Our next destination was due to an interest lately revived in my covetous heart: art pottery. The ins and outs of that will be found at that link. Easier than trying to meld it in here. But the people can stay here. I say 'people', and then I give you one name: rosensteve. I know, I know, it does look singular, but rest assured there are two of them hidden in that one word. The have a van named Briggle; that is a big clue as to what they are about. When I mentioned on the V.B. thread that we were coming west they generously offered their hospitality. Why else would anyone go to Lincoln, Nebraska? But I digress. It turns out to be an excellent reason to go.
The femme-half gave me detailed and very good instructions on getting to their house - does anyone realize that places like Lincoln are filling up with housing tracts that look rather expensive? I try to balance this with what I know of the massive real estate-based debt that is the major American cash crop and I shake my head and look for an oldies station on the radio and cunningly try to ignore 'modern' America and all its wonder. People ask me why I am not a raving patriot - do I look that dumb? (and now half my readers are turning off their toasters and calling Homeland Security's Quick Strike Squad to come and get me. the new definition of 'imminent' domain will allow them to requisiton my corporeal self and replace it with a clone that goes to parades and cheers... will I be forced to vote with the pendejos? vaya con dios thomas jefferson.)
Back to our regularly scheduled programming - we aplogize that the station was in the hands of dissident elements momentarily; they have been dealt with.
We arrive; it is all true. Stevenrose have a house full ofwonderful art pottery; they have come to grips with how to deal with burglars; own so much stuff nobody could haul it all away. I wish I had thought of that! Is there still time?
(They also have some really strange stuff that the rose-half calls 'jetsonesque'. It is my firm belief, after getting some dark looks over my comments on style and beauty, or the lack thereof, that Jetson was probably a major designer with whom I am not acquainted. I will look into this Jetson fellow and try to grasp the deeply held aesthetic values that are so dear to rose, and so fully exemplified by the work he did for Van Briggle. I am withdrawing the adjective 'appalled' and replacing it with 'stunned'. Maybe we will be invited back. (The only problem during our visit was that we couldn't use the bathroom: the steve-half said Anna was in the tub.)
They were very, very good to us. They bought us pizza, lots of pizza, and those wonderful little baked sticks that you dip into secret sauce and suck on. And they shared their laptop-killing box of white wine with us. These were my kind of people; I felt like I was about to be invited to go bowling. They also let us handle all their pots. Oh, the sweet joy of that! I kid you not. Explanations that are now only half recalled were given that explained bottoms, the textures of bottoms, the relative dirtiness of some bottoms. Having always been something of a bottom-man I was enthralled. Stevenrose's last piece of advice as we said fond farewells was: touch as many bottoms as you can. I will! I will!!
What is serendipity? It is pulling off the road in Ogallala, Nebraska for gas and wandering into an antique store just about to close, as Pat sits in K.F.C. finishing her wings and thighs, and finding a case of Van Briggle at astonishingly low prices. It is actually having the money to buy some. Since I was lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills the ladies stayed open a few extra minutes. The is where I got my first 2 dated pieces of V.B. Aren't you jealous?? You should be. Uuhh-oohh. My dark side is showing again. It isn't true that my dark little eyes glitter when I think of the things I own that you don't... Hush......
I will add some observations here on looking for art pottery. For those of you not familiar, art pottery was made from the later 19th century into the 20th century. It was one of many offshoots of the Arts & Crafts movement which began in Europe and spread like crazy some years later in the States. Its emphasis was on the handmade article which was not simply decorative, but was utilitarian; it was meant to be beauty and skill injected into everyday life, raising the quality of life for all people. The movement's roots were philosophical and aesthetic responses to the industrial revolution. American art pottery came from a multitude of companies; most of which had their day in the sun and disappeared;the depression was the death of many. Van Briggle was just one of these companies, but one of the best, and it still survives. Another was Red Wing; stevenrose are curators of a very nice Red Wing museum in Lincoln. We got the tour, and it is a most impressive display. Hey! Another reason to go to Lincoln.
So, you go into an antique store, the proprietor asks if you are looking for anything in particular, and you say 'Van Briggle.' There are two fairly predictable responses: 1). 'I haven't seen any of that in many years.' 2). 'I have a piece, or two, over here.' The piece, or two, will either be the ubiquitous, and stunningly Jetsonesque, Anna triple bud vase, or something slightly older in that exceedingly rare mulberry glaze, and it will be priced at over $200, no matter what it is. Any antique dealer worth his salt knows in the longest of his long bones that any, absolutely any, piece marked Van Briggle will probably be worth so much he can retire as soon as he finds a buyer. I tried again and again to explain to these dealers that the same piece could be had on ebay for far, far less, and I was always treated with scorn and suspicion. Their argument, if they believed what I told them, was that you would probably be cheated, or sold imitation goods, if you ever dared buy a piece you hadn't actually handled. The evil internet was rife with criminal-types. While I agree that handling the pieces is important I just can't see it as justification for the prices generally asked at shops. Time and again shopkeepers told me that all the shops were disappearing, that business was pretty bad; when I asked if they had considered ebay they usually responded that there was too much paperwork. Ebay really is changing the world.
Flying Boxer Circus Tour
Midnight at the oasis. I slept an hour and arose to stalk the house looking for something to do. This needs doing. We have been back from the roadtrip for a month and I have only muttered about telling what went on when asked; I forestall requests saying that I have much to do first; Pat informs me that 3 rooms of mi casa call out, strenuously, for new flooring. I hear the voice in shifting, creaking timbers at night; I must respond. Soon my audience will forget I went anywhere at all and not give a damn what got done to whom by whom and what psychological damage unfolded in the process. I had best start. Here is me being 'proactive' - just makes you wanna puke, don't it?
The last camel died at noon.
Got to say I like that a lot for an opening line, but it already got used, so we will be stuck with something a touch more mundane. How about: ' When we heard the Tigers got snowed out at home we faltered on our way to the truck?' Not quite as much punch as the camels....
Our wont is to start a big trip with a really early dark-jump and then catch breakfast in a town we've never seen before, sliding into the booth in a greasy spoon as the sun breaks the horizon, eager for those hotcakes that distend the throat on the way to being dead weight in your belly, and the coffee that already, at this early hour, is so burnt you almost think it is strong and will revivify you; and then comes heartburn, and the culinary truth that the buck ninety-nine special was correctly priced. But we didn't do it. Snow in Cleveland? Shit! It was the end of April and we had to go right through Cleveland and be in Oregon in just over a week. We went to bed that night knowing we could sleep in across the coming grey dawn.
Given that we were feeling pushed in general and had left late, we didn't stop by and see Stephen and Peigi and Galen. For this I apologize: we were too close to home to let up on the gas. I keep getting their invitation, so it wasn't for lack of hospitality on their part. And it really was snowing in Cleveland, and all the campgrounds Pat had so carefully selected according to criteria that had been forged in the ovens of deeply held personal values and sybaritic hopes got left in the swirl as we charged past them in the flurries. And this was the story time and again: the sun was long-set and we would pull into a Motel 6 with the tent trailer in tow and get a room for 5.
We stayed at a lot of Motel 6's on this trip. They take animals. They don't hassle you about how many or what sort they are. When your dog barks the dog across the hall answers. You feel good about that. And they are pretty cheap. One place did not serve. I don't even recall what state we were in, but when Pat mentioned the 180 pounds of dog-flesh, while asking for a ground floor room, the owner gasped and warbled denials in Hindi. It wasn't pretty. I was outside watching through glass as the event blossomed. While lip reading isn't something I have skill at I do believe the fellow got called a "PRICK!!!" We stayed at a different Indian motel that night. The 12 Mexican laborers living in the room next door were very cautious of the dogs and drank beer on their doorstep quietly. We had achieved a modicum of respect. Perros bravos rulz!
Let me diverge here for a moment. Have you noticed lately that the country is absolutely filling up with Latinos? Much of my childhood I lived cheek by jowl with Mexicans, but that was Los Angeles and they started the place. We all knew, in our heart of hearts, watching California grow that someday it would be reclaimed by the Mexicans; oh, the Oakies had made a stab at it in the 30's and 40's. but there weren't enough of them to be more than a blip on the demographic radar. A Mexican Land of Sun and Fun was just obviously coming. But now I see that you better toss Oregon into the mix, and a whole lot of other places. One great thing about this is that it has gotten a lot easier to get good Mexican food when you travel, and it is my fav. No complaints from me on the issue. Immigrants is what we are about, and it was never easy or painless. I see a dark future where the pendejos vote Republican from upper middle class enclaves with keyed entries.
Back to the motel saga. When it didn't snow it rained. We camped one night in the rain and got soaked. Maybe there was something I was supposed to have sprayed on the canvas so the water wouldn't come inside. Probably. Drip, drip, drip... everybody gets their own private wet spot.
Hurlting west, and still feeling behind schedule, we also skipped going to see Stuie and Sydney up near Madison, and missed our day looking at Ephraim Faience pottery in Deerfield. We did fetch up in Waterloo, Iowa on schedule, and Pat hooked up with her retired dairy farmer, now genealogical researcher, Herb. She had been in touch with him online since contacting the Butler County Gen. Society looking for dead people. He answered and said he could search county records for $10 an hour. What did this mean? Hell if we knew. We replied in vague terms, admitting nothing, requesting nothing, offering nothing; we weren't about to get hoodwinked by a farmer.
Pat called him from the latest Motel 6 and arranged to meet him at the courthouse the next morning. Herb is one of those people who revivify your faith in humanity. The guy was a goldmine. Knew his way around county records better than the employees; at ten bucks an hour he was the best of bargains. It was a big day for Pat, knee deep in dusty tomes. She got to hold her great-great grandfather's will in her hands - he warned that the crazy woman wasn't to get anything.... And we visited graveyards and took pics of green spots where grass fed merrily on the long-clotted blood of Irish antecedents. We saw bare ground where pioneer shacks had once stood - maybe, and marveled at the complexities of generations gone. It was a fine day, and it didn't rain, or snow. We spent two days around Waterloo having strange culinary experiences - pea, mayo and grated American cheese salad? I was struck by how abandoned the little towns look. Herb said corporations owned the farms now and the people living in the houses were often renters. I think maybe the people had left because the sky is so big it presses down on you and takes your breath and makes you feel flat and leaves you squinting in stupefication. Cosmic revenge in every breath.
Pat's Journal: 25 April, 2005, Utica, N.Y.
Off at 2 P.M. yesterday in pouring rain, swimsuit and corkscrew left behind. Camper shell and truck snugly packed and padded for Rocky; kids up front. The rain turned to mist around the Mass. line, and the weather cleared entirely by the Berkshires, where trees are just beginning to leaf. There were even rare sightings of jonquils and one brilliant flash of scarlet tulips. We traveled for 7 hours - something over 350 miles - mostly on turnpikes. Execrable pizza for lunch and bedtime snack. Nighted at good old Motel 6 next door to the Denny's, where I am writing this note. Don holding up well. We both feel that the trip has actually started. Onward to Butler County!!
-Forget to mention the music - Wagner to Delta Blues to Celtic melange. We won't be so lucky in the looming red states. Farwell NPO. (Aka: NPR)
Pat's Journal 26 April, 2005. South Bend, Indiana.
2 A.M. - wide awake after 4 hours sleep probably due to the lovely Starbuck's latte scored somewhere on the N.Y., P.A., OH. turnpike. You pay as you go in the Northeast. We were on the road over 12 hours today, averaging a sedate 50 mph. It was overcast and cold with occasional squally rain. Snow had fallen heavily the night before, right on top of nascent spring. White patches around blooming trees. Hwy. 90 sticks close to the south shore of Lake Erie and the "Cities of the Lake", Buffalo, Cleveland, Sandusky, and Toledo, appear like ghosts along the way. No smoke anymore. We had no time to stop and explore. Lunch at the Steak and Lube in Buffalo, surreally bad. We're in green, green Indiana now, only 400 miles from Butler County. Hurry, hurry -(and so to bed).
Pat's Journal 27 April, 2005 Waterloo, Iowa.
Early bright in Iowa - not a cloud to be seen. We came about 400 miles yesterday, thru notional showers and one brief barrage of hail. The country is flattening out - there are swathes of early plowing to be seen. Companion animals are complicating our lives. Waldo escaped briefly and capered down the hall of the Motel 6. The 6's get all our business - they accept pets. Rocky yells a lot during the night and disembowels the beds.
I contacted Herb Freese of the Butler Co. Gen. Soc. and we are meeting this A.M. at the Court House in Alllison - my first day of field genealogy. I wonder why I like doing this. An anodyne for what? Aging, restlessness, essential failure? Maybe I just like puzzles very, very much.
Pat's Journal 28 April, 2005 Waterloo (day 2)
Yesterday - field genealogy! (Although the field wasn't that impressive: a strip of plowed land, trees indicating the creek, no buildings, no people.) We met Herb Freese at the Butler Co. Court House in Allison where we looked for marriage and death certs and finally for wills. I held David Twohig's will in my hand and read it. I found out about lost cousin Edward and wicked cousin Alice. Later in a windy graveyard we found Alice's stone, severe and isolated.
We've gone over to local cusine; most things come smoked, baked and fatty fried. We've discovered pea salad. Kids are now living on Mickey D cheeseburgers, hold the pickles.
This Butler Co. would be hardly recognizable to my Grandma. The family farms are gone along with the old barns and farmhouses -"tractored out by the cats." The little towns of New Hartford, Allison, Clarksville and Parkersburg have become Waterloo bedroom communities. The old brick downtowns survive for a block or two and then give way to tracts, some of them quite upscale. No one will live here when John Deere and Winnebago move to China. The legions have fled and the Huns are saddling up.
Today we head for Lincoln. The weather is clear and cold.
Pat's Journal 29 April, 2005 Lincoln, NE.
400 cool, gray miles from Waterloo to Lincoln. The fields are plowed; the sky presses down with its thick air. We took State 20 for most of the way, well-kept and nearly empty. We drove thru the Winnibago Reservation. The kids barked and bristled at the Indians, just as they had at a busfull of Russians at a rest stop. Where do they get the vibe? Do they pick it up from us?
Here in Lincoln we went to see Rose and Steve who must own the world's largest private collection of Van Briggle pottery. Stevenrose are very knowledgeable. Not all Van Briggle is beautiful. The lampshades, for example, look like they came from a clearance sale at a 1950's Woolworth's. Rose also collects ceramic elephants and Maxfield Parrish. Today they're going to show us the Redwing Pottery Museum.
Weather channel is predicting thunder storms to the west. We are in good spirits.
I don't have a terrific grasp of the next couple of days. I know we followed a snow plow across some place called Wyoming. Other than that it was the dot-o-ramic long day's drive into night. Then a sip of rum and a good book about camels dying and spies prevailing, or not, depending on which side they were on; I tried very hard to always be rooting for the ones who consistently spoke English, had rosy-cheeked wives and chubby little children and loved their mums.
Pat's Journal 30 April, 2005 Laramie, Wy.
Benighted in Cheyenne, awakened by parking logistics, on the road to Laramie before 6. In the A.M. Rose and Steve gave us a private tour of the Redwing Pottery Museum - the 20th Century in clay. It will make a marvelous midden; everything from sauerkraut crocks to glossy table-sized ashtrays.
We drove thru lots of green, flat Nebraska along the Platte. We reached the Ogallala Antique Mall near closing time - an unplanned find - and Don found a treasure trove of Van Briggle - $636 changed hands like lightning and we were on our way with snow on the ground getting thicker and thicker. Hauled cat box, rum and posse to second floor of a very basic 6.
It's snowing lustily now. Not sure how far we'll get today.
Pat's Journal 1 May, 2005 Ogden, Ut.
Sunday morning in Ogden some 500 miles from Cheyenne. Coming thru the mountains we had hail, wind, snow and near white outs. For a while we followed the sand truck. The sun came out in the afternoon just as we reached awesome Echo Valley - broken hills, red rock, sagebrush and cedar. Ogden is tucked into mountains that are still snow-topped. The old downtown or at least 4 blocks of it has been redone in antique chic - original and new buildings nicely blended. Ethnic food. Foo-foo grooming palaces and some antique stores. Nothing wonderful but definitely not schlock.
Today we're heading to Idaho, drawing closer to Ken of Kenniwick. I dread it but Don has slipped into the armored numb state with which he deals with his father. We don't know how sick he is. I'm afraid of that bad poison Jesus.
Pat's Journal 2 May, 2005 Pendleton, Or.
Yesterday we came 550 miles thru the edge of the Great Basin under clear skies. Idaho was green enough but not especially exciting until we came upon the Snake, which we then crossed 20 times. We followed the Oregon Trail past the Ore-Ida potato works in Ontario thru conifers and bunch grass to a wide and beautiful valley. It got warm! Seniors began to display bare, fluffy arms and weathered calves. Geezers wore shorts belted above or below the paunch, paired with snow-white sneaks and over-the-calf supphose. Everybody's smiling - even surly, pouting teens burst into unaccustomed grins. It's spring at last! Last night may have been our last Motel 6 for a while. We hope to start camping tonoc. We need to establish a base before taking up with Ken who lives, albeit uncomfortably, still. When Don called him yesterday he thought his only child was the lawn man. We (I) can do this.
Kids have switched to Pedigree at 84 cents a can. Recommended dosage for dogs their size is 3 3/4 cans per day, per each. Per ouch! Back to the Motel, then toward Agincourt!
Pat's Journal 3 May, 2005 Richland, Wa.
We've met the enemy and we are his! Ken has invitied us literally to set up camp in his driveway. He deserves a chapter of his own - a book, even. He looks tired and ill and is obviously in pain much of the time. In spite of his deafness he is easier to talk to than I remember. (Both of us have mellowed, and I'm on Prozac.) There is less malice and anger in him than there used to be. When he talks about Jesus, "morals" or The End of Days it has a proforma quality - still like a roomful of discordant violins - but brief and polite withal.
His house is neat beyond neat. (Zoe has his keen sense of how things should be.) The house reminds me of Dot's apartment in Napa; bland, slightly annoying, furniture and tiresome curios. The walls, draperies and upholstery are permeated with stale pipe smoke. The man has devoted his library to books about Christ and His good Baptist Own Self. Who else will want to read them?
He is being kind to us and I am sure we try his patience to the limit. Rocky is roaming freely thur the house; the kids are loud and boisterous in his tidy, fenced backyard. We've been trying to remove shit as it happens. Don and I with our casual regard for clutter must drive him nuts. It makes me wonder how much of him is part of Don and wonder if I violate his sense of order with my slatternly Irish ways. (It's my journal and I'll sigh if I want to') To be continued. We're here for 2 more days.
Pat has catapulted us into the jaws of redemption with a fierce suddenness. I approach my father's house much more gingerly, a cautious, circling move. We, or should I just say I?, didn't really, absolutely decide this visit was going to happen until Pendleton, yesterday. Once before we headed for dad's house in Washington, only to flee south several hundred miles short, to the east, when we saw the Hwy. 25 sign pointing south and realized this was the road to Las Cruces, to Stitzel, home. This time I thought I had best get on with it; three years have passed since the last attempt. My father is dying, has been for a few years, but is, nonetheless, skirting the grave's edge. I will probably never see him again. I don't want to see him this time, but I try to leaven the complication of my feelings with some kindness. I cannot tell you why.
I have written about my father previously; some of it is here. These family things are always complex beyond telling. I call him on the phone a couple of times a year. I write him about the same. He wants more from me. Again, I don't know why. He is the first to admit we are not close. A last minute reconciliation isn't in the works; the only thing he wants me reconciled to is salvation in the arm's of 'his' savior; the one true, only savior. The deal you just can't do without if you care about your future. Right. Millions beg to disagree. I side with them. Absolutes may indeed be the basis of all that is, but not this absolute, not this god molded by men in their own image and suffering severely for it.
I come back to the above 2 paragraphs time and again. I am at a loss. There must be insights here that would make sense to others, but I cannot seem to locate them. Children and parents are both held hostage by the other somewhere in that tangle of years that shared blood binds them. Even well beyond. Better we should have been wolves, kicked out of the den as soon as we could fend.
We parked the tent trailer in his drive and I cranked it up and opened it out; it is sort of like a butterfly when it happens right.. Father noted the dirt on the floor inside with a frown. I hauled out an extension cord to run into a plug in his garage. He watched me untie the cord and told me he would never have let me apprentice under him; he is an electrician by trade. He lectured me on how a cord should be stored; I nodded and suddenly recalled that I had never done things the right way. I had forgotten that. It came back to me with a great force that here I was, the same fuckup I had always been. I nodded some more. He was the same man that I had forgotten he was, or at least not fully appreciated for decades. We were not going to disagree. I plugged the cord in.
What did we talk about for 2 days? My mother. He said he should never have divorced her. Shared memories that were not incendiary; that's what we stayed with. Sitting silently with someone when there is nothing to say works for me. It wasn't working for him. He needed to cram a lifetime's worth of connection into these couple of days; he wanted me to fill in all the blank spots and make us whole. Zoe has asked me repeatedly about our ancestors on his side of the family. I asked him. He frowned and said he couldn't remember. There was nothing he could add to what I knew of the England family, which is close to nothing. His own childhood was opaque, apparently to both of us. He chose not to recall anything about it. And I have no idea what went on that caused this. No one is telling. He is the last.
Rocky ran afoul of his sense of order very quickly. He was very nice about letting her have the run of his house, with the exception of his bedroom, but when he caught her on the drainboard he was scandalized. It was not possible to keep her off either the drainboard or the dining room table: cat-butt was encroaching into food areas. When we weren't present to referee the two of them waged silent war, move and counter-move along the margins of permissibility. Rocky had as much clue as to what was allowed as any organism preprogrammed to invade and parade. We ran afoul of this same order when we failed to understand the trash. Instead of telling us that one trash receptacle was for 'wet' trash, and the other for 'dry', he watched us abuse his carefully thought out system until displeasure boiled over into indictment. I swear, if a box of bandaids had been opened and spilled, they would all have been put back facing the same way and the tabs on the box would not have been torn, but would be in perfect order for folding over to close the box the way the manufacturer had meant it to be closed. There was no way we could know all the rules. The rules seemed to govern the outer world, the appearance of order being a primary concern of his, but the disorder was, as always, internal, and his struggle to maintain with pathological neatness and the one true god were just the layers of rigidity that he held himself together with. An exoskeleton of fabricated devices; a prosthetic personality. Maybe I reach too far with this analogy. The real problem was that there was no way to tell him what I thought, to ask what his perceptions were. The answer to all such questions lay with his savior, shrouded in the mystery of faith. Conversation, in the end, was a no-way street. All things were already decided. Nothing was left to chance, or discovery, or imagination. The universe was a sort of mechanical contraption with only one right answer: I believe!
I will get us out of here and then leave Pat to do the same. The last anecdote is one that seems like coincidence, or at least my mind tells me it has to be, but I don't believe it. Surreal moments at dad's house.
We are sitting in the backyard and the kids are barking off and on. I shush them and he tells me that the neighbors, who all seem to be only a few feet away, have barking dogs of their own and should now get some of their own medicine. I am sure he is uncomfortable with being a 'noisy neighbor' and keep the dogs as quiet as possible. He tells me that the people behind the wooden fence at the back of the yard had two very bothersome dogs who had found out how to get into his yard to drop steaming bundles. He blocked the fence where he thought they might be gaining access, only to be outwitted by the dogs. He had his revenge he said, when a sudden insight told him to just leave his side gate open and let the dogs run off when they came over. That was what he did, and he was proud that only one dog survived to come home. I recalled his basic motto when i was growing up: fuck them before they fuck you. It still seemed to be at work.
W left the kids in the yard overnight that night; it was the second night they had spent in the yard. With my morning coffee in hand I sat down on the patio the next A.M. to get my bearings on the new day. I looked up and saw both dogs at the end of the yard, but they looked odd. Taking a closer look I realized that Shay was outside the fence while Waldo was still in the yard. I walked down there and the side gate was wide open. I called Shay inside and shut the gate. Waldo is a runner when he gets loose, but he has some rule of conduct that stops him from leaving on his own. He will wake us at night to tell us if the wind has blown an unlatched door open; he does not simply leave. This is what happened at the gate; Shay, who doesn't run off, had wandered out, but Waldo sat tight. I consulted Pat and we decided our visit was over. Oregon was just down the road and calling out.
Pat's Journal 4 May, 2005 Richland II
It's a quarter to four and I'm wide awake wondering why I'm wide awake thinking about Don's father. I have so much trouble with the man! His self-absorption, his intellectual posturing, his anal compulsion for tidiness, his ill-disguised dislike for the pets (he shouts at them playfully with an undercurrent of intense loathing), his repeated allusions to his spiritual growth. Feh!
The weather has been beautiful in this ugly town and the dogs have enjoyed the freedom of the little fenced backyard, but I won't be sorry to leave today. I made a pre-fab dinner last night with a leaden banana bread. Ken hovered as I cooked, worrying about the disorder in his kitchen. He informed me sorrowfully that we had disrupted his kitchen trash system, that I used the wrong pans. He can't be happy having us here. He and Don have had a couple of "discussions" about Christianity which they both lose their temper over. We leave him dying and in pain. We can't help. I have a nasty, selfish sense of failure.
Pat's Journal 5 May, 2005 Salem, Or.
Early start. Solemn, prayerful goodbyes. When Waldo looked peaked on the road, I assumed Ken had poisoned him. (He's fine now.) We came out of the desert into the Columbia Gorge and were in The Dalles by noon. Great burger lunch and time to visit a couple of downscale antique shops. Squalls discouraged camping; we turned into Salem's Motel 6 about 4 P.M. Sky is gray this A.M., but a cheerful Oregon gray. Don is much more relaxed after Richland. Thank you, Jesus.
Pat's Journal 6 May, 2005 Corvallis, Or.
Another short day. Intermittent rain seems to be the only weather going these days. We drove from Salem to Corvallis with excursions to Lafayette and Amity seeking the elusive, unrecognized Van Briggle. The Old School House in Lafayette had 2 or 3 pieces either too late or grossly overpriced. Oglalla looks better and better.
I've started paying attention to Rookwood - older and more expensive than V.B. - very classy stuff. Maybe just a piece or 2 - hmmmmmm-
Don has connected with a thread-pal, Dave Young, who has scheduled 3 days worth of machine viewing and barbecues. We're meeting him at noon today in a tiny town not too far from here. (I wonder how folks barbecue in the rain.) We'll probably base our operations at the good old 6 for 2 more days.
Pat's Journal 7 May, 2005 Corvallis II
A full day yesterday - or at least for the retired likes of us. We rendevouzed with Sourdough Dave at the Monroe Dari-mart parking lot, shot the shit for an hour and then drove into the piney woods to tour a steam-powered sawmill. Amid a crumbling superstructure an ancient boiler kept everything running, hauling and sawing. The device that grappled the logs into the (de)barker looked like the jaws of hell. I don't think OSHA has ever heard of this place. Hall and Oakes - Slayer of Trees.
After the tour we went to Doug Westlind's very nice house in the country for a barbecue. Extremely pleasant company. Dogs romped with Levi-the-lab. Don and Pat drank beer and chowed down with Julie and Jerry Robinett (hardware barons), John Orvis (rotund, insightful, amusing), and about 10 other woodworking machine-heads. Both of us were far more sociable than I thought possible. Misanthropic no more? It's hard to believe.
Today we're gathering in Eugene with the same folk for more wood related adventures and a turkey fry.
Pat's Journal 8 May, 2005 Corvallis III
Yesterday was orchestrated by and conducted by Dave Young, spiritual leader of Arnworld. Wraith-thin, rheumy-eyed, toothless and crippled with arthritis, he walks with a staff like Gandalf's and looks like he is just back from the Wilderness where he went to set Yaweh straight on a few points. He lives in a somewhat less than baronial country estate with Cody the wonderdog. He commands instant respect and instant tenderness from all who meet him. He has a saintly dedication to the environment. He was a high roller in Alaska at one time and lost it all - career, money, wife, kids - in a bad divorce. Almost anybody would do almost anything for Dave.
We went in the morning to Eugene to visit someone's garage. (I read in the truck for 2 hours.) And in the afternoon to a turkey fry. Tres yummy. The young couple - a carpenter and a dancer - have a neat house in an idyllic setting. (Deer wander into the backyard.) Well-behaved, handsome children, plenty of money and enough leisure to take several dream vacations a year. yet so nice withal that you can't help but wish them more of the same. Sometimes the way others live can be a pleasant surprise.
Oregon is an urgent, boisterous green with irises coming in, lilacs going out and rhododendrons and azaleas in status orgasmus. What a great place to be! What a great trip! ("So far", says the little Irish voice.)
Hadn't read any of Pat's remarks before typing them in here. Interesting.....
Where were we? Oh, yes, getting out of the clutches of paternal care and moving south. The Weekend at Dave's had been my trump card in staying uncommitted as to how long we would spend in Richland. It turned out that our commitments in Oregon had us leaving Washington a bit earlier than first considered. All those little lies are the bricks of family life. No?
I really wanted to like Oregon. Pat is right. It is fecundity defined. But goodness, where is the sun? Sunlight was something that happened every now and then, coming down thru the clouds like lightning, and as quickly gone. I swear people rushed out of doors just to see these flashes.
I spoke with Dave and he was sorry we weren't staying at the campground near his house. I told him we just weren't camping in the rain. He couldn't understand why not. Dave wanted to "sit around a campfire and tell bear stories." Hmmm. I might have done that once or twice when I was much younger.
We met Dave in a parking lot, and he does look pretty much as Pat describes him. He is not quite of this time and place. I think I ran into 'a dave' in one of Hardy's novels, wandering on the moors. And I have to admit that the doubter in me has me standing back behind Pat doing an assessment. For Pat to wax so boldly on another's attributes is rather amazing. She pretty much hates everyone at first encounter. She hasn't got a 'true believer' bone in her body, but she was taken with Dave. My own opinion is that Dave is a generous and good-hearted guy, but a saint? I don't know. I will be truthful and say I thought Dave to be a mix of fussy and intense. He has an energy boiling just below the surface that I find disquieting. I confess that I wouldn't have said this out loud if Pat's encomiums hadn't been so ardent as to shove my own view into the background, where it probably belongs anyway. The disquieting possibility is that Dave is someone who's attributes find an echo in me, an echo of failure, a projection where I see my own lack of convictions mirrored obversely in his intensity. I have to accept this possibility, but I surely don't have to look at it too long. A little self-knowledge can go a looooooong way.
The sawmill was an extravaganza of noise and clutter and mayhem. The men working amongst the machines were like stick figures in a violent cartoon, liable to be snatched up and snapped off at any instant. I had the same thoughts about OSHA. The tour was very informal. I am sure that in the cacophony we were warned not to touch moving thingees, but those thingees were certainly right there, whizzing and chomping by within easy reach. Being, by nature, clumsy, I moved with deliberation and stayed well back. My favorite part was the 'jaws of hell' that collapsed down onto trees fresh from the pond and ripped their bark loose in a spinning destructive frenzy. What a rush.
Doug Westlind, a name I seem to recall from the OWWM thread, but a name without baggage. He's a nice guy. I liked his wife, Jackie?, a lot. Very down to earth people. Doug has one of those wonderfully neat shops with lots of room around machines that actually work; the sort of shop that makes me both envious and sad. Sad that I am so far from that state in my own crowded and largely inoperable world. There were other folks there that I talked to, some strange and some stranger, but the names escape me. With one exception: John Orvis. It is too bad John does that disgusting thing with the burning paper of tobacco that he sucks on, greedily, I might add. Other than that he is a stand up guy. I don't meet too many guys I feel I could probably comfortably hang around with: John is one who might, if cleaned up a bit, make the short list.
A quiz here. Johnny0's most immediately appreciable quality is - choose one: a). his charming boyish manner. b). his style, sophistication and savoir faire. c). a deep pool of good will. d). the impressive muscle between his ears. You notice that I didn't put in 'all of the above' as a choice; even humor has its limits. Three out of four ain't bad. (If you think I am sucking up to him so I can visit his castle in Montana....."no comment" said the accused shielding his face with a National Enquirer which, unfortunately, featured graphic photos of.................
The next day's adventure was T.J. Forrester's place - I hope I spelled it right. What an absolutely sweet guy. And the belly-dancing wife is a real beauty. Very nice people. He thinks his claim to fame is the hole in the roof of his garage thru which a large bandsaw was lowered by a crane, but he is wrong. It is himself and his family. Well, the turkey did come in a close second.
Dave had done us proud with his schedule. Hats off to his organizational skills and drive. Pat and I both enjoyed ourselves very much on this leg of the trip. We never did get to sit around the campfire and tell bear stories. Dave really, really, really wanted to, and his disbelief when I told him I didn't do campfires in the rain obviously crossed me off the list of hardy souls, intrepid adventurers and larger-than-life men. The best we could do was treat him to a Mexican dinner on our last evening in town. It wasn't even the fabled Juan's.
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Noon rolls around and Pat and I are both getting antsy. This is not getting us to the Rong Coast. By 1400, only about 12 hours late, we have corralled Waldo and Shay, our own Ebullience of Boxers, and herded them into the truck with all our road-trip baggage, and somewhere in the midst of the mess is Sgt. Rock, torty cat companion.