A joke from my Uncle Richard

We recently visited the great white north to bid farewell to my father. He lived out a number of his later years in Seward, a fishing town on the shore of Resurrection Bay in southwestern Alaska.

Towards the end of his life, it just got too damn cold and expensive and he and his wife migrated back down to the lower 48, to Bend, Oregon, to finish up.

His wish was that we scatter his ashes on the bay after his passing.

So it was that myself and Peggy, my brother Steve and his son Jason, my Uncle Richard who was the younger brother of my father, my sister Debbie and her husband John, and my father’s wife Claudia coordinated over email and showed up a little less than a year after he gave up the ghost to fulfill one of his post-life wishes.

Uncle Richard has a stash of pretty good jokes, picked up from Elks clubs and his years as a Santa Clara County Sheriff (retired) now living in Oregon, which, after a double vodka and tonic, he is happy to deliver.  This is the single one I can remember:

Man at Bar #1: (drinking deep from his fresh pint) Ah! And this is the best drink I’ve had since my birth in ’42.

Man at Bar #2: (turning) ’42 is it? The same as me. (and hoists his glass)

MaB#1: (returns salute) You don’t say. But I was born in these parts, and was educated by the sisters at Saint Agnes.

MaB#2: Indeed, and what a small world! And I went to Saint Agnes as well!

Bartender: (sighs) Bloody hell, the Murphy twins are at it again.


Retrospective View of Poison Oak

There is nothing quite like returning in the afternoon to a place where you’d been cutting brush earlier that morning and noticing for the first time a big shiny oily bunch of poison oak waving at you from behind a fresh manzanita stump. How could I not see that monster this morning when I was face to face within inches of it? How do you miss something like that?

All my clothes into a big soapy wash with cold water and me into a big cold soapy shower, brooding on the potential symptoms to come…

Things work out best for the visitor if one is always on the lookout for snakes and poison oak. When walking about or working, I am always on the lookout for the stuff.

And yet how many times have I bushwhacked a stretch and then climbed a stump to take a look around only to look down to see the bunch of poison oak I’d just walked through.

And the moment of stark realization that you’re covered with poison oak oil in a number of places, summed up by those timeless words: well, I’m fucked.

And then proceeding to whatever is possible to mitigate the fuckedness.



When the simple is not easy

It is time to do some concrete work.

Except, sigh.

It would be simple if a tree or bush or grass or something needed to be cut down. It would be simple if lumber needed to be cut to size and nailed or screwed together. It is simple to cook a meal. It is simple to keep the place clean.

It is not simple to start making things out of concrete up here.

It’s simple to cut something down because of the variety of cutting implements accumulated and stored in the garage. It is simple to build something out of lumber because of the pile of lumber and nails and screws and powered construction tools accumulated and stored in the garage. It’s simple to cook a meal because of the set of utensils and crockery and what have you accumulated and stored in the kitchen. And it is simple to clean because of the  cleaning tools and supplies accumulated and stored throughout.

And that is all simple because of the house and garage.

But now the house and garage are full and it is time to start working in concrete and it is not simple.

First, there is the concrete, in 60 or 80 pound bags. There are tons of projects to do: everything from steps to retaining walls to sculptures so we are going to need lots and lots of concrete. Then we’re going to need rebar and wire, and the tools to bend and cut it. And of course, we’re going to need a cement mixer, and all the tools to move and smoothe the cement both when it is wet and after it hardens.

And we’re going to need a new workshop to store it and keep it dry and unstolen.

So I’ve been walking around the last couple days cogitating on where to put the new workshop and the design of the place, the doors, windows, electricity and water.

Sometimes, it’s just not simple.


Memorial Day Art

art2We had a number of visual artists visiting this Memorial Day weekend. Our friend Ann Hazels left us a sketch of the cabin on the fridge as well as a drink tumbler and a tea mug.





Crystal added a couple of sketches to our portrait gallery.















Louise inaugurated our new landscape wing with a watercolor of the view.