Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do you know where your car is?

(An eavesdropping incident in Bandon, Oregon, May 18, 2012)

He stood by the open door of the pickup a few yards from my favorite photo spot. A bass boat named Striper sat on the trailer behind.

“Do you know where your car is?”

I hadn’t been looking at him, but knew he wasn’t talking to me. Still, I answered under my breath, “Yes, thank you, I do.”

“Yeah,” he continued, “I know they took your license.”

Ooo, drunk driving.

“Well, you’re gonna have to call the Lane County Sheriff and find out where they took it.”

Lane County?! Holy Smoke. I’m from Lane County.

I kept within earshot as long as I could.

“I asked you not to drive,” he said, emphasizing each word.

Oh, oh. Must be the wayward kid.

“You’re gonna lose your license.” He gave an exasperated grunt. “No, don’t drive.”

No, not a good idea. They catch him with no license now and his troubles multiply.

“How bad is the car?”

Oops. Not just a DUII but a wreck, too.

“I’m askin’ you not to drive,” he growled.

I wanted to say “Gimme your phone, dude. I know people who can help this kid.”

Instead, I stopped listening, snapped a few photos and left. Maybe the kid isn’t an alcoholic. But if he is, I hope he finds A.A. before he kills himself or someone else.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I’m doing it again.

I’ve spent the week avoiding, procrastinating, evading, and dodging what I ought to be doing.

I’ve cleaned off the patio, tucked the rain/sun fly away, moved a couple of plants, and run to the dump and Lane Forest with recycling that could have waited.

I’ve worked on every one of the daily Sudokus, Jumbles, crosswords and Cryptoquotes, solving most.

I’ve spent hours playing Free Cell and Spider Solitare. Just one more game, I tell myself. Then I’ll . . . exercise, shower, eat, water, shop.

Today, I rearranged furniture and raced to Fred Meyer looking for the perfect table to replace the one by the window. (Mission accomplished – it’s even on sale!).

But what, you ask, should I be doing?

Writing! Getting past chapter eight, into chapter nine, finishing the story.

Oh, I’ve written a few paragraphs. And I scribbled a few notes while lunching at the Twin Dragon, but I spent most of that time engaged with one of the owners and his toddler daughter.

And now I’m going away for the weekend, to a camp near Sisters. The Pole Creek fire may change that plan, but I’ll probably find some other distraction. Re-painting the wall in the living room, sorting through my poems, organizing my desk. Important stuff, you know.

Yet I can’t chastise myself too harshly. A week ago today, I learned that a friend had died, a man not quite a year younger than I am. He had been ill, but was expected to recover. Death was not part of the plan.

I emailed the information to others who knew him and allowed myself time to process my feelings. I spent more time than normal seeking out mutual friends.

His service took up most of Tuesday: getting ready, preparing something for after the service and the service itself. Not wasted time, especially connecting afterward with his wife and with others I don’t see often.

But I just celebrated another loop around the sun. This coming year is the last of my seventh decade, the last year my age will begin with the number six. Today I noticed that six of the eight people listed in the Deaths column were my age or younger. Yikes! What an incentive! I’ll get busy on that chapter—just as soon as I . . .

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Think of Danny

I think of Danny every time I scoop grapefruit sections with a spoon.

In the early 70s, Danny and his very pregnant wife visited me and my husband, Danny’s brother. At breakfast one morning, my husband mentioned that the best part of the grapefruit, health-wise, is the white part between the rind and the sections.

Danny had finished spooning the fruit. He picked the up the empty shell and after a pause, took a huge bite, sending us into gales of laughter. If I remember, he managed to swallow it, too.

It was during that visit that Danny confessed to having gone AWOL from the army.

We were dismayed. We had warned him before he enlisted that the promise of assignment to Germany was unlikely. The war in Vietnam was in full swing.

He told us that after basic training, assignments were posted for all to see. His assignment: Vietnam. Another new recruit studied the list. He, too, was bound for Vietnam. “Let’s get the *&%! out of here,” the guy said. And they did.

Danny went home to Coquille. He wasn’t hiding exactly. He told everyone he was on leave before shipping out. But somehow, his ‘leave’ kept getting extended.

Then the county sheriff stopped for a chat with Danny’s dad.

“Daniel B., that your boy, Dan?”

Dan nodded.

“He’s on the AWOL list. Be best if he gets back on his own. It’ll go easier on him.”

And so Danny returned to the army, visiting us along the way.

Somehow, he never went to Vietnam and was soon out on a hardship discharge to help his mom and dad with the farm and to raise his newborn son.

I’ve just come into possession of a photo from that time—Danny’s wife, his mother, another sister-in-law and me—washing dishes in the old farmhouse kitchen. Our smiles are genuine, happy. I think it was the night Cindy confessed to being pregnant with their second child.

We all believed his life charmed. We never imagined he would die, his vehicle pushed into the path of a log truck, before his second son was born.