Monday, October 16, 2006

Raining On A Monday, Waiting For The Frogs To Bloom...

I made the boys stop for a photo and made our new laborer snap this picture just before we rolled it up and ran like hell from a big squall. The Oregonian rains have arrived and the fire season is officially over.

I've always maintained that life is truly an end to end assortment of stories that when placed on the ground and walked along, lead you to where you are now, making up what I like to refer to as "your life." (Or a pretty good board game.)

If that sounds unduly gnomic, it's because it is. I felt a bit gnomic today in my New Zealand made Swandri, and looked a bit oafish in the process.

If I look at this photo-- other than looking at four aging clowns standing out in the rain when they could be inside drinking warm tea and writing or painting or drawing or designing or estimating or playing guitar... or... any number of other inside and sane things-- I see so many stories that it is hard to close the covers within my head. Pages are falling out and pages are getting crumpled. It is like a cross between a waste paper basket and a Michener in there, and I am tellin' ya, it might not be pretty, but it makes me smile.

The littlest guy in the picture on the far left is the guy who holds all the marbles. That's Bruce. It is Bruce's license all of us clowns are working under and Bruce is the one bidding the jobs, designing the houses, dealing with the clients and most importantly, signing all the checks on Friday afternoon.

Bruce has had his ups and downs in his fifty plus years, but he keeps on finding reasons to smile and has a very pleasant bossiness about him that everyone relates well with, including myself who has never tolerated a boss very well and at this point, won't.

I've taken several road trips with Bruce--he was the one who took me to the Saline Valley and introduced me to hot springs under the stars. We've been to Grateful Dead shows in Eugene together back in the day, and have done some cross country skiing above his old house on Mt. Ashland. We've discovered some pretty cool Oregonian hot springs as well, one with a mossy rock slide that exits the hot pool and heads straight down thirty feet into a much cooler Rogue River. You have to keep your balls nearby for this trip...

Bruce came out of LA way back when and headed north. He was what I would call a sane escapist. He had the same realization that I once had, only his geography was different.

He thought-- "I think, therefore, I am outta here."

Funny thing, the further north he climbed, the more his beard and hair grew. Most of my life knowing Bruce, until very recently, I have seen him through the curtains of a beard and a braided wad of hair.

The day he shaved his beard off and cut his hair, was the day I realized he was a really cute rendition of his old hippy self.

(I'm stalling because for some reason I can't think of a good Bruce story to tell. I am dumbfounded. Truly.)

Besides the adventures he and I have had together, Bruce has had adventures of great magnitude on his own. He has swam with whales in Baja. Hopped aboard a Swedish bound Swedish ship and worked his passage to Sweden, falling in love with the only pretty woman on board, only to be turned around without a visa in Sweden and forced to work his passage back, heartbroken and broke. He has escaped the draft by feigning insanity successfully. He has held his vehicles together with chewing gum and gotten his sleepy passengers home. He has worked in the entangled celebrity circles of Telluride.

His girlfriend once had a dream he was cheating on her and didn't talk to him for a week.

I suppose I could tell you about how he cut my fingernail off the day after we met? The only scar I can look at and smile about? Naaah. There is a better Bruce tale in my head, I just have to sit here and find it.

Next to Bruce is Charles. Charles notices if you have a button missing and if a screw has fallen out of your tail light on your truck. He can't help it. He just does.

Charles is the "noticer". That's his job. Lose something? Ask Charles.

"You put it down under your jacket on the stack of fire stops."


Charles used to make his living in the "season" picking pine cones for the Forestry Service. Everything esoteric I know about trees, I learned from Charles. Charles taught me the subtle differences between the evergreens. He taught me long ago, to pay attention to everything about a tree, even its smell. For a truly sappy tale, I could tell you of our many tree hugging incidences. And I don't mean greeny activities, either. I just mean the moments when the beauty of a tree is so profound you just want to go up and hug it.

It was charles who taught me how to climb a tree with tree spikes, as well. Spikes and a belt and a tree without branches is a pole in a backyard. There is nothing to it. Jab. Jab. Reset your belt, lean back. Jab jab. Again...

Charles makes it look like he is moseying down the ice-cream aisle at Safeway when he climbs. I look like a galloot on the neck of a giant pencil.

The next guy over is me. What is important to notice is the jacket. The checkered one. I just got it this past summer and it is finally cold enough for me to wear it. I had one just like this only blue for almost twenty years. The moths and my Mum's washing finally ruined it and I was adamant about getting another. This is a New Zealand bush jacket, otherwise known as a "Swandri", otherwise colloquially known as a "swanni", sort of like the river you go way up upon...

It sheds water due to the lanolin in the fabric. It breaths. It hangs down and keeps your crack from being shown to the girls you have a crush on. All good things. It has a hood which is a good thing unless you do what I did today, and that is wear it down until it collected enough water to really make a splash when I finally pulled it on...

When I was taveling in the tropics, that was the extent of my sleeping bag.

The last guy in the picture is hackeysackhead. Funny that he wore his hackey sack hat today for picture day. His name is Wizard and I call him hackeysackhead on days he wears his hat. When I am tired of the long name, I take his other nickname "Wizard" and use it as a springboard for a name morph.

This is Wizsack.

Wizsack is a musician who can play the guitar like a WIzard, hence half of his new nickname. Last Friday night, I went to watch him play at a hot dog pub and guarded his beer for him. People asked Wizard who I was over the weekend, and what I was doing with him on friday night. I told him to tell them "Beer guardin'". He'll tell them too. Wizard has a way with repeating things. He's like a CD that has been burned by everybody.

Well, that wraps it up for me. No real story in me today. Perhaps the wet weather has dampened my zeal. Perhaps I am in need of a drying out period?

Who knows? Who cares?

I'm still as happy as I've ever been, same as it ever was...


Flat Coke and Flies said...

It rained in Tennessee all day long....and is still raining at midnight. I need sunshine.

Thanks for the picture, thanks for the post.

By the way, I'm lying in bed reading blogs tonight, in case you needed a better visual. hee hee

Shirley said...

What wonderful stories about the men you work and play with. I think you must be a great friend.

Anonymous said...

For a man with no story to tell, you certainly said a lot! And it was awesome. It sounds like you work with a great bunch, and it was a pleasure meeting them. :)

And yes... the rainy season has begun.
Funny how this is the second post of yours I've commented on and I've said the words "rainy season" again. Jeez...