Travails

Well, haven’t been writing. Not on paper. Or computer. Have been writing in my head.

My wife wanted (needed, she claims) a vacation. COVID-19, you know. Sheltering with me, you know. And the cats. She thought she was going a little crazy.

Her sister called. Hey, she and her boyfriend were coming west. His children (and his children’s children) live on the west coast. He hadn’t seen them for almost two years except on Zoom. So. Would we like to meet up in Seattle? The boyfriend’s son lives in Kent and the boyfriend lived in Seattle for years before retiring from Boeing. He can show us around.

Difficult for me. And yes, selfishly, I was thinking of me. I’m already a frustrated writer. Now I was being asked to travel and surrender more time. More energy. I’m quite jealous of my writing time, by choice. See, I wanted to pursue writing for a looonng time. But I was in the military. Traveling, writing on the side. My wife wanted me to stay in, get my pension. Smart financially. Good security. So I sucked it up and stayed in.

I was 39 when I retired from the military. The plan was that we would now move to somewhere where we could survive on my pension and write. But, she then got a job in advertising that she liked. Could we please stay there, in the SF Bay Area?

I was employed by startups, then was acquired by corporations. Made very good money along the way doing jobs that weren’t too hard. It all meant deferring my writing dream. I ended up staying with IBM for fifteen years after they acquired one of the companies I was at. Yes, good money but soul-sucking employment. No fun for me, for the most part. Some challenges but mostly tedium.

So, this is my state of mind. I am now sixty-five. I’ve been writing and reading, improving my writing and story-telling skills (or hope so, you know?), trying to get to know my muses and discover my voice. It’s a challenge. I love that challenge. COVID-19 was a serious interruption. Just as I felt that I was finally making substantial strides forward.

Writing the current novel-in-progress took me through the end of 2020 and into the start of 2021. I then discovered that I was trying to tell the story in the wrong way. So, recalibrated. Took all that previously written stuff as background work. And kept going, now on the right path.

It’s exciting. Then, vacation. Preparation for vacation. I’m not social. The vacation meant committing to being social. Delaying my writing efforts for another week. But what’s another week, right? Sure. Rationally, I reply, it’s just seven days or so. With writer’s angst, I tell you, it’s a painful and frustrating interruption. An unwanted interruption. The conversation with the muses was going well. I was having a good time. Who likes to stop a good time?

But I try to be a good husband and some kind of contributing member of society. So, the time was taken. The vacation done. Good for me? Sure. Aren’t I nice? You betcha.

Back in the writing seat today. Picking up those story strings that emerged as I was on a ship in Seattle, walking a street, driving the Interstate, observing a person, sipping coffee, gazing at a street scene, etc. You never know when they’ll come.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Again.

Highlights

Been on a road trip. Three cities (and three hotels), five nights, six days. So, if I wasn’t online much, you now know why. I’m not one to advertise that we’re not in our house. I’d rather not highlight it as a target for thieves. They’re already quite bold and opportunistic without me providing some useful intel about us not being home.

We went north. Seattle. Nine hour drive. But we decided to break it up into two days. Something about sitting in a car for a long time, ya know? Doesn’t get along with my wife’s RA. So the first leg took us to Lake Oswego outside Portland, OR. There we checked into a Holiday Inn Express and had dinner with friends at their house.

Holiday Inn Express wasn’t a highlight. Apparently built for tall people. Very tall. Like, I’m but five eight. Had to reach to my crown’s top to use the coffee maker. Likewise, the bathroom sink was higher than my waist. My wife, several inches shorter, struggled to lean forward over this tall counter to use the sink or see herself in the mirror to apply cosmetics. Lighting in the room wasn’t great, either. Nice big mirror (a ‘skinny’ one, if you know what I mean). No light at it meant you’re looking at yourself in near darkness. Not useful. Bed was okay. Wife complained that her pillow wasn’t sufficiently hard. Had to fold it over otherwise her head just sank. That was just a night. No biggie.

Dinner with friends was a highlight. We were visiting them in their latest home. Lovely location and yard. Nice home, some dated features but they’re adept at updating things. The woman of the house provided us with grilled asparagus, rice with mushrooms, and baked salmon. All delicious. They served excellent red wines as well. Conversation was scintillating as we played catch up.

Onward, north to Seattle. Mostly easy drive. Tacoma was a slow-moving parking lot. Stop and go often. No explanation of why. Traffic information signs were there but either unused or gave us useful tips like, “Motorcyclists, ride smart to stay alive.” Helpful when you’re stopped in traffic, wondering why. Nothing on the information radio station, either. All this tech, right?

We navigated the craziness of downtown Seattle (not much different from Portland, Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, Frankfurt, London, Washington, D.C., SF, etc, to me, although saner than Rome and Seoul) to the Inn at the Market by the Pike Place Market. Everyone said that is the place to stay. It was okay. Good location for visiting the market but no advantage otherwise. Comfortable room, yes. Good bed. Hard pillows. Wonderful lighting and mirrors, although no skinny mirrors. Water pressure was okay but several minutes were needed for hot water. My wife said she didn’t get a good hot bath the entire time. I had good hot showers, though, thank you.

Highlights including seeing my sister-in-law for the first time in three years. Well, since her mother died. She’s doing well. I met her and my wife at the same time, and have known them since I was fifteen. Went to high school together. Before losing her mother, she lost her husband to brain cancer after a four-year fight. They had many terrific years together. I thought her deserving of that, as he was hubby number three. Number three was the charm. Besides those issues, she’s coping with a son suffering PTSD from his tours in Afghanistan. And she runs her own business. We toasted a success as she finally — after eleven years of struggle — was granted her patent.

She introduced us to her new boyfriend, an intelligent and engaging person. We had a good time with the two. Eating had something to do with that. First night was a terrific Indian restaurant, Kastoori Grill, across from the hotel. Night number two found us at Cutter’s Crabhouse. We didn’t have reservations but my sister-in-law talked them into seating us. The woman doesn’t give up. The next night, we were at Zigzags for a late meal. Meantime, breakfast on day two was at Bacco Cafe, which I found fresh and delicious. (My wife was less enamored of her fare.) Lunch for day three found us at Kell’s Irish Restaurant and Bar. Day number four, we ate terrific grilled croissant sandwiches for breakfast, picked up at Sisters in the Post Alley.

First day and second morning had us browsing through the Pike Place Market. The second day also had us cruising the bay via a Salish Seas tour. An abbreviated history of Seattle and some notables were presented, along with a glossy overview of architectural highlights.

Trip highlights to the trip poured in on day three. We walked down Alaska Way to the sculpture garden. Then up the hill to the Space Needle. We caught a break and were able to buy tickets to use in the next fifteen minutes. Boom, up we went to the rotating clear floor. Pretty cool. Fantastic views of Everett Bay, Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, Bainbridge Island, and the Olympia Mountains.

Next, though, was the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Focused on Dale Chihuly’s work with glass, the presentations stunned and awed. These were gorgeous creations.

For the evening, we were hunting for a night tour. Didn’t come up with that, but we did end up on the Seattle Tall Ship, Bay Lady, for a sunset tour. I’d never been on a sailboat before. This was a schooner. From raising the sails to listening to the various commands until finally heeling through the sound’s deep water to the passing water’s reassuring whisper, this was a relaxing experience. I strongly recommend a cruise with them, if you have the chance.

Saturday found us heading south again. Crawling through Tacoma. Stop. Start. Pausing to eat at my wife’s favorite eatery, Panera Bread, in Longview, WA. Then on down to Eugene for an overnight stop and shopping. This hotel was a regular for us. We’ve stayed at several places in Eugene but the La Quinta gives us the most satisfaction. Located midway between the downtown area and Coburg Road, easy access to either is available. Besides the location, the rooms are large and comfortable. Hard pillows, you know? Good lighting and mirrors. Fantastic hot water and water pressure, needed to rinse off the travel grime. On to home, and our waiting cats, on Sunday.

Of course there were good beers all along. Also good people, friendly and helpful. Was worrisome traveling with the pandemic as a backdrop. We frequently wore masks but when you’re eating, what are you to do, right? We were all vaccinated but discussed whether it would have been better to stay home. None of us are exhibiting symptoms but COVID-19 strikes quickly and silently.

I can rationalize it as a break we needed. Many will understand and agree. Others will fault us for falling for the pandemic and vaccine information, which they view as a scam. Another subset will see us as privileged, which I don’t deny. Still another group will probably condemn us for being complacent.

I don’t have an answer to any of that. We went; we took precautions. We sought a balance. Hopefully, we didn’t contribute to another spike.

Fingers crossed.

Monday’s Theme Music

Monday already! Again! Seems like it was just Monday last week. As Steve Miller sang, “Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking, into the future.” Which, isn’t really what happens, but close enough. Speaking of, do the young understand what the elderly (ahem, like me, which we called established) know what is meant by a ticking clock?

Today is July 26, 2021, July’s final Monday. Not much significant for it in my life. Garbage day. Put the can out so it can be emptied tomorrow. Going to the library to pick up some books on hold. To the credit union for money. Store, for groceries. Coffee shop, for coffee. Sunrise was at just before 6 AM, 5:58 AM. Sunset will happen at 8:37 PM, whether it’s witnessed or not. Today’s weather calls for smoky air but clear skies, with a high of about 100.

Dreams are driving my theme music today. I dreamed of Dad for two nights in a row. The second prompted the Everclear song, “Father of Mine” (1998) to loop through me head. My father wasn’t a Deadbeat Dad. Mom had a lot of issues with him. He was in the military and overseas or in other states most of my young life. I was born in 1956; Mom and Dad divorced in 1961. His role was then reduced. He returned to my life in 1971, after returning from his assignment in Germany. Things were rough at home for me. Dad let me come live with him, which I did until graduating high school in 1974. Then I was gone. Dad remarried twice, and had one other long relationship. He has been a good father to all of those children. But, to me and my sisters, he was MIA. Now he’s trying to make up for it by calling. But it’s hard to rewire the past after sixty-five years.

There were good times. He taught me to play baseball. Gave me my first glove and bat. Bought me fishing gear and took me fishing. Gave me my first car, a forest green 1965 Mercury Comet sedan with a 289 V8. Helped me buy a car, a Porsche, a few years later. Introduced me to my wife through his best friend.

Here’s the music. Stay positive. Test negative. Wear a mask as needed. Get the vax. Cheers

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