Departures Eve

Aurora the night before her Denmark departure. Hav det sjovt, ikke drikker for meget!



On my way to Golden Gardens I pass a series of small, unassuming houses. They are simple in design, built maybe 60 or 70 years ago. They have small yards, inviting porches and front doors left open. One can look into their living rooms through their open front doors or street facing windows. These folks don’t have much to hide; they feel no need to completely shut out the world passing by on the sidewalk below.

Then across the street is an apartment complex. It is about 5 or 6 stories high, has a metal fence with a gate that shuts out everyone except those who know the code. Each window is shuttered, every door shut and “securely” locked. They have no porches, no connection to the life happening just outside their compound.

I look at the house with the front door open, the porch comfortable and inviting with chairs and small sofa. Then I look across the street at the metal barricade, the gate with its 5-digit code and the locked up windows and doors. I compare the two places and wonder if the people in the complex know something there house dwelling neighbors don’t. Is there something out there that wants so badly to get into our homes that we need gated communities with 5-digit code boxes?

I mean seriously, who and what are they trying to keep out? Are the people across the street oblivious to this perceived threat? Why don’t they have a fence, a gate code, locked front doors and shuttered windows?

These differing perceptions of the world around us are what make America an interesting and scary place to live.


The Machines

Here is my first memory of the Seafair weekend in Seattle. It’s late summer and I'm on Capitol Hill volunteering at Lifelong AIDS Alliance (I loved volunteering here). We are outside breaking down boxes and shoving them into the recycle dumpster when I hear a low rumble making its way toward me. I stop, look around and see nothing.

Then, as if appearing from thin air, four Blue Angel Fighter Jets blast their way across the sky leaving nothing but smoke and ringing ears in their absence. The first thought that comes to mind is of my father and how he would nearly be jumping for joy at seeing all this flying machinery hurling through the late summer sky. My dad has always loved jets, f-16’s, f-18’s, you know, jets!

Just a few weeks ago when I was back in Georgia visiting my family I asked my father a question I already knew the answer to: what's something that you’ve never done yet always wanted to do? His answer after 2 seconds of mental deliberation: Fly in an F-16. If only you could be there to see my fathers face when he says this you would understand why I love talking to him about jets. The years of worries stored up as wrinkles fall away from his face and he is suddenly 12 years old again. His blue-green eyes flicker and his voice takes on that quality you only hear when someone is recalling a memory they very much enjoy.

But then this thought in front of the recycling dumpster is silenced by the director of Lifelong. He stands next to me glaring up at the blue sky and the planes with a look of utter disgust and says, “Oh god, the war machines have returned.”

I balk at this. I do not balk at his opinion but at the fact that what he thinks of when he sees these machines is so different from what I think of (or what my father thinks of). Where he sees a terrible machine of war designed to destroy and instill fear my father sees adventure and a sense of something beyond himself, something stronger than he is.

It’s been a few years now since I first saw the jets razing the city. My feelings are now mixed. I understand that these machines are designed for death, constructed to destroy life. But I also carry these memories of my father and his love for these machines. He doesn’t love them for any of the wrong reasons. He does not love the potential death, destruction and fear these machines are capable of. No, my father is no warmonger. He is a dreamer who talks of how alive he would feel while careening through the atmosphere at 1,000 miles per hour.

And so I stare up at the sky, waiting for my fathers dream to pass overhead well beyond the speed of sound, waiting for these horrifically beautiful machines to make their march across the mid afternoon firmament.


2 a.m.

This slate grey sky is exactly what I needed, although until it came I didn’t know it. I felt it descend sometime in the night, it woke me with a strange, eerie feeling around two or three a.m., something akin to a shadowy figure standing silently outside my bedroom window. I sat up in bed and hesitantly locked the double paned frame, as if the lock could keep out the ghosts.

Sleep came in small, fitful segments after that, strange dreams ebbing and flowing at the edges of my subconscious.

It was 8:15 and something fell onto the kitchen floor with a loud, plastic clatter. I gave up the sheets for grey slacks, the bed for black coffee. I read a short story on war and all the death it accomplishes. My thoughts turned to this country I live in and to what parts of this country live in me.

The coffee is finished and the chipped “Whistler” mug sits empty. I have to go and write; I have to prepare to face the grey.



I attended a wedding last week and in the process ran into a little friend of mine. Molly is this beautiful soul that lives in a house on Orcas Island with her mother, father and little sister. Last year while working on Orcas I lived above a wood shop just down the hill from Mollys house.

Some evenings I would walk through the grove of firs, the field full of reclining bunnies and up the hill to the warmth and light spilling from her house to sit with her family. Occasionally I would read her books and tell stories of my own. Molly loved hearing stories.

I was reminded of this relationship between Molly and I this last week when she gave me a picture drawn in January that depicts me in black pants and a black pullover standing next to her and her sister. I love receiving hand drawn pictures from kids.

Then the wedding day came and Molly was in her extroverted element as a flower girl with a basket full of petals and a headdress of faux flowers. Here is Molly just moments before she walked down the grassy aisle leaving a trail of flowers in her wake.


Something Truly Strange

Well, it may not be all that strange to you who have never read the local Seattle magazine called The Stranger. Each Thursday red metal boxes across this urban landscape are replenished with a fresh supply of juvenile, hate filled, hetero-phobic "journalism". And it's 100 percent free.

It is only because of this free status that I actually waste a few minutes of my week grazing through its shit filled pages to see if there is something actually worth reading.

To my utter surprise
last weeks issue not only contained an article worth reading all the way through but was actually interesting enough for me to blog about and pass onto you. That is a truly strange happening.

The aforementioned article is titled "United States of Anxiety" by Trisha Ready. In the article Trisha tells her own story of the American mortgage and debt crisis in such a way that someone who doesn't even have debt or a mortgage (me) actually pulled quotes because of the poignancy found within them.

I'll leave you with this quote: "I am talking about being a product, a product among products, an American. It is tricky: We have been so well sold to ourselves that we consider our access to potential debt as a kind of twisted freedom. We are of money, from money, made for money."


Farmer Bro

When I arrive at my parents property in North Georgia it is sometime after 4 p.m. and the asphalt beneath my feet is hot . My brother and I lean against his beaten up Toyota while he rolls us a cigarette each. I don't normally smoke but it seems to be a ritual he and I have established when relaxing together.

I watch his lanky fingers pull shreds of tobacco from the pouch and stick it between the thin white rolling paper. I love watching this man. The recorder comes out and I begin to ask my brother about the garden he started some months back. He tells the story with a tinge of bitterness as he describes the work he did and what is now left behind.

This is nearly eight minutes of unedited conversation between two brothers, neither of which come from a farming background nor a family that has spent time getting to know the earth. He is the first in our family to take an interest in farming and I take great pride in his love for the land.

You may not find this recording worth your time, and I am more than o.k. with that. I think the conversation to be a great one, and I am glad I recorded it.

The most telling question and answer comes right at the beginning of the interview. I ask my brother how he came about the decision that the garden needed to be created.

He replies, "Pretty much since you and I went to Ireland it [the garden] just felt essential there and I didn't see why it shouldn't be essential here."

And that is the interesting thing about this interview. Here are two suburban raised boys trying to make sense of why they were raised in such a way that disconnected them from their food, how it was made and the earth on which it was grown. Listen in as Matt tells his story.

The Good Stuff.

There cannot be enough said for simple, sane conversations that bring life into focus, the kind of conversations that feel more like conversion than just conversing.

The same goes for eucalyptus trees blowing in the wind, rubber duckies in the front yard, next door neighbors who aren’t ashamed of their grunge roots and the last but certainly not least walks down hidden gravel roads in the middle of the city while listening to the last 3 minutes of the Grateful Dead’s “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” (the live version from Dicks Picks Vol. 1).

It’s all just good. Very, very good.



Narah's sister, my youngest niece.


My niece.


Oh No, Not Another Morning.

After a night spent in fitful fistfuls of sheets he pulled himself from the wretched linens to greet what he would later in life call the worst day of his young life.


Georgia In July

I want to write something but I want it to be beautiful and as full of life as I feel right now. Can that happen? I mean can that feeling of “fullness” be transferred from my being, through my fingers, onto this keyboard and into 1’s and 0’s for you the readers viewing pleasure?

Probably not. And to be honest, I'm just a little too lazy, a little too tired and a little too uninspired to write you something truly moving. I'm waiting for the axe to drop on the little digital clock so that it will change from 12:59 a.m. to 1:00. It’s important to write things at 1 a.m. It’s also important to be awake when many others sleep. At the very least it’s important to remain cognizant long after your mind has told you it’s time to close up shop.

I'm in Georgia right now. It’s not been nearly as hot as I had anticipated it being and I grateful for this. I know that it won’t last. The heat will come, it always does. It’s like there is this great furnace somewhere in the far southwestern part of Texas that fires itself up every summer and sends wave after undulating wave of heat billowing up and out across landscape until it eventually reaches Georgia where it lays everything bare with its unbearable heat. Only the cicadas survive the deluge.

Don’t ask me why I am in the South in July, the reasons are varied and confusing, it just seemed to be the right thing to do. So here I am, in the South during the summer waiting for the heat to absolve me of the guilty pleasures of the last three, count ‘em three, summers spent in the temperate climate that makes the Pacific Northwest a bearable place to live.

It’s now 1:10. That means I’ve been typing for over 11 minutes. My eyes are 11 minutes heavier with the promise of sleep. I think I’ll give in and allow my mind and body the much-needed rest it is in search of.

Guten nacht.