Father’s Day Weekend, International Surfing Day…

…and, as always, I’m just glad to get some waves. Swell windows along the Strait of Juan de Fuca are small, tight, and reliant on so many variables.  And I wouldn’t have even been checking them out or considering surfing on a weekend if I hadn’t had such an exhausting work week; work completed on a frustrating and not-really-all-that-profitable project at about 8pm on Friday, painting stuff piled back into the van, check ATM-deposited.

EDIT; [Hey, wait; was International Surfing Day June 16, or is it June 22nd? Kind of confusing. Doesn’t really matter; I surfed on one of the possibilities, not sure about next weekend; or any weekend, but, since this weekend is gone and the reports are in, it seems like those who really wanted northwest waves got some. So, good.]

It was a Hobuck weekend for sure. It was the kind of Olympic Peninsula weekend Seattle-Siders dream of. White Reggie Longstroke had taken off on Thursday night to secure a prime spot. Temperatures were predicted to be in the 80 degree range, no big disturbing winds, moderate swell.

I definitely had no plans to go to the coast, and was trying to get all the parties together to start another job, miss the mob. I was hoping for a small swell window, like, checking, like today, right now. It’s a maybe, but… yeah, someone might be getting some waves.

Big Dave, who I’d run into on Wednesday or so, me on my way to a job, he standing by his Jefferson County dump truck, waiting, evidently, to fill in some pot holes on the Center Road, and who I really just wanted to clue in on a session I’d had (and he’d missed) with Clint and I pretty much the only surfers out; but he had to tell me the coast looked to be the bet for the weekend, and, man, I really missed the Memorial Day surf at La Push.

“Wait,” I said; I was checking out the camera, swear I caught an image of you bottom-turning on a wave.” “Probably. I was out there.”

I must add that I also got a clue, texted from an unnamed surf zealot down the canal, that there might be a little window that might not show on the forecast, even on the buoys.

“My board’s still on my car,” I texted; “What time r u thinking? 6? 5?”

No response to my “Going for it” text at 4:30. Knowing he had graduation parties to go to, probably from Shelton to Chimacum, I just knew he was already on it in the pre-dawn light.

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Okay, this isn’t actually the lineup when I arrived at around 6;45. I did take some photos with my phone, but can’t figure out how to send them to my e-mail. It was similar, but cleaner; the tide already low and headed for the lowest low (I’m told) of the year; and the swell was dropping, had dropped overnight, one surfer was out, one was headed out, two more were suiting up, and, well, I had to get out there.

Adam Wipeout wasn’t already there, but, with all I didn’t know, he might have been somewhere, hitting waves bigger and better.

It was pretty much over two hours later when I slogged through the mid-cove quicksand. Window closed.  On the way home I did pass a lot of surfers, even more kayakers, as many rigs trailering boats.  Hopefully each of those folks found something to enjoy.  With a rising tide, there could have been another window. And there’s always the coast. Hobuck, La Push, various spots in between… maybe.

Geez, it’s already late; got to get to work.

 

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Captain Sketchee Surf Garb

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OKAY, I’m probably through with Captain Sketchee.  Partially, well, mostly because Trish is sick of seeing illustrations of creepy old men. I guess it’s bad enough living with one.

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Captain Sketchee in Color

and ready for more.

More what? More whatever; as long as it doesn’t require running or excessive sweating. No, and he’s done with nude beach volleyball (something about the leaping). He is educated (and he can list his credentials), opinionated, and ready to discuss several non-urgent, not-really-controversial topics in any one of several casual settings, including surf beaches and/or surf-adjacent parking areas.

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“They’re called car parks in much of the world,” is just one of many pieces of info he’s willing to share. Plus, Captain Sketchee has an encyclopedic knowledge of pretty much every wave he rode from 1963 to 1968, the year he used his Uncle’s influence to get into the Coast Guard Auxiliary, just the start of his auxiliary naval career (the ‘Captain’ is strictly honorary).

“Yes, I hot-dogged the outside section, did a spinner, dropped a BA, cheater-fived right past one of those kooks on a 7’6″ garage soul ‘experimental’ board, did a soul arch and a standing Hawaiian in the shorebreak; Tamarack, September 17, 1967. Ebbing tide, afternoon session, fourteen completed rides, one swim, three ‘call offs,’ one verbal exchange, one deferred confrontation on the beach. Early cloud cover.”

The Captain is also known to distribute sage insight such as: “I probably should have made a few friends along the way, but… friends, inevitably, want to share a wave. One (I’ve found that, if he says ‘one,’ he probably means himself) evidently, has to be willing to go alone. All alone.” This might be followed by, “No one drops in on someone he or she (rather than using the more common, less elegant ‘they’) respects, so, blast it all, why’d you totally flamin’ burn me?”

“I don’t think I ‘totally flamin’ burned’ you, Captain; you blew the takeoff on the previous wave, missed two before that; I just… maybe I just lost faith. Sorry, I said ‘previous.’ Maybe ‘preceding’ might have been a better choice. What say you?”

CAPTAIN’S LOG- Surf Date, 03/11/18. Secret spot of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Muddy parking area/pullout. Very small reef break. Sunny but East wind side chop. Four completed rides. One semi-barrel. Two drop-ins. One verbal situation. One shared ride. One confrontation diffused. Going to Westport tomorrow. Ample parking.

Yeah, okay; I was just going to post the photo. Got to go.

Coincidental/Possibly Fated Interactions With Alternative/Parallel Universes

FIRST: When you miss out on a great/epic/all time session; it isn’t that we don’t know what we missed; it’s that we do.

SECOND: Let’s say you plan out your future. A to B to C. Sorry, doesn’t really work; there are these little surprises that change the path, each one changing the future. Cause/effect; if, for example, Howard had fired me as Buddy told him he should, I wouldn’t have been a sign painter apprentice long enough to get a job as a painter, and… and on and on… to now.  So it is with these overlapping stories of Hydrosexual (because he loves all things water) Stephen Davis.

STORY ONE- THE WHALE PAINTING

Steve called me the day after he sold the painting for $3,000.00 USD. He said he kind of picked up that I had some sort of (“why him and not me”) resentment from our phone conversation from the day before. “Yeah, but I’m still 95% stoked and happy for you.”

IF… Stephen wasn’t a trained/schooled artist with an incredible eye, none of this would have happened. BUT, if he hadn’t moved from Colorado to Port Townsend to go the the Wooden Boat School, he might not have gotten SO into surfing. IF he hadn’t had the opportunity to go to Northern California to do (originally) carpentry on a farm, he might not have had the financing to go to Baja for an extended stay. If he hadn’t met Pepe’, he might not have seen Pepe’s amazing photos of whales in the Sea of Cortez.

Circumstances kept Stephen from returning to Baja, BUT, because Oceana’s father has a tourist-centric shop on the Big Island, and it needed help during the tourist season, Stephen went to Hawaii. Besides surf, one of the perks is the use of a condo, with, evidently, space to paint. AND, Steve picked up a side job as a crewmember on a catamaran, built by Woody Brown, owned by CAP (he’ll show up later). Part of Steve’s job, evidently, and I’m sure there are some less-fun aspects, involves swimming with tourists and dolphins and whales.

A woman who works on the boat suggested they could use t-shirts as advertising. “Maybe with a picture of a whale.” FAST FORWARD- Steve did the painting, t shirts were produced. Yes I have one. Yes, I’ll get it signed next time I actually see Steve. Meanwhile, Steve sells this first whale painting to Cosmo, a friend who escaped Chicago winter, hung out in Hawaii for a month or so.

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THEN, this guy from Georgia whose daughter is opening a gallery, just happens to get on Cap’s charter boat.  Maybe it’s the t shirt. Whale painting? CAP hooks Stephen up. Steve gets to work, quite frantically, on another, larger whale painting (also based on a Pepe’ photo). He has a meeting scheduled. RIGHT HERE let me explain a little about how Steve does business. Kind of casual; as in, “I don’t know; whatever you want to pay me.” Somehow, this seems to work. Plus, Stephen has wide ranging and mad skills. He’d say, if you ask him, “I can do that. I’m pretty, um, mediocre;” but he means ‘I have mad skills at whatever you need.’

NOT THIS TIME. Steve solicited advice; even from me. “Yeah, I’m going to have a price in mind. $3,300.00. I promised Pepe’ ten percent, so, it, uh, makes sense.” “Thirty-three. Yeah. Sure. That’s a lot of… hey, um, don’t forget; if they make prints… you’ll need to get a percentage.” “Yeah. He said they’ll make prints. And, get this, his daughter is talking about opening a gallery in New York City.”

STEVE may have been kind of excited. You know how you’re planning on going surfing the next day, and it might be really great; and want to wake up at five? No, you wake up at three-thirty, can’t get back to sleep. Stephen texted the potential buyer at 11:30 or so, said he had a bit more work to do on the painting, but… “Go to sleep. See you tomorrow.”

NO, he didn’t sleep. MEANWHILE, and probably con-currently, Stephen was in contact with Cosmo. “What would you sell the painting for? I mean, how much? Uh huh. No, not asking you to sell it. But…” So, if Cosmo’s painting was worth two thousand, and the new one is much larger…

THIS was the basis for Stephen’s sales strategy.  I was driving home, about to hit the second roundabout, when I got the text. “I sold it!” Yes, I illegally called him back (texting is probably more illegal- same fine). “Whaaaaaat?”

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THE STORY isn’t over. I can picture Stephen at a New York City gallery opening, man bun in place, orange pants, prescription shades, fancy people.  Painting many many images of waves, Steve claims, helped him with this, hopefully breakthrough painting.

SINCE he does occasionally, ask me for advice, and because he says he’s forgiven me for my jealousy, I will add that I told Steve, “Nothing leads to big success like some success.” “What? Hmmm. Yeah. Thanks.”

HEY, I was thinking of how my son, James, now a professional guitar player, first got some notice for his skill in high school; inspiring him to get better. MY ALTERNATE PHILOSOPHY is that some of us are stubborn enough that, though things in life, including surfing, are more failure than success; we continue. ONCE we’ve tasted some success, possibly a near-perfect ride on a great wave, we want more.

I’m out of time. Gotta go. I’ll save the other Stephen Davis (surfing) story, “Haole Won’t Go.” Here are a couple of photos of CAP Steve sent me.

 

Works In Progress

WAVE after wave of rain and wind continue to attack the ‘STILL WILD’ Olympic Peninsula.

MEANWHILE, somewhere on the Big Island, Stephen Davis, lover of all things (and sports) water, who has been doing some crew work on a catamaran built by the famous Woody Brown; part of his job being spotting whales, swimming with dolphins (and tourists); trying to keep a low profile while surfing with non-tourists; has been working on some new canvases.  AND, as seems kind of normal for Stephen, opportunities come his way, including, partially thanks to the captain of the cat (Cap of the Cat), someone is VERY INTERESTED in… oh, yeah, it’s all in progress. YES, part of this is that Steve always seems open to new adventures.  “Um, yeah; that sounds good. Sure.”

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MEANWHILE, I have some new drawings. The “Hobuck” and “Northwest Aloha (or equivalent local term) Shirt” design are probably (definitely) going to have more done to them. If you have any ideas, you can write at realsurfersdotnet@gmail.com

Image (33)Image (32)Image (31)SO, a suggestion from LIZ, at the Printery in Port Townsend, who makes the copies and reductions, said that a common northwest greeting is “What’s up,” or any variation of that.  “Whassup?” “Surf’s UP.”  OH, and she wants a percentage. So far, it’s “percentage of what?” STAY TUNED

Something Other than Surfing…

…maybe that should be a question. When there are waves, or even the possibility, even (more) the probability of surf, tensions rise. Every surfer wants a chance at dealing with quality waves.  Some do, and are elated; others, for various reasons, miss out on opportunities and are frustrated. Tempers can flare.

Shit happens. Work, family responsibilities, broken equipment or vehicles, power outages, not taking a chance on iffy conditions, other shit. Shit!

And it’s not just that you (or I) aren’t committed, or committed enough to the lifestyle/sport. We rearrange our schedules the best we can, but, sometimes, we just hear about classic conditions after the fact. Sometimes we witness classic conditions but can’t, for any combination of the above or other reasons, participate.

That happens. I haven’t really  gotten over, or, at least, I still remember, painting a house on the bluff above Stone Steps, late in the afternoon, with the waves glassing-off, lining-up, and only a few surfers out. Yeah, I kept painting; felt I had to finish the project.

Still, those waves… they may not have been as great if I’d surfed them, but, in my memory, they were sooooo good.

WAIT. I’m adding this, just in, photo of Hydrosexual Stephen Davis (I was going to drop the hydrosexual part because of spam from sex-related, um, spammers, but Steve kind of likes the description/title) doing something besides surfing, work as part of the crew on a catamaran off the Big Island. OH, and he did the artwork for the t-shirt.

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Anyway, I am trying to do a bit of a pivot in my career, and I’ve actually started drawing things not surf-related. Here are some examples:

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What unites us as surfers is not our performance level; it’s more that we have suffered the frustration of getting caught inside, of missing or wiping-out early on a great wave, of watching someone else wail on a wave we could have been on, of hearing about or seeing wonderful surf we can’t get into, of driving a long way to get skunked. It’s sad and just wrong to get frustrated enough to unload verbally or physically on another surfer; particularly when, if there were no waves, this would be someone you’d be chatting with; a friend.

Even the best, longest ride is short compared to real life. What we really save is the memories. I’m sure we’d all rather have pleasant ones.

And, no; all this peace talk isn’t because someone took offense with my wavehog ways. I mean, people have, not recently; it really relates to friends going off on other friends.  Friends. It’s sad. It’s fixable.

I am continuing to do a series of  landscape drawings, anxious to expand my scope. I currently have some illustrations at Helen Gunn’s gallery uptown Port Townsend, some at Tyler Meek’s  Disco Bay Outdoor Exchange in Discovery Bay, and, once Adam “Wipeout” James sees my HamaHama drawing… I mean, my friend Adam James… and, yeah, working on it. Committed. See you.

OKAY, here are the first of my Olympic Peninsula landscapes:

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New Shadows and Deep and Steep Drop

I have some new illustrations, freshly reduced, ready to add color.

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I had already done the color on the larger version of the (above) drawing, but didn’t like the blend on the lower part. So, once it was reduced, I added some more lines (and a little more color).

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I’ll add some color to other drawings, but, for some reason, I get less excited about the color part than I do the original drawing. When I get going on a drawing, and I’m pretty happy with my progress, what I seem to think about is how I can screw it up. And color is another opportunity.  So… less might be better.

Meanwhile, waves seem to be missing the Strait. Now, the coast… it’s another story.

Sasquatch on the Tide Flats

NOTES: The word Patagonia refers to a land of giants.

-Sasquatch sightings in the wild Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington are a bit higher in the HamaHama region along Hood Canal.                                                                -The extended family of Adam “Wipeout” James has been logging, farming, and maintaining shellfish beds for generations.                                                                      -Whether surfing, working the tide flats, or representing HamaHama Seafoods all around the country, Adam’s life is more aligned with the cycle and pattern of tides than that of night and day.

THIS is fiction, as in, ‘could be true;’ and, really, it should be titled:

WHY I’LL NEVER GET THAT PROMISED PATAGONIA FLEECE PULLOVER

MORE NOTES/EXPOSITION: Adam is, quite possibly, the most gregarious person I’ve ever met. Eternally outgoing, willing to talk to just about anyone; I sort of wrote his behavior off as trying to fit in with the surf crowd, something in keeping with my impression that he believes there is some sort of unofficial Surf Community.                                             -Yeah, maybe; or maybe it’s the same more salt-water-connected than blood-related tribe I’ve been around for the last 52 years (or so).                                                                        -Adam remembers other surfer’s names, gets some background on others in the water and on the beach; and, I don’t know, it’s kind of catchy. Or I’m kind of competitive. Knowing Adam has made me, maybe, a bit friendlier. More on the beach than in the water.                                                                                                                                             -Adam has established some sort of relationship with Patagonia. They wanted, possibly, to make some inroads into the work clothing market, take some market share from Carhartt.                                                                                                                                             -SO, Adam scored some clothing, got some photos taken, set up mutual surf friend (and contractor in the boat building/repair world), Clint, with a modeling opportunity.      -AND, maybe because I wear my HamaHama hoodie out in the world, representing, Adam scored a xxxl Patagonia pullover for me. “Double xl is big enough,” I told him on the phone, both of us trying to figure out when and where to go surfing based on the latest forecasts, buoy readings, tide reports, and anecdotal/historic bullshit.

“I was just trying it on,” Adam told me, after the INCIDENT; “It fit over the rest of my gear.” “Because it’s a triple xl, Adam.” “Yeah; right.” So, finally, here’s my piece on Adam’s story:

Since it was a warmer night than expected, Adam left his (my) Patagonia pullover, a jug of water, and a burrito left over from dinner in a pile, just where the narrow path leading down from his house hit the beach. This was his own small section of tideflats. A moon, a few days past full, was rising above the trees and scattered lights on the Kitsap Peninsula, a mile or so across the ancient (ice age old) fjord. English explorers named this the Hood Canal, another finger (and not a canal) reaching from the various bodies that make up Puget Sound.

His characteristic miner’s style headset light on his wool cap, flannel shirt, rubber boots and protective gloves, and a five gallon bucket in each hand, Adam set out across the rocks and gravel.

He had missed the ebb tide, and, forty-five minutes into the flow, was thinking about surfing, about waves; swell size and angles and periods, and winds. With just a hint of an east wind spreading texture on the always-moving water; the decision was, as always, whether, in the morning, he should go down Surf Route 101 and out to the coast or up the same highway to the Strait. Deciding which oysters to pick was, after years of low tides, second nature.

The moon was only slightly higher when, his buckets full; he looked south, well beyond his headlamp’s ability to see clearly. It was…no.

What Adam thought could be (not unheard of) a bear, smashing shells with a rock; stood up, pouring an oyster into its mouth. Standing, it was… it was very tall. And it looked at him.

“It?” I asked, just the other day, on the Strait.   After four hours or so in the water, I was out and fully dressed. Adam, who arrived later than I had, having checked out several other possible locations, was sliding on a now-slightly-used canvas Patagonia jacket (probably a size large). “Have you seen, like, elk, deer, bears… out on the tideflats?” His gesture said, “Yes, all of those.” “Poachers?”

He laughed. “Yeah. That’s what I was thinking… a couple of years ago…” Adam cut himself off to say something to a group that had just pulled into the parking area; two softtops and two other boards on the roof, three guys and a woman climbing out.

“You have any more coffee?” he asked me. We had each had some after we both got out of the water the first time, before we noticed the rights seemed to be working (sporadically- I drifted back to the lefts where Big Dave was still surfing).

“Yeah; just don’t drink the last of it. Why don’t you bring a thermos?”

Half a cup in his (I’m guessing) hip canning jar mug, Adam walked over to his next (potential) friends as I tied-down my board, then put on the fleece-lined, flannel, old man coat I’d purchased for eight bucks at the Port Angeles Goodwill, shortly before I discovered I could get a new version at Costco for under twenty.

“Surgical strike, then. Great.” This is what Adam was saying to one of the four-person-group readying to attack the mostly-mediocre (I’m legally bound to never say ‘great,’ though, on this day, they weren’t) as he backed away from them and toward me, turning to say, “Surgical strike.”

I, no doubt, shrugged. “Poacher?”

“Oh, yeah; that’s where I might have screwed up. I couldn’t tell… he was kind of out of range. He was, um, thick enough, that I couldn’t really tell how tall he was. I think I said something like, ‘Hey, Buddy… Dude; you know that these tideflats are…’ I almost said, ‘mine.’ Or, maybe I did.”

I poured out the last of the coffee into my Seahawks mug. A third of a cup and almost luke-warm. “Now, Adam, I told you I wasn’t going to tell you, again, that the best wave I saw all day is the one you were too far over to make… so pretty.”

“No, the best wave was the one I took off in front of you on.”

“Yeah, maybe it was.” With Big Dave and I kind of, possibly, maybe, catching a lot of the available waves, Adam and others had moved up the reef. Not really working. Adam moved back over. On one of the larger waves, Adam took off in front of me. I surfed up next to and under him, and actually said (not yelled, but in the heat of the moment), “I hope you don’t think I care more about this board than this wave.” We both made the wave, and Adam said, “You should have gone past me.” “You should have dropped down.” “Yeah, next time. Fun, huh?”

“Yeah. Fun.”

At some point, and it was probably when he heard the growling, deep, low, but intensifying; Adam realized this wasn’t a poacher out on his tide flats. And it wasn’t a ‘Buddy’ or a ‘Dude.’

Turning toward the beach, walking slowly, at first; his lamp turned off, looking up at the yard light at his house; Adam didn’t break into an all-out run until he approached the high tide line. Still, he never thought of dropping the buckets, even when audible (and getting closer, quickly) heavy breathing, huge feet sliding and splashing across the shallows, got closer.

Closer. Adam swears, now, he could feel the creature’s breath, smell something that, when he considered it, smelled somewhere between burnt driftwood and seaweed. Not that he was considering subtleties of smell as he ran. Near the high tide mark, Adam dropped both buckets; one spilling over, the other staying upright.

It wasn’t a growl, almost a laugh as the Creature passed him. Passed him. Adam may have shrieked. May have; but then he froze. A bucket swinging from one hand, the creature (let’s call it a Patagon’, a giant) stopped at the path, turned, sniffed, looked at Adam. Maybe he studied him for a moment: Brown hair, big mustache, beard halfway-to-full. He looked at the brown hair on his own arm for another moment as he raised Adam’s leftover burrito, ate it in one bite, drank half of Adam’s remaining water (the rest pouring down his hairy chest), and, when Adam turned his headlamp back on, the Patagon’ blinked.

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“Then, his head kind of turning this way and that, he sort of smiled. Big canines. Big. I did kind of a (demonstrates) fist bump kind of thing, then, maybe, like a peace sign. I, um, (demonstrates again) kind of hit my chest, said, “I’m Adam.”

“Of course you did.”

The Sasquatch licked his huge fingers, grunted something; four syllables. Adam answered with a, “You’re welcome.” The Patagon’ looked at Adam’s (could have been mine) fleecy pullover, then back at Adam. “It won’t fit you,” Adam said. “But, maybe… special order… I know people.”

Too late. The coat tucked/stuffed under one arm, the bucket of oysters hitting a few branches, Adam’s new friend glided (Sasquatch(es) supposedly glide) along the shore-hugging scrub brush, bounded up an unseen path farther south as a cloud covered the moon.

“Low tide’s about forty-five minutes later tomorrow night,” Adam said into the darkness, walking back to retrieve the other bucket of oysters, thinking (he claims) about how much I would have loved that sweatshirt.

“Hey, nice session,” I said, reaching out to exchange a fistbump. ”And… nice story.”

“Yeah. Um… so, you, uh, didn’t wear the HamaHama sweatshirt today?”

“No, but…I could explain that, but…” No, I couldn’t beat Adam’s story. It would take aliens, space aliens. “Next time. And, um, next time, you drop down and I’ll go past you.”

BONUS STEPHEN DAVIS, with explainer. Stephen, recovering from his recent Tuck-and-rollover accident on the Big Island, sent a photo of his most recent painting. Thanks, Stephen, paint some more. NOW! PAINT!

 

 

Waiting…and Waiting…and…

..image-125…checking the forecast. Stubbornly believing, if I check the buoys (not just those near-shore, but those in the open ocean, west and north- the ones that matter) often enough; winds and angles and period; if I check out multiple forecasts; if I overlay an optimal tide and wind situation at several different locations; maybe I’ll be able to predict the exact moment when the swirl becomes the proper energy, properly focused.

And, of course, I hope the next window is slightly before the forecasts we all look at call for it to open.  Ready to readjust my schedule to fit my idea of when and where and how far away, imagining peeling glass, properly chilled and waiting…

No, it’s me who is waiting. I’m guessing you are, too.

Meanwhile, there’s work, and, incidentally, I have quite a few drawings waiting to go to The Printery to be reduced in size so I can post them.  Something else I’m anticipating.

Selected (Eeeeeeeek!) Rat Tales

 

 

FIRST, I’m only saying ‘Rat Tales’ because it has a certain sound to it. ‘Mouse Tales’ doesn’t have the same impact. Varmints, rodents; It is interesting that many of us consider Squirrels cute, despite the damage they can do, but recoil at even the mention of mice; the cringe-factor going up as the varmints increase in size.

Before I wrote this piece, adapted from and originally written for a monthly newsletter put out by Quilcene’s Community Center, I did mention that I intended to attack (yes, attack) the subject with Bob Rosen, the Director. “Nobody wants to hear about, er, that.”

Then I told him how mice got into the dashboard of my surf rig, and, short-story-slightly-shorter, they chewed through just the right wire that (luckily enough, because I’d been out where the cellphones don’t work) allowed my car to crank but not start; parked in front of the NXNW Surf Shop in Port Angeles.

Frank Crippen, the shop owner, not fully pleased to have me hanging out for several hours, agreed to allow me to put my board in his shed.  The car was towed up the hill to a local garage. After a cursory check (smell, mostly) of the dashboard, they were not stoked.  Trish, shopping in Silverdale, had to come pick me up. It cost me seven hundred dollars to get it running, three hundred more like an out-and-out bribe. Worth it.

“Oh,” Bob said, “Let me tell you how to keep mice out of your car.”

“Yes,” I said; “See, everyone has a story.”

Last winter was long and cold and a particularly bad one for rodents (only, to be fair, looking for some warmth) moving into places we don’t want them, cars, garages, houses. I do hope this winter, for many reasons, isn’t as cold.

Another failed “New Yorker” submission, this one dealing with Church Mice waiting for the “Hallelujah-ing” to start.

Still, here are a couple of anecdotes:

Evidently, I got exactly the wrong counter person at the Port Townsend auto parts store when I asked if they have any special thing (I was thinking electronics) to keep rodents out of vehicles. “Do you live near farms? In the city? The country? Have neighbors? Feed birds?” Before I could answer any of these questions, he threw out his hands in surrender. “There’s nothing we sell, nothing we can do. Nothing. Anything else?” “No, nothing.”

“My dog,” the woman said (and I can’t remember where this was or how the subject came up), “and we didn’t train him to do this, but he smells rats.” In her story, a friend came over for a barbeque, the dog took a great interest in the guy’s car. “You have a rat,” she told her guest. Her husband pulled out a compressor, blew air into the engine, the rodent jumped out, the dog killed it; or, as she put it, “took care of it.” And then, she added, “We all had some barbeque.”

I arrived at a house in an upscale neighborhood to give a painting bid. The homeowner had installed rat-sized, snapping-style, old fashioned traps, about ten feet off the ground, on the corner boards. A bit surprised, I asked, wondering if exposed rat traps (or rats, for that matter) were allowed within the area’s covenants.  “Does it work?” I was imagining long-dead rodents hanging as, perhaps, a warning to others. “So far,” he said, “and it’s kind of, um, decorative.”

It did seem to be humorously ironic, more to me than the woman at checkout, that there was one of those packets (and there are several brands available) with a smell meant to deter rodents (rumored to be a combination of mint and coyote urine), on a shelf between the bags of bird food.

Rather than throw out my hands absolute surrender, I have taken advice and steps. “Drier sheets,” I’ve been told. “New ones.” Oh. “Mint.” Yeah-okay. “Supersonic.” Maybe. “Poison.” Scary. “Flashing lights.” Got ‘em, think it’s like disco for mice. “Younger cats.” Not right now. “Electronic zapper.” Oh, yeah.

Meanwhile, as I work on my mint-moat, a rat-smelling dog and a compressor seem like good ideas. Oh, and, for some reason, barbeque.