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Articles in "Island Life "

There is something conflicted in thinking about infinity on the shortest day of the year. I suppose one could say there is something hopeful in it. But with the next delivery of hope balanced on the edge of some event horizon and threatening to disappear down a black hole, I guess hope is a requisite commodity once again..

I have been in Vietnam recently- the only reason I am not there now is because I am here writing this. Of course, I did not mean to mislead about my whereabouts- I wasn’t really “in” Vietnam. It is just that I have been immersed in hours of video and photos and listening to stories about one person’s experience of that war- hopefully soon I will be able to share this, but not yet.

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence…”
            Robert Frost
            Mending Wall

I don’t know about you, but I found that the recent revelation that scientists had found something that would confirm Einstein’s theory about gravitational waves somewhat disturbing. I say this because, at least on the surface, the idea that it takes all kind of research and special equipment to discover something supposedly earth shattering, or at least physics-mind bending, is mind bending in itself.

When a clarion call rang out from the opinion pages of the Beachcomber last fall that terrorists had bombed the athletic facilities at the high school, I decided I should probably go take a look. In truth, David Hackett’s warning about the sorry state of many aspects of the VHS athletic facilities wasn’t really about terrorists, although the shock and awe contained therein smacked of sensational rhetoric.

Part of my morning ritual here and elsewhere generally includes the washing of the dishes. This is not because I am obsessed with cleaning, as a few people know all to well. It is because in a world cluttered and compelled by a variety of projects, it just feels good to wake up and finish at least one of them on a regular basis.

There is a box on the floor in our house that arrived recently with the shipment of objects, devices, artwork, clocks and toys from my parents’ house. Despite its daunting nature, I am slowly going through all of it, although compared to what got left behind, this task at hand seems rather small, but not insignificant.

The sun was just beginning to brush the tops of the mountains outside of Butte as I left there the other day. The temperature was in the low teens and there was a light dusting of snow all around, although the roads were thankfully bare and dry. It was the state of the snow the night before that sealed the deal on my pulling over for a warm rest stop inside an inn that was a part of a national network of such places.

“Now, only an expert can deal with a problem. Because half of the problem is seeing the problem. And only an expert can deal with a problem…”         Laurie Anderson
   

I know- it should be Surf and Turf, but on this Island and in this park district it seems that grass will always trump water, until of course we run out- of water that is. I start off this way this time because I endured yet another virtual water torture of a meeting at Ober Park last night.

To be clear, I do not obsess on the VES fields both day and night. If I had a choice, I would pick the day time, because I like to sleep at night and I already have enough spinning around inside to keep me alert during the time of darkness,

A little less than two weeks ago I opened up this paper to find that there were  suddenly now two flavors of Island Life being served herein: plain and “real”. Having lived and written and read the plain version a number of times, it seemed only right that I satisfy my curiosity and read all about Real Island Life so as to find out what insights writer Scott Harvey would bring to the fore and what I might have missed along the way.

I hadn’t really thought about it until I sat down to write this, but it was a year ago (possibly to the weekend) that my sister informed me that she had gotten tickets for a lake cruise and I was being asked to tag along on that Sunday afternoon with her, my brother-in-law and his two sisters who were visiting.

I may have referenced this recollection somewhere in the past in this space- I can’t recall for sure one way or another. For those of you taking copious notes, I apologize if that was the case, but it is a story worth repeating, especially in this latest context.

Along with a number of other things, the issue of parking and safety along the Vashon Highway came up at the latest Park District commissioners meeting last night. This was not really the main event that all were in attendance for- that special part of the agenda was reserved for the ceremonial bid opening for the latest iteration of that giant sucking noise that is the VES fields project.

In responding to the question “How’s it going?”, one could easily be any number of miles from an aquatic environment and still be able to answer “swimmingly” if one were so inclined, and could very well do so whether or not that was indeed the case. In the word association game that one’s brain tends to constantly be playing, the mention of the word “swimmer” almost cannot exist without a picture of something blue, relatively clear and viscous appearing at least somewhere in the corner of the mind’s eye.

At the end, that is all there is, because there is no time for anything else. At the end, most of the time is spent seeking a way for it not to be so, especially when the end comes from nowhere, as if the ticking clock and the calendar on the wall were not clues enough.

I don’t remember if I’ve ever told this story here- I certainly have thought about it. It has to do with a time capsule and a responsibility to your voting public. It has to do with the ongoing relevance of a lesson from the youthful times. It has to do with not making assumptions about what is important to others and what isn’t.

A few weeks ago in the not too distant past, I was confronted by a friend in the aisles of our local food emporium and random issues forum. It was not so much a dramatic confrontation as it was a questioning as to why I hadn’t been present  at recent meetings being held to discuss the latest problem with bikes on the new foot ferries being offered up at or watery doorstep.

Yes, you read that correctly, and no, I haven’t lost my mind- just my patience.  Admittedly, my patience is being tested in a number of arenas at the moment, so a thinning is perhaps an understatement. As it was, the thin film of tolerance and credibility achieved a certain snapping-ness at last night’s Park District board of commissioners meeting- at least it did for me.

The first bit of activism that I participated in while growing up was a campaign to get a swim team at my local high school. As it was, age group league swimming at the time mostly stopped at age 14, making way for the big leap to high school competition and championships.

For some reason the writing of this piece has been a bit like attempting to move dried clay through a cake decorator bag, when it should have required much less effort. It seems though that for the moment I have run out of that vim and vigor that drives the bouncy cheerleader within to perform countless front and back flips while selling the soap of public good.

Perhaps Stephen Colbert’s biggest contribution to the world at large was his coining of the word “truthiness”. In looking it up- not in a book but on the internets- I see that he set forth the principles of truthiness in one of his weekly “the Word” segments in October of 2005.

Through the fog of years, I still remember the pool I learned to swim in. I was four, and the water was clear and warm. It was actually someone’s private, backyard pool- I do not remember their name.