Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

I have my dad’s 1911 Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol, the very one he wore in a leather shoulder harness as a B-17 bombardier in the Pacific doing low level bombing of Emperial Japanese warships. I’ll bypass the whole “low level bombing in a B-17” thing for another time. The last and only time I ever saw my dad fire his pistol was with me in 1966. He decided to use up his remaining ammunition from the 1940’s and give his son a chance to fire a real .45. We trudged into a wooded area in Alabama, outside of Birmingham where we were living at the time, until we found a nice spot with a high embankment and a stump just begging to be shot multiple times. I still remember the combination of excitement, adrenaline and being inside “the man club.” My dad was about to hand me a man tool, used in a man war, with real man bullets. I could hardly breathe.

Dad fired the first few shots, explaining how to hold and sight the gun. I recall him warning me about how a .45 kicks and not to let that bother me. “Don’t anticipate the kick, just slowly squeeze the trigger.” In deference to my dad, remember the year, 1966. No seat belts, no rubberized deck for playscapes, no “playscapes” for that matter, no bicycle helmets, nothing. And so without eye or ear protection. (trust me, only bad guys, law enforcement officers in the field, characters in novels and stupid people shoot a .45 without eye and ear protection these days) I stood on a hot, humid day in some Alabama woods, a nine year old holding what felt like 20 pounds of steel. My hands quickly fatigued with the gun’s weight, but I gamely did my best to aim at the condemned tree stump, squeezing the trigger as coached. BAM!!!! The chunk of iron bucked back, beyond my control, the noise louder than any clap of thunder I had ever heard. I’m fighting to keep from peeing myself, watching, in terrified wonder, a tracer bullet etch a phosphoric trail right into my enemy tree stump. I don’t recall what passed through my mind as a child, but the adult translation is something close to HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, JESUS CHRIST AND ALL THE ANGELS!!!!!!!!!! I stood there, my dad having the prescience to take the loaded weapon from my trembling hand. He chuckled. “Pretty loud, eh? Told you about the kick. Wanna go again?”

Yes. No. Yes, but I don’t know. Here’s the thing. My dad let me sneak into the “Man Club.” The idea of gently closing my finger around something capable of such earth shattering mayhem, noise and violence left me hesitant. But when you’re in the “Man Club” turning away from man stuff, well, even at the age of nine I knew it just wasn’t done. If I turned my back on that pistol because it scared me, I would live with my shame the rest of my life. Dad handed me his gun, I took my stance, took aim, my heart pounding in my throat. I squeezed the trigger, only this time anticipating an explosive kick. BLAM!!! Missed. I shot out the magazine, missing every single time, all the while my dad encouraging me not to jerk my hand or shut my eyes in anticipation.

When our last bullet went down range, my eyes burning and ears ringing, we walked back to our car. Dad put his large hand on my shoulder as we walked. I may have only hit our stump once, but I stood in the woods with my dad shooting the biggest gun I had ever seen. The gun he had in The War.  And so, for a few brief hours, we shared an unspoken truth about the strange twisted joy of destruction, the horrifying violence of war and the love between a father and his boy.

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I love a good adventure. Doesn’t have to be too crazy, just something out of the usual day to day.  Last weekend my bride Sidney and I hopped on the Vespa and went to Tacoma.  We couldn’t take I5, since the 150 will only do 50 or 55.  So we had to get a little creative.  We drove through the city to West Seattle, taking a ferry across Elliott Bay to Vashon Island.  This lush, green 5 X 15 mile island has a nice, laid back vibe.  We stopped at a little cafe then rode to the south of the island, taking another ferry to Tacoma, then drove along the shore to downtown.

Our quest?  The  newly opened LeMay Museum — what has got to be one of the premier automotive museums in the country now.  I’ll plop a pic or two down in the blog, but believe me, my photos can’t do the place justice.  If you’re a gear head, drive, walk or crawl in the direction of this place.  Favorite?  A ’32 Ford like the one my dad drove as a teen in the late 30’s, a Jaguar E Type — probably the closest thing to sex in car design, and the Tucker from the 1950’s.  The Jag to the right is a 1952 XK120.  I could go on and on.

Sunday morning, we took the return trip, this time stopping at the birthplace of the coffee craze in Seattle, which oddly enough is on Vashon Island.  After a second ferry over to West Seattle, we stopped for pizza and beer by the beach.  While couples and families strolled the sidewalks, guys and girls in swimsuits played beach volley ball, boats with sails straining in the breeze and motorcycle drivers rumbling by, we drank cold ones, celebrating a great dayto be alive.

In order to fit in with the big Harley’s rumbling past, we discovered we could put out a Harley-like exhaust tone by doing raspberries in unison.  Well, it sounded good inside the helmet anyway…

A Boy and His Dog

I have a constant writing companion who keeps me in the present, offers positive support day and night, stands by me on the good days when I’m writing like a demon and on those days where I just can’t seem to shift into gear, hangs out with me while I work, takes walks to clear my mind, licks me whenever the opportunity arises and brings toys throughout the day with the implicit contract that I will either: a. hold on to the toy while we growl at each other in a tug of war, or b. throw said toy across the room so she can hunt it down.  Yes, my writing companion is a dog.  A 9 month old English Springer Spaniel named Jazz.  She’s a happy bundle of overflowing energy in a fur coat, always up for walking, running and playing.  And to date, I have not found the bottom of her apparently infinite energy source.  I’m thinking of hooking her up to the power grid to make a few bucks off the utility.

Why Jazz?  I met her when she was a month old and already she had that crazy, creative spirit of improvisation. This girl never plans anything.  She takes live on in the present and makes it up as she goes along. Sometimes that leads to some unfortunate choices.  Besides “here Jazz,” my most frequent comment to her is “leave it.”  And to her credit, she doesn’t always listen to me.  Sometimes I want her to “leave it” because “it” is gross and nasty.  But sometimes I just don’t want the hassle — a piece of electrical tape, a quarter of a torn up tennis ball, a snail, a clump of grass, a flower — the list is endless.  Sure, four out of five humans think chewing on a clump of grass will lead to dirt in the mouth and muddy paws in the house. But five out of five dogs know the pure pleasure of sweet grass, musty soil and mud between the toes.

I sometimes think I may have lost my mind to bring a puppy in the house.  She requires lots of attention.  However, I also know having her around keeps my feet on the ground.  Writing can be a lonely business. A little unconditional love from Jazz goes a long way.