I’d give your left testicle to do anything this well.
From the always faithful Dr. Bob.
I’d give your left testicle to do anything this well.
From the always faithful Dr. Bob.
From before: “Now edited for additional flavor!”
“Work is the curse of the drinking yachtsman” read the small plastic plaque on the lower helm station. As a young man with a taste for distilled spirits and a less than stellar work ethic, I immediately fell in love with the old girl. By “old girl” I mean a 34′ Stan-Craft Express Cruiser that I stumbled upon for sale at the old Newport Yacht Basin east of Seattle. Built in 1955 on Montana’s Flathead Lake, she was ten meters of solid African mahogany with the shape and style that watercraft of a more contemporary nature sorely lack. Her best years were clearly behind her as evidenced by the peeling topside varnish and the frequency with which the automatic bilge pump activated but love is not to be reasoned with and I bought her on the spot.
Going below to get acquainted with my new mistress I spied a small toggle switch in the galley labeled Cocktails. Never one to hesitate at the bar I pushed the toggle and to my surprise a circular aluminum disk in the center of the galley counter started to slowly rise exposing a rack containing various glasses and a 3/4 full bottle of “Old Vatted Demerara Rum”. Wiping the dust from one of the glasses with the tail of my shirt I poured three fingers and sat down to reflect on my good fortune. After four or five reflections in the span of thirty minutes or so I re-racked the now considerably drier bottle and decided that it was high time to get the old girl out on the water and determine if her beauty was merely skin deep.
If you’ve ever heard the sound of the old inboard motors in these vintage wooden boats you’ll know what I mean when I say heads all over the marina snapped ’round when the twin Chrysler Hemi V-8’s caught a spark and roared to life. Idling out and clearing the end of the marina, there was a small voice on one shoulder telling me to start slow and take it easy as the old power plants probably hadn’t been run hard in who knows how long. On the other shoulder however was the slightly more insistent voice of “Old Vatted Demerara Rum” saying “Pour the coals to her!” Throwing caution to the wind, I pushed the throttles forward as far as they would go and the old wooden boat surged out of the water and was at top speed as I passed the last dock in the marina and burst into the open water of Lake Washington.
When something of a mechanical nature goes sideways on a boat running at speed, you feel it more than hear or see it at first. Imagine it as a person suffering the early symptoms of a stroke or heart attack. There is some minor numbness or maybe weakness, often followed by a denial of anything being wrong until it is too late. With the big mahogany hull on step and the twin engines thrumming perfectly in sync, the first sign of trouble was a nearly imperceptible slowing of hull speed without a reciprocal slowing in engine RPM’s. Probably just my imagination. Just a little paranoia. Nothing to make a fuss about said the voice of “Old Vatted Demerara Rum”. Right about then the port engine hatch blew off, followed by billowing clouds of smoke and steam exiting the engine compartment.
The first thought an un-inebriated person has when there is any kind of explosion on a boat is wondering in what proximity it is to the eighty gallon cylinder of gasoline below decks and wondering whether you have minutes or seconds before this question answers itself. The first thought that I and “Old Vatted Demerara Rum” had, was that if my new found love was going to jilt me by burning and sinking to the bottom of the lake, I was sure as hell going to pry something loose to remember her by before I jumped and swam for shore. Seeing as the plaque stating “Work is the Curse of the Drinking Yachtsman” was the initial spark that set in motion this passionate affair that was looking more and more destined to be a one night stand, it seemed just the ticket. Setting to work with a small key chain pocket knife, I earnestly went about the job of separating the plaque from the ancient glue fastening it to the helm. I just about had it loose when to my disgust it snapped in two and fell to the galley floor. After reflecting on my disappointment for a moment, the thought occurred to me that the breaking of the helm talisman might be a bad omen. It was about then I noticed that the port engine was no longer belching smoke. The fire had luckily been quenched by the quickly rising water in the engine compartment.
Lake Washington is a very deep lake but not particularly wide at any point. The shore is tightly packed with waterfront estates easily visible from nearly anywhere on the lake. I determined that the only hope for saving my beloved was in restarting the starboard engine and getting her as close to shore as possible before the rising water drowned this remaining operating motor and sealed our doom. It also didn’t escape my fogged senses that as the authorities tended to frown on drunks running their boats up on the lawns of these waterfront estates, I would, out of necessity mind you, have to polish off the remaining rum and dispose of the incriminating bottle. These two tasks I accomplished in short order. Most of these lakefront homes have stone bulkheads or large docks running the width of the lots making them unsuitable for a high speed beaching. Cruising perpendicular to the shore and after passing eight or ten such places I finally spotted a beautifully sloped lawn that extended right down to the waters edge. I brought her hard about, pushed the throttle forward and aimed the bow directly for the center of the lawn.
As luck, or fate would have it, the beautiful rolling lawn was only so due to the fact that the boulders and rocks that previously occupied the lot had been bulldozed into the lake and right into the path of my future beaching attempt. With a great grinding and snapping of planks and ribs, she came to rest where I had planned, though not quite as I had planned, at the point where the lawn and water met. Of course such a commotion immediately caught the attention of the home owner who rushed to the waters edge just in time to witness me leap from the bow, drop to my knees, and vomit all over his freshly manicured lawn. Not my proudest moment as a mariner but certainly one of the more memorable.
It so happened that the Earl of the estate was a fellow wooden boat owner and for reasons I have yet to fathom took pity on my predicament and neglected to alert the authorities of what could have been interpreted by less imaginative souls as a pre-meditated menacing of the public safety. Upon recounting my story of the previous hour it turns out he was an aficionado of fine Rum himself and over the course of the two weeks it took to remove my boat from his lawn, we became friends. Over time he became somewhat of a mentor to me in the intricacies and hard rules that must be followed by those who take on the stewardship of old wooden boats or indulge in the occasional heavy drinking of liquor.
“Slowly” he would say, “Slowly, methodically, and you will accomplish your goal”. “With your eyes always focused on the horizon rather than the passing squalls of the mundane and irrelevant.
It seemed like silly advice but his stern tones let me know he was serious and that perhaps I should consider that his words had some validity. As I grow older, taking on the responsibilities of being a husband and father, I have given up the “Demon Rum” (mostly) and no longer can afford the time and expense of owning a wooden boat yet his words seem to apply equally in other areas of life as well.
“Slowly, methodically, and you will accomplish your goal”. With your eyes focused always on the horizon”.
Life will throw unexpected obstacles in your path. Try to see the big picture when faced with these obstacles for in hindsight they are the forgotten details.
So far, so good.
We were having a discussion the other day over at Andy’s place on the proliferation of bullshit in our culture and how no one seems to say what they mean anymore.
This guy apparently didn’t get the memo.
Thanks to Maggie’s Farm for the video.
I’m not going to guess what went down in the grotto between famous blogger Dave Burge and the owner of a ’55 Chevy 210 2 door sedan who shall remain nameless in the first half of this sentence, but if Conservative Party candidate Douglas Hoffman is good enough to get the holiest of holy grails in political endorsements, he is the man I will certainly be voting for in the upcoming NY23 Congressional election. While I live in Washington state and have actually never been in New York’s 23rd district, I’m thinking that maybe Acorn can help me with my Obama given right to cast my ballot in the Empire state and perhaps at the same time help me with some of the more sensitive logistics in sticking it to the “man” and setting up that dog fighting ring that I have long dreamed of and that it turns out (who knew!) is one of my fundamental rights as a soon to be fraudulent voter.
Once you are safely ensconced in your Royal Congressional Seatee, you and Dave are cordially invited to the grand opening of our “canine entertainment enterprise”. I picked up a Staffordshire/Boxer mix on the cheap from a certain professional athlete and role model to our youth, who was foolish enough not to employ a well regarded community organizing…organization… for his “gaming” start up, and boy can that bitch fight! Uh….I mean…entertain.
BR-549 or email at ww.k9gamingadventures/acorn.dog
There is a common perception among people that the western half of Washington State is entirely composed of civilized city types while the eastern half of our state, consisting mostly of sparsely populated farm and ranch land, is home to their cultural opposites. The conventional wisdom holds that the areas surrounding the urban core of Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett are uniformly urban or boringly suburban and that our more “independent” personalities reside for the most part in the burghs and hamlets east of the Cascade Mountain Range which divides our state neatly between red and blue. While there are exceptions here and there, for the most part this observation holds true in my experience.
One exception to this conventional wisdom is a geographically substantial portion of the state that lays between the western shores of Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. Consisting mostly of the vast wilderness that is Olympic National Park, the folks who inhabit this part of the state have acquired the nickname of mossbacks due to the area’s prodigious amounts of rainfall. If you have ever travelled the back roads of Appalachia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and thought to yourself that the people who inhabit the wilds of West Virginia were the poorest and most proudly destitute people in the country, you would be mistaken.
For those unfamiliar with our state, Jefferson and Clallam Counties are a land of stunning natural beauty. The Dosewalips River Valley. Dabob Bay. The Duckabush River. The Hoh rain forest. The rugged Pacific coast as it was millenia ago. You would be hard pressed to find such primordial wilderness anywhere in the world. That it is in such close proximity and easily reached from our major cities and their throngs of hikers and mountain bikers, a culture clash unlike any I have witnessed occurs between a people among the most stereotypically coastal urban progressive in the country and the denizens of such waterlogged towns as Quilcene, Chimicum, Liliwaup, Humptulips, who regard anyone not sporting red suspenders and hob nail boots, or lacking a severely underslung chin and prominent brow ridge as suspicious at best and meriting outright hostility if they perceive you as a threat to their long held cultural norms. These cultural offenses can range from the minor, such as the wearing of a North Face pullover, to highly provocative acts such as piloting a Subaru Outback sporting a Thule rack through their territory.
If you’ve ever seen the History Channel series Ax Men, filmed in and around these counties, understand that the foul mouthed, hot tempered, illiterate rednecks featured on this show are the creme de la creme of mossback society. Supported mostly by what is left of the logging industry in these parts, they live largely in dilapidated singlewides surrounded by clearcut woodlands and collections of the rusted remains of every car, truck, motor, transmission, and assorted piece of machinery or scrap metal that have been handed down through generations from father to son. To a city boy like I was at the time, they were suspect in every way. Which leads me to the proverbial hole in the donut of this tale.
A few years back while still a member in good standing of polite progressive society, my then future wife, myself, and a very gay (nttawwt) hair dresser friend of hers, growing bored one Saturday morning with the thousands of choices available to us in the city as only a city dweller can, piled into future wife’s car and in a couple of hours found ourselves travelling in this part of the state. Just passing through. Killing some time. Seeing the sights. Now when I say “car”, I mean that we were driving a 1960 Rambler American. Not exactly state of the art automotive engineering when new, this vehicle had lost most of its starch around the time of the Johnson administration and now served more as an ironic fashion statement than form of reliable transportation. When we saw the small dirt road that temptingly offered the prospect of leaving the banality of the highway in the rear view mirror, and not being experienced in the challenges involved in navigating roads marked on forest service maps as “un-maintained”, we probably should have hesitated on leaving the pavement behind while piloting such a “classic” and called it a day. Future wife however, prone to making rash decisions in search of adventure, insisted we forge ahead. Her friend, a pragmatic and rather cautious type strongly suggested we not, as we were in unfamiliar territory with darkness a couple of hours away. After bickering for a few minutes and getting nowhere, they turned to me and requested my services as a tie breaker.
Our fashion statement already having over heated a couple of times on the drive, my instincts for survival were telling me in no uncertain terms that heading back to town was probably the wise course of action. Cool reason and logic were not however to be employed in this particular instance. One look from future wife and our course was settled. You guys know the one. The “Well?…. I came over here to have fun, so if you have any interest in getting laid you’ll see to it that I get some.” look. As she was young and beautiful and I was neither of these, I made the only decision any man in my position could make and over loud protests from our cautious friend in the back seat, I cranked the wheel, hit the gas, and in a spray of gravel our fate for this weekend was sealed.
I’ll skip the part about hitting a large rock miles away from the end of the pavement and snapping off the driveline of the fashion statement. Watching with a strange detachment in the rear view mirror as it rolled behind us down the steep narrow logging road, it picked up considerable speed before it hit another rock, turned 45 degrees, and then launched itself over the side and into the abyss. I’ll also skip the tirade that our now vindicated friend launched in the direction of the two of us regarding the situation we now found ourselves in. As he let us both have it, I was tempted to now express my earlier unspoken doubts about our vote to take the road less traveled and belatedly join his side in asking future wife just what the hell she was thinking, as the prospects for my rationale in casting the tie breaking vote in her favor were now starting to look rather slim. I held my tongue however, less I am now ashamed to admit out of principal, but in the hope that should we ever get off of this mountain my loyalty would, while perhaps not today, in time be duly rewarded. By the time he had concluded informing us of what a couple of fuckwits we were, it was quite dark and getting fairly cold. About this time we noticed a single dim headlight approaching from above us on the switchbacked road.
While the photo above does not exactly capture the look and demeanor of the pair of brothers that we now found ourselves face to face with, who had just exited an old pickup truck that looked like it had been through an auto crusher and then partly unfolded and returned to the road, it is close enough so that you get the general idea that they were not the type of fellows that we were accustomed to encountering in our work-a-day lives two hours to the east. As they approached, one of the brothers, looking I assumed at our trendily dressed cautious friend stated matter of factly “You look like a queer.” Sensing his alarm at their initial observation, I immediately jumped to our friends defense and in my best progressivese attempted to explain that I found it offensive that they make such a snap judgement based on someone’s appearance alone and that while he was indeed gay, where we were from it was a common thing and not something to be afraid of. At this point both brothers quickly moved very close, focused their gaze directly on me and said “We’re not afraid of nuthin’ and we’re not talkin’ to him, we’re talkin’ to you.” As they looked me up and down, taking in my black North Face fleece vest over a moss green long sleeve poly T, baggy cargo shorts over blue poly long undies and my very expensive gore-tex lined cross training/ mountain biking/ hiking/ multi use/condescending/ I’m better than you all purpose boots, I came to the realization that the snap judgement they were making was to be at my expense and at this time, in this place, in this git-up, I was the queer. I readied myself for a fight to the death or a re-inactment of Ned Beatty’s performance in Deliverance. I was very much hoping for the former. Future wife, playing the strategic long game, remained slumped down and silent in the passenger seat of the Rambler.
As luck would have it our cautious friend was, as I have mentioned, a very trendy dresser. In the Seattle gay community at this point in time that meant flannel shirt, Levi’s, Carhart jacket, and heavy leather logging boots. Understanding the peril I was now in due to my lack of good judgement regarding acceptable dress in mossback territory, and apparently forgiving me my vote in favor of getting laid at the expense of his safety, he immediately jumped to my defense, stepping between us and saying “We’re from Seattle, our car’s broken down, and we’re lost…Can you help us out?” “Well…sure” said the bigger of the pair, turning his back on me completely now, regarding our more appropriately dressed cautious friend as obviously the man in charge of this outfit. The three of them then arranged to tow our rig back down the mountain with the unfolded pickup truck. Once off the mountain with the Rambler safe and sound in a makeshift lean-to on the property, they invited us to their doublewide for many shots of bourbon late into the night where future wife, having earlier abandoned her strategy of slumping her way to invisibility was a big hit, due in no small part to the two brother’s enthusiastic approval of her choice in rundown vehicles. Our cautious friend turned out to be the life of the party after a few shots. They had never been exposed to someone as thoroughly gay and drunk as he and they laughed hysterically at everything he said. He took it all in good humor as did the brothers.
After much good story telling and many laughs, they put us up in a vacant singlewide surrounded by clear cut woodlands and collections of the rusted remains of every car, truck, motor, transmission, and assorted piece of machinery or scrap metal that had been handed down through generations from father to son. It turns out they had a driveline for a 1960 Rambler American in one of their piles of inherited junk and spent most of Sunday installing it, no charge, and then sent us on our way. I like to think that over the course of the evening and the next day I had won them over as well, but I think that they still were suspicious of my motives by the time we expressed our thanks and headed back to town. Our cautious friend was safely on his way back to the city, future wife had the fun and adventure she was seeking, and I learned an important lesson.
The notion of “the other” being judged as a group rather than as an individual is a very strong component of human nature and cuts in all directions. The two brothers and I had our minds made up about the other before we so much as spoke. Our cautious friend, while perhaps thinking to himself that he knew who these two were, spoke to them as individuals and found that they indeed were. If we would all leave our group think comfort zones from time to time, to simply speak our minds and then listen to those with whom we might be suspicious of politically, religiously, culturally, we might discover that we, and they, may not have all the answers, and that maybe we are not as infallible as we all think we are.
Thanks to Treacher for the laugh.
I have long considered Penn Jillette a brilliant entertainer but lately he is revealing himself as not only a man with a highly curious mind but one that is wide open to differing ideas and perspectives. He is eager to speak the truth as he sees it but also willing to listen for it in others and not be cornered into any ideology. He seems supremely comfortable in his own skin. A seeker. A thoughtful and rational man.
Have a listen.
Via Breitbart TV