Stressors and Content and Cancer and YouTube and Investments and Unlimited Talk and Data and Being Mercurial and/or…

I would love to blame stress for my latest episodes of embarrassingly stupid mistakes, and for a more than usual number of meltdowns and indefensible asshole-ness.

So, of course, I want to write about all of this. But first, Fat Boy kneeboard update: It was watching some YouTube videos of kneeboarders ripping on boards longer than the average from, you know, the past. Not re-explaining my board choice here, but I must mention that I would like to not have to wear swim fins. Anyway, these rippers are on, like, six foot instead of four-and-a-half foot boards. I want to rip. I want to turn off the top, do an actual cutback at, like, speed. Tough to do, though I try, on a big ass board. But, on an eight-ten fish… yeah! Or, yeah, hopefully.

Believing I have the knowledge if not the expertise, this based on having shaped and painted and glassed five or six boards back in the late 1960s, of having painted a blank someone else shaped and then glassed in the 70s, and doing one side of a board, like, ten years ago or so (before giving up, stacking it in the garage), of having watched at least five videos on glassing, I felt… I’ll be honest, worried sick about what would happen once I started pouring resin on my hand-shaped board.

I went to Admiral Ship Supply in Port Townsend and bought some (I would say invested in some if I were only a bit more confident of the results) supplies to complete the glassing portion of the project. Yes, I do realize I am a total kook every time I go into the place that caters to the alternate universe of the boatyard. Boat-yarders. Real boat-yarders. Yes, I did actually work on submarines and aircraft carriers, but this, this is different.

The knowledgeable staff at Admiral were helpful in my constant awareness that I was out of my depth. Kook. Ask a couple of stupid questions, and… “Um, uh, do you think epoxy resin will melt the paint?” “Definitely maybe. Did you do a test sample?” “Huh?”

Buoyed by another YouTube video in which an artist pours epoxy resin on acrylic paintings, I made the investment. Yes, investment, because rough or perfect (no way on that), I do plan on riding this board, Plan to ride, dream about ripping.

Of course I would use paint cans as a platform. And it’s not as messy as it looks. Following the instructions from numerous YouTube videos, I trimmed down the glass. Since I tried to do two layers of 6 ounce cloth at one time, I had to use more of the resin than I had anticipated, like, the whole quart, and, even at that, I didn’t have enough to do the rail wrap I had planned to do. Hence, the can on the ground. Good news, I didn’t have to guess how much hardener/catalyst to add. Like, the whole thing. More good news, the resin didn’t melt the acrylic paint on the board. Next step? Well, get more resin.

OKAY, so stress. Virginia Mason Medical Center’s computers were hacked early last week. Maybe you heard about it on the Seattle news. If so, you know as much as our daughter Dru knows, and she was supposed to start radiation this week. So, no. So, Dru is in the dark, depressed, ready to get beyond the treatment. Dru’s surgeon compared the radiation treatment to vacuuming up the little remnants of the cancer (and, as always, fuck a bunch of cancer). Meanwhile, Trish is hanging out at our daughter’s house, I go over once a week (even though it continues to be rare and unseasonal painting weather), and… did I mention stress?

It has not escaped my attention that I go on a bit. It isn’t as if I don’t have what YouTubers call ‘content.’ Plenty. SO, I won’t talk about how my super secret stealth cell phone device suddenly stopped working while I was talking and shopping at Costco last, or how frustrated I was to call the folks (no actual folks, many prompts), repeatedly, trying to figure out why in hell it wasn’t working when the money comes out automatically, AND, then I spent a couple of hours on the phone this morning before I gave up. From frustrated to surly. “Could you repeat that?” “No, I don’t know how to do a text without hanging up.” “Sim card?” Eventually, either they hung up on me or I pressed 6 instead of 7.

MEANWHILE, Trish bought one of those kind of phones old people are supposed to have. Big numbers. One button to push when you can’t get up. “Just like the one George has,” she said, “should be there (note ‘there’ rather than ‘here’) Tuesday. Okay?” OKAY, so I called to cancel the super secret stealth phone, ONLY TO DISCOVER… I don’t have unlimited minutes.

I have one thousand, and SOMEHOW, three days short of the refill date, I used them up.

FUTURE CONTENT will include updates on Stephen R. Davis’s battle with cancer (fuck cancer), the latest and quite-likely last piece I wrote for the Quilcene Community Center newsletter (I’m not quitting, the director is), some outtakes from “Swamis,” some reports on local spots not being blown up by me, and the very real possibility that rather than having something like an artistic temperament, or even behaving in what could be called a mercurial manner (doesn’t sound too horrible), Trish says, with evidence to back it up, I might be… it’ll wait, but I would like to say eccentric and gifted is one thing, being rude and not too bright is another.

I am trying to quit writing, but I was suddenly amused in thinking it is a political season; rude and not too bright doesn’t mean unelectable.

In Progress, Everything’s in progress

Stephen R. Davis Fantasy Point

People Steve has shown this painting to always seem to ask, “Where is it?” The answer varies. I suggested “Canada. It was reversed so the Canadians don’t get upset and perhaps, go into impolite territory.” “You mean,” one art fan asked, “like Westport?” “No, more like Seaside.” “Oh.”

So, don’t ask. This is one of my favorite of Steve’s paintings. Steve had already promised the original to someone. He is… UPDATE… over in the ‘Cshitty’ (pronounced, yeah, shitty), getting two big ass doses of Chemo designed to kill the remaining cancer cells in his body. While pumping chemicals into Steve, the good folks at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance are pumping blood out of him, harvesting cells, growing a batch of stem cells that will… I can’t follow it all. There’s a bone marrow transplant in the plan, somewhere. Meanwhile, his immune system is totally vulnerable.

Stephen R. Davis is out of commission for at least six months. People accustomed to working know just frightening this prospect is. BUT WE HAVE A PLAN. Copies. Limited edition prints.

BUT, NOT YET.

SOON. There is a process. The Fantasy Point painting was taken off its frame and, using a copier designed for blueprints, the color image can be transferred to a thumb drive, and… yay!… copies.

Steve has several other paintings begging to be reproduced.
My fat-boy fish, under construction. Note the fresh red paint.

Speaking of things in progress… I am trying to turn the remains of an eleven-foot SUP into a 7’10” Fat-Boy Kneeboard. It is in the painting part of the process. My motto back in my sign painting days was “It’s not done until it’s overdone.” I have yet to determine if I can use epoxy resin on it without melting the whole thing down, but I have been checking out some YouTube videos on how to do the glassing. Oh, it’s not that I haven’t done some board making, it’s just that it was a long, long time ago, in a land far to the south. SO, as with future swells and elections and just about everything else, we’ll see.

I am worried about several things with this board; not whether it’ll rip; pretty sure it will.

My manuscript, “Swamis,” is actually coming along pretty well. As with everything else ongoing… I have plans. I’ll let you know.

As always, thanks for checking out realsurfers.

Who Do You Know? and Other Party Games

This is the second shot. I thought the mustache and the note might be enough to tell some sort of story. Probably not.

Wow. Hurtful. I want to be clear. I thought it was amusing.

I was afraid the photo might look like an old guy in a parking lot. I was right. And, no waves.

SURFERS surf, of course, but we also hang out on beaches and in parking lots, chatting. In another setting, or if chairs, and fires, and favors, or darkness, or lack of actual waves are involved this might be described as ‘partying.’ Since I don’t often ‘party,’ this has become my description of partying. Chatting, schmoozing, talking story, or playing my favorite game, “Who do you know?”

I had, indeed, on this day, before and then after surfing (‘Practicing’ I call it when the waves are minimal but uncrowded), participated in several enjoyable rounds of ‘WDYK.’ Let’s see: Reggie (took a nap, took off for elsewhere), Omar (able to fit three big boards and himself into a stealth rig/car- didn’t surf), Kendall (who surfed) and Natalie (who didn’t). Kendall knows Darren, others I know, though not Reggie, a ‘maybe’ on Adam Wipeout, and some guy who thought he was surfing, and walked over as I was ready to leave in a wetsuit and a hat, ready to chat. “Hey,” I said, as I pulled out, “is that wetsuit really that… short?” “He rolled up the legs,” Omar said. “I did,” the guy in the hat said. “Oh,” I said, and drove away.

Party over.

THE MYSTERY- As I almost do, partially to mitigate the expense, mostly as an excuse, conveniently timed to coincide with some hope o a swell, I stopped in Sequim. Armed with a cell phone rather than a list (though I usually have, and need, both), I got the stuff and headed back out. That’s when I discovered the note under the windshield wiper of my surf rig.

Now, in every mystery, there is a RED HERRING. It was weird that, the moment I turned around with the just-discovered note, a woman was approaching me. It was Jen (might be Gin, depending or her real name). She may have recognized me, as she said, from little videos Reggie Smart (look him up if you care) posts of me on Instagram. OR, as she also said, I had spoken to her in a parking lot. I THOUGHT it might have been the time, and she may have been the women who, when some dude, several rigs down the line, was complaining (to others, not to me) about my wave-hogging (topic for another day), and after she noted that the lineup is sometimes a “Sausage-fest” (Funny), she told me that she told him, “That’s just what he does.” Not a really good defense. But true.

That might have been a different woman. Jen, when I asked what I had said to her, said, “You said you thought I was a boy.” Oh. So, maybe I’m not necessarily that perceptive. Rude. As it turned out, Jen knows, like, everyone. Ev-er-re-one in the surfing community (such as it is- if it is). Part of this is that Jen worked or works at HOBUCK (not bad-mouthing Hobuck here). I mentioned ADAM WIPEOUT. Whoa! Jen had worked the just-over weekend at one of the constant events they have down at the Hama-Hama. I called Adam to verify. I gave Jen the phone. I loaded up my Costco loot. Jen invited me to her wedding, upcoming, at, surprise, Hobuck, to someone I may or may not know.

Forgot his name. Adam knows him. Of course.

So Jen, who seemed to think some of what I was saying was humorous, particularly that Hobuck is where the hipsters who deny being hipsters hang out, took the photos. She sent them to Reggie, he sent them to me.

Dru showed me how to get them on this computer.

Jen is, at that point, still a suspect.

BUT THEN, because they had both been surfing on this day, Aaron and Randall and Reggie became suspects. I actually texted Aaron. Denial, but he said the note was genius. So, still suspect. Reggie? “No; not me, dude.” I called Keith. “Hmm. I think Randall does the Costco thing… sometimes.

Now, the note could have been written by someone I don’t know, maybe not even a real surfer. Possible

Next time: Reveal.

Youth, Lost and/or Found

I am writing this on my tablet. Dru loaned me a computer so Trish can keep the one we share while she is spending time at Dru’s house. The borrowed laptop is a Mac rather than Mic (read Mike). Mostly the mac is for continuing “Swamis.” I haven’t yet connected it to the internet. So, hunting and pecking on my tablet. Mic and Mac and now, Tab.

IS writing a novel set in my youth a way to relive what has been lost in the fifty-plus years since? Yes. And no.

NO, much of the time covered was great. Far from all. It’s over. That wave is gone. I’m having new setbacks and adventures, dramas and traumas and the occasional great ride.

YES, I get to remember the obvious people and events. In remembering, things I have not put in the easily accessed files are brought back. This is… enjoyable, even as I realize an ever higher percentage of what I write will be cut (but probably saved, elsewhere).

AND, I get to shape characters from the amazing real people I have come into contact with. Even those characters originally based on friends have become… different. This is, again, part of the fun. Each character becomes more complex, the added fictions making him or her more… realistic. Hopefully this is also true for the reader.

THE STORY I believed I knew has demanded to be something else. More and, somehow, less. I am tightening the timeline. YET, when I finish whatever counts as a writing session, I cannot help but consider where and how it could be different, hopefully better.

We can’t change the past. We can’t go back and edit out the awkward falls and crappy conditions, can’t add a few more awesome rides to past surf sessions.

Next time, man…

Sweltering in Place- Emergency Posting

The emergency part is that, because of various reasons, I’m stuck in Seattle overnight. The most recent of the various reasons is that, while going to retrieve Trisha’s car from an underground garage (and I was pretty darn unsure as to which underground garage it was- Trish, who wasn’t in the car when I parked it, did remember- The Lindeman), I discovered, after trying to go down a road/ramp at something like a 35% angle, with signs that read, “No pedestrians on ramp,” I got to huge steel doors, the kind they have, no doubt, for the garages at Fort Knox. “No attendant after hours.” The hours are 6am to 8pm. It was, like, 9-something pm, and I not only got to trudge back up the ramp, but, in order to get back to the room Trish is staying in at the Inn at Virginia Mason, I got to trudge a block over and a block up a similarly steep (or steeper) one block incline, a trek I had made no more than an hour before.

I’ll get back to that in a minute. First, allow me to complain about the heat. When I was checking Trish and our daughter in, yesterday, a woman was in the lobby complaining about it being over one hundred degrees in her room in the over one hundred-year-old, un-air-conditioned building. Yes, Seattle was going for a record number of days over ninety degrees, but, like, how bad can it be?

That was yesterday. Dru was scheduled for surgery some time the next day (today). Trish and I took off at butt-dark-thirty, picked up Dru in Port Gamble, made it to the Bainbridge ferry. Short wait, good position on the boat, no one’s car alarm went off. Dru used an app to find the hospital from the ferry, to find the place where she could get her mandatory Covid test, and the Inn. Dru called to see if she and her mom could get in early. Yes. We packed the gear in the already-quite-warm room, and I took off, ready to do the “Drive around” rather than use the ferries. Forty-five minutes or so of getting lost in parts of Seattle cut off by constantly expanding freeways, I ended up perilously close to the ferries, but still chose to hit I-5. Trisha’s car has great air conditioning.

Today, I again got up early, made it to the (I think) same ferry. I was supposed to find a place to park the car for the day. A close, outside lot was full except for several spots for charging up Teslas, and one spot for handicapped. Trish calls these ‘paralyzed parking’ spots and is probably qualified to have one. But she doesn’t, and I moved on. Down. Underground.

Now, the surgery. I am quite uncomfortable discussing the cancer surgery our forty-two-year-old daughter has (now) undergone, but I will say it was radical, I will also add that Dru’s Oncologist told her that, because of her early concern and investigation, and the early detection of cancer cells, “You just saved your own life.”

This doesn’t mean that the recovery phase is going to be pleasant or easy. While I put off thinking too much about any of this in order to avoid just totally freaking out, I am also putting off considering what is involved in the next phases. Fortunately, Dru’s two main employers have been very supportive, as have many of her many friends. And, as Dru says, “I am so grateful I live in a blue state.” I’m not sure how much the help from the state is, but it is nice there is some support for people who have situations that keep them from working.

I do know several others who have also been stricken with cancer. The fear of how to survive financially is right up there with the fear of the fucking disease (yeah, you thought I might keep it clean- I didn’t try too hard).

Anyway, the heat. While Trish and I were hanging out at the Inn, Dru in the hands and the schedule of the teams (the oncology surgeon’s and the plastic surgeon’s), I was taking advantage of the (slower than ours at home) WiFi. Checking out the YouTube, I saw surfers from Hawaii down in Mexico, and complaining about the heat. I had to wonder how hot it has to be for it to be too hot for them. Meanwhile, Seattle is too hot for me. I went out on the mean city streets to get Trish and I some food. I might not have been the only guy sweating through his shirt but… no, I might have been.

And it was the only shirt I brought.

A little Mexican shower… looks soooo refreshing.

Because the procedure and the recovery room stuff took a while, visiting hours were over by the time I made a valiant (I think) attempt to see Dru. I went to the place adjacent to the Inn. No way. I called Trish. I went down the really steep hill. I came back up. I went here, there, rode the elevator to limited floors with locked doors. I asked several people (anyone wearing scrubs, really) “Oh, you have to go to the emergency room.” Where’s that? “Just uphill from the Inn.” Oh. So, sweated through my shirt for the second time in a day. I got in, saw Dru, left, got my stuff from the sauna/room, went outside, down the super steep hill, around the corner, found the garage. Then, see above.

THIS IS WHERE everything I had written disappeared. Gone. Forever. YES, I did throw a massive fit. Yes, I wrote about it. THIS POST is now, because I am afraid not to post it, going to be on top of the semi-replacement column. PLEASE, if only to check on continuity, check out the next post down. Never mind, it’s, like, three down. Whoa, so prolific.

ANYWAY, Dru is hooking me up with a laptop. It’s a Mac, so… hoping for the best after a short tutorial. We’ll see. Pretty happy to be able to publish this. Now, just…

Over Time, Comparatively Speaking

                         With the inclusion of inarguably life-changing events, we determine what we remember, over time, of the rare but truly horrific and the rare but truly blissful events.

Recalling a specific moment once makes it easier to remember, more clearly, the next time.

Memory banks and memory files, images and sounds and feelings, still shots and little videos; something that happens in the present snaps the synapses and, whoa, yeah… that one time…

I quite surprisingly and suddenly realized that the official start of Autumn is only days away, one of two moments, and I may be wrong about this, when the earth is in true balance and there are equal amounts of day and night. From that point, the next defining point is the dropping of Daylight Savings Time, somewhere around Halloween, the semi-unofficial end, for the most part, of the exterior painting season in the Great Northwest.

Yet, somewhere in here is the start of the surf season, such as it is, with the hope of North Pacific storms and waves over knee high. Hope is different than expectation. Around the Strait, even hope is tempered by experience; skunkings when forecasts call for waves, defiant winds when the forecasts call for calm.   

In the Summer of 1968, the summer season defined as the interval between school sessions, Ray Hicks and Bill Buel and Phillip Harper and I were cruising in one of their cars, returning inland from a day of cruising Surf Route 101, anywhere from San Onofre to, most likely, Cardiff, in search of a beach with some possibility of girls hanging out, and with rideable waves, and with the hope that the lineup was not too crowded. We did, no doubt, surf, most likely at Grandview or Swamis beachbreak.

Whichever vehicle we were in (again, not mine) featured the latest in in-car entertainment, an 8 trac tape player. Because we were middle class suburban teens, we related to the non-bubblegum-pop tunes of Cream, the Beatles (less and less), and the Doors. Most shared, most sung along to. Yes, if we were a year younger, Led Zeppelin’s orgasmic rock might have taken over. We weren’t. We listened to the Doors. We could relate.

It wasn’t just the AM-radio/garage-band-at-the-VFW-hall stuff. Deep cuts. “Wait until the war is over, and we’re both a little older; the unknown soldier.” The war wasn’t over. It would still be there when we were older… old enough.

It was almost dark, we were parked somewhere, facing west, perhaps, more likely facing some thicket of sage like brush off Mission, the route from one or our homes to another- extending the length of the surf trip/adventure. Smoking. Click. Another tune. “Summer’s almost gone, summer’s almost gone; Where will we be… when the summer’s gone.” There was an instrumental fill at this point, the perfect four beat place in which, from my spot in the back seat, I added, “We’ll be in school.”

It wasn’t well received. ‘Fuck you’ and ‘oh, man,’ and ‘get out’ didn’t make for a unified chorus.

Yet, summer had gone on long enough that the days of not surfing, of hanging out or playing some pickup game at the high school, of listening to other groups, other songs, had gone on long enough. School was… we’d be seniors, there were girls, guaranteed. There was a certain level of anticipation.

Time seems to move faster as we get older. I have noticed. I have decided it is because, the longer we are alive, rotating and spinning, the shorter the comparative time is of any particular season. So, summer is, relatively, short. That’s my theory.

Incidentally, the reason I know it wasn’t my car is this: My vehicles never seemed to have a functioning radio. Fifty-four years later, my current surf rig’s radio started shorting out a few years ago; irritating; and then it quit completely. I do have my harmonica, and, since I usually go surfing alone, I don’t mind my singing and playing. Other than my own tunes, I will do a few of Dylan’s. I have a killer version of “All Along the Watchtower.” The Doors? No, not really.

The subject next time, perhaps, could be: “Froth.”

I’m getting some stick-on lettering made saying, “realsurfers FROTH!” So far, Keith is signed on to get one. Steve and Adam, the only others I’ve offered them to, didn’t seem enthusiastic enough; I will not beg them. So… as with everything, forever, we’ll see.

HAPPY EQUINOX!  

“Whoa, dudes; it’s like… Fall, man; it’s the best. This one time… Hey, thanks for loaning me your spare suit; you should know, three more steps, I’m peeing. Traditional. So, like, glad it’s less crowded. Those Summer-only kooks, huh? I totally plan on dominating. Say, you even wax up this board?”

FUCKCANCER UPDATE:

Dru is probably going to have radiation treatments, but, hopefully, not Chemo. Trish is doing most of the hanging out with our daughter over in Port Gamble, making sure Dru doesn’t lift heavy stuff. I’ve done like one night a week, but I, um… well, I do plan on going over tomorrow for the Seahawks game, partially so Trish can get her hands back on this computer, probably do some lifting.

Stephen R. Davis is staying in Bellevue and going for procedures in Seattle. He is getting a full ‘workup’ (not fun in itself) ahead of two doses of Super Chemo. I will get a proper copy of Steve’s painting of a fantasy surf spot this week and will post it here with info on how you can purchase a limited-edition copy. Evidently Steve has already promised the original to some lucky person.   

No, it’s never that simple, never that…

…easy.

Here’s a photo from March of 2004. My son, Sean, daughter Drucilla, and I were down south for a sort of family reunion/celebration of my father’s 80th birthday, arranged and staged by my sister, Suellen, and centered in Oceanside. I used the occasion to go on a sort of show-and-tell trip that included staying as close to the coast as possible, with, no doubt, stories of every spot. The south jetty, where I most often surfed before work at Buddy’s Sign Service, the building in which I worked, the pier, the auto repair shop where my dad worked two nights a week and Sundays for years, Tamarack, Grandview, Beacons, Swamis.

Swamis, just before the applause on the bluff.

My plan was to write about two things here: Dru’s cancer and my novel, “Swamis.” Plans change. ALWAYS.

ME FIRST. Dru is recovering from surgery, like, a week ago. Trish has been taking care of her, staying at her place, twenty-two minutes away (if no one crashes on or near the Hood Canal Bridge, or some sailboat or nuclear submarine has to go through it) from our house. In order for Trish to do some other stuff, and to give her a break, I got to take over for a day, like, yesterday. Trish left a list of chores that I almost totally ignored. NOW, I have been telling/warning our daughter that I would not help her if she didn’t read the latest chapter I wrote, my third complete rewrite (counting the outline that turned into a sort of treatment) of my novel, “Swamis.” Dru, of course, though I had sent it to her, had not yet read it.

AND YET I came over, watched a horror movie, tried to sleep on her futon, did not make her a delicious breakfast as her mother had been doing, but did, while Dru was scrambling some eggs for simple breakfast burritos, start reading the chapter to her. There were interruptions, including a rare call from George Takamoto. I had to take the call, and somehow, managed to sit on my plate of burritos. Wouldn’t have been bad if it hadn’t been for the toothpicks. SO DRU started reading the chapter to me.

IT WAS GREAT. A couple of awkward parts. Fixable. Here’s the sort of unexpected thing: “Dad, it’s a short story.” No. “Yes. I can stand on its own. Short story.” Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of.

Over a hundred pages into the manuscript, sixty thousand plus words, CHAPTER FOURTEEN has enough of the story to ALMOST stand alone. Not completely, but, as each version of “Swamis” focuses more on the main story line, the plot, if I now go back, if Chapter Fourteen becomes Chapter Five, say, with three more after that, all leading to a non-conclusion… well, that would be a novel I wouldn’t have to beg or threaten someone to read. OR THAT IS THE HOPE.

Dru and I, 2004. Still surfers in the water. Dru’s hair now is back to dark, mine is pretty much white. No, I, unlike Trish and our three kids, was never a blonde. I do enjoy it when people think I might have been.

THE OTHER THING that was on the agenda for yesterday was a zoom call with Dru’s surgeon. Bearing in mind that I am quite uncomfortable talking about this, Dru had decided to go with radical surgery with some hope if not expectation that Chemo and/or Radiation might not be necessary. THIS, almost of course, is not how it is going. Though other testing and discussion and shit has to happen, the Doctor said the two (rightfully) scary options might be in her future. THE ANTICIPATION of surgery- frightening; but she’s past that and recovering. WHAT WE KNOW about others who have undergone these procedures caused me to ambush the doctor when she asked Dru if she had any other questions. “Yeah, I do. I thought we got rid of the cancer. It’s not in her lymph nodes, so?” The doctor referred to the size of the tumor and how much it had grown since first discovered. “But the tumor’s gone. Past tense.” Not so easy. There are ‘maybes’ and ‘we don’t know yets.’ The doctor explained those and tried to lessen any anxiety. “Thank you.”

SO, Yeah. So, “fuck!” So, sure; it can’t just be over. No. Few things are easy. Nothing is EVER simple.

WE ALL GO THROUGH our lives among and between waves of hopeful anticipation and troughs of fearful anticipation. Few events are as blissfully, floatingly good or as full-stop, unbearably bad as the renderings, mosaics, perhaps, our imaginations create from the collected bits of shattered dreams, and the pieces of scattered moments of magic and peace and joy and BLISS.

What we really do, all we really can do is KEEP GOING.

I have to say that Dru seems to be more optimistic about enduring further treatment than I am. Trish, as always, will be supportive. Disappointment. Regroup. Keep going.

MEANWHILE, my good friend Stephen Davis, having made it through six rounds of Chemo, with his cancer knocked-back, is currently getting ready to take another step; a massive dose of chemicals that will do so much damage that, once through it, he will have to retake all his childhood inoculations. And that might not be the end of it. He will be unable to work or, probably, surf, for six months or so. SCARY!

This is a not-quite complete version of Stephen R. Davis’s painting of a mystical, possibly mind-created spot. Steve took it off the frame, took it to the PRINTERY in Port Townsend. There it was scanned on the big-enough unit used for blueprints, which doesn’t print in color, and transferred to a thumb drive. Steve has ordered prints of various sizes. The plan is to produce several, possibly full-sized giclee prints, up about a hundred limited edition (which would be numbered and signed) photo prints on 11″x14″ paper, with the possibility of also doing a number (limited by Steve) of smaller versions, some as greeting cards. I am not sure what Steve plans to do with the original. Trish and I have one of his original works, directly across from our bed. From that distance, it looks perfect. Part of the magic. If you notice, the land on the left of this painting is totally abstract, nonsensically so. If you Iook at the wave in the foreground in the completed version, it is perfectly rendered. If you step back, just far enough, the whole scene is fantastically real.

OKAY, I’ll get a photo of the completed version on here. Soon.

Insert your own uplifting aphorism here.

What we don’t want to know…

…can kick our asses.

Trisha’s and my daughter, Drucilla, arrived in Seattle on TUESDAY, the record tying 15th day of above-90-degree days in one season. So, fun. Dru was going to Virginia Mason for a surgery I have been actively avoiding thinking about and I am uncomfortable writing about. I will say the cancer surgery is radical. It is also somewhat unusual for a 42-year-old.

ON WEDNESDAY, Dru had the surgery- hours of it, with two teams, one working on the radical part of it, the second on the reconstructive aspects. THE GOOD NEWS IS it went well. What we have to look forward to in the recovery process is, yes, something I’m trying, again, not to think about. Trish has tried to tell me the details, I have tried not to really comprehend them; I just know it’s messy and embarrassing and totally necessary.

NOT thinking too hard is… okay, say the long-range surf forecast calls for significant swell five days out. Excited? Probably, but three days out the picture will be clearer, and the awesome most likely will become… less so.

I have tried really hard to not imagine the negative scenarios possible with any type of surgical procedure. MY ZEAL to not freak the fuck out, to not know more than I need to know, has not helped me in the past several days.

I will need several posts to cover all the stupid, mostly avoidable missteps I have made in trips to and from the Big, Hot, Steep-hilled, Dangerous, Emerald City. It isn’t over. It’s THURSDAY and I’m currently in Quilcene, Trish, with a hamstring injury, is in an un-air-conditioned room adjacent to the hospital, and we are awaiting news as to when Dru is going to be released. Then I get to zip back over. Most likely this will be tomorrow, FRIDAY, never a good day in the summer to try to get a ferry ride west.

Dru, in Quilcene’s Peninsula Store, obviously, by the hat and the price of cigarettes, the winter of 2018. Yes, I could probably get a more current photo, but this one is in my file and I’m a bit nervous about losing my post before you get to read it.

I do have some mostly misadventures to write about and, in fact, did write a really lengthy piece late last night, here, like I am doing now, on the actual WordPress setup. That was, and this might be, a mistake. A message suddenly popped onto the screen informing me that there had been an error and… gone. I should have and should now, first write on the Microsoft Word, then transfer. Should.

Dru, according to her Oncologist, by not ignoring signs and symptoms, by not hoping for the best, by detecting a problem early and getting an early diagnosis… well, here’s the quote: “You just saved your own life.”

That’s the GOOD PART. I will be back with the fun/stupid/avoidably dumb parts. Later.

Now- Hit “Publish” and hope for the best.

Sometimes You Beat the Heat…

…sometimes it beats you.

This is my September submission for the Quilcene Community Center Newsletter. I am posting it here first. Yes, I really want to talk about my eventually radical fat boy/caveman kneeboard and how, lineup-wise, my policy will be, “Okay, then, sit next to me.” Yeah, next time, this will be explained.

Sometimes the heat is and can only be described as ‘excessive’ or ‘oppressive.’ You step out of your house or your car, cooled, somewhat, what we call, ‘conditioned,’ and your body cannot hold back a ‘whew,’ blowing out a breath that is, at whatever body temperature your brain and your clothing try to maintain, still cooler than it is outside.  

“Sum-mer-time… and the livin’ is… easy…” Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heywood, from “Porgy and Bess.” Just to give credit. Don’t listen to the Janis Joplin version on a hot day. Just a warning.

Oh, wait, I’m writing this for September, and I’m writing it six hours or so after the latest heat advisory (or red alert, depending on location and distance from large bodies of water) ended and the more acceptable drizzle started. Drizzle, yea!

I’m pretty sure you weren’t one of those who complained (or, maybe, speculated), when it was cool and rainy into June, and even July, that we would never get a Summer.

No, we haven’t had the severe smokiness or anything the meteorologists would label a ‘heat dome,’ but we have had days, many of them, in a row, where, say, a painter could leave drop cloths out overnight without fear that this act might be construed by whatever entities control the weather, as a challenge.

So, yes, even if it stays kind of cool and rainy until the end of October, Halloween, the unofficial start to the cooling season, we have had a summer.

I did see a lot of photos of sexy women in and around waterfalls, but not wanting to appear, I guess, pervy, I choose to use this one; partially because the dude is in sort of a prayer position, possibly asleep. This choice might make more sense as you read on.

HERE ARE a few things people say about the weather:

“Hot enough fer ya?” Yes. Fifty-five suits me fine, if I’m working outside, sixty-five if I’m, like, hanging out. No, I rarely hang out.

“Great day for painting, huh?” What are you doing?

“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” So, when are you going back to Arizona?

“Surfer, huh? Do you wear a wetsuit? Is the water cold?” Yes. Yes. Yes, it’s salty, too. Thought I’d throw that one in. Yes, seventy-five degrees is great… on the beach.

“It always cools down at night.” Thankfully.

“With the days getting shorter, even if it gets hot, it’s not for that long.” This one goes with, “We rarely get more than three days in a row of hot weather.” Response- Thankfully, and Until we do.

“I don’t know how people face it when they wake up and it’s going to be a hundred and eight degrees; and there’s nothing but that kind of heat in the forecast… for weeks on end.” I don’t know, either.

“You know, a lot of times, it’s cooler here on the Olympic Peninsula than anywhere in the continental United States.” It’s cooler in Port Townsend.

“You just have to get acclimated.” I do. I don’t want to.

“It’s okay to sweat.” Yes, in the gym, and with a few exceptions, pretty much not anywhere else. Side note- no one wants to see almost anyone else shirtless. Make your own exceptions.

“When it is really hot it is difficult to sleep.” Churches seem to have the perfect temperature for that.

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Yeah, well, I researched that, and though the quote is often attributed to Mark Twain, it may have come from Charles Dudley Warner, a neighbor and fellow writer; not that you should care. But I do disagree. We have…    

AIR CONDITIONING- Magically, though the radio and the rear window wiper and numerous other things don’t work, the air conditioner on my 1985 Toyota Camry does, though it seems to work less effectively on longer trips. At some point, there just doesn’t seem to be enough… oxygen. On my work van, no, and the vent and fan are inadequate.

We have one of those window air conditioners in the living room, a different deal in the back bedroom. Somewhat relieved that the (extended) winter heating season is over, I will soon find out what the cost of comparative coolness is.

Though I try to follow the shade as I am painting, I am occasionally required to finish up a job in the sun. I finished up a job recently on the hottest day of the year (to that point), at the hottest part of the day (5:30 mid-summer). After almost stripping off my shirt, I spent the next day, recovering, five feet from the air conditioner, mostly watching a surfing contest in Tahiti on the big screen TV. It was probably hot and humid there. Why would I care? Where I was, it was 69 degrees, somewhere around 50 percent humidity.     

Perfect.

Oh, one last thing: “Do you know how you can tell tourists are from the Northwest, anywhere in the world?” Yes. We’d be the ones in the shade.

SURFERS AND COOLNESS- I’ve spent my life trying to figure this all out. What I have noticed is that ultra-coolness on the beach does not always transfer intact to proficiency in the water. Still, I do try to up my beach game. See you out on Surf Route 101.

Camping and Not Camping and, like, yeah, I mean, you know… huh?

“So-oooo, it was, like, well, you know, I’m, like, so very wiped-out… you hear what I’m saying? Oh, it wasn’t one of those, you know, like I’m stink-bugging and Waikiki beach bunny falling off for no, you know, good reason; I got clipped after, you see, free-falling on the backdoor bomb. You know what I mean? Oh, it’s not like I wasn’t in there, the belly of the beast, you know. I mean, like, you hear me? Yeah. Okay. Doesn’t matter; I got it all on the go-pro. So, um, I was… oh, yeah, I, like, lost my leash; it was totally just fuckin’ ripped off my ankle as I was, like churned and bounced around, and, you see, it was big ass hold-down; and I, I come up and I’m… gasping. Urrrrrrrrrrh! So, now, I’m totally in, like, the impact zone, the vortex. Oh, man, I’m in the deep end of the pool, but, you know, like the rocks are, like, right there; and the water, it’s, you know, like, kinda swirling, swear to God sucking me down the beach and out to sea in the radical riptide. You got this? Yah, so, me, I’m not fuckin’ panicking, but here comes another macking, maxed-out drainer; and, holy shit, man, I am starting to freak when it comes down… yeah, it detonates… detonates, and, yes, believe it, right on my fuckin’ head. Yeah, I mean, so heavy! But, different subject, huh? I mean, hey, those triple cheese and tarragon-stuffed mushrooms were delightful. The artisan Gallega knots with the vinegar and goat butter… extra delightful; and the ganosh. Dee-light-ful. But… big question; might I have a little top-up, some more of that Seghesio Rockpile Zinfanfel 1994? It goes so well with the S’mores. Cool. Right on. Love this camping life. Hope you brought enough gas for the generator. And, oh, am I still going to have to use those public restrooms? There’s, like, way too many Shitters, and not enough… shitters. You know what I mean?”

It’s not like I haven’t camped. I have. Actually, I’ve done a lot. It’s just that I would rather not. This time of year, the Strait is even flatter than usual. So, the coast is an option. It is an option many are taking. Maybe too many. It does make sense, the camping thing. If someone is going from for example, from Seattle to, say, somewhere in the vicinity of, I don’t know, Neah Bay, taking the time and paying the fuel costs, and, most likely, the monthly tab on some fancy-bad-ass and tricked-out rig, might as well stay a while.

THE DARROCK RULE- Paraphrased, Keith would say, “You should surf for at least as long a time as it took you to get there.” So, last time I went, with a side-stop, it took me an hour and twenty-three minutes to get to a spot that was, you know, breaking. Though the waves pretty much quit after an hour and twelve minutes, I persisted. Of course, if you’re five minutes away… surf, like, longer.

I do have a big-boy van. Work van. Yes, I am aware that I could take out all the painting stuff and… camp. I do think about it. In the summer, a person could surf late, eight hours later, back in the water. In the winter, well, the nights are just too long, and I have stuff to do at home.

TO EXPLAIN the caption (above)- I just wrote about the ‘Hey, man,’ thought I might write about some other common word usage AND mention a few of my concerns about camping. Let me admit, first, that I never take off for even a pre-dawn surf venture without going, like, you know, number two. Number one, rarely a problem. I have become pretty creative, partially because clients rarely invite painters inside to use the bathroom, and, even if they do…

I do have a couple of camping and surf trip horror stories to back up my number two… PTSSD. Mexico, Baja and mainland, church camp… I could tell these tales if we were, like, sitting around a fire and you actually aren’t good at playing guitar and you don’t want to hear any more of my harmonica and/or singing.

Their loss.

“Wait a minute; that breakfast burrito’s starting to kink in. Oh, no!”

OKAY, I am posting this way down here, past where you have, no doubt, given up. I’m not trying to blow up a spot. Take Westport, for example. Go. So, and I don’t understand why my friends don’t think this is genius, I have a little slogan. “Invest some time in Hobuck; Keep the change.” Variation- “Spend some time in Hobuck; Keep the change.” Not that this alone keeps me from going, but the campground has really nice showers, just a less than thrilling ratio between users and facilities.

Good luck. See you on the road.

WAIT! I am claiming Copyright on the slogans, and pretty much everything I write. “Lesser Genius.” Yeah, that, too!