Me and the Tire-Lady


before I spent quality time next to the Less Schwab popcorn machine I did manage to hit the pool. I reached my goal of 1000 yards this morning… it took me just under 30 minutes, and I’m suffering from delusions of getting the time down to 20 minutes, but I felt pretty good and the experience didn’t seem to hurt that much…

That is, until, after my swim, I had sat at Less Schwab for about an hour and then tried to stand up.

The young “Tire Lady”, who did the work on my car, hucking tires around as well as any of the guys, suddenly looked up from the counter. I groaned as I looked up at her concerned face…

“No, you don’t need to do it” …I grunted

She looked puzzled and asked… “Do what?”

“You don’t need to fetch your jack to get me out of this chair”

As I hobbled to the desk she tried to conceal her giggling.

“I’m sorry sir I’m not laughing at you”

I nodded and then gave her my best inquisitive look… “Oh, well… then what are you laughing at?”

“Well, sir…” she smiled as she looked up from the bill she was making for me… “You kind of remind me of my grandpa”

I smiled …”Yes, I seem to do that for young ladies these days… but I just want to tell you something. My father-in-law was a one-handed tire-man and he was like you in many ways, doing the work, getting it done, getting the respect…”

“…I think you would have liked him”

She smiled and showed me the bill which I paid without a fuss. As I put my card back in my wallet I looked her in the eye…

“Young lady, I am certain that wherever your grandpa is right now… he is proud of you…” – then I got purposely loud – “…and Less himself, should proud be as well.”

I left the popcorn laden lobby having made sure all the other “tire guys” could hear me. As I turned to look back, I could see she was blushing just a bit.

If being retired means I get to make a hard-working young lady’s day well hell,

I’m in.

db 1-27-2020


First Day Retired

So if you gotta work after you’ve retired it’s helpful if you can move your workdays around… like chess pieces. Today was the first full workday I was off as a “retired” person.

That being said I did check some emails and I did think about some “marketing” things I have to do tomorrow. But overall I made the effort to start a new pattern of existence.

I went down to the Newberg Aquatic Center and swam an ugly, oh so ugly, 400 yards… I have not been swimming as much as I should so let’s just be clear… it’s a good thing nobody can see you cry in the water.

I’m meeting new people, and some of them are younger than me. This particular morning I met Bob. It seemed like I held the door for him for an eternity. Do you know that the old man character Tim Conway used to do? He was a sprinter compared to Bob. But, Bob was gracious and very appreciative and I – yes I – was oblivious to the forces I had just unleashed.

I had some trouble with my new ID pass so I was fumbling and fitzing (…FO, if DT can make up new words so can I) …just trying to scan myself into the place while Bob made his way to the locker room… he had plenty of time.

When I got to the locker room Bob seemed to be thinking very deeply about how to get his socks off. Now I’m not trying to make fun of people older than me because I am getting so dangerously close… I have trouble getting my socks on and off… Just ask my grandkids. The facts are, when I entered that locker room Bob looked up at me like I was an inexperienced little grasshopper who needed guidance about the twilight years of our lives. As conversations go, when one person is doing all the talking, he got around to how he played Pro-Football, but before that, he learned the game from the guy who invented American Football. Now let’s be clear, I knew this guy was old but I was pretty sure he wasn’t Walter Camp old and the earliest he could have been playing was in the ’50s or ’60s but, I just nodded my head.

It wasn’t long until I realized I was a fish struggling on a verbal line, trying desperately to find a way out of this conversation, to get to the pool so I could start suffering my own old age. But Bob, he was a master, throwing out questions he would answer himself as I just looked at him, all the while thinking about taking another step closer to that blessed exit. Finally, I cut him off mid-sentence and blurted “Cool, have a nice swim”… and jetted out the door like a geezer with a 20-year-old after-burner. By the time I got into the water, I hardly had enough juice left to tread water.

This is a nice pool with competition lanes and water that is not too warm… it was perfect. But my performance was only “somewhat good”, for almost one lap. After that, it was a frightening display of bubbles and elbows thrashing forward in a search for air. During one of my turns, and I use that term of turns quite loosely because it involved holding onto the side of the pool while my eyes rolled to the back of my head and my chest sent small little tidal waves slapping into the lane lines. That’s when I noticed the young strapping lifeguard with an acne problem casually strolling over to my lane with his whistle in his lips and his rescue tube at the ready.

Having every intent to swim 500 yards I think I made 400 and it took me way more time than I had to spend listening to Bob talk. But on the bright side, I didn’t drown which saved me from the guilt of making the acne lifeguard struggle to decide if I was worth the risk of him giving me mouth to mouth.

So… there was that.

Subsequently, I had a very nice soak in the hot tub and then a good sweat in the sauna. I don’t ever recall thinking about arthritis after about 10 minutes in a sauna. Then, I was on the home stretch taking a shower and then proceeding to the handy dandy swim trunk-O-whirl machine on the wall…

At first, I just saw his hand appear from behind the corner of the entrance as Bob ambled, amba-dambled, amba-badambled-ambled IN. I fumbled and “fitzed” like crazy to get my shorts into that little spin basket but it resisted me like a cat going into a bath (Yes, I’m doubling down on the DT word salad). Next thing you know I looked up and there was Bob. Both of us… “a little bit older and a little bit shorter of breath”. (Pink Floyd didn’t invent football but their lyrics was the ultimate forward pass)

Then Bob eventually said as we awkwardly slunk into each other’s spacetime; somehow the gravity was not quite equal but we both did – “slunk”…

“Do you come here every day?”

I pressed the lid down on the swim trunk-O-whirl machine and began to reply… “Well today is actually…” – WING WING WING ZING ZING ZING – “my first day. I just…” – WING WING WING ZING ZING ZING – “…retired.”

Bob looked at me with a blank stare and pointed to the swim trunk-O-whirl machine.

I lifted the lid and it ground to a screeching metaphoric halt juxtaposed against our semaphoric efforts to communicate; It was a confusing moment for both of us.

I had to repeat the whole thing over again. But instead of congratulating me on my retirement Bob went into a dirge of complaints… Well, he didn’t say them like he was complaining in as much as he was stating as a matter of fact that he is 80 years old and most of his friends are dead. And even though he was a teacher most all of his life he never once heard any of his elders (God rest their Souls) warn of the impending circumstances. And as Bob went on and on and on, it occurred to me the reason he was talking so much was simply that he doesn’t feel like he’s being listened to.

He still has things to teach.

He wants to buffer us younger folks in some way. Somewhere in that conversation, he mentioned this… “Look, I’m not saying everything I have to say is applicable today but a bunch of it is…”

And of course, Bob is right.

So as I move my chess piece workdays around this next year or two I will keep in mind that teaching my protege may require endless, relentless, repeating of phrases and the occasional exaggeration in order to get my point across. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before; that is if they cared enough to keep talking even when we were reluctant to listen.

So thanks Bob, for my first lesson on my first day of retirement. I’m sure I’ll be talking to you again soon.

db 1-6-2020

Thoughts on the Swing

Phantom Pain

Bud was my father-in-law. He was most definitely what you would refer to as a bad-ass. When I first started dating Suzanne I soon found out he had 3 sons from his first marriage that would have happily despatched me on his say so. The fact that I am here today is either a testimony to his tolerance or to my ability to conjure endearment. I’m not betting on the later.

He became a father-figure to me just like he did to so many in his 86 year run. As flawed, as he would be the first to admit, as he was, I can’t imagine a better example of a man.

We laid his ashes down today next to Fluffy. I’m not one who imagines a lot about heaven but I hope, if it’s there, it’s not as perfect as they say. I hope it’s just like Bud. Not perfect, but as good as you can be. The intent is enough for me.

In the gathering today after the rain-soaked ceremony I heard some stories I’ve never heard before. Like how Bud’s oldest son was a friend of Steve Prefontaine and worked in a little shop in Eugene making those waffle shoe soles that spawned Nike. And how Bud kept a diary of notes… not so much about feelings as about tic marks… things he did… the number of fish he caught. And about a tragedy, he experienced and grieved about nearly all his life.

Bud never gave advice… not really. He just listened and shared examples; the good and the bad ones he lived. He didn’t apologize but he would readily say “I wasn’t perfect”. When you think about it, that is a breath of fresh air when it comes to statements. Especially when it comes from someone you have learned to trust.

So this little poem just came upon me this evening. I hope it does the man justice because I’m sure if there is a way for him to come back and poke me with that stub arm one more time… well he’s most likely the one who would find a way to do it.

for Bud

Phantom Pain

Sometimes it’s an itch
You cannot scratch it
Because it’s a memory
But it’s there and it itches

Sometimes it’s an ache
Rubbing won’t sooth it
Because it’s a memory
Detached somehow clinging

Sometimes it is guilt
Something in the past
More than a memory
A scar no-one can undo

Sometimes there is nothing
But living, loving and trying
Atonement is like a hammer
Building upon a foundation

Of Phantom pain

For Bud
A one-handed tire man
My father-in-law
My friend

© db October 19, 12019


CLSDC (Canter Lane Snack and Discussion Club)

Minutes of a Road Trip

After rushing home from work, I had just fed and ran the dog, did a quick security check on exits and entrances, picked out a coat (not too heavy, not too light), grabbed a few Halloween Bash invitations for the boys and went upstairs to grab some of my cash.  I left the front door open in case John arrived – looking up the drive – there was no sign of John.

I ran upstairs for like 30 seconds grabbed a portion of my hard earned sheckles and then headed back down the stairs.  I no sooner got to the bottom, where my stairway and front door intersects, to see John’s head suddenly pop through the doorway – like inches from my own face.  

“Oh CRAP” I gasped in an adrenaline-soaked tone desperately trying to contain my fight or flight reflex.

It was like the guy with heart issues was trying to make the point that we’re all potentially inches from death.  In retrospect this seems totally appropriate since it’s Halloween; I can dig it.

So next thing you know there are 5 Canter Lane guys packed into a car that seats comfortably 4 and a half careening down the road to St Paul.  We’re off to see 8 man football in a rodeo stadium. Let me say that again because it sounds epoch… 8 man football in a rodeo stadium. There is no further explanation that can be offered; as the only old guy still working out of the bunch who am I to judge?  But, as a point of clarification, even though we had a quorum we did not bother to appoint a safety coordinator for the trip. How’s that for reliving our youth? That’s how we roll on Canter Lane…

We pulled into St Paul to find the one traffic light in perfect working order.  Parking oddly was not an issue. The line for admission was long for an event like this (probably because they weren’t expecting 5 old guys from Newberg showing up at random).  They sold each of us a ticket to the game for $5 and we proceeded to walk 5 feet and exchange that ticket for a big red stamp on our hands. There were a couple of things I noticed about this process; the first thing is why give us a ticket when they could stamp our hand from the get-go?; the second thing was that the ink was just barely red enough to stand out from our liver spots (just sayin’).  

We found a safe location in the stands for the Canter Lane Peanut Gallery just out of earshot from the locals (even though we had no safety coordinator we’re not old because we’re stupid… lucky maybe, but not stupid).  The football field was beautiful considering only months before it was nothing but hoof scared dirt and livestock fecal deposits. This evening’s match was between the St Paul Buckaroos and the Siletz Warriors. The PA system designed for a crowd of thousands at one of the most notable rodeos in the state cranked out ear-splitting tunes from the 70’s.  It was nice to know that somebody our age was living out his retirement dream as a Sound God; we love rock ‘n roll, getting our motors running because we are the champions baby (There was a brief nod to today’s country music rap music but after 30 seconds it faded into a rousing Inagodadavida… Ok, that’s not entirely true but go with it.) We all stood for the national anthem and nearly hurt our necks trying to decide if we should be looking reverently at the humongous American flag in the distance or the little American flag held by pretty young ladies on horseback trotting a lap around the field.  There we were, our heads were bobbing in perfect unison to the horse’s gate. People shouldn’t judge, we live on Canter lane.

Before long, Steve was going through all the player stats in the program; because that’s what he does; he’s our numbers guy.  Within seconds we were up to speed on the sophisticated aspects of 8 man football including the win/loss record of each team, the multi-role individuals who play offense and defense, the weight of the paper used for the program and… did you know, because I didn’t know, that a tattoo can add 20 lbs to a player’s weight? –  What the hell.

So the game started off with the Warriors kicking an on-sides kick in an effort to get early control of the ball; the 8 man football gods were not with the Warriors this night; a play later the Bucks scored a touchdown.  Even though there were almost 30 players on the Bucks it seemed like the same 4 players were racking up touchdowns, intercepting passes, racking up touchdowns, picking up fumbles, racking up touchdowns, and just zipping around and racking up touchdowns.  The Warriors kept trying to run up the middle. By halftime, the score was 57 to zip and we were wondering if the Tack Room was open. I had never heard of the St Paul Tack Room… Apparently, it’s a bar and I am going to have to continue to hear about it because on this night it was not open.  Apparently, alcohol and high school football require a distance… it was a senior moment.

Discovering that the Tack Room was closed I pointed across the street to a place that was lit up like a holiday festival.  “That’s got to be a pub!” I said. After walking in zig-zag fashion, like flies drawn to a zapper for several hundred feet, we realized it was the only house in St Paul that celebrates Halloween in proper fashion.  It was impressive but it was NOT a pub. We were forced to drive the entire town of St Paul to find the Rodeo Inn; It took like a minute; it was not lit up at all. But I guess you don’t need lights if you’re the only pub in town, next to the only gas station in town, and you have beer.  We sauntered into the bar, past the pool table, trying to look cool and not draw attention. “What’s the score?” came a loud yell from the back. Bill shouted the score “57 to nothing”…. “Who’s winning?” came another shout. “Guess!” shouts Bill. I looked toward the back wondering if Bill’s reply registered on somebody’s “smartass monitor”.  Let me be clear, as much as I like Bill and the other guys, I am not afraid of running if the need arises. It was only after my nerves calmed that John asked: “How did he know we were at the game?” Apparently, even from a distance, in a dimly lit room, this guy’s alcohol-impaired eyes could tell red stamps from liver spots on our hands. Not someone we should mess with.

Next thing you know the nice lady from the bar walks up and kneels down at the table.  There was apparently no risk of the national anthem being played at any second. We ask her if she has a list of the long row of beer taps behind the bar.  She pressed into the table, smiled and said “I am your list darlin'” To which we said “Go”

“To the far left we have Ciders, Angry Orchard and the like, then we have some IPA’s, Worthy if you are worthy, and then some pilsners, a porter and then Bud Lite and cheap ass PBR.”…  We liked her right away.

So we order some various beers… with fries of course.

The discussion was semi-lively.  Bill kept trying to find the score of the Bucks, Warriors game on his phone. Pete explained that his wife was gone on a trip for like a week and the night she comes home he is at an 8 man football game in a rodeo stadium; Pete’s our hero.   Steve started telling a story about tasting scotch in Scotland, which to be honest is one of my favorite topics, but Steve was at the other end of the table from me, and just as he was getting into to it, the Internet Jukebox behind me started playing “Cover of the Rolling Stone” by Dr Hook.  

So this is what I heard…  “…so you go into any little bar in Scotland with… big rock singers… and you order… big gold fingers… and each has a story and they’re not a lot of money…  at ten thousand dollars a show. They are very peaty, and they serve them neaty by… a freaky ole lady named a cocaine Katy… that would fit in a glass… ON THE COVER OF THE ROLLING STONE.”    

You just can’t buy entertainment like that.

Right on cue the nice beer list lady walked up and asked… “Well boys, are you up for another?”  A deer in the headlights look was traded back and forth as devils and angels appeared on our shoulders.  Then suddenly John knocked his angel right off his left shoulder and proceeded to repeat after the devil on his right shoulder.  “Hell, let’s have another, right Blanch?” Bill got a big ol’ smile and piped right up… “Yea Shay, I could do another round”. With that, all the boys jumped on the opportunity to order another beer while our poor shoulder angels were smacking against the internet jukebox in drowned out thuds.

After arguing that the tip was too large we finally realized we were too lazy to wait for change to break our $10 into $9 each.  Sometimes math is a heartless bitch but we overcame it with an honest to goodness apathy… besides, we liked her.

John dropped each of us at our perspective dwellings on Canter Lane…  “Here we are Pete, safe and sound. Would you like a coconut water?” Around the corner, we zipped and down Bills long drive… “Here we are Blanch.  Wow, you got a lot of cars… Coconut water?. A quick zip over to Steve’s… “Good night Steve. How much did that quarterback weigh? … never mind… have a coconut water?”  And then down the drive to my house… “Good night db – don’t be writing anything clever about us… Coconut water?”

It was a short crooked walk home.

Blanch emailed the final score:  71 Bucks, 6 Warriors

Submitted on this day:  10/12ish, 13ish/2018
db:  Scribe of Questionable Honor

Thoughts on the Swing

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