The Boat Ramp Bumblebees

As we pulled up to the ramp at Hagg Lake, a slight breeze was beginning to kick up off the lake. There was a long line of cars with trailered boats waiting their turn on the boat ramp. It was a beautiful spring day, unseasonably warm, and the kids were squirming excitedly in the back as we inched closer to the ramp.

Like I said, there was a breeze kicking up. I could tell this by the flapping of the loose mainsail on a somewhat medium sized catamaran in front of us. It was sitting on an impossibly teeny tiny small speck of a trailer and for some reason, the sail was up. Swarming around the teeny tiny speck of a trailer, somewhat medium sized boat, and the large wafting mainsail were several short, portly, bearded men with very bright, very cheap yellow and black life jackets. “Bumblebees” I said… Suzanne and the kids laughed. I then mentioned as one of the bumblebees tied the mainsail securely aft, “You know, I don’t think that sail should be up”.

Now when I say a teeny tiny speck of a trailer I am talking about one with wheels barely bigger than casters, the catamaran extending over each side of it several feet. It looked about as stable as a giraffe on a tricycle. And the telltales on that mainsail were beginning to flow aft. It was not a strong gust of wind but the telltales on that sail clearly indicated things were about to get interesting. The sail snapped tight and the bumblebees looked up. Suzanne looked in horror as she reached over and grabbed my hand “Oh honey, these guys need help” she said as she slapped her forehead with her other hand. “Too late!” I replied.

The next few moments were like a slow-motion tragic comedy. One of the bearded bumble bees reminded me of a squirrel in the road darting back and forth in front of oncoming doom. I’m still not sure how he had the presence of mind, or the time, to scratch his head each time he changed direction. Two other bumblebees pointed skyward as the mast listed to one side and screamed “holy shit!”. The bumblebee driver dove for cover under their little SUV. Suddenly the trailer lifted a wheel as if it were marking a hydrant. Then the tongue of the teeny tiny speck of a trailer folded like a cheap card table and the medium-sized catamaran with the large singing mainsail came crashing over. The large mast of the boat smashed squarely into the roof of a very nice, very expensive, candy apple red Mercedes sports car that was parked nearby. This car probably saved the life of the bumblebee that was darting back and forth like a squirrel.

There was a brief moment when nobody moved as the little caster trailer wheels spun around freely as if to celebrate the lifting of their burden. And then it seemed like bumble bees were swarming everywhere as they scrambled around the overturned boat and the severely smashed Mercedes. The driver bumble bee crawled out from under their little SUV he began shouting orders and pointing in various directions. Next thing we knew they were straining horribly to upright the boat. Suzanne once again suggested that I go help. “Nope, not now” I said… “someone is gonna die and someone is gonna get sued.”… As I notice the mainsail, still securely tied aft, starting to tighten as the swarm of bumblebees uprighted the boat I proclaimed… “I’m out”

It’s not a fair comparison to say they looked like a cartoon version of the Iwo Jima Memorial but you get the picture I hope. Just when the boat was a few feet from upright another gust sent the mast squarely back down causing portly bearded bumblebees to belly bounce off the pavement. The Mercedes took yet another dent in the roof to match the first one. It was only after this, the driver bumblebee went over and untied the mainsail.

Again we watched as the black and yellow butterballs heaved and tugged the catamaran back to the upright position. The mainsail now untethered flapped loosely in the breeze. It took a few minutes and a lot of conversation for the bumbles to figure out the hitch of that teeny tiny speck of a trailer was now horizontal and never going back onto the little SUV hitch.

The sail caught the breeze again. Even though the boom was now free the sail was still fully deployed on the outhaul. This means look out. The boom swung from one side of the boat to the other squarely knocking one of the bumbles to the ground. Next thing you know the driver bumble was driving the little SUV away from the scene. He parked the car in a safe place; clear of falling masts.

The swarm of activity was amazing. The portly little bees raced around and flapped their arms in an unruly manner. The swarm grabbed hold of various parts of the catamaran and trailer, trying to hold it steady. So now we’re watching 6 portly men dressed like bumble bees trying to maneuver a catamaran and trailer by hand, down the boat ramp to the water; with the sail still up. Handling that trailer was the equivalent to a roller skate under a pissed off hippo. I am not kidding when I tell you that the boom was whipping back and forth, knocking down bumbles as they went. The waylaid bearded bumbles would get back up, scratch their sore heads and go back to pushing. Not one of them had the sense to loosen the outhaul. This continued all the way down the ramp to the waterline. There they floated the boat off the trailer and hauled it’s pathetically bent misfortune next to the little SUV.

As the portly bumbles swarmed onto the medium size catamaran and sailed into the sun sparkling waters of Hagg Lake Suzanne turned to me and asked… “Do you think they’ll survive out there?”

Just then I heard a torrent of profanity. I looked to see a huge man as he discovered his mashed up Mercedes sports car. I smiled and turned back to Suzanne…

“Actually, I think drowning would be more humane”

Copyright © 2017 db

Thoughts on the Swing

The Praying Mantis

It was just a regular sales call really.  A long drive to Astoria during a typical drenching wet Oregon winter storm.  My first stop was Astoria Granite Works.  It was always more than a regular sales call for me.  I love talking with Russ and Mo Warr, who bought the old memorial business in Astoria in 1994.  In 1998 they started fabricating granite countertops which turned out to eventually be, my corner of the world.  They operated both businesses out of the original building. A turn of the century building, built well before the last turn of the century.  Russ toured me through the back which revealed much of the original beam trolleys used to move memorial blocks for processing and engraving. A myriad of gates and trolley intersections designed to allow people and heavy stone share a tight working space.

To this day, Russ is regarded by many as a stalwart of Astoria and as such, he can tell a great story or two.  Whenever I would come to town Russ would discuss business of course but what he really liked to do – was give tours, and tell me about the town he loved; Astoria.

Mo, on the other hand, kept things running at the business.  Always very kind and cordial I got the sense that nothing in that business passed Mo’s scrutiny easily.  Now my impression of their affairs is that Russ liked being a business leader and community pillar.  He struck me as an anchor of equal measure in a community looking for any anchor that was available.  In a port town that mostly watches ships go by, anchors are important. His trusted partner Mo worked to make sure that anchor was in solid ground which is a bit tricky when occasionally the anchor showed up somewhere without proper notification… to Mo.  This is just my impression as I don’t really know but Mo struck me as a woman you would not trifle with in any regard; Which is why I really like her.  

But as tough as Mo might seem, on this day, she was hopping around the showroom of that old building like some of it was hot lava.  The thing about old buildings on the coast is that you have water, people, and critters.  In winter, when the water gets high enough it forces everything else to get cozy, whether they want to or not.  Mo pranced around the showroom of that old building and proclaimed, in no uncertain terms…

She saw a rat.

—— *** ——

As I recall, it was Bob that introduced us to the game.  In 1976-77 it was clearly something no one in our small town of Lebanon Oregon had seen before.  If you look it up you would discover the current form of hacky-sack was invented in Oregon City by a couple of guys in 1972.  Circle kicking was nothing new but this little bean bag of sorts, a little bigger than a golf ball, made it easy and cool to get a circle going.  In fact, that’s how I remember it happening for me the first time.  

I stepped outside the band room after class to see Bob Brendle in the breezeway kicking this little bag, keeping it in the air with nothing but his feet.  “What the heck is that?” I asked as Bob continued concentrating on the sack, his big bushy hair responding in kind to each kick.  “It’s a hacky-sack” he quipped as an errant kick sent the sack careening into the band room door.  I bent over and picked it up for inspection.  It was made of soft leather and was filled loosely with small beads of some kind.  I tossed it back to Bob who stopped it with his chest and let it fall down to his feet; He kicked it back to me.  Next thing I knew the two of us were kicking that sack back and forth, only to have someone else emerge from the band room and repeat the dialog. As I recall, Mr. Knight came out to see what the commotion outside his office window was about.  He opened the door to see half a dozen of his students in a circle, making comical movements and gestures as they attempted to keep some kind of goofy little ball in the air.

“It’s a hacky-sack!” 3 or 4 of us said in unison soon followed by spastic moves to keep the sack in the air.

Mr. Knight just shook his head and closed the door.

Instantly, the demand for sacks outstripped the supply.  This was because Bob seemed to have the only hacky-sack in existence.  I think it was Tim Richard who carefully took the sack apart and made a pattern a few days later.  Next thing you know copies of this pattern were distributed in Drafting Club and Band.  Several of us went home, cut out pieces of leather and attempted to sew them together.  I made several attempts at this new craft, cussing as I poked my finger with the large needle I was using; It took days for me.  Bob and Tim, on the other hand, seemed to master the art in no time, bringing in sacks almost daily; selling them as fast as they could make them.  There was no need for a sales pitch.  You just simply started playing in crowded hallway and within minutes you had a circle going, soon someone was begging you to sell them the one you had on you.

After nearly a week of trials, I finally came up with a sack that I liked.  Mostly because it was different.  It looked the same but it had a different weight and feel.  This was because I didn’t use the same bead material that Bob and Tim were using to fill their bags.  I still have no idea what they were using in those days.  What I came up with was lead shot from an old shotgun shell.  It took awhile to figure out how much shot was the right amount to make the sack respond well but after several test kicking sessions in my parent’s driveway, I stuffed the bag into my pocket with a satisfied smile on my face.  

The next day, I didn’t announce my new design to the circle.  I just pulled the sack from my pocket and tossed it in Bob’s direction for the serve.  It took only a few kicks before he grunted: “What the f%#& is up with this sack?”.  He managed a nice pass over to Steve Canaga to volley.  Steve took one kick to float the sack perfectly in front of him as he blurted out the question everyone in the circle was thinking…  “Boyd, what the hell did you use inside this bag?”  I just grinned as I waited for a pass in my direction… “Shotgun Shot” I said with a chuckle.  Bob busted out one of his signature belly laughs, his eyes squinting from behind his glasses.  “Leave it to Boyd to come up with a hick town hacky sack” he said just before wheeling around with a “roundhouse” kick in an effort to save a wild pass.  It was a nice try but his effort had my lead filled sack come in contact with the bony part of his ankle.  With an “OUCH!” and several expletives, Bob announced his decision to use his sack instead of mine.  Even so, I kept that sack for many years.  In fact, I may still have it somewhere to this day.

That year hacky-sack became a hit all over school and inevitably the charter members of this original group of players got pretty good at it; myself included.  Mastering not only the fine art of controlling the bag in front of you, but also developing techniques to make saves, with a sudden snap of the foot, or a roundhouse kick orbiting high and wide in a desperate effort to return the sack back into the circle. Behind the back kicks were also praised; especially when you could float the sack from behind you, over your shoulder past your ear to take control again with the bag securely in front of you.

We weren’t getting good because we practiced all the time.  We were getting good because we played ALL the time.  During lunch hours, on band trips, club outings, behind the bleachers during ball games.  Each time we would inevitably have to explain to someone what it was we were doing.  This was especially true when our High School Jazz Band traveled to Hawaii for a music festival.  I’m not absolutely certain we were the first group to play hacky-sack on Waikiki Beach but based on all the comments and questions we got, the odds are pretty good that we might have been.  We were ambassadors of the game and it was cool.

After high school, the game and my homemade hacky sack stayed with me.  Bob and I drove to Phoenix Arizona to attend a drafting trade school.  Our hacky-sacks came with us.  It wasn’t long before we were standing in the Arizona summer heat with our roommate Cary Pickens from New Mexico; I pulled out my lead shot bag.  “What the f&%@ is this you all are doin?”  Bob and I smiled and said “It’s hacky-sack”  I can still see Cary’s gangly arms and legs as he tried to master the game while keeping his glasses secure.  I cannot even count the number of times we almost lost that “shotgun” bag in the Salt River or in a stickery thicket where sidewinder rattlesnakes or other critters might lurk.  “I’m not goin’ in there” Cary would say.

Later the next year, I found myself in the Oregon Duck Marching Band.  Bob and I took different paths after Phoenix but I soon discovered that Tim Richard was one of the many high school bandmates in the marching band.  That year we traveled to Seattle to play at the University of Washington halftime show for a game between the Ducks and the Huskies.  Before the game, we stood on the field and Tim pulled out a sack.  The game was getting better known by then.  Fewer people were asking what it was and more would join in right away.  Soon there was a big circle of us playing in the middle of Husky Stadium until the game officials ordered us off.  

The next day the marching band played the halftime show for the Seahawks at the King Dome.  Again, a group of us found ourselves in a circle, around the Seahawks logo in the middle of the field, playing hacky-sack before the game, in the King Dome.  Even though the stadium still looked pretty empty there must have been thousands of people looking on as we contorted and kicked a barely visible little object.  I’m sure it looked very odd back then.

Around that time I started training in karate.  Between that and hacky-sack I began to develop pretty fair “kicking” ability.  In fact, it wasn’t long before I started to co-mingle martial arts with the game.  There were aspects of both that served each other well.  In those days, I could easily kick well above my head.  I was more Jonny Hayseed than Jean-Claude Van Damme but I managed to be effective despite my lack of style.  The powerful karate front kick where your leg snaps back just as fast as it attacked became a kind of trick shot for me in hacky-sack.  My goal was to kick the sack when it was only a few inches from the ground with a snap-kick so fast is was nothing more than a blur; ultimately floating the sack to a perfect head height in front of me.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to perfect it.  I even nicknamed the move…  

“The Praying Mantis”

—— *** ——

Now Russ, a tall and lanky guy in his 70’s had a friend and employee with him that day (Herb I think) who was also about 70.  It was easy to see these guys spent most of their lives being “self-sufficient”.  I tried to stay busy updating a display rack in the corner of the room as these two older guys attempted to locate the rat.  Mo was busy shouting directions while building what looked like an emergency escape ramp to the top of her desk; just in case.  Russ had fashioned a very impressive spear of sorts, deadly in appearance; I’m pretty sure it was a stick with a nail.  Herb and Russ would talk a little about where they saw the rat last and who is going to move and do what.  Well, actually Herb was pretty much the furniture mover while Russ posed, ready to skewer that beastly thing with his dreaded nail spear.  There was some bustling and some more talking before Herb finally got a good hold of a display he wanted to move and gave it a jerk backward.  

Suddenly a “debatably” large dark figure sprung from under the display.  Russ lunged with his spear digging the nail into the carpet – apparently a clean miss.

“Wow, that’s a big one” Russ proclaimed in a very calm voice as his body moved in near mechanical precision to the circumstances at hand.  

Mo was sprinting up her emergency ramp to the top of her desk.

I, on the other hand, froze in amazement as this large matted creature shot like a lightning bolt across the room, taking refuge behind some demo headstones.  



I don’t know what to call these headstones; headstone examples?; mock memorials?; display graves?.  

Whatever they were called they had a big ugly rat behind one of them.

I turned to say to Russ “Did you see that?” when I saw the pointy end of that spear go by, soon followed by the rather determined face of Russ.  Herb, on the other hand, was in a flanking move on the other side of the lobby.

“Behind the monolith Herb” said Russ.

“I saw it” said Herb.

“Why won’t you let me call an exterminator!” cried Mo as she ran in place on the desktop.

By now I had given up on the display rack.  My concentration was on these two guys trying to maneuver behind gravestone displays lined up neatly on a narrow mini-stage against the wall.  In my business, I don’t deal in monoliths but I know enough about granite to conclude they weren’t moving these things.  So as Russ wacked behind the granite displays with his trusty nail spear Herb moved side to side in a somewhat cute attempt at herding.  

“What could go wrong?” I thought.  

And with a mighty “THWAAAK” from behind the memorials and an “OH GOD” from the desktop, the mangy streak of darkness bolted straight for Herb.  Herb did a herding move to the right.  The rat juked a bit further to Herb’s right and then –  Herb just kept going right – for about 10 feet.  Fortunately, he did not pass close enough to Mo’s desk for her to slap him on the way by.  

There was another set of loud noises as the rat now bolted to Herb’s ever dissipating left.  

It was Russ of the Mountain, casually leaping from the mini stage, like Thor in a multi-dimensional super slow motion scene, wielding his javelin of nail death, striking the carpet once more as the disease ridin’ rat-king blur made straight for the pacifist slab-granite guy standing frozen, like a deer in the headlights.  

Now I’ve been around for a while and I’ve seen a lot of things.  And in as much as I can understand Russ and Herb’s casual down-home hunting style it was frankly a lot to digest as a scrunchy matted grunge muffin came hard-charging directly at me.  

Suddenly something kicked in from the past.  It was like another dimension of clarity albeit with a dash of panic.

All my experiences and all my friends; even the ones that made fun of me; they were there with me.  All those hours I spent merging disciplines and kicking a goofy little bag.  All that shit came together at this moment.

I kicked that rat.


The rat did not float in front of me at perfect head height.  It just careened off across the room for a ways and then started rolling.  It rolled and tumbled like any superhero enemy might roll in the climax of any given superhero movie.  But it was a rat.

I swear to God this next part happened.  While I will admit some of the previous descriptions may be a bit elaborated this next part did actually happen.

The rat tried to get up, and then seemed to look at me  –   as if to say… “Was that a Praying Mantis?”  Then it twitched a bit and fell to the floor.  The rat was out cold.  

The silence in the room was crisp.  Mo just looked on, dealing with the confusion of feeling sorry for something and wanting that same something dead.  Herb was thankful a wall had stopped his progress to the right well before permanent injury might have occurred.

Russ of the Mountain just looked at me with staff in hand and said.  “Nice Kick”

I was as stunned as anyone about what just happened.  But I did manage to say…

“We’re a full-service company”

I stood there as if I was waiting for a round of trumpets when Russ of the Mountain finished off the rat in a scene similar to the ROUS slaying in The Princess Bride movie.  But with a nail… on a stick.

You know something?  

The more you live, the more you realize, you may be unexpectedly prepared for an unexpected event you never ever was preparing for.  I mean all that time I put in was meant for glory in, like maybe, a national hacky-sack tournament or maybe a showdown with a deranged mugger at the slurpy stand in a 7-Eleven store.  

But I got a rat.

Still, I suddenly wonder if I can find that old shotgun sack.  It might in the attic, maybe?  God, I hope there are no rats up there.

Thus says…

The Praying Mantis

© db 2018

Thoughts on the Swing

Holiday Adult Entertain Mints

Overstuffed with turkey, bacon, stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies with bacon, bacon with veggies and capped off with mincemeat and sour cream raisin pie — pre-soaked with beer, mid-soaked with wine, post-soaked with another beer —- a restless meat sweat sleep was interrupted by my alarm going off like the soundtrack from Psycho – with a lot less water. Christmas day was as nice as it could possibly be with the house overstuffed with people overstuffing with everything edible in sight. But as I rolled out of bed to fumble the touchscreen of my screeching phone with nothing less than my very drowsy and inaccurate fist, Siri greeted me with a “Good Morning, it’s 6:30 and 24 degrees”. I shivered a bit, dislodging a perturbed gas bubble from deep within the flabby center of my earth. There wasn’t a single taste I could recognize.


The original idea was simple enough; I scheduled a training session with my corn-fed Vernonia trainer, Jacq so he could exercise the demons I would summon on what is supposed to be a holy Christmas day ritual. If you think about it, logic and therefore math needs edges to cleave against in order to come up with a result; I mean, 2+2 can equal 4 but human nature will throw in some turkey gravy and a sip of wine suddenly causing the results to fluctuate wildly and exponentially. Less than 8 hours later you throw in a “Pump You Up Hanz Type” the whole stinking idea of training at the crack of dawn seems like inviting yourself into the very depths of a medieval torture chamber complete with apps to tell you how big of a whiney ass you were afterward. The coffee maker screeched and squawked in sympathy.


When I entered the laundry room it quickly became apparent that with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I forgot to launder my gym clothes. Pretty much my entire ensemble was still sitting in the “I’m still dirty” laundry hamper. So I picked out the cleanest, dryest articles I could find (not a lot of choices) and stuffed them into my gym bag… except for the shirt. No way I was pulling a 5 day old, fermented sweat rag over my head and past my nose. Not the day after an over-indulgent Christmas, with disposition and stomach on the verge of complete and total rampage; just not a good idea. So I marched back upstairs to my dresser and pulled out an old t-shirt my daughter gave to me. I had used this shirt many times before in the gym to work out. Nothing fancy; pretty much the kind of shirt you’re not afraid to ruin.  My daughter’s country cover band, Slicker, had a show in Canby and after “making” me dance with an untold numbers of – apparently unattached – women (my wife was not there but apparently my daughter Jessica thinks it’s funny to risk my well being – evidenced by her laughter behind the microphone) she walked up and handed me this t-shirt. It was black with a dark green logo. It would live in my dresser unused… until I started working out.


So the past few days had been a bit cold and more than a bit slick up on our little hill in Sherwood. Freezing rain, a pinch of snow, melting, and more freezing had created a fantastic sparkly winter wonderland of potential contusions on my ever sloping driveway. The ice on my car door exploded in shards as I yanked it open; my breath announced itself in a visual fog as it entered the car before me. My car lit up as I turned the key; suddenly announcing with beeps and flashes that it’s 24 degrees and it can’t see shit. Yes, my car likes to see —- it seems to be a manufacturing trend these days. So I sit there as my breath fogs up the windows that I am desperately trying to defog, and fumble helplessly as the wipers that couldn’t sense that I didn’t have the good sense to turn them off the day before, immediately hopscotch their way across my windshield with a sound similar to a rolling coffee can full of gravel. The fancy heads-up display informs me of possible ice.


The drive up my driveway was relatively uneventful as my headlights set off sparkles seemingly into the star-filled sky. As my car found it’s “AWD” footing on the ice-covered roadway I began looking for shadows. Canter lane is a dead end drive with 23 homes and it seems everyone in our neighborhood likes to walk in the dark; in virtually any kind of weather. So I’m wiping my watery eyes, looking edge to edge, slipping and sliding at what I consider to be a safe speed for man or beast when I saw something. It was just a flash in my headlights and then a shadow of movement. I hardly had time to focus when I saw him strolling casually across the dark and icy roadway; less than 20 feet from my icicle-laden bumper. “Oh shit, it’s Odi” I cried as I applied my high tech anti-lock braking system. Immediately the whole world went into a panicked anti-lock stutter as everything seemed to go slower – except for Odi. Nothing in the space-time continuum goes slower than Odi. Odi is a neighbor dog; a black lab, which makes him almost impossible to see in the dark. I know this very well because I also have a black lab. When I throw the ball at night for my lab it’s simply a game of trust. She trusts I’ve thrown the ball, and I trust she will find it. There is no perceptible visual evidence to be had of black labs in the dark.


The chatter of the anti-lock slow-motion world is quite interesting; because you can still kind of steer the car. So try to imagine a 360 pan and scan shot around Odi as he moves (at his normal speed because everything else is slow motion; not Odi) across the road, my car chipping and chirping in a frosty ballet, just inches beyond his tail. Eventually, I came to a stop in the middle of the road and sat there for a moment. Finally stepping out I looked in the dark for a black lab who, by all appearances, was heading home. After slipping and stumbling for a bit I finally realized Odi was probably in his nice heated house by now looking at me through the window. Small bits of fog from his nose pressed against the pane glass, as he gazed out at the stumbling familiar man, fading in and out of his own labored foggy breaths.


Figuring Odi was alive and fine and also figuring I may freeze to death at any moment I scrambled back into my car. By this time my legs were rubber and my stomach was working on involuntary contingency plans. My mouth and tongue felt like they were wearing sweaters. I reached down into my center console and found my stash of “unusually intense mints”. By the time I got to the gym I had eaten a dozen or so. Suddenly, my mind started inventing scenarios like… Jacq will not show. I imagined he went home and did the same thing I did. Ate and drank too much and with the weather and all, decided not to come to work. Nope; this boy enjoys what he does – counting off reps, deciding exercises routines, saying the word “skaaaa wheeeeze” and asking questions… like “what weight did you do last?”


I grabbed another few mints and headed to the gym.


When I got to the locker room I opened my gym bag; the odors coming from it was rather brisk; like a walk past the backside of an overworked dryer. I slipped on the black shirt with the green logo (because it was clean) but hesitated a little before putting on my gym pants… You can imagine my recoil as I discovered one of the legs was wet.


After stretching for 10 minutes Jacq walked up to me and said: “Hello Darrel, are you ready?” I stood up and angled myself into my best estimation of downwind from him. “I’m so ready, Helen is looking for another name” His confused look indicated he was decades away from that awful punchline (young people, you can google it). He kindly repaid me for my lame attempt at humor at the dumbbell station. Appropriate don’t you think? I cannot begin to inform you of all the threats my body made while I gremised and grunted at the bench press. It was like that scene from Alien, or maybe Scanners – you know when that guy’s head explodes. All of the pain and pleading was bracketed in seemingly mundane bits of casual conversation. Normally, Jacq would maintain his composure but on this day, he started chuckling. “…comon, Ska-weeeze, 3, hee hee, 5, elbows in, hee hee, 7…” The more I grunted and sweated the more he realized there was poison to expunge and by God, he would expunge it through my arms. “Ok, we’re gonna do push-ups… “ I wiped the sweat off my forehead and got down on the floor.


“Nope! —- I want your feet up on this bench and your hands down on the floor. Keep your ass up, press down to your nose and push back up”


I looked him up and down… “Can I get my money back if this doesn’t work?”


He just pointed at the floor and made me do 3 sets of 10.


I’m not completely sure from a medical standpoint if it’s Ok to hallucinate during exercise but I do remember a distinct vision of me approaching Jacq’s quiet country home in Vernonia, knocking on the door, and presenting two deformed appendages to his mom and dad screaming “Your son did this toooo meee”. Then I apparently came to and Jacq waved me to follow him as he said: “We’re moving on…”


Next on the fun factory of health and wellness was pull-ups and hand dips. After straining through a set while he counted “1, 2, 3, elbows in, 5, 6, Ska-weeeze…” I finished the set and pulled my shirt up to wipe my brow. That’s when he chirped up and said…


“Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you a question.”

I pulled my shirt back down past my belly and replied: “Oh yeah, what would that be?”


“I’ve noticed that shirt with the green logo that says – ‘Lucky Devil’”


I grunted as I did another pull-up. “Yup, my daughter gave me this”


He laughed as I strained for another rep: “Isn’t that a strip club in Portland?”


Suddenly my mind’s eye flashed back to several drives over the Ross Island Bridge and an episode of Portlandia… all the air left my body as I suddenly came crashing down on the pull-up bar; the counterweight clanking on the stack.


“Ummm, as a matter of fact, I think that is the name of such a place —- but I just work out in this… from time to time… over the past year.” I mumbled.


The realization washed over me, that all this time, I was kicking up a little more stink than I could have imagined. Parading around a crowded gym with the name of a strip club across my chest. Technically, the shirt was peddling a cinnamon whiskey abomination that few people have heard of, but in either case, it’s apparently about bad taste. Just then, another bubble of evil welled up from within my stomach.


It tasted like mint.


Happy New Year.

Copyright © 2017 Darrel Boyd


Thoughts on the Swing

Last of the Harvest

Hello to all as our season of beautiful harvest is nearing an end!

It has been a delightful garden, the bees prospered, as I hope all of you did as well.   There is a bit left in the garden, and there are pears and apples as well.  Some apples are best in a couple of weeks, but there’s fruit to be picked now.  On the tail end of the garden harvest:  kale, beets, basil, corn, PUMPKINS!, carrots, acorn squash, a few late beans, green tomatoes, peppers, and lovely eggplants.

Come soon!  As this fall weather turns, all will be asleep as soon as the first cold spell hits.

Thank you for all your work, encouragement, weeding and patience with nature.

Suzannamaria and Dario


Halloween BASH!

My crazy husband has now gone to video invites. Yep, Utube.  Click on the link below for your invite.  It will be October 28 at 7pm and is the usual costume/scary food contest/Bozo Brothers and Blues/BYOB/Potluck.  He loves this stuff.  Good thing we have the barn! The new and improved barn is all indoors – no outside in the gravel dancing/cavorting anymore!!

Hope to see you for the fun!

Suzanne and Darrel

Special Events


Hello to all our gardening buddies!

My countertop is covered in tomatoes, and there’s a lot more out in the garden!  Along with carrots, beets, basil, corn, squash, cukes, dill, hops, peppers, beans, oh my!! And pears (red ones especially at the top of the hill) and a few apples.  Come get them as soon as you can escape into the gardens, my friends!  Darrel and I will be home this morning, and tomorrow all day.  Next week is open, just come on over.  The harvest window is narrow now; so don’t miss out!  (Most apples aren’t ready until next month.)

Have a wonderful end of summertime, and may the basil be with you.

Suzannamaria & Dario

Garden, Harvest, Orchard

Honey Time!

It’s honey harvesting time at the Co-op.  So far we have 2.5 gallons and we still have more honey supers to go.

I finally have been stung now twice (it’s been 2 years so not bad).  The pain is not so bad but the itching is very distracting.  We have a couple more supers sent out to a keeper with a honey extractor.  I would guess there are 2-3 gallons he will harvest for us.




Once we have all the honey extracted we will start pouring small honey packages for the Co-op members to enjoy.


Bees, Harvest

Harvest, harvest, harvest…

Hello my dear gardening friends,

The garden looks beautiful (much thanks to all who weeded!) and has much to offer right now.  Come on over and harvest this weekend if you can!  The beans need to be picked!  There are tomatoes, egg plants, carrots, beets, corn, peppers, dill, basil, potatoes, cukes (a few) and it’s all ready now!  There are some apples and pears ready, and we would love to share all this bounty with you.

Thank you for all your work and encouragement!  Oh, we also hope to harvest the honey this weekend – which I am very excited about.  I am a little sad I have to be the director rather than the collector this time, but Darrel is good solo.  He does not mind the bees flinging themselves at his efforts.  The girls are just doin’ their job!

Take care all, and hope to see you soon,


Garden, Orchard

WeedFest – BozoPalooza

Hello all my fancy fellow farmers!

Next Saturday, August 12, is our big weeding day/potluck extravaganza, and you are all invited to join in!  We start at 9am, and quit by 4pm.  Darrel is planning to bbq for lunch, so bring whatever sounds yummy to add to the grill.  Some of his band mates may be hanging out, too – so we may get to listen to a guitar lick or two!

The garden looks like a jungle, and I picked the first beautiful tasty, dark chocolate mini-tomatoes this morning as I pulled weeds the size of small trees!  They were delicious.

Harvest:  there may be beans by next weekend – not sure yet.  We have dill, parsley, cilantro, carrots, beets, some lettuce, peppers, and eggplant, and basil.   There may be some cucumbers poking around. Perhaps a tomato or two will ripen due to this crazy hot weather.  It’s just beautiful, but needs some taming!

After our weeding party, I will keep you posted as things ripen.  Next month should be big for tomatoes & squash, and the corn patch looks great!  Apples and pears ripen late, late – in early fall.

Bees are buzzing – we had to cover them with a canopy it was so hot!! The girls are working hard to keep their hives cool enough!  It’s fun to watch them drink water – and they drink a lot!

Take care all,

Hope to see you Saturday.

Suzannamaria & Dario


WeedFest 2.0

Hello fellow farmers!

I just wanted to send a last notice to all who may be interested in helping out in the garden tomorrow.  We will be weeding, taming the beans and peas, and thinning the orchard fruit.  Start time is 9am and we will be enjoying a potluck lunch around noon.

Come with whatever tool you prefer weeding with, and something to toss into the pot luck arena for “feeding time.”  Enjoy the harvest that is ready for you!  (lettuce, spinach, parsley, beets, kale, radish…)

See you in the sunshine tomorrow!

Suzanna Maria