An afternoon at the waterfront park

ship canalI recently made the mistake of drinking mimosas at a friend’s brunch. The rest of the afternoon I wanted nothing more than to sleep. Because naps are something I don’t do at all well, there was nothing else for it than to head out for a lazy afternoon reading, picture taking and people watching in a park.

As waterfront parks go around here, the one I chose was relatively unpopulated. Very late on a Sunday afternoon notwithstanding, I’m the only one sitting in this particular part of the park. I suppose it’s because this park is a little hard to find by car. Most people access it from the Locks and the larger park on other side of the channel, but I know the road that leads here.

I situate myself under two big trees on a bit of grass between walkways, facing the channel that leads out to the bay. Boats slowly pass by, as do people. Tourists aimlessly wander, occasionally stopping to read the interpretive signs and warnings to keep far away from marine life. Locals are out for a brisk walk with the dog or a bike ride. A couple of bicyclists stop to pull out their phones and take pictures of the passing boats. In the distance, at the end of the channel, I spy cruise ships in the bay, headed out for a week’s trip to Alaska. I count four.

Two young hipster men stroll by, deep in conversation. Everything about them is carefully styled, from shoes to hair. One is overdressed for a hot afternoon stroll through the park—narrow slacks, rumpled white button-down, ‘European styled’ leather-soled dress shoes and skinny tie.

“I guess watching the people would be OK,” the overdressed one says.
“You aren’t missing much,” the other replies.
“Yeah, and they let you smoke in the casinos. Try getting that smell out of your clothes.”
“You aren’t missing much.”
“I wonder what the future of Las Vegas is. World’s largest reservoir…”

They stroll beyond my ability to hear anything more.

An East Indian or Pakistani family comes by in the other direction. Two aunties and one grandmother are in traditional dress. Father, mother and two teenage girls are in western garb. All speak their native language. Father and mother point out things of interest. The teens drag behind, their gate not much more than a shuffle. Clearly bored out of their minds. I note they are not holding iPhones. These days, it’s a strange site to see teenagers not bent over a smart phone.

A middle-aged man with a long-lens camera appears out of nowhere. He checks his watch and faces out toward the bay. In the distance, a train’s whistle blows. The man checks his watch again and repositions himself, and aims his camera at the train trestle over the channel, just as the trestle lowers from it’s upright position. He adjusts focus, checks settings, and again raises the camera to ready for the shot.  The train passes and the man takes several shots. He reviews his shots and then moves on.

Not just the one train passes by on the trestle, but several: The regional commuter (must be taking people home from a baseball or soccer game downtown), a mile-long Burlington Northern Santa Fe cargo train with many graffiti-festooned containers, and an Amtrak, probably headed for Bellingham or eastern Washington.

A giant modern pleasure boat with an almost equally giant pink inflatable dinosaur lashed to its bow, like some sort of masthead, heads in the channel from the bay. As it passes I read the name on the stern: ABSOLUT. Can you say, “party boat”?

The photographer returns, this time with two other photographers. They consult, aim their cameras at various things, and consult some more, then go back the way they came.

Suddenly, I’m alone. No passers-by. No boats. Not even squawking gulls or crows, or cars driving on the road just behind me. It’s a strange experience to be entirely alone, if only for a minute, in the middle of an busy, busy city.

Three state fisheries outboard skiffs swoop in from somewhere up the channel, obviously checking in on the “salmon stairs” nearby. The men are dressed in wader overalls and rubber boots. They deftly handle the outboard motors as if they learned to drive a boat long before they learned to walk.

A large vintage yacht, a Chris-Craft maybe, pulls up to the sea wall to wait for the Locks to open. A woman on the bow holding a bow line, yells to the man on the fly bridge, “There’s none!” He says something to her and she yells back. “None I tell you. Only plants. They’re gone or something.” The woman on the stern has the same issue. The captain, unhurriedly, which is disconcerting, descends from the fly bridge to the bow, calmly takes the line from the woman and loops it around a piling. He goes back to the helm to nudge the stern back in, then in the same unhurried manner, walks back to the stern to loop that line around another piling. “You didn’t say to loop it!” the woman on the bow scolds.

Behind them comes a Police boat with a small weekender tied alongside it. Obviously the rescue of a disabled boat. The Police boat gives a formal horn signal to the Lock keeper. Other boats arrive, but choose to circle in the channel to wait for the locks, rather than tie up.

Somewhere in the distance, someone is playing a flute. I decide to pick up the book I brought and read a while before heading back home.

It was July…

Picking through some journals, I came across this from last July:

The Ladies and Gents Who Lunch

Seated for lunch on the deck of a popular bistro in a popular “destination” town, over-looking the vast expanse of Puget Sound, I observe the following:

Middle aged man and his mother seated at the table across from me. Between them sits a mostly finished bottle of white wine and two empty glasses. They are quiet and still, staring past one another. The summer waterfront view is beyond stunning, but neither seems to be reveling in it. Every couple of minutes she says something, like, “This is good wine,” or, “Family is OK?” or, “My salad is very good. Do you like your sandwich?” To each question he gives clipped “yes, no, they’re fine,” replies. When the check arrives, which he says they should split, she thanks him for bringing her to this lovely place. He pours the rest of the wine from the bottle into his glass and gulps it down.

My salad arrives. I take the first bite and immediately choke. The Balsamic vinegar dressing is a bit too much. I shrink as curious eyes surreptitiously spy my spasm. Note to Self: Without a  decent balance of Olive Oil, and maybe a little bit of salt and pepper, Balsamic vinegar can be considered an effective instrument of excruciating torture.

A man and a woman take the table where the son and mother were just seated. They settle in and read the menu. She says she’s going to get a beer. He says he thinks he’ll do the same. They laugh. “What’s your favorite?” he asks. She laughs. He says, “My wife doesn’t like wine.” “Neither do I,” she says, “I only like beer.” He asks if she’s tried a local Micro Brew. She giggles, “I like Killian’s Red. It’s Irish. Like O’Douls.” He smiles and says, “They aren’t actually, like, Micros.” She shrugs, then says, “I taught myself last weekend how to make Mojitos.” This time, he shrugs. “Yeah? I don’t know those. What are those?” She laughs, “You don’t know what a Mojito is?” I think to myself, if they are trying to get it on in the Illicit Affair Department, they need to stop trying to justify their mutual attraction with something other than just simply wanting to get it on.


 

Lunch Break

Walk to the car. The bright, warm sun plays me for a fool, but the freezing breeze sternly reminds me it is still winter. Vibrant blue sky and giant white cumulus clouds surround the nearly pitch black low-rider rain clouds, skimming their way across the mountain’s foothill tops, depositing their cold, sloshy cargo of heavy rain and thick, wet snow. Forecast is for a dusting in the city overnight.

Hot soup and warm bread are what I crave, but Mexican-style chicken salad from the drive-thru will have to do. I’ve had worse. I’ve made worse. It actually isn’t all that bad. It’s just not hot soup. Something about hot soup on cold days.

As I walk back to the office from my car with my it’ll-have-to-do meal, I pass the facility manager taking a contractor on a tour around the building. He points out work that needs doing. It’s a lot, I’m sure. Hundred-year-old buildings are like that.

“And, we’re painting this year, too,” facility manager says to the contractor.

Good, I think. Anything but this color: not quite harvest gold, or sherbet orange, or adobe brown, but somewhere in between all of that. I hope they paint over the insane-asylum pale green with dark eggplant wainscoting interior as well. Maybe do something about the perpetual smell of dusty carpet while they’re at it. No matter how often the carpets are cleaned, the smell of dust lingers.

“Sorry, LRose,” the front desk woman says when she peaks her head around the office door, “I know you’re on lunch, but there’s a lady up front who asked for you, and, oh, my God…” rolling her eyes.

“What?”

“She’s very happy,” rolling her eyes again.

“HI!” the happy woman exclaims when she sees me. She is 30-ish, shortish, pleasantly plump, long jet-back hair, large round glasses with rhinestones in the corners, smooth alabaster skin, rosy cheeks, fffffrosty carnation pink lipstick and a sssssparkly pink scarf around her neck.

“I’M SO GLAD TO MEET YOU! I THOUGHT IT BEST IF I JUST POP BY AND SAY HI!”

She is, indeed, a very loud, very happy, bubbly person. I catch the front desk woman glancing my way and she rolls her eyes yet again. I promise loud-happy-bubbly-pink lady I will put up the poster and distribute the flyers she’s brought by and then quickly excuse myself. Not-so-great Mexican chicken salad awaits.

 

Zoo Time

It was a wet and cold November Sunday. What do two friends do who don’t feel like doing the typical rainy day thing, like going shopping or catching a movie? Go to the zoo, of course!

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring an extra camera battery, and file space on my phone was full, so nothing here of the lions and tigers, but I managed to get a few snaps of bears, etc.

[Want to see more photography? I moved all my photos to this blog.]

 

 

Who gets married on a Thursday?

It’s gloomy, cold and cloudy, with the occasional passing rain shower day in my hometown today. And, it’s a Thursday, like so many before and so many to follow. A banal, flat-line, work-week day. A banal, flat-line, infuriatingly long work-week day that falls before the happy, light weight Friday that proceeds the always wonderful Saturday and Sunday. Monday’s a drag, but Thursday? Thursday’s a bore.

So, who chooses a Thursday to get married? Complete with wedding gown, veil, tuxedo, attendants, tiny children carrying flower baskets, bouquets, a photographer…the works! Who?! Apparently, the couple next to me.

The restaurant staff was whipped up into a frenzy about 20 minutes after I was seated. They moved tables around into a large party set up in the middle of the dining room. Shortly thereafter, people dressed in I’m-going-to-a-wedding-today outfits, complete with well dressed babies and children, took the seats. A polite, quiet cheer went up when the bride and groom walked in.

Who gets married on a Thursday? And then celebrates with friends and family in the informal neighborhood joint? These two people do, grinning non-stop from ear to ear, constantly touching, entangling finger tips, and completely unable to resist gazing into each other’s eyes. Because this neighborhood restaurant is part of what you would consider “home” if you live here, most especially if you are a fisherman (which I’m guessing our groom is). But probably more importantly, the 1st of September is, was, and always will be, the 1st of September to them, no matter the day of the week.

From the “I wanna be April when I grow up” files

She’s 8 or 9. Standing atop a giant cleat once used for docking giant ships (but now used as a bollard to keep cars from driving onto the boardwalk), she strikes a series of poses. Clearly, the recent Olympic gymnastics competition is her inspiration. Her somewhat self-conscious pre-teen sister watches her from a distance, but then busts out in an exaggerated laugh meant to insult—as sibling rivalry is always want to do—when little sister realizes there’s a large restaurant full of people watching her Go For The Gold. Mom and Dad, slowly sauntering along behind them, catch up, and Mom has a few casual, but clearly choice words for her eldest. Eldest dips her chin to her chest, youngest jumps off the giant cleat and trots over to her sister, tagging her on the arm, and then skips over to the public moorage dock. Big Sis follows, peers over the boardwalk edge at the moorage float, and then, without ceremony, jumps the 10 or so feet down onto it. She flatly regards her sister in an explicit dare to follow suit. Mom and Dad have paced them by 30 feet onto the boardwalk when Dad turns his head and barks. The girls scramble back onto the boardwalk and jog to catch up with their parents. The youngest sticks her landing just in front of them with a gymnast’s up-raised arms and swayed back.

A brightly painted skiff that looks like a floating urban graffiti mural motors up to the public float. Three distinctly anti-establishment hipster looking 40-somethings dock, disembark and head straight for the brew-n-fish-n-chips place. A Grand Banks (or its like) follows them and considerately ties up a couple of boat lengths behind, leaving room for the suburban ski boat that follows. That boat’s “skipper” and “crew” are nowhere as easy with a water vessel as they ought to be. They circle and maneuver several times, punching the throttle to whip around, trying to  figure out how to “park” the boat between the skiff and the Banks. A man who obviously works one of the nearby fishing vessels watches their over-wrought effort  with what I am sure is morbid fascination (it took 6 people five or so minutes to dock a 25-ish foot ski boat).

He’s tough. Full grown long long whiskers, long long hair. Shabby shirt and shorts and tats everywhere but his face. She’s butch. Short cropped bright blonde hair, shabby shirt and shorts and a few tats here and there. They walk along the boardwalk hand-in-hand, swinging their arms and giggling like a couple of kids in love, which clearly, they most certainly are.

20-foot mini cigarette/ski boat casually circles and circles. Two women, both comfortable on the water in a boat, are aboard. I think they’re trying to figure out how to tie up between the skiff and the other ski boat when a small inflatable outfitted with two small captain’s chairs with an elderly couple  seated in each motors out from the stern of the Grand Banks. Hand waves and a few words, and then the women in the ski boat neatly tuck in behind the GB, jump out, line here, line there, done and done. I clock 17 seconds.