The Braided Stream of the Present, Past and Future

I want to share with you a facet, an echo of an old friend of mine, long gone, that just bounced off one of the sheer cliff faces that populate one of the nether territories of my elder-mind.  I’ll get back to that in a bit.  I’ll present a recent story line that forms the construct of our present, past and future:

Les and I just concluded an epic journey that started in Sidney, British Colombia and ended in Sidney, British Colombia.  It of course paralleled Anne Elk’s “Theory on Brontosauruses”, a sketch from Episode 31 of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, ‘The All-England Summarize Proust Competition’.  Her theory… presented by Miss Elk after working through her bizarre mannerisms, which included considerable circumlocution, repetition, and obnoxious, noisy throat-clearing boiled down to the essence of: “All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much, much thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the far end.”

The Present:  Likewise, our recent journey started out with a short commuter flight from Sidney to Sea-Tac (thin at one end), a firehose of experiences after that (much, much thicker in the middle) and and epic drive starting on freeways to get around L.A. then 2 land roads from Sacramento to Port Angeles  (then thin again at the far end).  There was so much in-between the leaving and the arriving… I can’t and won’t cover it all, but… it did require us to keep our wits about us and our eyes open.

We arrived at Sea-Tac and U.S. customs amongst a throng of Taiwanese who had just arrived from Taiwan.  Figure that one.  Most were in wheelchairs and all had surgical masks on. What the…  There were at least 200 of them clogging the aisles with attendants in tow.  As we approached customs a nice TSA agent came up to us and told us we had to give her our dog.  She’d take him through customs and meet us on the other side.  Not to worry.  What the… We got through customs and got Kai back in our possession, and then had a 4 hour layover.

Hmmm… what to do with 4 semi-spare hours.  We attempted to secure an interview with TSA so we could finalize our Global Passes, but found that their computers were down and in any case did not perform interviews after 1200.  It was 1400.  Our government in action…  So we made our way through the serpentine train system in place at Sea-Tac and found our connection terminal and gate.  We sat and read, drank some coffee, shared a really bad tuna salad sandwich and found after waiting for 3 hours that the terminal and gate had been changed…  Back through the serpentine train system…

Finally in San Diego… we attended doctor, dentist, tax and financial advisor appointments, and several sessions of therapeutic massage (the most important) with Roni the magnificent.  Even Kai got his teeth cleaned!  We also visited the Post Office in Coronado that has been our financial address for over 10 years, went to our P.O. Box and… found that our key no longer opened it.  What the…  The Post Office had given our P.O. Box to someone else.  Apparently, we’d not received notice that payment for it was due.  We no longer had a financial address in Coronado.  Imagine that… The vagaries of being itinerant voyagers can lead to such things. The second and more important discovery occurred during our tax appointment.  Our advisor who we’ve worked with for 15 years told us that we needed to liquidate all of our connections with California for the purpose of lowering our tax burden.  Hmmm…

First the P.O. box debacle, which was nothing more than the Universe suggesting that it was time to move on, and then our tax guy putting the frosting on that well baked cake.  Change in plans.  We rented a Budget Transit van, went through our remaining storage items, made the eleventy-millionth trip to Goodwill, and loaded the non-crap items into the van and took off for Port Angeles.  I drove the van.  Les drove our car.  A caravan of two making its way back to the cruising boat paradise that is the Pacific Northwest.  During the crap filtering process I found an old external drive and put it in my traveling  bag to look at later.  I’ll get back to that bit of the past…

We did have a delightful drive up the 15 to the 215 to the 5 to Sacramento.  Anecdote:  What an odd place Sacramento is.  NE Sacramento where we stayed seemed to have an inordinate number of homeless and imbibers of whatever they could lay their addled minds on.  Capitals seem to have an issue with that… At Sacramento we hung a proverbial left and continued to Port Angeles via 2 lane roads.  That did take us through some interesting places, yes siree… but it was better than developing freeway eyes, and the scenery of trees, verdant farmland, backwoods homesteads, rivers, streams, waterfalls, lakes, ocean views and animal life including elks and coyotes was worth the alternative route.

One of the places we stayed was at an old, but refurbished motel called the Sea Crest in Port Orford, Oregon.  There were several other places, but this place held the most interesting memory, and provided the most poignant contrast between car travel and traveling by boat.  The motel was most likely built in the 1950’s and has had many owners since.  The current owners have done a really nice job creating a comfortable guest experience out of an old, but great location.  Here is a view from our room, the anchorage behind “The Heads” at Port Orford:

When we helped Bob Feldman bring his DeFever, Zebrina, up from Marina Del Rey to Seattle, we stopped at the same anchorage.  This is what it looks like from the deck of a boat:

The “Heads” that shelter Port Orford

And looking back at the breakwater at Port Orford and the coast… in the middle of the picture are windows reflecting the lights of the setting sun.  One of them is the Sea Coast Motel…

Down coast from Port Orford

It is a very different experience being in the anchorage versus looking at it from the window of a motel room…

We arrived at Port Angeles, placed our remaining worldly possessions in an 8 by 10 storage container.  Locked the door and made our way to the Port Angeles / Victoria ferry.  We boarded the Coho and arrived just over an hour later, and 1400 miles traveled… in Victoria, drove to Sidney, parked the car and trundled our bags back to our beloved boat, Great Northern…

The Past:  Several days later I hooked up the old external drive to my laptop and began looking through and deleting old files that I would never need to see again.  I ran across one that struck a nerve.  It was a poem that I had written in 1998, fully 22 years ago.  I had written it as a way to cope with my anguish over the loss of a good friend and a good man.  It still speaks to me, and now, more than 20 years later than it was written, it contains thoughts that stir old memories and sparks a new implication for me.

John and I had gone sailing a few times on my Choate 37, an offshore sailing machine I owned for 13 years a while back.  This particular time we went a couple of miles offshore, felt the swell and the power out there and had a good time together trimming sails, steering to the appropriate wind angle, and tipping a few beers.  Out there, and particularly after a Modelo Negro or two, I have a tendency to get personal.  So I asked John…. What do you wanna be when you grow up?  You know, the basic guy to guy question.  He sat in the cockpit for a while and said: “I wanna be a  performer on stage, with a whisky voice and a mean guitar.  John was quite a good guitarist, and did have a whisky soaked sort of voice, though he seldom drank at all… and he passed 6 months later. He never had the opportunity to get up on that state. I wrote a poem for him and read it at his funeral.  I’m still not sure it was the right thing to do, but that was my coping mechanism and I can only hope that others were at the least, not offended.  I’m sure those who knew John well understood.

Ode to John E Bhoy

Jigger of Scotch
in a smokey bar
dirt cracked voice
don't carry far

Push off the stool
and climb the stairs
up in the lights
where few of us dare

Gimme my Ax
I wanna be struttin
Got my Wa Wa
But that don't mean nothin

Tune the beast
No time for scales
Start right in
Wanna really wail

Blues streaked rif
screamin off the stage
rollin thru my fingers
can't be written on a page

Tips of my fingers
dance on the frets
Humbuckin pickup
does the rest.
Plastic pic on a tortured wire
sounds to my brain
like a soul on fire
Got my Ax
singin like wine
stretchin the strings
Gonna be fine.
bf   1/29/98

The Future:  The spark… The implication… has to do with the fact that I am now 66 years old and thankfully retired from the professional life that kept me more than occupied.  I have Time on my hands, and Time has me in its.  Message to self and to anyone who has read thus far:  Push off the stool and climb those stairs, one footfall after another.  Yes, It can be scary “up there”, but if that is where you should be, and after you play the first few notes of your next phase, the fear will dissolve.  Get on with it!  Whatever the “it” is that you hunger after, that you dream about, that you deem will make you whole…  Take the first step.  Contemplate the second and third.  Then, take the second step.  See… not so hard now… was it?  One footfall after another.

Do or do not.  There is no try.

Gonna be fine…

…Blair 3/9/2020, Sidney, British Colombia, Canada

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