Endless (lists of) Summer

This is my July submission for the Quilcene Community Center Newsletter, which goes out to some unknown (to me) number of recipients up and down the Olympic Peninsula portion of Surf Route 101.  I’m always a bit irked that more folks don’t get the opportunity to read (or not read) it, and, since I took the time to write it, and I have this platform, AND the buoy readings are in the one foot range, here is your opportunity.

Now, I did add the reference to the Emerald City (first paragraph) to this version because, well, Seattle’s not that far away, it’s a pain to get there, AND I have an allusion to “The Wizard of Oz” later on.

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A Hollywood producer once told me a setup that always works on television and in movies is some version of one character saying some version of, “It’s all downhill from here;” and then, of course, more mayhem (or comedy or drama, definitely some explosions and car/horse/train/foot chases) ensues; and all just this close to the Emerald City 

So, thanks, Bob; it’s just past the Summer solstice, the longest of what have been, mostly, pleasant days; and we’re rolling toward winter.  Downhill.  

“Wait,” you say, “That’s kind of a glass half empty kind of way to look at this.”

Yes, it is, but I can’t help it. Summer is a busy time for a northwest house painter, and pretty much everyone else. There are almost too many hours of daylight.  If one just worked on the list of projects put off during the more-dark-than-light part of the year, ignoring the way the grass grows and the weeds invade, and the new projects that come up; and, I must add, picnics and memorials and reunions and other summer-centric social events; one could be exhausted.

Or, at least, anxious.  And, if it seems like there are a finite number of fine days before the weather descends, it gets progressively worse until… well, Halloween; that’s the breakpoint.  Not that far off.

So, just recently, after I had caught up on several projects put off for a couple of summers (the downtown mini-storage is one example); just before I got a fierce summer cold; just when I had a reasonably-attainable list of jobs to work on, I may have said some version of, “it’s all under control.”

And then it wasn’t.  If one job takes longer than anticipated, bad; two jobs, worse.  Deadlines and new jobs and emergencies; lions and tigers and bears.  Oh, my!

I was going to be kind of rationalistic here, explain how I actually kind of roll with the punches, try to fit my schedule into other folks’ delays and deadlines; but I thought, first, of how many times I’ve been painting, trying to complete a project, trying to find some shade; and someone, possibly just temporarily a person of leisure (after all, I don’t have real insight into the work life of strangers) comes up to me, possibly with an ice cream cone, hand-dipped, waffle cone, in hand, and says, “Great day for painting, huh?”

Yes, I have answered, and more than once, “Sure; what are you doing?”  Maybe that sounds kind of sarcastic.  Let’s try, “Yeah, by cracky; can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing on such a fine fine day.”

But I can. I have my list, and Trish has her list, and many of the things put off all winter for lack of money are now put off for lack of time.  A solution, I’ve been told, is to gather the materials needed in the summer, work on the projects in the winter.  In the rain. In the dark. In the cold.

Sorry. Glass half empty again. There are the things we have to do and the things we want to do; what we all need is a balance, maybe just a bit want-to heavy.  When I was a kid, summers were boring enough that I went to summer school.  And then I started surfing. And then I got a car. And then I got a job. And then; well; that brings us up to now.

Right now, two-ish on a Wednesday, I have several jobs I could be on; but I was supposed to go to Bremerton on the (hopefully) final day of an interior job that got me through the worst of the winter, but that was cancelled because the carpenter couldn’t make it; another job put off because a (different) carpenter fell off the roof; several others bunching-up for completion before the Fourth of July (one a rental not vacant until the first). 

So, partly because no one really expects me to be at this place or that, and partly because I’m still pretty sick; though I do have to go somewhere later today (darned social obligations); I wrote some proposals, made some phone calls, took a nap, and I took some time to write this.  I have a few minutes here; think I’ll write a list.

Hey, it’s a great day to do whatever it is you’re doing.  Happy July.

 

 

 

Phillip Harper, Ray Hicks, Phillip’s Sister, Bucky Davis, My Sister, My Mom, Bob Dylan, and The Endless Summer

“First of all,” I said, standing in the kitchen of Phillip Harper’s parent’s house, two bars of paraffin wax melting in a soup can on the stove, Phillip’s board floating between two chairs and across the dining room table, “the theater was in no way ‘underground.’ Disappointing.”

Phillip and Ray Hicks seem to be properly impressed I, more country kid than either of them, had gone into the city for some other reason than to ride the escalators at Sears with my many brothers and sisters while my parents shopped.

It was at about this moment that Phillip’s sister, Trish (not my Trish- hadn’t met her yet), came in from the pantry (no one ever seemed to use the formal front door). She appeared noticeably disappointed that her brother and at least one of his geeky friends were there. Trish was followed in by her boyfriend, Bucky Davis. He was, perhaps, a bit less disappointed; a nod for Phillip, smaller one for Ray, even smaller one for me (standard cool reaction to over-amped groms). Bucky took a moment to check out the wax on the stove.

“You have to be careful,” he said, both hands simulating an explosion. “A candle might be a better idea.” A single hand tipping an imaginary candle illustrated the point.

“Erwin went to see ‘The Endless Summer’ in San Diego,” Phillip said. “At an underground theater,” Ray added.

“The thing is,” I said, trying to be informative, “kind of disappointing; it wasn’t at all underground. Just a regular…”

Phillip and Ray appeared less impressed than the first time they heard this.

“On University Avenue?” Trish asked. I shrugged. I hadn’t driven. “I saw it at State.” She paused, possibly to see if she had to add ‘San Diego State.’

No, I knew she had been spending some time down there, preparing to attend ‘State’ in the fall of 1967. Bucky would not be attending.  He was planning on going to Palomar Junior College; he’d have to go somewhere to stay out of the draft.

“When I saw it,” she continued, “Bruce Brown narrated it… himself. He was behind this curtain and…” She stopped because Bucky seemed a bit surprised, I thought, though I’m sure I was mostly trying to hide being impressed. And out-cooled. Again. Always by her.

Bruce Brown… in person.

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After all, it had been impossible to be really, even passably cool, at the above-ground theater, hanging with my older sister, Suellen, AND my mother.

Still, hoping to in some way compete, I said, “Yeah, well; they had these previews for a movie with Bob Dylan, and…”

“’Don’t Look Back’,” Trish said.

“Huh?” Phillip and Bucky and Ray asked, pretty much at the same time.

“Uh huh,” I said; “and Bob Dylan’s, like… he’s holding up these…”

“Cue cards,” Trish said.

“I guess. Yeah. And my mom starts laughing.”

“Laughing?” Phillip and Trish and Bucky and Ray all asked.

“Yeah, laughing; and… I mean, not even Suellen’s laughing. No one’s laughing.”

“Because it’s Dylan,” Trish said, serious and indignant.

“Yeah, Bob Dylan; but, pretty soon, someone else starts laughing. And then more people are laughing; and then everyone’s laughing. And Bob Dy… Dylan, he just keeps dropping the cards. And…”

By this time, in the kitchen, I was also laughing. Phillip started to laugh. Ray, studying Bucky’s face, joined in the laughter. Then Bucky looked over at his girlfriend, maybe thought for a moment about how he didn’t see “The Endless Summer” at ‘State,’ with Bruce Brown personally narrating, and he laughed.

And then the wax exploded.