Archive for August, 2010

My Very Own Boat People

I started this post four days ago and in the middle of it I lost it.  No, I didn’t “lose it” in that way, I lost everything I had entered.  So, I’ll start again…

Dan Bond (isn’t that a great name?) is also a great guy.  A few weeks back Dan mentioned that he had a boat in his backyard that he and William thought would look terrific out on the property as a planter.  Now, I’ve been here for over a year so I’ve come to understand that sometimes my guys can make anything sound like the catch of the day so I was pretty cautious about snapping up the bait too quickly.  But once Dan offered me the chance to look at the boat in his own backyard I felt it was worth a nibble.  I was hooked.

Before I knew it, Dan and brother-in-law, Ed, pulled down on the property with the boat.  The very first spot they laid the boat on was exactly the place for it to be.  That kind of threw the guys for a loop.  I imagine they thought I was going to have them pick it up a dozen times and haul it across four acres before making up my mind.  Not so.  Here’s the boat upon arrival, minus the seats that I removed with my trusty drill.

In the course of deconstructing the boat, I knew that I might run into nefarious critters hiding in the cracks and crevices so I remained on high alert.  When I removed the first panel, I found a bed of straw perfect for any number of the above mentioned to be hiding in, but after poking it with a stick until I only had a nub in my hand, I determined the coast (boat…coast…funny, eh?) was clear.  It was when I pulled the last seat out that I found what I knew was lurking in there all the time…a spider with a head the size of a cantaloupe was lying in wait right where I had been drilling.  Seriously, the drill bit was less than an 1/8 of an inch from his noggin and he didn’t budge.  He didn’t budge when I hammered next to him, he didn’t budge when I poked at him…no, he waited until I got my mug down closer and then he sprang to life and I dropped the drill, just missing my foot (the good one without the heel spur).  Okay, enough drama.  Now for my boat people.  My friend, DZ, saw the boat and knowing that my birthday party was just around the corner showed up with a boat load (how good is that?) of dirt and flowers, and ta da!  The boat looked like this when she and Jay were finished.

I was so happy and grateful when I saw the finished product.  My buddy Lew had a slightly different take on the boat planter.   At some point during the party Lew (who buys and sells boats as quickly as a day trader sells stocks) mentioned what a nice planter the boat made.  Lew had that look in his eyes that I’ve come to recognize and I knew there was a big “but” about to plop down right in my lap.  Lew smiled and told me that with a little work that attractive planter would probably be worth about $2,500.  “Even with the holes in the bottom?” I asked.  Holes seemed to be a deal breaker in Lew’s estimation.

Well, since I’m not the seafaring type, I’m happy to go out and sit in my boat on dry land in the midst of all those beautiful flowers.  At least I know I’m not going to get sea sick.  Of course, on my first foray out to the boat since the party I found a slug the length of the island on one of the plants.  All I had with me was my pitchfork.  I tried my best to flip him off the leaves, but he just wouldn’t let go, and there was just no way I could spear him.  DZ would have stepped on his head (whatever end that is); I’ve seen her do that, but I’ve never been one for that kind of bold decision-making.  I finally found the head of an old shovel and after a great deal of arguing, I finally got him on the shovel.  I was just about to send him flying into the woods when he fell on my shoe.  You can pretty much jump up and down all you want and they’re not going to fall.  So now there’s a slug out in my woods wearing a size 7 boot.  Talk about “losing it.”

Hats off to my very own boat people – DZ and Jay!


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Where to begin.  Well, let’s begin at the beginning…

Yep, that’s me…60 years ago.  According to my buddy Lew not much has changed; said he’d recognize me anywhere.  I pointed out to Lew that now I had teeth and hair, but maybe Lew is projecting into the future when I won’t.  For those who couldn’t attend, the big bash was held on Saturday evening, August 21.

Have you ever had one of those perfect times in your life?  A time that just seems to come together on all levels of the imagination?  Well that’s  how it was for me the night of the party. The evening turned out to be perfect, after the threat of rain retreated once again.  A slight breeze moved the lights and balloons strung from the trees, the lights on the boat (I’ll explain that one later) glowed, and I’m happy to say no one set their hair on fire by standing too close to the tiki torches.  With all the Margarita and Sangria flowing through veins that night, along with the spicy salsas, I’m pretty sure my woods would have gone up in flames in no time at all.

Thanks to Paul and Heidi, the sounds of Sam Cooke, Sinatra and Louis Armstrong, to name a few, kept feet tapping throughout the night (which  helps to keep the mosquitoes from biting your ankles).

On one of the many runs I had to make up the path – let me digress for a moment, folks.  My house sits above the property where we hold parties and you have to trek up a windy path to get to the house.  When you travel this path the first time it’s really quite lovely; it switches back and forth so that you have to take your time, slow down your pace which allows you to take note of the bunnies hopping through the ferns, the birds calling back and forth, their brightly colored wings catching the sun’s rays; you wear the quiet like an old favorite sweater.  That’s the first time you walk down the path.  But when you’ve made that trek, oh, let’s say 40 times that day, nothing looks poetic; you hate Thoreau for tricking you into the whole Walden Pond, life in the woods is grand notion.  By then, your feet hurt, your ankles have disappeared into your calves they’re so swollen; you start wondering what it would take to put in a zip line; you wonder if the folks down below will be disappointed if you just lob the barbecued chicken from the balcony.

But then you get to the top and you look down over the grounds from the deck above,  watch as everyone moves across the grounds, laughing, stopping to nosh on an appetizer, take a chance on another Margarita and the magic of your new life surrounds you.  And you realize the day’s hikes up and down the path were worth it.

Nate, my favorite of all my children,  was head BBQ chef for the party and his grilled shrimp and chicken were a big hit.  A good deal of the photos you’ll see in this post are Nate’s; however, it seems as though at some point he set his camera down in exchange for a few Rainier Ales.   A few less photos by Nate, but one happy camper by the end of the night.

That’s Nate with the birthday fish.  I was so honored to have the fish passed to me last year when my first birthday on the island came to pass.  I’m a little wiser now.  No one really wants the birthday fish and they can’t wait to pass it to the next sucker on the list.  But, hey, I caught a fish, and that’s more than I can say for my buddies in the coffee group this year.   Ouch!

Of course, in my world, no party is a party without dessert.  I didn’t want a birthday cake.  For god’s sake, just the thought of blowing out 60 candles makes me dizzy.  I thought it would be wonderful to make individual cakes so that’s what I did.  We had key lime tarts, tres leches cakes, chocolate mousse cakes and lemon cheesecake meringues – 60+ each with a candle so that the bearer could make their own wish. Everyone lit their candles and on the count of three, we all made our wish.  Of course, a nanosecond before I called out “three,” I reminded everyone to make their wishes about me.

I couldn’t have pulled this party off without the help of good friends.  Deep gratitude to Deb Crocker, Kathy Bridges, who came all the way up to represent the Sacramento contingent and ended up tending bar as well as running up and down the path  to help good friends Dawn (DZ) and  Jay (my very own boat people – but that’s another post) deliver the goods when it was time to eat, or grab another batch of Margaritas.

Several days have passed since the party took place.  On Monday, August 23, the day I was born, I found time to myself to ponder this birthday and its significance.  I climbed into the hammock that Nate so graciously broke in for me over the weekend.I read the poetry of Mary Oliver, felt the dappled sunlight on my skin as the hammock swayed.  And then I promptly fell out of the hammock when I tried to make a graceful exit.  I realized Ralph was right, I should always have my cell phone with me…just in case.  So here’s to 60 and the next adventure that awaits.  I hope you’ll join me.

Here I am on my birthday!

Come on, Doll, you didn’t really think I was going to put my mug up here, did you?

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Nah, not that Big Brother…my big brother.  My Bro (as he refers to himself), dropped me a comment to let me know that July had come and gone without a post.  So, now I know he’s the one who reads my blog.

Okay, here’s the scoop.  I didn’t mention in my last post (because I knew no one was going to go past the picture of Kermit and the naked woman from the Fremont Parade anyway) that my friend DZ and I were in a car accident on the way home from Seattle.  So, I spent most of July trying to come to grips with the fact that you can be driving along when, without warning, Destanie (no, folks, I haven’t spelled destiny wrong – her parents did) can come along and decide that maybe it’s time for you to get slammed into…not once, no that’s never good enough for Destanie, but twice.   (If anyone I know out there has kids and they’re having babies, please tell them not to get creative in the spelling of the baby’s  name  – like, oh, let’s say…Destanie or Chastitee or Looeez or Tawm; short for Tawmus).  I won’t go into details about the accident here.  Let’s just skip to…we made it home safe and sound thanks to Abin and his great big tow truck.  If I ever go back to Seattle, that’s what I’m going to be riding in.

It’s true, July has come and gone,  but there were some noteworthy happenings.  First and foremost, Akemi’s sister, Michiko, and her friend Kayoko came all the way from Japan to visit.  It was their first time out of their country and we did our best to represent the USA.  It’s probably for the best that Michiko and Kayoko spent some time in Canada, too.  But the evening we did spend with them turned out to be a wonderful time.  We had a progressive dinner party – first stop: the home of Peggy and Ralph (yes, the folks who taught me how to burn) for appetizers, second stop: that would be the home of Bev and Steve (of Whidbey Island Distillery fame) for salad; third stop: the home of Lew and Akemi for the entree and the final stop was my home for dessert.    That’s Michiko on the left, and Kayoko is in the middle (the one with her eyes closed and holding on to her purse for dear life because Dana seems to have a grip on it) and Akemi is to the right.   And thank goodness Akemi was there  to interpret back and forth for us.

Race Week (the sailboat races from Oak Harbor down to Coupeville) filled Front Street with out of towners.   Let’s see, oh the Census guy came calling on me in July.   I was coming toward the front of the property with my shovel in one leather gloved  hand, my trusty hoe in the other with a Big Valley gleam in my eye and a John Wayne swagger in my walk since I developed a heel spur (oh, that’s funny…spur) from wearing funky work boots.  I always thought it would be my five-inch platforms from the 70’s that crippled me, but I find it’s big rubber boots that did me in.  So, the Census guy is looking as nervous as a new bride on her wedding night (okay, that probably isn’t the case nowadays, but it’s the only comparison that I can come up with right now because I’m jonesin’ for chocolate).   Before he can say a word, I assure him that I sent my 2010 Census form in the very next day after receiving it.  I even filled it out.  But  (let’s call him Sebastian, but we’ll spell it Seabasschum because we’re in the Pacific Northwest, and, no, it doesn’t matter that it ends in an m rather than an n.  Trust me), he’s not here for me.  It seems Seabasschum is the third tier of the Census takers.  Stay with me on this.   Poor Seabasschum is the guy who follows up on the guy who follows up on you after you’ve received your form to see if, in fact,  you got your form and if you sent it in.   I live in the woods where most people like to remain under the radar, on a quiet street, unless someone decides to fire off a few rounds; and evidently that’s why Seabasschum was so nervous.   Apparently the last Census taker was threatened (no, not by me).  Poor Seabasschum’s hand were shaking and the name tag hanging around his neck was twitching like a metal detector near a CoinStar machine.   Come to find out, Seabasschum was here to see if I would give up my neighbors.  I held tight to my shovel and my hoe and my strong will to survive.  Did I know (name deleted to protect the innocent – me) over at (house number deleted because I can’t remember it) – No was my answer.  Next question…No…No…No…you get the picture, but it took poor shaky Seabasschum a whole page of questions before he realized I wasn’t giving anybody up.   In the end he thanked me for my time and left.  When I hitched up my pants and started my John Wayne swagger, I decided it was time to call the podiatrist.

Speaking of my big brother (no, he isn’t the podiatrist and if you read my blog you know I digress and make sharp left turns without warning); Bro sent me an email with handy tips for using Bounce dryer sheets.  I skimmed down the list and found that they were excellent for repelling mosquitoes and bees.   Not since I was a kid have I ever been bitten so severely by…oh, hell, I don’t know what they are because I can’t see them.  All I see are the welts they leave behind that itch so badly I’ve staggered in the dark looking for Benadryl spray,  hydrocortizone cream; anything to stop the itch.  One night (after taking a couple of Tylenol P.M. tablets) I stumbled into the bathroom and squeezed cream all over my ankles and behind and then trotted back to bed.   I woke  up the next morning still itching, but smelling minty fresh having coated myself with Crest Tartar Control.   Below is a picture of me wearing my Bounce dryer sheets.

After wearing them all day and itching all night, I remembered old JC and how last fall I saw him in the morning working on the property and the next day his eye looked like a Braeburn apple.  JC got stung by a  yellow jacket.  JC had a Bounce dryer sheet in his shirt pocket.  So, if you get an Bounce email…bounce it.  Oh, Bro, that’ll be $5.19.

So now we’re into August here on Whidbey Island and it’s been raining all day.  But, as you know, a little rain never stops me from hoein’ around.   The flower beds are plumped up with nasturtiums from the seeds DZ gave me last winter.   The slugs have ignored the purple petunias, but have left their goo slime all over my marigolds.  I found two big fellas this morning while out pulling weeds.  I slipped them onto the end of the shovel and sent them flying across the property.  I told them they were cashing in their flier miles (is that flier or flyer?).  I guess the bigger question is why am I talking to the slugs in the first place.  

Well, my molten chocolate cookie is about ready to come out of the oven, so I’ll say farewell.  Next time I’ll tell you about the ruckus the Sow Bug Family Circus  (SoBuFaCi for those in the know) caused at the Farmer’s Market.  And I’ll tell you why I think the end is near – which was the original topic I was going to share with you, but I made a sharp left turn.

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