EDDIE, EDDIE, and more EDDIE

I MAY HAVE, finally, gotten enough EDDIE to fill my craving for something I have sworn, repeatedly, sometimes with actual swear words, never to really care about: SURFING BIG ASS WAVES. It may have helped that I did go surfing in the week since I sat, transfixed, kiddy cornered to our big ass flat screen (No, don’t care if your is bigger, Dick), listening to commentary by Kaipo (from the WSL- hope he still has a job there) and the two guys who did the color work for the recent DA HUI SHOOTOUT, which I also watched a shit load of, and somehow, with one participant in that event knocked unconscious and having to be resuscitated and at least two other surfers seriously injured, made riding PIPELINE seem somehow boring. Thanks, Kaipo.

THERE WAS NO WAY the Eddie could or would be boring. That a lifeguard, LUKE SHEPARDSON, getting a time deduct for his time surfing, won the event seemed almost poetically fitting.

AND/BUT I didn’t just watch the live coverage. OH, no, I checked out videos by and/or about all of my Hawaii favorites during the past week, last YouTube vicarious surf trip, last night. YEAH, like NATHAN FLORENCE, KOA ROTHMAN (one with both of them together), MASON HO, and, because YouTube obviously has me dialed in, I was offered and perfectly willingly clicked on more stuff from MARK HEALY and ELI OLSON. And maybe a few others I don’t want to check my search history to verify.

BUT WAIT… So many people I ran into over the past seven days, some with only a tangental connection to surfing, had to ask me if I watched THE EDDIE. Oh, yeah; want to discuss it? I did. Yes, since I just thought of it, I did enjoy the commercials from the TV Station in Hawaii (KHON2) that was airing the event. No, they probably do have as many ads as mainland channels for various charities, and for pills and vitamins and products to make any body part smell great, but if they took a day off from that to show some surf related products, thank you.

I SHOULD confess that it was often me who brought up the subject.

THERE WAS, as I alluded to, a day between last week’s BINGE and today’s (possible) start to the WSL’s version of a PIPELINE contest (which I will follow), a full day adventure, dark to dark, with STEPHEN R. DAVIS, seeking waves. It took two days of bleaching and pressure washing to get down from that buzz-worthy experience, my froth, no doubt, amplified by the dull hangover from the EDDIE.

SO, THIS MORNING, searching Google for an appropriate photo to purloin (doesn’t sound as nefarious as steal), I chanced upon some stuff from BEACH GRIT, almost always satirical, and always clever commentary by CHAS SMITH and DEREK RIELLY. So, I just had to get their take on (what else,) the EDDIE. And, of course, between them, they also skewered other surf related sites, QUIKSILVER (who formerly sponsored the EDDIE, missed out on this bonanza), and the easy target of the WORLD SURF LEAGUE.

GOOD STUFF, though I’m always a bit hurt that my friend and librarian/surf ripper/zealot, KEITH DARROCK, believes Chas Smith is just SOO great. So radical. I mean, yes, Chas is smoking in his online image, and I just someone, choosing breathing without coughing over coolness, who used to smoke, but… Now, it isn’t that I don’t agree with Keith, it’s just that I’m… competitive.

OKAY, I have almost worked on this long enough to find out if the PIPELINE contest is going to run today. I am also working on some drawings and very, very close to writing the final chapter, the grand conclusion of “SWAMIES.” OH, AND, YES I have watched some videos of the actual spot filmed during the recent FIFTY YEAR SWELL (fifty-three if you go back to the one in December of 1969). MY COMMENT: They always seem to focus on the outside peak. It doesn’t usually connect all the way through. Certain tides. Now, the inside peak…

“Seahawks and Big Dogs and Choking and…

SOB, sob, why, God, why does a team like… sob… I just wanted… they were ahead at halftime. I mean, yeah, I know the Seahawks weren’t supposed to win, but…” unattributed quote.

Trish and I were watching the Wild Card game over at our daughter’s house. The Seahawks were behind by ten point by the end of the first quarter. I promised I would turn it off and go to the market if the 49ers got another touchdown. Halftime, the Seahawks were ahead. YEA!

Trish, before the kickoff, turned the volume down. Biased coverage. I was listening to the radio version, Steve and Dave. Properly biased. Trish did turn the volume up at halftime, just to see what the Fox Sports experts, who had all agreed the Seahawks were outmatched and would lose, had to say. “Wait until the second half,” was pretty much their message. Volume off.

Partially because their commentary was behind the TV, and partially because it’s thrilling to hear Steve Raible when the Hawks do something amazing, not so much fun when they’re sucking wind. So, no sound except Trish, face at her laptop screen, saying, “I can’t look,” “We’re bad luck,” “Oh! San Francisco’s the greatest. All world! (Sarcasm),” and my loud-but-appropriate grunts of disapproval, or my less frequent and multiple-syllable shrieks of celebration.

With no other distracting sounds, and hope still hanging by some vague remembrance of every sport movie ever made and a few miracle comebacks, it became easy to notice that there are a hell of a lot of commercials during sixty minutes of football.

Early in the fourth quarter, I did notice there were other folks rather aimlessly wandering the produce aisles, or lining up for fried chicken, people who one would never imagine actually playing football, but all in various amounts of Seahawks garb, heads down, possibly still wondering if Geno had connected of a few more long bombs. and, no doubt, happy that they (we) had beaten the crowd that waited until the inevitable San Francisco celebration, with interviews featuring the all world winners.

This isn’t sarcasm. It is sardonic (sarcasm where the speaker’s pain is just too obvious) commentary.

Oh, I did see, while checking out (saved thirty cents on a thirty dollar total), a guy in the line one over wearing a Seattle Kraken shirt. And later, my friend, Stephen R. Davis, who actually did play ice hockey, told me the Kraken just defeated Boston, and that’s a big deal, and… No, not switching my allegiance. Maybe. No; I’ve said I would before. But, added to all this, the San Diego Chargers, who were once my team to root for, were killing it in their game. And then, comeback by the… I don’t know, one of those southern teams. Miracle. Sure. Why not?

MY POST GAME ANALYSIS: Underdog, Over-dog; it’s better to be the Big Dog. And, since I am kind of thinking about, and planning to write about surf heroes, I should relate this to SURFING.

YES, older surfers do like to say, “Back in my day, the best surfers got the best waves,” that kind of thing that runs contrary to sharing and caring, the kind of easily-said aphorisms that run into the reality of limited waves and increasing crowds. NOW I am thinking about PARTY WAVES and DOG SLED TEAMS. If you’re in front, there’s an expectation you will leave lots of room for the other surfer; if you’re in back, you’re dealing with the wake and chandeliers, wondering if there’s an opportunity for a go-behind. AND NOW I’m kind of wondering (and trying not to wonder or care) which teams are playing today, and, by extension, who I want to root for.

AND NOW, realizing I should have taken off for a money-making opportunity half an hour ago, I am wondering when I will get to surf next.

I got the dog image from GOOGLE. All other content is copyright protected and is the property of Erwin A. Dence, Jr. NOT THAT I WON’T SHARE IF YOU ASK NICELY.

Cat Days and Cancer and…

Drucilla ‘Dru’ Dence just after her last radiation treatment. Her course was originally set for thirty sessions, but they cut it down. Nice. They increased the voltage, or the duration, something, so that was less nice. It’s all pretty scary. Fuck Cancer. Sorry for not being trying to hide the ‘fuck cancer’ in some sort of sneaky, subliminal way (like cancers themselves- sneaky). I totally screwed up the shot of Dru inside the place, ringing the bell. Some sort of tradition, started, I joked, after someone saw a similar setup at Arby’s. “If you like the service, ring the bell.” Three times is the standard. I did criticize Dru’s weak first ring. She nailed it on the second and third. “Three rings, for ‘fuck cancer,’ huh?” “Yeah, Dad; can we go now?” “Sure. You hungry?”

I don’t want to take any more credit for getting Dru to the doctors’ appointments and to most of the sessions. Trish did almost all of that, Dru drove herself several times. Because it’s cancer, none of this is really over. She was told that she would feel weak for several weeks, her body still kind of ‘cooking’ from the radiation. “Cooking? They said, ‘cooking?'” “Cooking. Yeah.” And there’s more; the post-surgery reconstruction process is coming up; follow up visits; it’s not over. (insert your own verb here- you know mine) Cancer!

Updating the post-bone-marrow-transplant situation for surfer/artist///all the other things he excels at- Stephen R. Davis: The post-treatment weakness is, he says, less of a problem. He is stronger. His blood, and, in particular, his immune system, nearly and purposefully destroyed, is doing what blood is supposed to do, All good. He still can’t get too close to too many people, he still can’t do physically demanding work or surf for months. So… again… DING ding-ding! Yea, STEVE!

Dru and Steve are doing what they can to bring in some money: I’ll update on Steve’s latest surf-and-non-surf related paintings soon.

WORD ON THE STRAIT- Aaron Lennox does not want credit for the phrase. So, okay, Aaron. Still, the lack of surf, as always, is a point for discussion. It is particularly frustrating when it would seem that winter, and let’s face it, winter starts well before the solstice, should be the season for swell to come into the Strait. And yet… not so much.

Adam ‘Wipeout’ James offers a word on that- “There’s the ‘dog days of summer.’ I think it should be called the ‘cat days of winter.’ Many of us have been surfing around the Strait long enough to believe the truth of that. “Historically,” Adam said in a recent cellular conversation, “the best and most consistent swells… last year, for example, they came in in…”

Oops; dropped call. Cell service is also remarkably inconsistent out this way.

Is that a wave? Is it? Is it?

FUTURE TOPIC- Who is in your phone tree (archaic term)? Who do you call if you know the surf is going off? Who do you call because that person might just know if it is going off? Answers? Next time.

ONE LAST THING: There has been some talk about New Zealand. It has seemed like a worthwhile destination, surf-wise, a some day destination, since “Endless Summer.” Just wondering, why did people ever leave Old Zealand? My guess? Next time. You’re thinking ‘Hodads,’ aren’t you? OH, and… fuck cancer!

Wedding Goes Off With a Hitch

It was against doctors’ orders. At least doctor’s advice. Stephen R. Davis, having survived a could-have-been-fatal allergic reaction to the medication given to him when he was first being treated for mantle cell lymphoma, having endured six rounds of, I’m guessing, garden variety chemotherapy, and having just gotten the second of two rounds of super chemo, designed to kill the shit out of everything except the patient, having received a blood transfusion in the morning, headed for Port Townsend some time in the early afternoon of November 11, 2022, with the intention of getting married to Sierra.

11/11/22 was important to Sierra. A guess (not my guess) was the numbers: 11, 11, and 2 x 11 (22). Made sense. No. Since Steve was kind of unclear on the reason for the date, he made some vague reference to the thinness of the veil. Cosmic. And unclear. I asked Sierra. “No, it’s that that date is one in which…” She lost me. Something about an increased opportunity for things to ‘manifest.’ Oh. Destiny is all I could think of.

Steve’s brother, Paul Davis, officiating at the boat launch by the (head)lights of a silvery Toyota.

“Veil.” “Manifest.” Interesting words. At the very same time Steve and Sierra were getting hitched (see title), a ghost conference was going on in Port Gamble. My wife, daughter, ex daughter-in-law were in attendance, along with lots of other folks who might be interested in the thinness of the veil and the possibility that something might manifest. I was asked not to attend. I’ve gone before. Evidently, my energy doesn’t mix well with the spirit world.

I had spoken to Steve several times before ll/11/22 about his nuptials, giving him advice such as: “Why don’t you f’in’ wait until you’re f’in’ better?” And, “Okay then, have Paul go over there, do the ceremony, have a reception when all your friends can go and possibly not kill you with your totally compromised immune system.”

“Um. No.” So it was set for some time around 3:30 at the Point Wilson Lighthouse. Um, no. There was a traffic accident over by Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, then another one on the Jefferson County side of the Hood Canal Bridge. I got a call from Steve that the ceremony was going to happen about 4:30, and that the wedding and the party was all being moved to the beach over by the fairgrounds. “Okay. Yes, I’ll wear a mask. No, there’s no way I can upstage you. No hugging? No problem. I’m calling Keith. I told him about it, he’s going. We’re going to represent.”

Represent? Yeah. Surfers.

Another call. 5:30. It was pretty dark by 5pm. I tossed all the stuff in the passenger seat of my work van into the back, suddenly worried what a painter’s rig might smell like to a non-painter. I checked out Keith’s ever-increasing quiver of surfboards, looked at some super secret, not to be sent over the telephone surf shots (on Keith’s phone), and we headed over.

As it turned out, Cody was also representing the surfing community. Otherwise, in the dark, with the masks and the distancing and all, I didn’t really recognize anyone. Including Steve. But, breaking the don’t upstage the groom (and, I’m guessing, Steve also meant to include his bride), the first person I saw was wearing a, no-shit, genuine, Davy fucking Crockett coonskin cap. “Hi, Erwin,” he said. “Who are you?” “Hobo Joe.” “Oh.” So, I introduced Keith to Hobo Joe and he explained why Steve calls him that. Not actually a hobo, Joe did have lava burn down his house on the Big Island, did stay with Steve for a while, did stay on Steve’s sail boat in Port Townsend. I know, none of this explains the coonskin cap.

So, word spread among the masked wedding party and the celebrants that the ceremony was going to take place down at the boat ramp. With a north wind blowing across the forty-something degree water, Paul read the opening statements, Steve and Sierra recited their vows, rings were exchanged, permission was given for the now-married couple to kiss. There was clapping and the surfer-appropriate hoots.

Sierra Davis, easily upstaging Steve.

Keith and I were among those congratulating Steve and Sierra. “So, Sierra, since I can’t hug Steve; is it all right to hug you?” No. “Sure. I understand. Virtual hugs?” Sure.

And that was it. I dropped Keith off at his house, went to the QFC, went home. Meanwhile, Steve and Sierra mingled, shared some virtual hugs with friends and family members, and headed back to Seattle. I was kind of hoping that they went through Port Gamble. With all the ghost conference folks hoping for some sign from the spirit world and all, and all the hopes and fears of a newly married couple, well, who knows what might, you know, like, manifest.

Congratulations and a (virtual) hoot. OWWWWW!

SIDEBAR- A little later on, I got a call from Trish. She saw me going into our house on the ring camera. “Is that what you wore? Paint all over your pants.” “Hey, I had on my nice Seahawks jacket.” “Yeah, but, still…” Yes, I did talk about the coonskin cap.

BONUS: Here’s one of Steve’s latest paintings. He and I are discussing ways to make some money with our art work. If he or I figure something out, I will let you know.

It’s Okay, Jay, I Don’t Mean Everything I Say

IT MAY BE TRUE THAT, as accused, by various people, independent of each other (so, almost assuredly true), I do constantly dole out rolling commentary with my big, loud voice. Also true that I have a sarcastic streak that too often borders on, no, invades the territory of… hurts me to admit it, meanness, or even, nastiness (definitely rudeness). One of my surfer friends (and, because I am thinking about surf friends frequently, and whether any of us would be friends at all if it wasn’t for the common denominator, surfing) said (wait, I do want you to know I truly value my surf friends) I might make a good bartender, with the caveat that it would be necessary to have a sign behind the bar, in big letters, that says, “He doesn’t mean everything he says.”

I think, originally, he said, ‘anything’ he says. After discussion, ‘everything.’

Dawn Patrol, 2015. “Better get out there, it’s only going to get more crowded.”

SO IT WAS that I was at a fickle (and let’s just say, mediocre at best, flat the rest of the time) spot, pre-dawn. My surf friend, Tom (I didn’t ask his permission to use his last name), arrived there well ahead of me, and I was there just about dawn (the sun being blocked by mountains). Tom would, ordinarily, be in the water. That’s his thing, beat the hoards. This time Tom was waiting for the swell or the tide or the sun to rise a bit. There was one guy in the water. Tom and I watched him catch three waves in the grainy half-light. “See, it’s closing out.” “Little bit.”

MEANWHILE, several more vehicles pulled in, several of those with multiple surfers and multiple boards. NATURALLY, I started complaining as I was going through my pre-surf warmup (turning the wetsuit rightside-out” checking my booties, moving over here to see if the rights were working. RAJA pulled in next to Tom. I was more than willing to agree with Raja (loudly) that he should go somewhere else, listing a couple of spots that “Are for sure, working.” Westport is usually one of them. “Always good.” Raja whispered a couple of spots on the coast he was going to check. “Really? This was a whisper. “By yourself?” “Hopefully.”

EVIDENTLY it was JAY who walked past me and said he was once like me. I asked what he meant by that. “Well, you already said it.” Yeah, I was overly-amped to get in the water (as always), and overly-pissed that so many surfers were showing up. As I surf-splained to Tom, as if he wasn’t fully aware, “if you go out early, all you see is more surfers to ‘share’ the lineup with.” This was not said with my inside, nice-guy (usually fake) voice, the one I use with clients. Then, turning back to Jay, with my lifetime developed, smart ass inflection, “I’m 71; how old are you?” Jay said he is 73. SO, TWO MORE YEARS and I’ll be mellow. SO mellow. But not on that day. Would I even get a wave? How many people would be out? Why am I not out there already? I’m pretty sure I just turned away from Jay and went back to my pre-surf, ‘don’t have a heart attack’ routine.

NOT even ZEN-like. Not Zen-ish.

NOW, I did write about this little encounter in my last posting, and I did mention I didn’t see Jay in the lineup. The JAY part was part of a little intro/aside before the actual piece, one I wrote in ‘Word’ rather than free-balling (phrase borrowed from Stephen R. Davis, currently getting the ‘Big Chemo’ over in Seattle) it on the Word Press page as I am now (with some editing- of course). BUT THEN, JAY was nice enough to write a comment (scroll down). THE THING IS, JAY was apologetic.

THE REAL AND ACTUAL THING IS that JAY really has no need to apologize. When I think about surfing, the cultural, shared lineup aspect, the real or imagined surf community; and I am constantly distracted from real life by this, the two main subjects, the two main topics are: ATTITUDE AND ETIQUETTE.

I have been heavily criticized for both.

IT WOULD BE SO NICE if surfers talked more about actual wave riding.

Next time. MAYBE. Ommmmmmmm. Ommmmmm. Ohhhhhhhhh. Didn’t work; thinking about waves… again.

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.   

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.

Breaking Down in Gig Harbor- Part Two

Because everything that happens is part of some bigger story, because I try to capture bits of that story as they fly by, because, objectively, it is kind of an interesting if not unique tale, I did write about my work van breaking down in Gig Harbor. I will check out the version I wrote for the Quilcene Community Center Newsletter, then, more than likely, make some… changes.

                                                Another Chapter in the Serial

I was driving my van home from the repair shop, and I was… anxious. Very anxious. There was a noise like a nearly worn-out fan coming from the front of the van. I had checked. It wasn’t, thankfully, the blades hitting the radiator. There was another sound, like sheet metal vibrating and clanging. And then there was the occasional clunk.

Clunk, like the engine was taking a breath, like the automatic transmission couldn’t decide which gear to go into. Clunk.

My hands were gripping the steering wheel. The rain was coming down at a just-under monsoon volume. The wipers were not quite keeping up. My breathing was overwhelming the defroster. The traffic was at the race-stop-slow-race-repeat phase of the afternoon retreat from the major cities, Tacoma in this case, that starts sometime before four pm and ends sometime before midnight… depending. 

I called everyone I have on my contact/speed dial list on my supposed-to-be-stealth flip phone. None of my contacts, almost exclusively family and other surfers, picked up.        

Trish, who had driven me to Gig Harbor, was ahead of me, somewhere, headed for our daughter Dru’s house in Port Gamble. Dru had picked me up a couple of weeks before, on another rainy night, when my van just stopped running. I would have turned on the radio for the distraction if I wasn’t so concerned, wasn’t listening so intently for some sounds that might suggest the van might make it the sixty-some miles from Gig Harbor to… home.

Clunk.

What I know about vehicles making that dead air hiccup is that one only gets so many clunks. I know this because my father, a mechanic, supplied me with a stream of almost-dead vehicles from the time I got my license; rigs that would break down for a variety of reasons: Overheating, lack of oil, abundance of speed; and after a variety of warning signs, the random clunk being one of the most dire. The direst. I learned to be the guy steering the car at the dumb end of the tow chain. First but not the only rule: Don’t hit the lead vehicle.  

I continued the habit of buying cars and work rigs, each with a variety of the problems associated with high mileage and advanced age. Cheaper. I have been given several vehicles. Each was almost worth it. Few of my discount vehicles have survived me. In fact, more than a few people have told me I should write a book about my life as a serial vehicle killer.

There are many good stories if good means entertaining for someone other than me. Perhaps you read about my recent black ice experience. The damage was enough that repairing the rig with mega miles and many little quirks and dings, a vehicle I bought for four hundred dollars, (practically a gift) didn’t seem like a reasonable choice, money-wise. Tragic, nonetheless; I never got to take it on a surf trip.

I need a work rig. Replacing even an older vehicle has gotten expensive. When the van broke down with electrical problems that are inarguably associated with high mileage and a lack of a recent tune up, the repair costs didn’t seem too onerous. That is, when I finally found a garage that would work on a vehicle built in the last century (computer thing- diagnosis). When thieves stole the catalytic converter in the garage’s lot, caught on camera, and slammed into my van to evade the local Gig Harbor Police, also caught on camera, doing additional damage, and escaped; and the garage, which had total control of my van, informed me that their insurance wouldn’t cover it; and the Gig Harbor cop who called me (when the garage didn’t) to ask if I wanted to be a victim (“No”), and if I would press charges if the perpetrators were caught (“Hell, yes”), and I asked him if they even got, like, a license number or something from the red truck, with trailer, featured in the above-mentioned video (“It was probably stolen”); well, all that just adds to the intrigue, the excitement of the story. For just a bit of added color, or fun, with a one-hundred-dollar deductible, there was almost three hundred dollars the garage wanted, over what my insurance company would cover.  

Oh, and the broken lights and front-end damage, from the thief crashing into my van to (successfully) evade the cop; that could be dealt with, my insurance provider said, on a separate claim. The assumption is that the crooks in the possibly stolen vehicle (with trailer) were most likely uninsured.

Makes sense, I guess.

When I did make it home. I immediately investigated as to whether a replacement catalytic converter needs a break in period. Yes. This, Google and YouTube agreed, is accomplished by getting the engine up to running temperature, then racing the engine at high rpms for about four minutes. This, quite obviously, had not been done. Worst thing, according to Google, is to just drive a vehicle home, ever so slowly.

Clunk.

The repair shop manager had not even told me there would be a needed procedure. He might have if I hadn’t said something sarcastic (a comparison with Les Schwab and vacuuming) when he said the mechanics had not replaced the “Doghouse” (in garage talk), the cover for the portion of the engine that extends into the cab of a van (in regular talk), because they hadn’t taken it off. True, that was Stephen Davis and me, hoping the fix was something simpler (it wasn’t).

I did get an automated text from the chain repair shop’s corporate level just as I was hitting another storm cell at the bottleneck at Gorst (which is right before the bottlenecks at Bremerton, Silverdale, Poulsbo, the Hood Canal Bridge). How would I rate the service I had received?

I’m still thinking about it.

“Vehicles I Have Killed. An Incomplete List.”   

Photo borrowed from Bing. Something about therapy for folks with meth addiction issues. Issues. Perhaps I assumed it was tweakers who stole my catalytic converter. Perhaps I’m wrong that they won’t get caught, won’t face charges. Perhaps it is wrong to believe that there might be a downhill spiral associated with some addictions; but shit, man, you fuck with my work vehicle, you’re fucking with my livelihood. I really don’t care how hard you work at stealing shit, it still isn’t a job. Good luck, get help, and, meanwhile, fuck you!

If you’re still with me… it’s like ALL the buoys are down. No, I don’t blame tweakers.

Gifts for the Truly Deserving…

  …and the rest of us.

Waves, rideable waves, somewhere on the scale between junky/fun and perfect, are a product of strong winds at a distance, a favorable or lack of wind at a beach that has the right bottom contour, the right orientation to the swell; and at a tide level that suits the spot; high tide here, low tide there; incoming, outgoing. It takes so many factors to produce a perfect wave. Or a near-perfect wave. Or a fun wave.

A gift.

Sure. It isn’t difficult to acknowledge this.

It is too often said that surfers, surfing, should be the happiest folks around.

So, here’s a couple of stories kind of fitting for the season of dark and storm and rain and occasional offshore winds, occasional combinations of factors, occasional gifts:

another gift

ONE- Most of the breaks on the Strait are adjacent to streams and rivers. Heavy rains have moved rock and gravel and forced long walling swells into sculpted peaks, directed the incoming energy down a line.

What natural forces have created; the same forces can also destroy. So it was that what was once a rarely breaking spot became a sometimes wonderous break; and then was altered, gravel moved, bottom contour shifted. Another wave, gone.

With the wave went the crew that tried to localize the break with threats and aggression.

Well, next spot, same behavior.

Bear in mind that there are very few true locals. Realize that if you play the local card here, you are a visitor everywhere else. An interloper, a, let’s just say, guest.

We should also admit that localism works, to an extent. Ruin someone’s fun, that person might not come back. This from surfers who endure multiple skunkings in exchange for occasional waves, write that off, justify the expense of traveling and waiting and not working.

I am talking about a specific incident; but that one assault, and I will call pulling the leash of another surfer who has, by our long-established priority guidelines, the right to that particular wave; that one aggressive, self-centered, possibly dangerous and possibly criminal act, that assault is one among, if not many, too many.

TWO- It was (here’s one from the past- just to keep it out here) “Colder than a snow-capped brass witches’ tit.” I was aware that it was a day we probably would have been surfing, but it being December, this was the only day a painting job in Silverdale could be completed.

With help from Reggie and Steve, it was. At dark, another frontal system showing.

Exhausting, but Steve, for one of his jobs, had to go to Lowes. I had the van for transporting the twelve-foot baseboard stock. Okay. I wanted to treat Steve and me to some Arby’s. I wanted to get some gas at Costco.

Costco is the training ground for aggressiveness. Parking, checking out, moving through the aisles; split second decisions are needed.

I was headed pretty much straight for the gas pumps. I got to a stop. I was turning right. This guy in a truck was turning left. I had priority. He cut me off. Then, turning left into the non-full waiting area, he cut off someone coming straight. Another priority foul. Fucker.

But me, no, I was calm, putting in cards, punching in numbers, looking over at the fucker in the silver Silverado, topping off his tank. I didn’t call him out. I just spoke, with my outdoor voice, to the guy across from me. “Hope the asshole has some place really important to get to.” Shit like that. None of it really mattered. The Silverado shithead grabbed his receipt and peeled out.

“Mine, mine, mine!”

THREE- Enroute to Arby’s, I had to go down to the traffic light with the longest wait time in all of Silverdale; just past, on the right, The Lover’s Package and the Sherwin-Williams, both closed; and on the left, a church.

Ahead of me I see a thin man in a boony hat pushing a man in a wheelchair across the road, left to right. Whoa!. Dangerous. I pulled my big ass van into the center of the road so some other hurried Silverdalian wouldn’t hit them.

Best I could do.

Long light. I got to watch this: The guy in the boony hat gets the wheelchair to the curb. The guy in the wheelchair is too big to get him and the chair up to the sidewalk. The wheelchair guy pretty much falls out onto the sidewalk. He has one leg. One. He does a half crawl across the sidewalk to a post for, I don’t know, a light or something. Boony hat gets the wheelchair up to the sidewalk. The guy with one leg pulls some blankets and, maybe, a jacket off the wheelchair. He maneuvers himself until he has his back against the pole. The boony hat guy starts covering him with the blankets, parks the wheelchair. They both, possibly, prepared for the night; a cold fucking night.

The light changes. I turn left onto Silverdale Way, make an immediate right into Arby’s. I wait for Steve. We go inside. I order. They don’t have milkshakes. Damn. I get a large drink, only a few cents more than a small. I create a ‘graveyard,’ a mixture of most but not all of the available drink choices. It is something I learned from chaperoning, back when my kids where in school. Delicious. Two classic beef and chedders for six bucks. Great for the ride home.

No, I didn’t do anything to help anyone. I could have. Two for six bucks. I was tired. It would be forty-five minutes to get home, if the bridge was open and no one decided to crash and close the highway.

No moral here, no high ground. Writing this doesn’t do shit for the one-legged guy or the boony hat guy. Wait, maybe there’s this: Given the choices each of us has, multiple times every day, to be an asshole or not be an asshole; occasionally choose not to be an asshole.

I could add, whether or not you believe in angels, for that guy in the wheelchair, the thin man in the boony hat… angel.     

The Mythical Combination Swell

I was not alone in getting skunked on a recent Saturday. In fact, it was like a skunk fest. I hung out in a parking area while some surfers left, others came, others continued to hang out. Hanging out. More hanging out. Even more hanging out. Was I the victim of bad judgment, poor reading of the tea leaves, mismanagement of my relatively few opportunities to devote way too much of a day to something like hanging out, did I believe in the possibility that a ‘combo swell’ might bring waves to my chosen destination despite a history of being let down by the more-theory-than-evidence-based fact of a combo swell? YES.

This possibly secret spot is actually in New Zealand. Note the lack of booties, gloves, hoods. Wow, must be warm water.

And it’s not like I don’t know how to hang out, northwest style; acting all cool and all; it’s just that I tend to run out of coolness after a few minutes of hanging out.

Yes, I greeted some of the surfers I know from past skunkings, figured out Ian might just be the longboarder who actually goes for outside waves, asked his girlfriend, Veronica, if I ever burned her in the water. No (according to her). I asked Cole if he owns property up the hill, (info I got, via cell phone call, from another surfer who may have scored earlier in the week). No, but a friend of his does; the house I had heard of evidently really more like a carport or one of those mountain shelters for hikers. I listened to a story by a non-surfer, Mo, about a couple of incidents in Port Angeles in which cops were called. Mo couldn’t believe I had only been in one fistfight in my life. “Wanna try, Mo?” No. Before Reggie, who had been there four hours already, left, I met Reggie’s friend, Brickie, who I had, evidently, met before (but in the water, so it doesn’t count). I accepted a raw oyster from Nam. I told Sara she never needed to apologize to me for any incidents in the water (which seemed to lead others to believe they also might not have to apologize for burnings, drop-ins, in-the-ways. No, I didn’t mean them. It was one incident). I strolled through the parking area. Lots of city escapees, three red four-wheel-drive VWs with various numbers of bikes on racks. Still no waves. Then I took a nap, sitting up, in my car. Twenty minutes or so. I woke up, still no waves. I had to get on with real life.

I texted one of my surfing friends on my way back home. “Fuck a bunch of combo swell” Smile emoji.

“I’ll make up for this next time,” I told myself at the third to last stoplight in Port Angeles. Next time. And I will; or I did; can’t talk about it.

Durn. I wanted to talk about secret spots, and now I have to get going. Next time.