“Swamis” is a Tough Read

It isn’t as if I’m not aware that even my latest rewrite of my novel, “Swamis,” has way too many side stories attacking and (to stress the metaphor) dropping in on the plotline, too many peripherals and tangents; it’s just that I love the little side stories that make fiction seem like something that just could, perhaps, happen.

Here’s how a novel is supposed to be: Minimal characters, as if the selected group move in a world that is less crowded and far less complicated than any we can actually find. Anything that doesn’t move the plot has to go. We all have attention deficit disorder, including me.

Still, as someone who has already jettisoned and backspaced-out tens of thousands of words, eliminated multiple supporting characters and side stories; I can’t help but believe it’s better to have too much and cut some than pad a weak story already too familiar.

Or maybe readers want familiar. I know there is a formula; you don’t know how disappointed I will be if I have to strictly follow it.

“And then, this one time…”

Because I do get off topic, here’s this: I watched a little YouTube, billed as ‘great waves at Trestles.’ It was clearly, with uncrowded conditions and each surfer in a colored jersey, some sort of contest. I am very familiar with the spot. I won’t go into how I became familiar or when, but surfers were concentrating on the off-the-tops and cutbacks, with most performers/contestants pulling a last air with fifty feet of rideable wave going unridden. Perhaps one or two high-lined that last section, sliding just under the lip, gliding, freefall floating into a pullout.

Yeah. “Swamis” needs some more cutting. Working on it. Doing what, in my painting life, I refer to as ‘tightening it up.” Still, I can’t help but hold on to the overcrowded versions. If I don’t hold my words as precious, I do admit to being a bit… retentive.

RA-KAN-‘TAR- A Person who Excels in Telling Stories and Anecdotes… and more

It’s kind of my latest joke; not that I actually tell jokes. I just talk. A lot. Too much too often. It goes like this: “Do you know the difference between a raconteur and a garden variety bullshitter?” “No.” “No? Okay then; let’s talk.”

I actually came up with this little icebreaker when I was at a pullout, out on the Strait; there because I thought there might be waves. There weren’t. Because it’s what I do, I was chatting with the only other people on the beach at that time, two surfer wannabes from Seattle who didn’t actually check out the buoys and tides and wind charts, they just had some time, hoped for the best.

So, no, no great waves; just the more typical ‘almost’ conditions, almost big enough, almost lined up… almost. So, with no cell reception to check out… anything, I start talking, tides and buoys and winds and traffic and road closures and beach closures and a few anecdotes about past sessions and good old days and…

And somewhere in here I realize these two guys aren’t really interested in what some old coot is saying; they’re going to put on their wetsuits and flop around in whatever is out there. Yes, I was also about to suit up. With the alternatives being wait and hope or admit you’ve been skunked; almost is almost always enough to get me in the water.

Still, I was, perhaps, a little offended the Seattle surfers (and, when asked, most Seattle surfers say ‘Seattle’ with their heads slightly lowered) hadn’t been more interested in my imparted wisdom. “Wait,” I said, “You guys are Kooks.”

They both raised their hands in a celebratory gesture, as if kook meant ‘hot shit’ rather than just ‘shit.’ They grabbed their boards (one Wavestorm, one used thruster), ran down and over and out. Cowabunga! (antique word meaning ‘Yipee!’)

When I looked over from the water, over where the lefts were almost decent, the two kooks over where the rights were almost lined up were jumping up before they actually caught a wave, pearling, crashing, riding in almost-matching, stink-bug stances; slow-motion surfing, more straight in than down the line; then celebrating. Yea! Yippee!

Hey, Google this guy; I did. Interesting stuff. I was actually looking for a photo of a couple of old surfers hanging on a fence, watching the waves, talking story.

I will probably keep asking the raconteur story until someone says, “Yes, I do know the difference,” and then just turns and walks, slowly, away.

Gotta go. That’s me; though, big talker that I am, I do hear this, eventually, when whoever I’m talking to has heard enough of the garden variety bullshit.

BONUS: Yeah, I do have to go, used up my ‘me’ time doing business stuff; can’t work on “Swamis,” can’t start the short story about one of the characters, Portia. I’ll think about it while I’m driving to look at one job, finish another.

There are a few semi-secret spots around, semi-protected from being overrun more by their very fickleness than by any militant locals, semi-protected by the fact that one has to actually go way out of the way to even check them out. And yet, sometimes someone new does show up when one of these spots is almost breaking.

I spent about ten minutes recently, talking to an older couple (still younger than me) from San Diego. “Oh, what part?” “Claremont.” “Oh.” “You know Joe Roper?” Insert Joe Roper story here. “Where do you surf?” This was all after a friend of mine, because the woman was taking photos, tried to convince them not to post photos on the internet. Though the husband, who claimed never to surf Tourmaline because it’s too slow, said the photos had been deleted, and the woman, who said she would really love to own a Skip Frye surfboard, “But you have to be someone, like, important or something…” well, I’m pretty sure they posted the photos somewhere.

Even if they did, the photos probably looked like a spot that was almost rideable.

“So,” this same friend of mine said, “these two guys were looking, scoping it out. They weren’t tourists, or hikers; they looked like surfers, probably had a couple of boards back in their vehicle. They looked at me, tried to give me the Nod.” “The Nod. Oh, yeah, the nod.” “Yeah.” “What did you do?” “I declined, didn’t give them the nod.” “Oh.” “What would you have done?”

Yeah, he knows; I probably would have talked to them until they had to go.

Now I really do… have to go.

After the Heat Dome Shattered…

…Eighty degrees feels kind of, um, not so hot. You don’t voluntarily go, “Ew!” the second you step out of any even partially air conditioned space into the ambient broasting (as in broasting chicken) available outside. Yes, we all uttered the short but unmistakably recognizable and totally audible version of longer ‘ewwwww,’ the ‘ew’ shortened because of the sudden shortness of breath.

Anyway, I wrote about the heat for my monthly dealie, “Erwin’s Ramblings,” available to a select group (I didn’t make the selections) on line in the Quilcene Community Center newsletter. When Trish read it, online, though I always offer her the opportunity to read it beforehand, she said, “It sounded incomplete, like you said, ‘hey, that’s all you’re getting out of me this month.’ I was looking for more.”

She was right. I could have written more. Oh, now I have. So, after a shot I got googling “Lake Crescent images,” the actual piece, as submitted. I did google “Sweaty people in the country images.” Beefcake; mostly guys in cowboy hats. There was one of an older couple in hip waders hugging, and… no.

The water is shrinkingly, incredibly cold. One toe in, you will go, “Ah,” and then “Owww!” And then get out

                                                Inappropriately Sweating Buckets

There’s nothing, of course, wrong with sweating… sorry, perspiring… unless you just happen to be out in public somewhere, say, in line to get a smoothie or a cold coffee or a frozen daiquiri or a frozen banana, somewhere where wearing a, say, saturated tie dye (tye dye is an acceptable alternative spelling- though not accepted by Microsoft Word- yet) t-shirt, the colors of which are intensifying, combining, and drifting down; creating all-new and non-psychedelic patterns on your formerly khaki-colored cargo shorts; uneven bands of purple and yellow, along with the season-appropriate red and blue; those colors diluted by the moisture on your exposed knees, but forming, along with the drips from the end of your nose, ever-expanding dots on the no-see socks no one would see except that you’re wearing them with sandals; that kind of perfuse perspiring is just plain unacceptable.

And it’s yet another reason not to wear tye dye.   

Okay, that sentence/paragraph was exhausting. Yes, I’m five feet away from an indoor fan/air conditioner, the kind with a big tube that goes through a window and sucks in and attempts to cool whatever hellishly hot air our recent dome of historically significant heat has given us. Yes, it’s early in the morning and yes, I am sitting in the dark because it just (even with LED bulbs) feels cooler. And yes, of course, all exits are blocked to maintain a cooling station in the living room while the rest of the house is on its own, several fans pretty much losing the battle against…

Oh, you’re aware. Oh, you’ve already checked all the local home weather station reports, watched Seattle newspeople lose their cool, saw that our local weather made national news. “Even in the cool Pacific Northwest where people discount the need for air conditioning and…”

Yeah, we do and, not mentioned, we either ignore the reports of heat and quakes and tornados and hurricanes elsewhere, and many of us Olympic Peninsulars (note how insular is part of the word Microsoft Word tells me is incorrect?) might just take a sort of delight in being one of the coolest spots in the United States of America.   

Okay then, since I know you’re dying to tell me; how hot did it get at your house?

That hot? Okay, you win.

I started writing this a few days ago, I’m trying to finish it up and get it out before the weekend. The weather people who delight in adding as much drama as possible are predicting a return of the heat for the Fourth of July. Yea!

I did want to say something about how heat might be tougher on women, since socially, and this is perhaps not fair, they are not allowed to perspire. Glisten, glow, these are acceptable alternatives.

But then, what do I know; I bring an extra shirt just to go to the grocery store, and another for the Post Office.

Finding Jesus in the Driveway

The headline is better than the story.

Let me start with this: I was pressure washing a house, and more pointedly, its steep metal roof, out here in the country, under trees that had dropped leaves for too many seasons, with mildew that had grown ever thicker. I tried to switch the nozzle on the gun from the yellow to the red one, a tip that had lost its distinguishing plastic ‘wings,’ and had become pretty much a piece of metal. Brass, copper, I wouldn’t know.

As can occasionally happen, I didn’t get the nozzle seated properly, pulled the trigger, and, bloop, the nozzle went somewhere into the leaves I had already washed off the roof. Gone. Gone forever; even though I crawled among and pushed around the leaves to reveal the much needed tip.

I had decided to do what I could with the equipment on hand. I had abandoned all hope of finding the tip when my friend, Stephen R. Davis, coming down the garden path to help me out, and totally unaware of the situation, leaned down, picked something up, and said, “Hey, Erwin; do you need… this?”

I did.

So, what I had was a little metal dashboard version of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro that had, with me transferring it from my surf rig to my work rig, lost its glue, its ability to stick to the dash. Mostly I kept it in the ashtrays, mostly standing, facing forward. Yeah; I know. Take a breath, Christians.

Somewhere during one of the transfers, Jesus was lost.

Forty days, not sure. I did miss seeing the little metal (pewter, pop metal, not sure; not gold or silver, for sure) charm (if you will, statuette if you won’t) Seeing Jesus watching the road always got me feeling a bit more secure. Bear in mind that surfers have long (longer than I’ve been surfing) embraced and included Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers (including motorists) as part of the crew. Travelers, seekers of waves and, you know, all the mystical and mysterious stuff that goes along with surfing. I do have a St. Christopher medallion in the corner of the van’s dashboard.

In addition to needing to count on the services of a no-doubt exhausted, most-likely embarrassed Guardian Angel, I also, way too frequently, have needed and continue to need some intervention on the road, divine or otherwise.

mysterious if not mystical

Now I have to recount the latest example: I need my six foot ladder to tie down if not load my longer extension ladders on my big boy van. On July 5th I finished one job, arrived at another, untied the smaller set (24 and 20 foot) of ladders, used the six footer to do some scraping. My plan was to remove the ladders and leave them on site.

Although I told myself I would remember, I, yes, drove off with the potentially deadly projectiles… untied. Not only that, I drove from Port Townsend to Port Gamble (the long line of cars backed up almost to the Beaver Valley Road and moving at five miles an hour to get off the Olympic Peninsula and across the Hood Canal Bridge might have been a good thing), hung out with our daughter, Dru, then, with Trish inside the van for the first time in a long time (another car story there), we headed back.

“What’s that noise?” Trish actually asked. “Oh, I probably pushed the big ladders (28 and 32 foot) too far forward. Annoying, huh?”

Note I still didn’t remember that I hadn’t removed or tied the other set of ladders to the rack.

I did remember, on Surf Route 101, half a mile or less from our driveway, when both ladders slipped (or flew, depending on which of us is telling the story), clanged and banged onto the fortunately empty road. As luck (or fate- again according to who is talking) would have it, this guy who, ironically, I had spoken to on the phone earlier this very day, and his son were out in their yard at dusk. They ran across the highway (more like a road in Quilcene), grabbed the ladders, pulled them off the pavement.

You might guess I was in a bit of trouble with Trish. Yeah, that’s like the hundred dollar Jeopardy clue; but yeah.

When she, through some sort of cosmic knowledge, seems to call me when I’m just loading up to come home, Trish now goes through a checklist with me. Ladders? Yeah. You sure? Um… I’ll check.

It’s July the tenth as I write this, trying to put off going to pressure wash a house on Marrowstone Island. On July the eighth, swapping out stuff from one job, pulling out my Hobie because there’s just no forecast of waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, leaving the wetsuit stuff in, just in case (I might be able to borrow a board, wetsuit- no), I just happened to see something in the driveway.

None the worse for wear, Jesus is currently, um… I better check.

The Bombs… Bustin’ An Air…

I got a Fourth of July special, another photo from the Big Island, from Stephen Davis, but without any captioning or explanation. Therefore, I have to make assumptions. I did talk to Steve a couple of days ago, mostly about borrowing a car he has up in Port Townsend, though Steve, who was headed out for another surf session, couldn’t help but correct me on the photo credit for the photo from my last posting and adding to my Big Island surf jargon, just in case, since I’m surfing vicariously through him, I can use the proper terminology when I’m speaking… I guess, also vicariously.

So, Steve said, he and Cap were headed to another spot after surfing “Cyborg waves that were detonating on the reef.” Okay. Cyborg, detonating. Also, the photo of Makena was taken by Snacks, nickname for someone whose actual name I, of course, forgot; most probably because I was considering whether Cyborg is an apt description for a wave; and, if so, what kind of wave would it be?

CORRECTION – The photo on this page, of, indeed, Makena, was taken by “Cap,” former owner of a boat formerly owned and built by Woody Brown. Cap has a real name, but I forgot it.

Trisha’s car, the Cadillac she inherited from her father, has some wiring issues, to kind of sanitize the actual situation, and our friend George Takamoto, though he spliced and reconnected all the wires we could find that mice had chewed, pretty much as collateral damage in some expectant momma mouse’s quest to have a nice place in which to have her babies, cannot figure out exactly why the turn signals on the left side still don’t work. We have pretty much torn the car apart, put it back together, downloaded repair manuals (costly, so far unhelpful- the latest one has over 6,000 pages and no index, no apparent way to just skip ahead); the net result being the car may be out of service for a while.

Meanwhile, Trish is not stoked about driving, or even riding around in my big boy, full sized, paint-smelling work van; and refuses to ride in or drive my surf rig, the 1987 Toyota Camry. Something about fire danger and the lack of a muffler, and the wet wetsuit smell (alleged, smells fine to me). With the recent and expected hot weather, the air conditioner in the Toyota works great but the fan works… sometimes, the fan works great in the van, but the coolant is long gone.

The air conditioning in the Cadillac; great.

Steve’s potential loaner, a kind of badass looking (compared to the Camry) Nissan SUV, up in Port Townsend, is uninsured. My insurance people say I can’t insure a car I don’t own. Steve could get the car insured and I could borrow it, or I could buy it. Time and distance. Steve said he’d check into the insurance thing, but, no, wait, he has to go surfing.

That was Friday. On Saturday George and I looked for the proper diagrams and schematics and such that would tell him… hell if I know; I printed up eighteen pages of lines and arrows and stuff I couldn’t read, scrolled through a thousand of the six thousand. It’s the fourth of July and Trish gets to ride over to our daughter’s house. With me. In the van. WIndows open, fan going.

“And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air…” Some Hawaiian fireworks

I have to guess this is not Stephen Davis, unless he’s gone switchfoot after all these years. Let’s assume it is Makena. Let’s assume this photo was taken by Snacks. I can’t positively swear that the wave would qualify, in the Big Island vernacular, as a Cyborg, but there’s definitely some detonation on the reef going on.

Happy Birthday, America! Realizing how competitive patriotism is; not arguing about the problems our country has, one of which is even admitting to mistakes and sins in our past; it might be a bold assumption that real Americans try to make things better for all Americans.

To assume- yeah, I know. Still…

Tomorrow’s Monday. I’ll be working. I’m hopeful we can get the Cadillac back on the road, turning left as well as right; that Steve and I will figure something out on the Nissan; that, having missed the last swell window, I’ll be ready and there for the next one. Hopeful.

And Now, Something Really Refreshing

Makena transplants himself into a Big Island nugget- photo courtesy of Stephen R. Davis

Stephen assures me this is the proper way to spell his name- Makena- named after a mountain or something equally Hawaiian. Steve told me about the shot before he sent it. “Yeah, like, um, Makena was getting some nuggets.” Paraphrased; read it with a Colorado/Seattle/Hawaiian rhythm and you’ll be close. Steve rates waves from ‘bombs’ to ‘nuggets,’ to ‘nugs’ (yeah, just a shortened version of nuggets), to various descriptions of waves according to scariness, height, and number of rippers and or others in the lineup, with an occasional mention of who is in the gallery and who is in the lineup. “Wahines in bikinis” is an occasional bit of the color commentary.

After some record heat in the northwest, a shot of someone in the shade might help.

Back to Swamis

My daughter, Dru, and this is partially because one of the various jobs she has taken has her selling books and cards and artwork and such items at a store called WISH in Port Gamble, gave me, for Fathers Day, a set of skin tone markers, double-ended, one side for narrow lines, the other for brush (type) strokes.

I haven’t done much drawing since I became obsessed with completing the manuscript for “Swamis.” I have completed a way better version, sent it out to some folks, and started working on a treatment for… I don’t want to reveal too much about this except that writing for a visual medium is forcing me to focus. No, not just Hollywooding it up; but, yes, it does mean eliminating way too much of the exposition and side characters and side stories that I am unwilling to part with otherwise.

Prose Retentive Disorder, obviously.

Here is my first attempt to do something with Dru’s gift:

It didn’t start out to be Chulo; but now I’m saying it is Chulo.

Let’s see how this compare to an earlier illustration:

Close enough for now. Yeah, Chulo looked like Jesus, or what we believe Jesus looks like.

Meanwhile, hopefully you’re surviving the heat. A few feet into the local water and… ah!

A Little Deeper, Out of Respect

PART ONE- They die anyway.

It was a bit of a joke as I was checking out at Wal-Mart, happy to have an actual cashier. “You buy them pedialite and baby food, you get these absorbent pads to stick under them, you do what you can, and they die anyway.”

The cat hung on for years longer than we thought it would, and yet, when I came out to the mud room it had taken over for the last few months, found it dead, away from the spot it had been pretty much stuck in for the last few days, aimed for the door, I was considerably more saddened that I would have imagined.

I’ve seen this before. As a first responder with the local volunteer fire department, I came into a scene where the patient, someone I had been a member of various crews that took him to the emergency room twelve times, each time in the middle of the night, each time with him in a panic… on the thirteenth aid call he was gone, halfway out of the bed, halfway into his pants, reaching. It is an image I cannot forget. Reaching.

The reaching is far from the only mystery connected with those moments before death. After death; for all our pondering, we don’t have much more than a few clues.

If I don’t dwell on thoughts of mortality as much as I could, I am, occasionally, faced with the reality. Everything dies.

I dug a hole in one corner of a flower garden by the driveway (appropriately) used the same shovel to carry the cat to it. A bit deeper, out of respect. I put a tile over some of the dirt, added some more, put in another tile. I broke that one up. Same shovel. There is no marker over the grave. I don’t know what religion the cat practiced.

NOTE: When I read this part to Trish, saying Oreo might have been a Buddhist, she said, “Hell, no; that cat? When she was younger… she was a killer. I used to have to throw rocks at her, run the hose on her to keep her from killing birds… she was horrible.” There was a suggestion that Oreo may have been a holy roller. Nothing specific.

PART TWO- Not Our Cat

A lot of thoughts go through your mind when you’re burying a cat that was never yours. The neighbors at the head of our driveway moved away and left the cat. This was a few years ago. Dusty Dave, who claimed he couldn’t catch the cat, called it Oreo.

Not allowed in their house, Oreo would, invariably, be stationed outside their pumphouse. Let me describe Oreo. She was, obviously, black and white, but, somehow, the placement of the colors gave her the appearance of a cat that had lost one too many fights. Kind of like a broken nose thing, plus, perhaps, a few pieces missing from her ears.

It isn’t actually surprising, with a succession of renters also not caring for it, that the cat started moving our way. We have had, over the past forty years, a succession of cats that started out as feral and ended up as ours. We have one now. Oreo never adapted. Not a house cat. At first, in the winter, she was an outside/mudroom cat. I pretty much turned over my drawing room (more like a closet) and our mud room to the cat. Then, when she got more feeble, and at Trisha’s insistence, I added an outside area/cat run (quite nice) so Oreo could kind of be outside without being way-too-easy prey for the numerous predators quite willing to carry her away.

See the source image
Please go from this image to one of David Letterman feigning throwing a cigarette butt, his eyes squinched and with a ‘fuck you’ expression

PART THREE- “I had to bury a dead cat.”

That was the text I sent Aaron. He was going to help me with a project and I was running late. Taking a break halfway through the job, Aaron said, “Oh, you actually did have to bury an actual cat.” “Yeah. Actual.” “I thought it was a euphemism for taking a dump.”

“In the future, it will be.”

“Swamis” UPDATE: I have the latest version complete and out to several people I know will be honest in their feedback.

HEAT UPDATE: It is unfortunate that heat waves and actual waves do not always happen at the same time. WAVE UPDATE: I did do some surfing recently. WAVE FORECAST: Flat with occasional non-flatness.

OH, WAIT!- The last time I went surfing, one of two kooks in the parking area was kind of raving about the last time he had gotten it really good at that spot. “I have a photo.” He stuck his phone in my face. There were some waves in the background. “Hey,” I said, “That’s my van!” Somehow, though I had to tell them it wasn’t, like, all time good, just seeing my van in the photo became the highlight of my day.

Mildew and Drizzle and Cliff Mass

 This is the piece published in the Quilcene Community Center (online only) Newsletter for June.                               

Promising Sunshine, Threatening Rain

This time of year, the too-brief period between Memorial and Labor Days, the season where we can, at least, turn down the heat we’ve been running pretty much non-stop since, at least, the day after Halloween; the weather can offer pretty much anything except, maybe, snow and/or ice. Thunder and lightning; oh yeah, that can happen; rare but sometimes sensational.

While the everchanging weather is usually spread out over the length of a day, or days, we often can get our atmospheric variety show’s highlights in an amazingly short period of time.

“Don’t like the local weather?” Yeah, you know the answer. “Wait an hour (or a minute- varies).  

In the midst of the brightest, purest sunlight, the wind blowing up the Hood Canal and the rain drifting in from over the Olympics can unite, and we get, yes, wet.

There is a reason Quilcene is always in contention for the Mildew Capital of Western Washington. Yeah, yeah, Lilliwaup, Eldon; close, but we have mildew changing, in any season, from the common and traditional green to orange, yes, orange, the orange-er the better.

And thick enough to peel.

Not just mildew and mold and lichens, not just funguses and algae, Quilcene is also know for drizzle. It’s real, it’s here. Yes, I know, you can look on the doppler and, no, no rain; and then look outside. Drizzle.

It is a conspiracy, obviously designed to fool potential tourists into venturing over to the Peninsula, and then, when they look our way from the Hood Canal Bridge, they opt for Sequim or Port Townsend. The dirty work of doppler manipulation, I’ve heard whispered, is carried out by corrupt meteorologists. I’m still undecided, but the evidence, well, it’s there.    

I am not an expert on weather. Need one? Cliff Mass. He puts out weather analysis and forecasts for the Great Northwest so detailed and science-based and data-driven that I can’t even begin to follow. He does have a great voice; used to love hearing him on the radio.

Even with all that, even Cliff leaves himself an out. “Possible.” “A good chance.” That kind of thing. “Not my fault.” Oh, but it is.

Basically, from what I can comprehend, our weather is influenced by several factors, evidently in some sort of constant struggle against each other. Our proximity to the tentacles of the Pacific Ocean, our location on the lee side of the Olympics, the fact that Canada and its Frazier River Valley can give us the coldest winter and the driest, hottest summer days, the variants in the ambient pressure and the… okay, I’ve lost myself.

I’ll just look outside. Oh. Drizzle. Again.

Just starting to turn a lovely shade of orange. Wait for it… wait…

One would think, with the summer solstice on, historically, June 21, we might be blessed with bright and sunny days. No. Sorry. June Gloom is a thing up and down the West Coast. In San Diego it meant overcast conditions until about 10 am. Here it means drizzle until 11:48 (or so).

It seems logical that the amount of non-drizzle/overcast-ness would be pro-rated from there to here. Probably not.

Anyway, being someone dependent on the weather for work, I have learned to basically ignore forecasts; this despite Trish updating me on the latest from channels 4, 5, and sometimes 13. “Okay, it’s raining now,” I might say, “but…”

Not to get too deep in conspiracies, but TV weather folks do enjoy scaring us; and there has to be some connection with the guy selling the expensive gutters during the segments. Suspicious.

I have been known to take a van-nap during a weather delay. It is my policy on painting exteriors to always paint the areas that are the least protected first, saving the covered areas for the less-than-perfect conditions. For this reason, I love eves. Thirty-six inches; great.

It has been presented to me as a fact, an almost-fact, or near-fact, that the weather gets drier the farther one gets between Quilcene and Port Townsend. So, I’ve been told, at Highway 104, half as much rain, Chimacum halved again, Port Townsend… yeah, I expect it to never rain there.

I have been fooled; expected sunshine, got drizzle. D R I zzzzzzz L E. Really. You never hear that advertised.

People from elsewhere often ask me what time it gets dark on the longest day up in these parts. For comparison, I might say, in San Diego, where I haven’t lived for well over forty years, the sun goes down on the longest day somewhere just after 8pm.

“Well,” I say, “around here it gets dark around 3:30, 4pm. The sun goes down at, like, quarter to ten.”

I could be exaggerating. Check with Cliff.    

Legends and the Rest of Us

Here’s what, before I actually start writing it, this piece is meant to include: A remembrance of a local surfing/boatbuilding legend; something nice about a local living legend; and something not too whiny or snarky about how many asterisks are attached to my own advanced-age surfing.

Okay, we’ll see how it turns out.

The first thing Clint Thompson, temporarily back on the Olympic Peninsula to do what he does (extremely fine carpentry on expensive boats) reported seeing (to Adam Wipeout) was, when he got a view of the lineup, me burning Tim Nolan. Not the first time, and I did, as I did the last time, apologize to Tim for shoulder-hopping, with the excuse/explanation, “I didn’t think you would have made the wave.” True, I believe, this time, probably not true of the previous infraction.

Yes, guilty with no credible explanation. Place that asterisk next to my name. *Greedy wavehog.

Michael “Miguel” Clay Winterburn is a name I have heard for many years, though, to my knowledge, I never met him. A pioneer of Northwest surfing, held in the highest esteem in the world of boat building, he passed on late last month. His obituary is online in the “Port Townsend Leader” and the “Peninsula Daily News.” I took the photo I am using and more information from the Port Townsend Marine Trades Association.

I recommend checking the testimonials out. Particularly interesting to me was the Leader article mentioning he left behind five children, numerous grandchildren, several siblings, and “Three beautiful wives.” Obviously Miguel also left behind hours of stories from the Santa Cruz surfing and shaping scene, to the boat-building/sailing days, to his life as an instructor for others. Highly regarded. Legend. True.

May be an image of 1 person, beard and outdoors

If this man is not familiar, the pose is. A moment, perhaps, of contentment, a view of the water.

I have seen surfboards Miguel made, some still in use. Rico, better hang on to that one.

Here’s a photo of Tim Nolan receiving an award for his boat designing achievements from his contemporaries. High praise, indeed. I found this while researching Miguel Winterburn.

Maybe it’s coincidental, but Tim, Miguel, and Clint are all part of a world I bump up against but have very little knowledge of. Boatbuilding. As surfers, they are not, of course, alone in this. In fact, I know several other local surfers who have a connection (“Boatyard” Mike, Lacy the sailmaker, for example) to the industry.

What we seek, as surfers, is some closer connection to the water. Since I also mentioned Adam James of HamaHama Oysters here; yeah, with his time out on the tide flats and in the water, Adam does have a chance to keep tabs on where what is happening, combo-ing checking oyster beds with a rising swell. The closest I come is painting houses on waterfront. No, haven’t painted any at a potential surf spot in a while.

Because I collect all the little bits and pieces and irritations and joys of life, then try to assemble the random parts, attempt to transform the mundane into some sort of story, and because… okay, mostly I’m full of shit. What I was thinking about on my way out to search for waves and hopefully find and ride some was this: Anticipation, I decided, is a mixture of considering just how excited it would be if the waves were glassy, uncrowded, lined-up; and the mental preparation for having to accept that the surf might be blown out, totally overcrowded, crappy, or just not there.

I figured my chances were about 60/40. Yet, there I was, speeding, only vaguely letting the truth set in that anyone who would be competing for waves was either ahead of me or already there, and there was no way anyone was going to pass me.

No, this didn’t slow me down.

Okay, I have other things on my ‘must do’ list. I’ll get into my other faults next time, or the time after that. What I had planned on writing about was ‘harshing one’s paradigm,’ a phrase I heard a few years ago, one that didn’t catch on enough to be overused. The context here is that I believed I was surfing well the last time I paddled out, felt that combination of contentment and exhaustion, actually got a few compliments.

It took a day or two for the head-swelling to go down and the asterisks to start kicking in. *I have a big-ass board (actually 10’6″), *use a paddle, *surf almost entirely on my knees. *Add in the previously mentioned wave hogging and *lack of etiquette (I actually, even with earplugs, heard a guy in the lineup tell a woman, ‘No, there’s no rotation here’), *factor in that the surf spot is not, like, super critical, that *I’m fat and *old, and you get… shit, I suck.

Fine. Okay. The thing is, and I told several people this: “I am totally aware of the asterisks next to my name, and I don’t give a fuck.”

But, of course, I do. Probably 65% don’t care, 35% care too much.

So much of surfing is so connected to the ego, our self-image. The session before last, I was at a difficult, critical spot. I caught, maybe, twenty waves, got thrashed by four or five, got pitched, got rag-dolled, got three or four decent rides, got one really good ride (in my own judgment), and freely admitted I was eighth best out of seven surfers. *With asterisks.

I still count it, as I do almost every session, as totally worth it. Enjoyable.

What we do, too often, is harsh other surfer’s paradigm. My friend (apologies for ranting on) told his girlfriend, Sierra, both of them watching two young girls having a ball in tiny, blown out waves, that that is what surfing is supposed to be. Maybe I’ll get into more apologies next time, but I would like to apologize to Concrete Pete for kind of wrecking his story of a young surfer who was so impressed by some of the older folks out there in the water going for it.

Meanwhile, surf in peace, live in peace. For those who pass on, rest in peace.