the outfit), and Stephen’s Psychic, whose name, sorry, I forgot. (I’m sure she can feel that I meant no offense in this).


Oh, this one came out large.


Fitting the (Real Surfer) Profile


Tugboat Bill** already had one hand on my shoulder when he moved his other hand around to my stomach, not-quite-patting it, I’d say, twice; all in the service of making his point. I had exited the water down the beach (maybe it should be up the beach because it was closer to the left-breaking reef) from my Toyota wagon precisely because I had seen Bill from the water, and, frankly, because I wanted to brag to someone about my performance.

“I thought it was you,” he said; but I didn’t see your…(looks around) did you get a new surf rig?” I pointed down the parking area. “And then, on one wave, you turned and… are you familiar with the old ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ show?”

I was, more than enough to realize exactly what he meant. The Profile. Not having shrugged-off his placing of a hand on my shoulder, I’m sure I pulled away, attempted to laugh as I attempted to suck in my stomach; neither action with much success.

Any anger (or hurt, really) I felt was mitigated by the knowledge that the comment was not meant as truly hurtful, and, yes, that the comment was true.

Still, I was thinking more about how well I thought I was doing on the waves to concentrate on how chubby (can I say ‘husky’) I might have looked on the waves, making those subtle moves, weighting and un-weighting. And, perhaps realizing I was offended, Tugboat Bill mentioned to Cash and Tanya***, for whom he’d been saving an empty front row spot when some other surfer moved out; that I’d once saved his very life; sharing my hot water (fill up one of those green plastic Costco kitty litter containers, about a gallon and a half, at home, place it by the car’s heater, crank it up on the way, hope the water’s still warm when the surf session’s over), pouring some into the chest zipper of his wetsuit on a particularly cold winter day on the Straits of Juan de Fuca.****

“If we’re ever both going for the same wave… I’ll let you go.” “Really? I’ll hold you to that.” “Fine.”*****

And, when I told Tanya there had only been one other surfer out when I got in the water, and now there was a crowd ( twelve), and (still glowing from my session), I just couldn’t help adding something like, “Uh, hey, did you see any of my rides?” “Yes,” she said, “we saw you polishing up the waves for us.”

“Um. Yeah; totally.”


BUT THEN (different but related-in-theme story)… Robert, the homeowner whose house I was painting, the customer, leaned into my van as I put on my working shoes. “So, the surfing… you, um, stand up and everything?” “What? Yes. Why?” “Well; you just don’t, um, I wouldn’t think you’re a… surfer. You don’t look like…”

“A surfer? No. And I never did. But… I am. Really. No, really.”

I stood up, possibly a little too close, studying his eyes, just looking to see if he was serious. “I, um, might have thought; maybe,” he said, “maybe more like a… a biker.”

“What? Wait; I know what you’re really saying, Robert. I had a friend who bought a Harley, gained about fifty pounds just so he could look the part.” “No, I didn’t mean…” “No, it’s fine. So, you thought I was the kind of guy who runs around in black leather?” “No. Maybe. I wasn’t trying to… offend.”

“Well; no; I don’t run around in tight black leather.” I had to laugh at this point. “I’m more of a, well, black neoprene guy.”

Robert was a bit reluctant to laugh along for a moment, undoubtedly still picturing me as an easily perturbed biker, possibly with violent tendencies (hey, not judging). So I struck a few surfer poses, including the classic Hawaiian arch. Oh, yeah; there’s a profile I fit. “Robert; please stand back.”

*I stole this title from myself, used “Funny, you don’t write like a Looker” on a piece for my blog, “Stuff That Goes On” at I also don’t look like a writer, but insist I am.

**He’s called Tugboat Bill because he works on tugboats, typically hauling barges from the inland ocean reaches of Puget Sound to… well, I don’t really know; maybe Alaska. He also builds and sells picnic tables, seems to have on in the back of his truck most of the times I’ve seen him. He gave me a business card, but… Okay I’ll look for it.

***Cash and Tanya are a surfing power couple from the Port Angeles area; in that they both surf. Usually I use the ‘power couple’ title in a sarcastic way; but they’re legit. And nice. If I didn’t mention how impressed I was during the “Tim Nolan and the Wave of the Day” session by Tanya paddling back out against the rip and the tide while I mostly did the ‘run-back,’ I’m mentioning it now.

****The coldest Straits water temperature listings I’ve seen is 43 degrees. I went anyway.  Factor in that most of the surf spots are near rivers coming off the snow-covered Olympics, and the air temperature in the thirties, the rocks on the beach sometimes stuck together with ice; and you get an idea why even temperate water seems warm.

*****I don’t know if this is a ‘one time’ thing, or any wave I want, forever. Eventually, I’ll find out. I’m saving it for when I really really need that one set wave.


ADRIFT, PART THREE- What I Thought I would Say

The point I thought I’d be making when I started writing about the sort of existential trip (though so much of what really happens is internal, despite a change of scenery) my friend Stephen Davis was taking was that, though he seemed adrift, taking off across the country with sketchy plans and even sketchier funding, was that, maybe, even probably, all of us are adrift.


Steve’s currently in Chicago, working for his friend, Cosmo, a landscape engineer who once was a (another) neighbor in Port Townsend. They’re busy reinstalling winter-removed pumps from rich people’s water features, among other things. Stephen is surfing, couch surfing.  His plan to take a train to Colorado, since that project is on extended hold/possibly dead, has been replaced with a ticket to take the train all the way to Seattle en route back home.

He’ll arrive at about the same time as our mutual friend Archie Endo returns from an extended (new) business trip to Asia. More on that in a moment.

I might as well include the remainder of “And So Am I,” a song I wrote more than ten years ago; possibly referencing the times I’ve traveled to make some money. Mostly, and happily, in my case, to San Diego, where I did some painting for Trisha’s brother, Jim Scott (and do some surfing- in the water variety). The lyrics seemed to go with Stephen’s trip.

“…Clouds are spread out like a blanket, to the sea; like a quilted, patchwork blanket to the sea. And it’s all downhill from here, I guess that’s my greatest fear; waves of clouds are breaking, crashing over me; and they’re spread out like a blanket to the sea.

“Rain keeps falling just like teardrops from the sky; tears keep falling just like raindrops from my eyes; with the windshield wipers on, I’ll drive on into the dawn; where the morning sun ignites the clouds on high; clouds are skidding down the highway, and so am I.”

So, I updated Stephen’s and Archie’s progress to another mutual friend, another surfer, Keith Darrock; adding that I was really having some basic problems in trying to establish some connection between those of us who hold desperately to any piece of something that looks like security and those who boldly take off across the country or around the world with some vague romantic notions of…

“Adrift,” Keith said; “we’d all like to think we could be that… adrift.”

And that’s true. Surfing magazines seem to praise surfers who turned their backs on Corporate, lit off for exotic destinations. Miki Dora is legendary for surfing/living off his wits, even if it was, as portrayed, often at the expense of someone who invested, unwisely, in his quest.

Adrift? We all are, really. Stephen has met up with friends established through just being the kind of guy who makes friends with an honest ease (enough so that my client on one of three projects Steve helped me on, calling to see if I’d ever get it done, asked about him and how it was all going. “He seemed to be having a rough time.”). Archie has  also (finally) taken advantage of relationships established through years of toiling all around the world as a roe (salmon eggs) expert. He is taking a job as (again, finally) a middleman, securing and buying and selling seafood from all over the world, and will still, mostly, be able to work from home on the Olympic Peninsula, seeking some ‘surf-able’ waves on the Straits of Juan de Fuca.


Archie spent some time in Phuket, surfed two two hour sessions in some Andaman Sea shorebreak on a rented board, said it released some of the tension; as did, perhaps, the nightlife he described as (I’ll have to check this) something signifying crazy. “Next surf at home.”

Okay, here’s a surf story: It was one of the first times I surfed Cardiff Reef, racing over after (high) school, and we were probably surfing there because the waves were kind of big; my friend Phillip Harper lost his board. Cardiff has kind of an outside, a middle section, and an inside; all a little nebulous, and, at that size, it breaks farther out than the breaks we were more familiar with (Tamarack, Grandview, Swamis). Maybe Phillip was looking for me to help him. I wasn’t aware of his situation. We’d like to think we have to be responsible to get in when adrift. Sometimes friends help. In this case, it was a stranger who ferried Phillip through the middle section.

ADDED/EDITED: First, I told the above story because I couldn’t think of a story of being rescued in the surf other than when I was eight or so and went over the falls at Oceanside Pier on a styrofoam surfie (kind of like a kneeboard, about three and a half feet long) broke it on the bottom, the back end against my belly. Gary and Roger’s mother, Arthella, had to save me. Really, I was just kind of- yeah, I may have needed saving.  What I’ve realized since I wrote the original piece is, because I get almost all of my work through referrals, I have been rescued innumerable times, a phone call about a job coming along at just the right time.

Second, I did get a comment that, compared to the realities of war and famine and global warming, my subject matter was kind of, well, superficial, perhaps. This came from someone who had a site pushing something “Better than Botox.”

So, adrift? Yes. No. Sure; just in various degrees and at various times; not drowning, just swimming.


ADRIFT (Part Two), FIght or Flight

“Got my foot down to the floorboards, making time; got it pressed down to the floorboards, making time. Though she said I’d never learn, she gave me love I did not earn; Got to shift down as I start that uphill climb; got my foot down to the floorboards, making time.

“It’s a chance I had to take; there’s some money I can make; but to make it, have to go so far away. I could turn this rig around, roll it right on back towards town; But I won’t, and if that’s wrong… it’s my mistake. I’ll return or more than one heart’s gonna break.” lyrics by Erwin Dence, Jr.

This is Stephen in Port Townsend (photo courtesy of Stephen Davis- not sure who took it) with what he identified as his ‘fight or flight’ expression. He had returned home from working on a construction project in Colorado that had just recently fallen apart when the primary financial backer suddenly died of a heart attack.  Different story. The immediate impetus for returning was that his brother had been involved in a car accident that sent him, the brother’s daughter, and a friend of his daughter’s to Harborview, the regional trauma hospital, in Seattle.

Stephen and his wife are partners in a Port Townsend restaurant with Stephen’s brother. Stephen had been a cook, but, with tensions high, and, he said, “everybody blaming him,” he was working in Colorado because he had, after suitable worry and debate, walked away. He had been raised in Colorado, playing hockey and skiing, before coming to the northwest to study at the Wooden Boat School more than twenty years ago.

It was in Port Townsend that Steve honed skills in surfing, picked up kite surfing for those windy, choppy days on the Straits. He traveled for surfing extensively (at least compared to me), and knew every secret spot from Port Townsend to Neah Bay, having explored the points and rivermouths. His master plan had been to build an Auxiliary Dwelling Unit (ADU) on his property, move into it, rent out the main house, and use this income to allow him and his wife Stephanie, and son Emmett, to spend some time living in Mexico.

Things change. Because his brother couldn’t compete in an ice hockey league that competed in Bremerton, Stephen was quite excited to take his place, “And I get to play for free.” It’s not clear whether the Psychic knew this in advance, but the day after Stephen helped his brother’s team secure a victory, champions for the season (“I got a hat trick and made a couple of awesome defensive hits- bam”), Stephen Davis met me at the Henery’s Hardware store in Quilcene (on Surf Route 101), I paid him the two hundred bucks I owed him, and…

“It’s all surfing.” Anon.

Yeah, that’s Stephen’s mom’s car, now the Psychic’s.


Adrift with Stephen Davis (Part One)

“Clouds are skidding down the highway, and so am I; Clouds are rolling down the highway, and so am I.  I’m in the desert headed East; guess I’m gone at last, at least; they’re not clouds, they’re really shadows from the sky; Clouds are rolling down the highway, and so am I.

“Storm clouds gather on the mountains like a shroud; cloaked around the distant mountains, like a shroud. There’s some one I love the most; but I left her on the Coast; never did one single thing to make her proud; Storm clouds gather on the mountains like a shroud.” lyrics by Erwin Dence, Jr.

Image This is a photo Stephen Davis sent me from his trip from Port Townsend, Washington to Dayton, Ohio to bury his mother’s ashes. Stephen, it seems to me, has thrown himself off another ledge. The perfect guy to go surfing with, generous, willing to celebrate someone else’s ride, he has no real agenda.

“My Psychic told me I have to go.”


Somehow, Steve is also giving his Psychic, who he’s meeting for the first time; his car. “Because she needs one.” “Uh huh. And then…?” “I’m not sure.”  “And yet…?”

This seems like classic Stephen Davis. Though I’ve lived my life close to the edge; I always looked for certainty; jobs in the future, hopefully lined up; this one, then that one. Lined up toward some distant channel. If a section falls prematurely, I push through. 

But Steve… different. He (forgive any forced metaphors), just pulled through, out; hit another wave. He seems, to me, to be like some incarnation of Candide; not quite clueless, but, maybe, optimistic.

Oh, I know that’s not totally true. He has demons; a father who was (and is) forever disapproving. “You have to get over that,” I told him en route from Fat Smitty’s, along Surf Route 101 in Discovery Bay, to some waves on the farther Straits. But, somewhere approaching Sequim on the way home, I was pounding the dashboard with my free hand, yelling, along with Stephen, “You (meaning Stephen’s Dad) ______ (I’m going to say ‘had sex with’ because my family members might be shocked at what I/we were really saying) Lenny’s (made up name of one of Stephen’s ice hockey teammates at, probably, the pre-high school level) mom!” Now, put it together with both of us pounding and laughing.

I don’t know if my weak on-the-road counseling was helpful for Stephen. He’s had plenty of counseling, even pre-Psychic. I did once receive a text from a surf spot in Oregon. He had, he wrote, sitting outside on a day in which the surf came up enough to wash the other surfers to the beach, heard the Universe ring. Clearly.

But that’s not the beginning of this story; it’s not even the middle. There’s more. 


Classic Head Dip

Classic Head Dip

I’ve sort of figured out how to put a drawing onto my old computer, transfer it to a flash(thumb?) drive, move it to the realsurfers site via Trisha’s computer.
This drawing is from some classic Ron Stoner photos reprinted in “Surfer’s Journal.” It was a small part of a larger Malibu scene from, I think, the contest in 1965 that, incidentally, my sister Suellen attended; convincing our Dad to drive her up there. I passed on it.
Look for more drawings of classic surfing moves in the future. Meanwhile…

It’s Performance, Art

BLOG PART (Optional)

My sweet new laptop has been replaced by a new, sweet sweet laptop. Dell has given up on me. The only problem is the new one still has the slow keyboard response. Oh, I can type on the screen, but, for a guy who can type like, um, Mick Fanning surfs, fast, few mistakes, quick on the backspace, it’s hunt and peck and frustrating.

But, very soon, I’ll be trading it to my son, Sean, for his older version, Microsoft Word built in rather that rented for two hundred bucks a year or so. Meanwhile, I’m risking carpal tunnel writing on Trisha’s Microsoft XP, no longer supported by the (I wanted to say something like ‘motherland,’ with it’s gentle connotations) Corporation. When I find the disc to sync up my old printer/scanner, back in the art and words business. Or I’ll wait for Sean’s trade-down.

And, since I’m still blogging here, Sean just passed all his required state tests, and has left the hostile work environment of Sears for a new (hopefully) career in insurance. Yeah; his mother and I are quite pleased.


Now… performance in the ocean. Real or perceived. It seems that, during an average session, I catch more waves than others, make more waves than others. This is the OBJECTIVE part. Does that make me a better surfer or a better wave-catcher? We recognize a surfer getting a good ride; style, flow, maneuvers. If it’s a competitive surfer, radical moves must flow beginning to end, takeoff to dismount. This is the SUBJECTIVE part.

If Jordy had only looked a bit more enthusiastic between the outside section and the inside dry reef, he might have gone farther at Bells. Oh, that’s also subjective.

And who is to judge?

And… The winner is… “the surfer having the most fun.” Sure, let’s drop back to that line. So, maybe, during my last session, the kook who caught three waves, jumping up before he actually caught a few more; his friend who yelled out, “I’m on it!” several times when no one was competing for the wave; his other friend who muffed the take off on a great wave, and, when I asked him how upset that must have made him, said, “It’s fine. I’ll probably do it again; maybe a few times;” all these, and maybe most of the others in the water, these were the winners.

Though I appreciate the feel-good-quality of what I’ve just written, and I’m willing to argue for the position, putting it along with my acceptance that the going-to and the getting-home portion of a session should be counted as part of the session; I still want to turn a few heads on the beach and in the water; if not for big moves, maybe for enthusiastic body language; a casual sideways move from arch to hand in the curl, too cool to head dip, too secure to grab a rail. 

“Cowa—a—-bunga!” Not a claim, just a nod.

“Did you see that one wave?”