Saturday, July 26, 2008

a pinch of this, a bite of that

The sun is hot and that old clock is movin' slow,
And so am I.
Work day passes like molasses in wintertime,
But it's July.
I'm gettin' paid by the hour, an' older by the minute.
My boss just pushed me over the limit.
I'd like to call him somethin',
I think I'll just call it a day.

Pour me somethin' tall an' strong,
Make it a "Hurricane" before I go insane.
It's only half-past twelve but I don't care.
It's five o'clock somewhere.

I could pay off my tab, pour myself in a cab,
And be back to work before two.
At a moment like this, I can't help but wonder,
What would Jimmy Buffet do?
-- alan jackson

welcome to the spaceneedl crabhouse, where we're more, and less, crabby than usual.

the crabs in question are in the fridge, on ice. and we're happy about it.

the crabs, we imagine, are not so sanguine about the arrangement.

that's life on the food chain.

there's plenty of dungeness crab to be had in this town. a quick trip to pike place market or fisherman's terminal will yield any size haul you can transport. same for your local qfc.

but where's the sport in that?

these crabs never saw the inside of a grocery store. they came right up out of the depths and onto the neighbor's boat. the "water witch" is a 21-foot outboard with a little trolling motor. it's not a big boat, but it will hold four crab pots on its deck.

and what a haul it seemed to be. four pots, full of crabs. well, hang on...most of them were females. back into the water they went. most of the males...too small. back in the drink. final tally...4 crabs.

but you know what? it didn't matter. what mattered was being out on the water on a beautiful day. what mattered was closing your eyes and feeling the sun on your face. what mattered was conjuring up every line from every movie having anything to do with the water.

"ye've got a debt to pay, jack. ye won't be able to talk your way out of this one."

"shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. that's about it."

"we're gonna need a bigger boat."

back at the elliott bay marina it was too soon to lose the feeling, so we conducted a little tour of the boats. lots of boats. big boats. fancy boats. you know what... we need one of these boats.

this bertram, for example. or this albin. or, especially, this blackfin. yes, especially the blackfin, i think.

mm-hmm. that's exactly what we need. we can do some crabbing of our own. and some fishing, and some diving, and some fancy schmancy sunset cruising, with cocktails with little umbrellas.

after all...what would jimmy buffett do?

this lunch break is gonna take all afternoon,
and half the night
tomorrow mornin', I know there'll be hell to pay,
hey, but that's all right.
I ain't had a day off now in over a year.
our jamaican vacation's gonna start right here.
if the phones for me,
you can tell 'em I just sailed away...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

what time is it?

I bought a cheap watch from the crazy man
Floating down Canal
It doesn't use numbers or moving hands
It always just says 'now'

Now you may be thinking that I was had
But this watch is never wrong
And if I have trouble, the warranty said,
Breathe in, breathe out, move on

According to my watch the time is now
Past is dead and gone
Don't try to shake it, just nod your head
Breathe in, breathe out, move on

-- jimmy buffett

the neighbors have a deck with unobstructed views of the olympic mountains. we've spent some evenings with them this summer, talking about transitory things, sipping wine, watching the sun settle behind the peaks.

the moment it does, the husband quietly marks the time, noting the sunset is a little earlier, and a little further south, than our last visit. and we all let out a little sigh, knowing that another summer is flowing past like a tide that goes out but doesn't come back in.

we have a similar view from our kitchen window. last night, amidst cooking and cleaning and scurrying around, i stopped and watched as the sun winked out. i silently marked the time, trying to capture the fleeting magic of a warm summer night. and i realized that no matter how hard i try, i can't seem to live in the 'now.'

how is one supposed to live in the now when it's over before you can even acknowledge it? the past is a long river of memories; the future is a waterfall just up ahead. you can't see beyond the edge until it's too late, and it wouldn't matter if you could, because you're going over. the 'now' is a futile attempt to grab onto a rock or an overhanging branch as you're swept along. you might catch something for the briefest instant, but the current immediately breaks your grasp.

for the past three weeks or so it's been sunny and near-warm and kind of timeless in seattle. each day has been like the last, in that the morning light comes early, the evening light stays late, and we've very purposefully tried to soak it up, charging our solar batteries for what's ahead.

this morning the clouds were back, and a very fall-like fog was moving through from the west. sound doesn't travel well through the mist, and the neighborhood was near-silent. very briefly, i was in the 'now,' and it felt like something moving past, and something slipping away.

i got in the car and drove toward the waterfall.

breathe in. breathe out. move on.

Friday, July 04, 2008

early july, 2008

"Oh beautiful, for heroes proved,
In liberating strife,
Who more than self, their country loved,
And mercy more than life,
America, America, may God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness
And ev'ry gain devine."

ray charles didn't write "america the beautiful," but he sang it like he owned it.

you can hear the insistent pride, and the certainty that whatever course this country set upon, it would be the right one, and it would be achieved.

these days, however, that certainty has been replaced by something else. something furtive and worrisome and pervasive.

even if you don't yet feel it in your bones, you get a sense of it in polls from across the country. americans say we're on the wrong track or our government is screwed up, or that the founding fathers would be royally PO'd at what we've done to their creation.

if you read the declaration of independence (have you read it? recently?), you may be surprised to find its noble passages comprise a laundry list of complaints. history has elevated those boys to near-mythological status, but the reality (no less impressive) is that they were just tired of being pushed around by the brits.

what might the franklins and jeffersons and washingtons have to say about a different government, say that of today's united states?

how would they view the activities of this country's 43rd president? would they say, "heck of a job, 43! just the way we drew it up!" or would they ask, "what the fuck is going on here, and why are you people just standing around doing nothing?"

there's an army reserve base not too far from our house. every so often i drive by the military cemetery there, with its quiet, uniform rows of white headstones. i wonder what those who fought and died in previous american wars would think of the current conflict in iraq. would they think, "yes, this is a just cause, for which we would lay down our lives."

or would they say, "hang on a minute, this isn't right. america doesn't fight pre-emptive wars. we don't sacrifice blood for oil. we don't torture. and we sure as hell don't take our eye off the ball while the real bad guys get away."

America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

The line must be drawn here. This far, no further.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."