The New Now

Several times a day I check the Washington State Coronavirus stats, looking and hoping for single digits in the deaths category. Really, zero would be great. The numbers are declining and things are opening up. Still, places one can surf on the North Olympic coast and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, even if surf does magically appear (and it’s always magic), are even more limited than usual. If you venture to Highway 112 you will be greeted with an official road sign with a message that says, not “Local Traffic Only,” but “Locals Only.”

Whoa!

SOCIAL DISTANCING has been working. I wasn’t an instant convert, but I am enough of a convert that I get annoyed when I see people cruising around in stores seemingly unconcerned about how close they get to others and without (at least) masks. This is arrogant and irresponsible, and says “I don’t care about you and whether you live or die.” People who refuse to wear masks don’t, evidently, realize that the masks are not to protect them, but to protect others from them.

Add possibly dangerous and stupid to arrogant and irresponsible. Now, unfortunately, one characteristic of stupidness is an inability to realize one is stupid, as in actually saying, “A lot of folks are saying this is all a hoax.”

A certain sense of entitlement and self-righteousness and a quickness to anger might be others. Might be.

Yeah, I know. I don’t feel entitled or self-righteous; I’ve broken and/or not lived up to protective protocol, I’m not trying to sound preachy, I am trying to PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING; but, being competitive by nature, I might want to go pro level. SIX FEET. Back the fuck up!

MEANWHILE, here’s my latest contribution to the Quilcene Newsletter.

  “WHAT’S YOUR HURRY?” AND OTHER QUESTIONS FROM THE UNIVERSE

Many of us have a certain work ethic; we place a high value on work.  Work first.  Perhaps you have been described as someone who lives to work, a workaholic.  I have.  Not wrongly; it’s long (if fifty years of working is long) been my policy (sometimes stated) to try to do, say, five days work in three. 

This requires a certain optimism.  “All I have to do to paint this house is bleach, wash, cut back plants, mask windows, put out dropcloths, mix paint, etc. etc. etc.”

I could say youthful optimism.  The difference fifty years makes is the increased difficulty one has in self-generating this same enthusiasm.  “Oh, man; in order to paint this house I’ll have to…”  It’s the same list.

Different attitude.

All the little things that slowed the ahead-of-schedule schedule: Broken equipment, wrong-color of paint, rain squalls, etcetera; were irritating setbacks, not, as I once perceived them to be, little hints and shoves and roadblocks from The Universe meant to give me a bit of a handicap, because, otherwise, everything going to plan, I’d be wailing out the jobs, making real money.

Now, of course, I have age and cranky joints as real handicaps, and, thank you Universe, I still have many of the previously mentioned issues.  Not all at once, of course.

BUT WAIT, in the NEW NOW we have new issues. Work is something many are not allowed to do; at least not the old version of work.  I’m not retired, I have some work, and I have an overwhelming list of things I can do around the house, but, if the current situation is something like retirement…

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

Okay.  Okay.  I’m okay.  Actually, I am kind of annoyed with myself because my best excuse, which used to be that I’m too busy working or we don’t have the money (because I’m not busy working), is, in the NEW NOW, “What’s the hurry?” 

If questioned, I refer back to the Universe, possibly having to add that I have my own ideas on what I’m referring to as The Universe, but in no way do I want to keep anyone from having his or her own. 

I do have a few grievances: I am annoyed by the spread of overly sentimental news stories (not the ones about good people dying) about how together we all are.  Really?  Maybe back when one’s personal space was somewhat less than six feet, back when the look in someone’s eye was mild tension rather than abject fear that another human being might come in for a hug.  Fistbump?  No.  Kiss?  Mace.  If the message of togetherness is actually an advertisement, double the annoyance. 

You are also, possibly, less than thrilled to watch comedians and singers and reporters and pretty much anybody who is coming to us live (or recorded) on any screen, from a basement or back porch or private luxury yacht.

Here’s something: Every month Bob lets me know that I’ve gone past the official deadline for submitting something for this very newsletter.  Here it is… let me check… April 30, 2020… wow, I thought it is the twenty-eighth… Thursday?  Good.  No call, no text, no email from Bob.  I called him.  Left a voicemail.  He, so far, hasn’t returned my call.  I mean, whoa; is he all that busy?

It’s okay; I’m writing one anyway.  Work ethic.   Still, it’s shorter than usual.  Stay safe and you might not die.  Yet.  See?  Not sticky, gooey, sugary, oversentimental.

Here’s BONUS material, written by me, alone, at my computer:  I’ve been thinking about some future when some random COVID 19 SURVIVOR (and they’ll all being wearing hats thusly labeled, inside their bubble headgear) says, “Yeah, man; at the concerts, back in those days, we’d be watching the groupies on the side of the stage while the bands played; and we’d crowd down into the mosh pit and just get so crazy…”

Concerts? Groupies? Bands? Crowd? Mosh Pit?  Crazy.   

Stay safe, stay back, save lives.

“Sideslipping”& Competition

One of the effects of the omni-demic is that, for surfers, the chess board has been upended, the playground closed.

So, surfers can’t compete in the water when the water is off limits. Competition. Poor us. I started thinking about several aspects of competition, and discussing the competition aspect of our sport with several of my surfing friends. Specifically, I’ve been working some sort of scale in which a surfer can judge where he or she fits in a sort of, think fractions here, competitiveness over butthurtness equation.

Because we’re not equal. Yeah, I’m working on it; don’t claim to have it worked out. I’m trying to judge COMPETITIVENESS without factoring in actual surfing ability. This is, obviously, because one might be more competitive as one improves. I would also love to separate aggressiveness from competitiveness, so, there’s another problem.

THE NUMERATOR- One to nine, if you’re hyper-competitive in the water, give yourself a ONE. Well, that’d be kind of cocky of you. If you believe you’re a one, lie, give yourself a TWO. I really can’t imagine any surfer would give him or herself a nine, so, if you’re the surfer waiting near the channel, smiling as some wavehog paddles past you for the many-ist time, or someone not going out if the surf is good and just kind of crowded, you might give yourself an eight.

I’m giving myself a THREE, meaning, code-breakers, I really think I’m a TWO.

THE DENOMINATOR- So, BUTTHURTNESS. Where you might fit on this scale is determined by whether you’re prone to occasional screaming in the lineup, pouting in the parking area, quite obviously suffering in silence, board-punching, writing rude comments on windshields in wax, any acts of violence and/or vandalism, and, sort of a side consideration; how long you hold a grudge for wave sins you feel where perpetuated against you.

You can list these crimes against you. If your list is really long, if you have a large group of named surfers you hate, if you pretty much hate anyone else who is in the water with you, you may have earned a ONE.

Now, I was going to give myself a NINE, but, really, I have had a few resentments in the fifty-five years since I began board surfing. Warren Bolster once blatantly took off next to me at Swamis. It was my wave; I had position. It was probably about 1971, but, though I remember it, I figured he was probably frustrated because he’d been photographing rather than surfing, and maybe a bit over-zealous.

And I have definitely been guilty of OVERFROTHING. I’m still giving myself an EIGHT, though I’d love to be a NINE. Working on it.

WAIT, here’s a little more to back up my self-devised, non-reduceable (a 2/8 is not a 1/4) score: When I lost my paddle and it turned up stuck in the pilings and no one on the beach would fess up or give up the culprit, and he was, in fact, deemed, by popular opinion, a hero for getting even with the ruthless wavehog, I do admit to whining, complaining, pouting, with some threat to get even; but, when the perpetrator confessed, I immediately (well not quite immediately) forgave him. When I occasionally run into Raja, it’s all over, a fun story. “You’re still a hero, I’m still a wavehog.”

OKAY, I am still thinking about COMPETITIVENESS. I will concentrate on “Is competitiveness a bad thing?” ANOTHER TIME. MEANWHILE, here’s another outtake from “Swamis,” still in the massive edit phase. “SIDESLIPPING”

*The word ‘punk,’ evidently, comes from Elizabethan/Shakespearean times, referring to prostitutes; updated to include petty criminals in the early nineteen-hundreds, with a secondary meaning added in American prisons in which punks were prisoners available, willingly or not, for sexual favors.  ‘Kook’ supposedly is a synonym for shit in Hawaiian, has come to mean someone who isn’t proficient.  Shitty. A friend of mine, one who has spent enough time in Hawaii to risk using some pidgin if in the right company, informs me ‘donkey’ has become a synonym for kook, even cooler when a bit of a bray is included, as in, ‘donnnnnk,’ the final ‘ey’ optional.

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MEXICAN INFLECTION

‘Mexican inflection?’ I wouldn’t have meant this in any derogatory way, necessarily; but, if there is a California inflection; it comes from the mixture of Spanish and the many languages of everyone else who came here; pathfinders and cowboys and gold seekers and Oakies, post-war migrants like my parents, and, I guess, me.  One cannot deny the Mexican influence, flattened and foreshortened by all the rest of us.

And then there’s the black and gay influence: Words and phrasing and phrases; how we thought gays and black people talked; exaggerated, co-opted, stirred into the California lexicon, the California dialect, the California inflection.

Still, the Mexican influence cannot be denied.

Surfers, of course, had to be a bit different; speak with a different rhythm, introduce new words.  You know the words.  The attitude, the surfer attitude, is probably more your idea than reality; exaggerated and perverted and spread by TV and movies and advertisers.

Sure. Surfing is sexy, coolness illustrated; pirate/rebels washed clean.

Coolness, hipness; we adapt our lives, change our speech patterns, make different choices in clothing and music and attitude as we discover new, and, if not better, more modern things, newer new things; trends, fashions.

The very word, fashion, describes its temporary nature.  Subtext.  That fashion goes in and out is given to the user of the word for free.

We steal, borrow, incorporate.  The strands are pretty obvious; like blues to jazz, blues to rock and roll, blues coopted by popular AM music.  If you were born in the 1950s, you heard Sinatra and Chuck Berry on the same AM station; experienced the Beatles, then Dylan.  No, you probably got Dylan through Dylan covers; Peter Paul and Mary, the Byrds; then Dylan, then… whatever was fashionable.  Temporary.

“Hey, Dude; You Binging or What?”

FIRST, as a Public Service Announcement- The Makah Tribal Council has closed the Neah Bay Reservation to non-tribal members until April 27.  You know why.  Yeah, keeping the waves to themselves.                                                                                                                             NO, but it does impact surf traffic out to the various spots on the Olympic Peninsula.          BUT, the good news is there isn’t a particularly great looking swell in the immediate forecast.  I originally heard about the shut down from Stephen Davis, thought I could verify it and pass it on.  “WAIT, what about La Push?”  I don’t know. Maybe it’s open for surfing.  “How is La Push on a two foot swell?”  Hmmm.  Accounts vary.

I haven’t been stuck at home, actually, but I did actually spend about ten minutes yesterday watching a live feed from a beach in Oregon, with some guy trying to get in waves that were not that daunting.  After five minutes I was saying, “PADDLE HARDER you Kook/Hodad/Gremmie/Punk, it’s not like pushing through crowds at Costco, cutting through the line waiting for the next batch of toilet paper, a line of Costcoites and carts that stretched halfway back along the outside wall (‘excuse me, Comrade, I’m cutting through, not in’), getting the next to the last should-be-lifetime supply of paper towels, some old (older than me) guy elbowing me before I could go back for the last one (this was the Kirkland brand, they still had the Bounty, though not in bounty- ha, ha; and besides, I was too busy giving the stinkeye to piggy/hoarder shoppers filling their big ass carts with bottled water and baby wipes to actually pig out myself).  It’s a lull, Hipster Surf Enthusiast,  PADDLE!  It’s not like you’re squeezing in next to the woman who would otherwise be handing out free samples (and there are NO FREE SAMPLES), but is, instead, opening a stack of large cardboard boxes and placing Organic chicken into the cooler, me on the phone with Trish (there was no chicken, organic or manmade, a week ago), asking if she want the breasts AND the legs (she does), and there are other people squeezing against and leaning over me.  Ride some soup, Weekender, go in where you can stand up and WAIT FOR ANOTHER LULL.  It’s not like getting to Costco at ten am and the parking lot was full, the first person I saw coming out is an old guy (already set as someone older than me), and he has on a MAGA hat, with a bottle of Jim Beam and a package of sausages in his basket (perfect for drunk- watching FOX News reality shows); and I want to say something rude AND clever, but I notice he’s looking at me, a list in my hand, wearing my hand-knitted hippy cap and my layered shirts, the one on the outside featuring Christopher Walken (from a Saturday Night Live skit) dressed as Han Solo, with two balloons above him, one saying ‘fast’ the other ‘ships?’ and I just nod and say, ‘Another great day in America.’  OKAY, Buddy, maybe YOU CAN CATCH A FEW REFORMS.”

I gave up watching before the surfer gave up trying.  “GOOD ON YOU, MATE! (this with my attempt at an Australian accent).  I checked out MSN for some signs of hope, tried to catch up on the World Surf League.  No hope there.  Turned on the TV.  I checked out the various sports channels.  Reruns.  Oh.  Sure.  Incidentally, while similarly clicking through various channels on Friday night, I happened to stick for a moment on big time wrestling.  You know, when there’s no audience, it looks kind of, um, fake.  Add a few thousand screaming fans and it seems real.  Or real-er.  Not making a comparison here between that and a, say, Trump rally, but, evidently, with the virus-proof president unable to hold such events, he has decided to break into programming on a random-but-often basis, just to reassure the citizens of these Unites States of America that he’s still OKAY.  I think he said ‘perfect,’ I’ll stick with ‘okay.’

OH, WAIT, I’m not really political, and certainly, If I was political, I’d be so very middle of the road, but, when the president, trying bigly, allegedly, to unite our country against a world wide pandemic, refers to Washington State’s governor, former presidential candidate, climate activist (and, according to my son Sean, who worked on his original election campaign, ‘kind of bland’) Jay Inslee, as ‘a snake,’ I can’t help but think, that if I was hit with that invective, I’d add it to my title.  The Honorable Governor Jay the Snake Inslee.

BEFORE I GO BACK to working on “Swamis,” I do want to say I hope you’re all stocked-up and surviving this weirdness; self-isolating, hunkering-down, avoiding crowds (and nothing says all that like going to Costco and Walmart on a Saturday).  I suddenly almost regret that Trish and I have already binge-watched “Vera” and “Bosch,” and that we’ve just cancelled Showtime and HBO.  Maybe I could see if SURFLINE is offering a free trial.

I DO KIND OF WONDER what the novice surfer from yesterday said about his session. “It was double overhead on the sets.  Caught a few bombs.  Yes.”  YES, I have been accused, though not at a national level, of some mild form of occasional ‘snaking.’  It’s debatable and over-blown, but, if you want to add it to any nickname for or description of me; FEEL FREE.  It’s still America, even if you’re waiting in a line for toilet paper.  Comrade.costco 2ls

The End of “Swamis” and Two Psychedelic-in-B&Ws in Color

It’s not finished, but earlier today I got to the last line (unless it changes) of  “Swamis,” the mystery/romance/coming-of-age/fake memoir/novel I’ve been working on for, if I’m counting the experiences that have gone into it, all my life.  It’s at 110,100 words on 02/02/20, subject to editing for inconsistencies, redundancies, contradictions, and just plain bad (inadequately great) writing.  Hopefully not too much of that.

I’m not sure how long this process will take, though I have been obsessively attacking the work lately, taking advantage of time afforded me (not that I can afford it) by the slowdown of work in winter.  And then I have several people I want to read it.  And then…

Hopeful.  Always.

But, maybe before I get to that point, I am planning on having at least one public reading.  One is already scheduled.  Thursday, March 5, 6pm (I think), Port Townsend Public Library.  This is part of a program set up by PT ripper and librarian Keith Darrock.

I’ll update this, and will, no doubt, mention it with every new posting.

MEANWHILE, continuing my “Psychedelic Period,” I have colored two recent drawings.  They and others, along with some Original Erwin t-shirts are available at Tyler Meeks’ DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE.  All are limited editions, numbers limited by, um, me.

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I should mention that the Disco Bay is open, winter hours, ten am to six pm, Thursday through Sunday, with gear for all your action activities on the Olympic Peninsula.

Also, in the should mention category, I have some prints available, including some from earlier periods, at THE CELLAR DOOR in Port Townsend, open nights, so, pretty much there after six pm for sure.

The Truth Sideslips in the Balance

A handful of surfers may determine the final tally. It’s critical. There’s a lot of pressure. So far, though I keep telling everyone that I want to hear the truth, all the truth, from all of the pertinent witnesses; insisting I haven’t made a final decision, that I’m not closed off, I’m not stonewalling, not denying the facts; though I’ve tried to sidestep (and sideslip- love a good sideslip), and, in the opinion of some, tried, desperately, to evade answering the main and constantly-asked question with a straightforward admission that there may, indeed, on some rare occasions, with some perfect alignment of the moon and stars; some elusive but correct formula, some fortuitous recipe of the primary ingredients, wind and swell and tide and period and direction; one might, with repeated trips, most resulting in severe skunkings (a lesser skunking meaning surfing weak and sloppy closeouts), and, one might, after trekking down slippery trails, enduring the death stares (aka stink eye) of fellow surfriding enthusiasts who consider themselves more prepared or more deserving (the metrics of this ranking system vary and sometimes include who has the more expensive surf rig, who lives marginally closer to any waterfront considered coastline, who once almost went out at Rocky Point) might find a few minute’s worth (all windows close, most quickly) of barely-rideable waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca; despite all that, I may be forced, by socio-political pressures I cannot fully explain without revealing myself to be a total sellout, little more than a spineless piece of shit, comparable, perhaps, to landmines left behind by some dogs-must-be-free proponent who let his or her Papered-and-Pedigreed Purebred Showdog (great, glad to hear it) or Mixed-breed-Rescue-Animal (revealing the owner to be the animal’s savior- super great) leave several piles of (let’s say ‘scat’) shit (it was too late- I’d already said ‘shit’ for ‘scat’) for some future beachcomber, inexplicably excited and almost into his or her wetsuit, to step in (“Fuck!”- might as well say it, already said shit), because, possibly, as you profess, you have an allergy to putting plastic on your hand, and, anyway, you were planning on throwing any poop you were forced to collect (only because someone was observing), plastic bag (oh, plastic) and all, into the ocean, the bone-chillingly cold water that just might, might, might possibly have…

Oh, I can’t say it. Could you just quit asking?  Waves.  Talking about waves.

“Evidence,” you say. “What evidence?”  I ask.  OH. Evidence of wave activity in the Strait is frowned upon, photographic images in particular; and particularly when displayed, breathlessly (as in “I scored! Me! ME! MEEEEEEE!”) on social media; and, even more so when accompanied by such revelations as when and where you lucked into a few side-chopped and… Oh I forgot to mention the rocks… waves. Lots of small rocks between the big fin-snappers. Ride a one-foot wave with a one-foot fin in one foot of rock-riddled waters, and, yeah; you’ll lose the occasional skeg. Oh, and while you’re revealing not-necessarily-secret surf locations to others too busy deciding the exact last moment he or she should pull out of the stock market to actually do any real research, you may as well let anyone onto your feed (are you on theirs, are they on yours- confusing) whose fashion you were wearing, in and out of the water, which artisan brew and/or bud you were enjoying, and which custom board from your extensive quiver (has to be more than three to qualify as a quiver) you were riding.

Oh, wait; I seem to be sounding a little cynical here. Sorry. That’s not like me. I love dogs. Do I have a fear someone, some turncoat, some former proponent of the ‘let’s keep it our secret’ philosophy, possibly with some hidden agenda or some soon-to-be released book will blow the whistle; go on Rachel Maddow and reveal endless days of endless swell wrapping endlessly around an almost endless succession of perfect points and reefs?

Yes. Definitely. But I know the truth. If you want to know; here it is: I could head to the Strait today.  I would love to go surfing, and I would if I thought there was any real chance of real waves. Or maybe I’m not telling the truth.

I really wanted to write some hopefully-clever piece actually about the frustrating impeachment situation.  Bring in the witnesses; get the truth out there.  That truth.

 

Black and White and Psychedelic, Plus Polar Bear Wetsuits Flyer

Though I’m quite focused on finishing my novel, “SWAMIS,” surviving Winter and its lack of real revenue, and keeping my heart healthy enough to survive at least one more SEAHAWKS game; I have taken a little time to work on artsy stuff.

AND, partially due to a recent event in which I selfishly burned (as in took off on a wave next to but down the line from) a well known local surfer… Here’s the rule on that: Burn someone who is equally aggressive (and transgressive, etiquette-wise), or burn someone who is a relatively close friend; and you might be forgiven (plus, you have given that surfer the right to burn you on one [only] equally or better wave); but take off on someone who seems to follow all the rules (that is, is patient, passes up incredibly seductive set waves without whining, as in saying ‘wave of the day’ in the most sarcastic way, or splashing water); and, even if this surfer doesn’t instantly (and rightly) call you out for the callous, childish, greedy wave hog that you are; anyone else who witnesses your selfish move (and there’s always a witness) will; and if you cemented your own reputation for ruthless surf crimes, years ago, for burning, among others, this very same individual (even though you apologized and he said, “It’s all good.”  It’s never all good.  No one ever means this); and, even though you did, indeed, apologize for your most recent lineup infraction (this time he said, “You don’t really mean it,” and you- I mean me, of course- kind of lost the first person/second person narrative for a second- said, “No, I do,” and you meant that- mostly due to now realizing you’ve sentenced yourself to another seven years or so of bad karma and mandatory niceness/deference toward that individual any time you/I and he are in the same lineup); and partially due to my telling another local surfer (and witness) about how Trish, not surprised at my criminal behavior, would call this incident ‘just another greedy fat boy trick;’ and then I had to explain the history of that phrase; and partially due to Trish getting all excited (not about the incident) and suggesting I might write a series, possibly for future publication, entitled, “Erwin and His Greedy Fat Boy Tricks;” because of all this; I’m thinking about it.

It being my recalcitrant behavior, and, just to throw in another word I looked up just to make sure I spelled it correctly, yes, I must be, might just be, despite repeated claims to be changing my ways, a recidivist wave hog.

Again, trying to change.

The first and defining ‘greedy fat boy’ story would be this: Second eldest of seven children, with both parents working, I, partially because I seemed to be the one who got up earliest, made sack lunches for the nine of us from the age of twelve or so, about the time, coincidentally, that I started board surfing. Sandwiches.  Lots of peanut butter and jelly or lunchmeat, about a loaf a day.  My parents would bring home a bag of cookies each night, and it was my job to dispense them.  Evenly.  “Okay, eight cookies each.”  Crunch, crunch.  “Seven each.”  More crunching. I once did get down to three and a half each, but it might have been a smaller bag.

Greedy fat boy.

Other stories would have to include my insistence that I developed my bad (O could say unpopular but effective) surf techniques and (oh, I want to say skills- that would be wrong) skills, my ‘ghetto mentality,’ surfing in crowded city lineups.

“But you’re not in the city now,” you might counter. Hmmm.

“And then,” Trish said, “You can go with the greedy fat man.”  “Hey.” “It’d be all right; you’re only being self-deprecating.”  “Oh; okay then.”

Still love cookies.  Too many fucking cookies.

Okay, so here’s my latest illustration.  Yes, it’s all out black and white psychedelia.  Yes, I have told those who I’ve shown it to that, yes, I want people to wonder what kind of drugs the person who drew this is on.

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Here’s my fake flyer for fake wetsuit company, Polar Bear Wetsuits.  “Maximum stretch, minimum shrink.”

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MEANWHILE… Good etiquette has its rewards (or so they tell me).

Somewhere on the (Surf) Sliding Scale

Let’s discuss the FROTH SCALE, the STOKE SPECTRUM; the level to which your adrenalin spikes and your heartbeat soars in a direct relationship (or proportion if your mind is more math-ish) to rumors, predictions, short term forecasts of waves; and, more specifically, how you react to those soothsaid prophecies (as in, “Did you see the forecast for next Wednesday [only an example]?  Sooooo sickkkkkk.  Dude.”); adding in how you *spontaneously, viscerally respond to the anticipation factor, the increased possibility of real-life, rideable, possibly-rippable, possibly-uncrowded, possibly-perfect waves as you approach a beach; and then, we’ll add in how you react when the actual waves and the actual conditions, skunk-to-score, shit-to-all-time classic ultimate; this reaction, the **intensity of this reaction shows where you are on THE SCALE.

So, yeah; pretty much just standard surf talk.

EXAMPLE ONE- You’re probably, statistically, way more likely to get a speeding ticket heading for waves than going from waves.

EXAMPLE TWO- Access to beaches, including possible surf spots, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca often requires a hike.  Often, the waves cannot be seen until one is close.  There’s faith and hope but no guarantee.  If you have hiked a mile, half of which is steeply downhill on a muddy, slippery path, and you, on first hearing waves, even before trying to discern the relative strength of the waves or an interval; break into a run… that’s probably three-quarters of the way up the scale.

*The actions our bodies take without our minds playing a major role (breathing, breathing, digestion, for example) are generally categorized as part of the bodies’ autonomic system.  Yeah, yeah; we’re talking about how we react in the moment, without allowing our trained, worn-down and cynical brains to lessen the impact.

**Flight or fight; fear or some sense of invincibility; depression or elation.  The worst and lowest place on the scale is ***NO REACTION.

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FORGET THAT; we’ll start with WETSUIT WORTHY.  It seems fitting to have Jack O’Neill, pretty much the soul daddy of cold water surfing hypothermia prevention garb, trying to decide if the waves are worth turning a not-quite-dry wetsuit back to right-side-out.

You, no doubt, have stories of times you went out when the surf was marginal, only to discover it turned into something epic.  Place that story on the scale.  Sure, you can embellish it a bit, after the fact.  This is where our brains add the color.

There is, of course, GIGGLE WORTHY, HOOT WORTHY, WET YOUR WETSUIT BEFORE IT’S ON WORTHY.  There is, or shouldn’t be a CALL YOUR FRIENDS WORTHY.  Maybe way after the fact.  At the top of the scale, just after HYPERVENTILATION WORTHY is HEART ATTACK WORTHY.

It doesn’t mean you are required to have one.

***I didn’t mean to go to three asterisks, but, if you see pretty darn good surf conditions and have no reaction, QUIT SURFING.  NOW.

If You Can’t Hibernate Peacefully…

…HOLIDAY JOYFULLY!

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It might be considered ironic, to some, that I’m up early, working on a post that includes a drawing of a bear in a barn; an illustration that will, most probably, be our holiday card for this year; completed (as in color added) only last night; only to wake up this morning, and, in searching for the cell phone (and it’s still dark) I would swear I brought inside last night (but hadn’t), discovering an actual bear had decided to rip off and/or break boards on one wall (more like a fence) of the trash can enclosure I had built to keep him out; and had helped himself to whatever goodies (cat food containers that hadn’t been licked clean, for example) he found in the trash cans kept within the obviously-not bear proof yard.

And it’s not like bears clean up after themselves.

Bears don’t pack out what they… wait a second.  Rethink.  I’m kind of stuck on how much I will hate picking up scattered trash that had been neatly bagged, reinforcing the enclosure, hoping it’s enough.    Bears are… well, they are the true locals out here in the wilds of the Olympic Peninsula, out on Surf Route 101; sure, but this local (and he is well known, showing up on the “I’ve heard of Quilcene” Facebook page as he cruises up and down the various streams in a fairly wide area he, no doubt, considers his domain), but, really, he doesn’t have to get so, so surly.

I mean; really; can’t we just get along?

And besides; shouldn’t any self-respecting, non trash-can-raiding bear, at this time of year, be hibernating?

Shouldn’t we?  That or looking for winter surf.  If I don’t get this card printed and sent to you, do HOLIDAY JOYFULLY!

 

Stuck in the Suck… One Rib Too Far

It’s not, really, that the waves were all that dangerous or scary; it’s just that they were breaking too close to the beach.

Beach break.  Shore break.

I can’t say I’m not spoiled by reef and point breaks, waves that seem a bit more, um, polite, reasonable, more consistent.  On the Olympic Peninsula, the prevailing condition being flat or flat with winds blowing so frequently (and often briskly, gales from south to east to north to west, sometimes in one day) against any swell direction that might bring some sign of swell to the Strait, and even with buoy readings that suggest, almost guarantee rideable waves, the prevailing condition can win.

SKUNKED.

What is worse, figuring I’d figured it correctly, that I just might score, seeing even the super weak wavelets coming out of the dark and (despite the forecast) wind-torn deeper water, die among (as opposed to lined-up bombs sliding over) the rocks of a reef; a dark squall bringing a downpour; I discovered I might have been almost the only one dumb enough to believe the odds and the gods favored surf.

WAITING. Maybe it’s the tide; maybe it’s just…. a 47 (or so) minute nap, the downpour now the heaviest sort of drizzle, the windows now as fogged inside as they are wet outside; wet; that kind of wetness where they’re just covered in vertical rows of tiny drops, hanging there; one drop in each row gaining enough weight to fall down onto the next; but, and I would have awakened, no one else has even pulled in to see if there are waves.

So then one, meaning me, feels dumb for even trying.

BRIEF INTERMISSION- Here’s the negative, black light ready, version of the Soul Rebel illustration:

Scan_20191205

OKAY.  There might be some options.  This is how I ended up hiking to a spot that offered three foot plus waves, still not clean, not friendly, ribs in the swell caused by sidewinds; breaking along (more like on) a steep beach where, eight feet from shore, the water’s eight feet deep.  Overhead.

SO, yeah; look for a corner, take off, drive hard, pull out before it all crashes.  There’s no channel to ease into.  There are sections, sort of separated by those sideways ribs.  A bigger wave should break farther off the shelf that is the shore.  Two successful-if-short rides are followed by one on which I went a rib too far.  Oops.

Stuck in the Suck, I was down in the trench, my board skittering up the beach with each wave, each wave rag-dolling me as I attempted to crawl up and onto the shelf.

OKAY, now I’m determined.  Drop, turn, burn, pullout. Repeat.  Not super thrilling.  BUT THEN, again, going for another section, an extra little chunk of water… Suck, stuck, rag-doll, crawl, try again.  After somewhere around fifteen waves, having ridden one three ribs and a ways down the beach, I got out without suffering a third knockdown. Enough.

FUN.  So, here’s my takeaway, based, largely on something I learned in Psychology 101, Palomar Junior College, 1969:  All passion (read froth or stoke or lust or hunger) seeks to eliminate itself; to diminish that desire that so often overrides logic and morals and common sense.  This lust/froth/stoke/hunger, extended by the ‘one more wave’ syndrome, can be more quickly diminished in sketchy, ‘one section too far’ conditions.

THEN, as passion does, passion returns.  NEXT TIME…

 

 

 

Cold Days and Dark Waves

Here’s a photo of a spot you or I will, most likely, never surf, and a painting (in progress) of a spot that exists, possibly only, in the artist’s mind:

peterspoint

stevedarkwaves

What they have in common is the atmosphere.  It can be bright and sunny on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the darkness, the variations in gray; shining silver to near-black; this is more common.  With the orientation, north shore, low sun over high mountains, it can seem like dawn in the daylight hours; 7:30 or so to 4:30, right about now; and almost a month until the solstice.

The painting is by Stephen Davis.  My critique, shared with him: Love the sky, love the waves; not sure about the green foreground.  Steve’s response: “I’ll be going back in; I’m trying different techniques; want to get the cobbles just right.”  Stay tuned.

Oh, and about the photograph. It’s not where I thought it was, and I had many more clues than I’m willing to share with you*.

Oh, oh; I am taking some advantage of the short days, working on my novel, “Swamis;” and, editing the shit out of what I’ve already written first, second, third drafts of, without getting to the exciting climax, the famous December ’69 swell, I have gotten to the point where I’m a bit afraid to share too much.  I am (possibly delusion-ally) envisioning it as a limited series.  Netflix, Prime; yeah, they could use a surf-centric/murder mystery/coming of age story/fake memoir with way too much dialogue (and not enough surfing for a real surfer) set in a world of hyper change: Home grown marijuana, revolution, war, love, and magic; North County, San Diego, 1969.

See? In 90,000 (or so) words less than the novel, I may have just said too much.  Happy Thanksgiving.

*If we talk in person, I do have some session stories I could tell.  (crowds, skunking’s, scores, entanglements, wind, rain… all the usual northwest stuff).   See you out on Surf Route 101.

WAIT, WAIT; I’m adding another painting; entirely because I made some reference to ‘the ninth wave’ in an email to Drew Kampion, and, well, I felt compelled to look up slash Google the term, one that I’ve heard, casually, as in “So, you’re probably going for the ninth wave, huh?”  No, I probably tend to go for the first or second wave; and I have tried to explain to people that waves rarely show up in nine wave sets.  Doesn’t matter.

So, evidently there is a book, “The Ninth Wave,” with some references to surfing in the nineteen thirties and forties, written by Eugene Burdick.  I haven’t read it.  Burdick died of a heart attack at age 46, in 1965 (the year I started board surfing, not that that is in any way ironic).

AND there’s a famous painting, “The ninth wave,” or, possibly, “After the ninth wave,” which I have seen, not in person, but on TV; described as probably the best marine painting of all time by, if I remember correctly, Rick Steves.  The work is by Russian painter, Ivan Aivazovsky, and, possibly coincidentally, it goes with the theme of this piece.  Since I already downloaded it, I figured I might as well display it here.

HERE:The-Ninth-Wave