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Getting Handled by the Pacific Ocean

I got my ass kicked by the Pacific ocean a few days ago. This summer I'm trying to get my fishing act together, sort of substituting the time I'd usually spend running in the hills by getting out in the water. We live on the coast north of San Francisco and there's a salt water lagoon with a channel leading out into the ocean. I've got a 12' aluminum boat with a 15 hp Evinrude outboard; it's as small a boat as you can use to get out through the waves. In fact a lot of days I can't get out when larger boats can. The tricky part (other than getting through the waves) is launching the boat off the beach, which is done by backing the boat trailer into the water with a 4-wheel drive truck. Luckily a neighbor was down there and helped me launch and I made it out the channel and started fishing for halibut. The wind was blowing pretty strongly and I immediately got soaked to the skin from spray. Yeah, no foul weather gear — dumbkopf! I won't bore you with details, but I got knocked around pretty good for a couple of hours, was wet, cold, and uncomfortable, and watched three other (bigger) local boats doing a lot better. I didn't get a bite, the wind was blowing the boat too fast to jig properly. I headed back into the beach and had the hair stand up on the back of my head (where I still have hair) when I made a misjudgement and almost got dumped by an incoming wave. The tide was coming in real fast and when I got to the beach and backed the trailer into the water I was only able to load it due to a guy walking on the beach seeing my plight and wading out to help me get the boat on to the trailer. I can't count the times in my life when someone has come along to rescue me from my own ineptitude. Here's to the Kindness of Strangers.
Well, I'm not givin up. I keep talking to the local fishermen, learning from them at the same time as admiring their skill. I'm going out again late this afternoon.
It struck me that learning to handle a boat in the ocean is akin to my taking up skateboarding at a late age. Something that's really difficult, that has its dangers along with its rewards. I thought of Baryshnikov calling the exploring of the untried and difficult as "divine insecurity" (see last posting). It's when you commit. Getting into the realm of the unknown and unfamiliar, and it's scary (also exciting) because you haven't been there before and don't know what's going to happen. I love learning new things at this late age.

Once upon a time you dressed so fine…

Last night I was driving home along the coast after running with the boys (a Tuesday night ritual, followed by bonhomie on tap in the pub). Foggy night, good sea smell, the double row of yellow road buttons reflecting off head lights, turned on radio and what's this, "Like a Rolling Stone," sung by — who's this? — the Stones. Out of the blue, or out of the fog, a great version, live. One of those truck drivin moments with music, oh yes. This morning I ordered a used copy of Stripped, live cuts by the Stones that includes this one, $4.00, gotta love the immediacy of the internet…
Earlier that night I'd gone off by myself to pick cat tail pollen. I can't keep up with the boys these days. You've got to be in shape to run with this group and right now I ain't, so I dawdle and explore on my own. Got a lot of pollen, by shaking the pollinating ears into a paper bag.* Next I headed down to the beach and went swimming in the fresh water lagoon formed by the creek this time of year, then ran back and forth barefoot, dodging waves.
It's taking me longer than expected to get this book on builders together. I got to a point where I realized there was no point in trying to meet an earlier deadline, that it was better to take the time to get it right. I've been working on it on Sundays, a day that's quiet, no phones and I can focus purely on it. So far I've done rough layouts of about 190 pages and finding that if I go back and make another pass, things get way improved. I'm now taking a pass through all my photos from the year of travel up the coast to see what I missed.

Beach on an island in the Straits of Georgia (the waters east of Vancouver Island) where I camped a few nights a year or so ago. Picked oysters up off the reef and barbecued them on the beach that night, followed by dessert of wild blackberries with brown sugar and cream. My memory's pretty good when it comes to food…


Heard Baryshnikov on the radio yesterday, talking about doing a performance in front of a screen showing him dancing when in his 20s, dancing with an image of himself when 40 years younger. The interviewer asked him about dancing these days, was he worried about performing? He said he liked the pressure, the challenge, and the "divine insecurity" of trying something difficult…
HBO has done it again, they are just phenomenal. After Deadwood, The Wire (and of course The Sopranos), now there's The Flight of the Conchords. It takes a few viewings to get it. It's unlike anything I've ever seen. It's really funny. The music is great, just out of nowhere. The band's one groupie has me rolling on the floor.
* I worked out a new pancake recipe, fresh-ground millet (a Corona hand grinder), fresh ground wheat (our electric stone grinder), and the golden cattail pollen, buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and powder, let it sit til next morning, the pancakes are golden and light and sweet tasting with wild flavor. There is a ton of blackberries this year and I get a bowl of them, mash them up, add maple syrup and pour over pancakes.

Backing Off on Blogging

Although I started out (about a year ago) blogging half-heartedly, I ended up enjoying it. I like telling people what I see going on in the world. It gives more meaning to my travels, and observations. I try to write things so that you'll be riding shotgun with me. Plus I love putting up occasional photos. What's the point of shooting photos if you never show them to anyone?
The problem is, it's taking too much time to blog weekly or more. I need to focus on my book on builders and on an article on septic system scams for The Mother Earth News. So I'm cutting back on the frequency of blogging for a while. If you're interested in this stuff, maybe check monthly.
However, while I'm at it (here I go again!) here's some of the latest:
This morning I got up at 4 AM and went to a hot springs on a beach which shall remain unnamed. There's a trail down a steep cliff not for the faint hearted on a dark night. It was a small crowd, being this early and about 6 of us soaked in the hot suffur waters which are in a grotto, looking out to the beach and up at the stars. One guy showed up with 3 large sweet-scented geraniums which he floated in the pool. Two days before this I gathered a bunch of cattail pollen (done by shaking the pollinating heads into a paper bag) and made pancakes with the pollen and fresh-ground millet and wheat flour. They were golden yellow and had a delicious nut-like flavor. I've got my 12' aluminum boat with 15 hp Evinrude ready for fishing and my goal this summer is to get proficient at launching it off the beach so I can start getting salmon, halibut and rock fish. Plus I've got two small crab pots, so I'll go after crabs next year. Hell, I live on the ocean and ought to be getting my own fish. I come from a family of fishermen. My grandfather had a bait and tackle store in San Francisco in the 1920s and he made beautiful bamboo fishing rods. I'm the lamest fishemrman in the family, so decided to get my act together.

Saw this license plate in Larkspur a few days ago