Monthly Archives: August 2011

Disc Golf or What I Discovered on My Walk Today

I’ve decided that retirement can be either a time of mind numbing inactivity or a time of observation and exploration.  I’ve tried both.  The latter makes life much more pleasant.  I resumed walking today.  I decided to reverse my course.  This time I went past the park on my westbound trek, intending to walk around the fairground coming from the east.  I got side tracked along the way. 

As I passed the park I noticed a disc golf basket.  I knew there was a disc golf course at Lincoln Park.  It was put in about a year ago, however I had not noticed that one of the baskets is visible from the road.  Then I saw the sign pointing to the Disc Golf Course.  Since I normally walk this stretch of the road heading west I had never noticed the sign.  It is visible only from the east.

 I continued my walk, but instead of circling the fairgrounds I walked out Airport Road and then retraced my steps back by the park.    This time I decided to walk into the park and see where the baskets were placed.  Upon entering the course I came across two guys playing.   They stopped to let me through and explained to me that the course is played with a weighted disc similar to a Frisbee.  I asked them exactly what the baskets were called and one of them told me they were referred to as a tee or basket.   (He followed that explanation with the comment that when his girl friend calls him a “basket case” he knows it is time to go play disc golf.)    The goal is to get your disc to the basket in the least amount of tosses.  Apparently disc golf is very similar to golf, which of course I really no nothing about either.  They handed a disc to me so that I could see what it looked like.  Apparently there is a well-marked course of 9 baskets in the park, plus several more that these guys did not know how to find.  Since they were so pleasant I decided not to interrupt their game any longer and left the area so they could continue.  Next time I am by the park I intend to walk the course.

On the rest of my journey I thought about the first time we had ever seen a disc golf basket.   We were in Crescent City, California.  We had stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites on the waterfront, just a short walk from the Battery Point Lighthouse.   As we walked around the park we noticed these baskets.  My traveling partner, quite a history buff, suggested that maybe they were something left from a Spanish ship wreck, or perhaps they were intended to be a replica from a Spanish ship.  When we returned to the Inn, we asked the young man at the desk about the baskets.  Much to our surprise, he didn’t have a clue. 

The next morning we asked the woman on the desk and she told us they were for disc golf.  She offered no more information than that.  So until today, I knew that disc golf existed, but was pretty much ignorant as to how it was played.

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The Stranger, a Novel by Albert Camus

Just finished reading a little book called The Stranger, by Albert Camus.   To appreciate it you have to understand the time it was written.  It was written during the 1940’s and WWII by a political author from French Colonial Algeria.  It was also written to express the author’s belief that life was irrational and absurd.  This novel definitely expressed that  idea.  That doesn’t mean I agree with the idea, just that it is well expressed in this book. 

Aside from the author’s message in the book, I found it interesting from a writing perspective.   The Protagonist is totally aware of the physical world around him.   The detail of physical sites, sounds and happenings is extremely well written.  The expected emotional response from the protagonist is also markedly absent.  The portrayal of an individual that has been emotionally numbed is remarkable.  The book is worth reading for the character development, the plot development and the prose style of Albert Camus.

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Sierra–Chapter 2, Part-1

“Sierra, is that you?”  Mrs. Browne wrestled her body to a standing position, leaning heavily on her walker as she peered around the corner.  “Oh Barnaby, you’re wet.”   She pushed him away as he sprinted up and nuzzled her apron.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Browne.  I was trying to hang onto him and get a towel, but he pulled free.”

“Never mind, Sierra, I have something to ask you.”

Sierra grabbed the leash with one hand and quickly wrapped the towel around Barnaby gently rubbing his fur as she released the leash from his collar…  “There boy, there you go.  What’s on your mind, Mrs. B?”

“Are you really leaving tomorrow?”

“You know I must.  Your daughter will be here by noon.  Will you be okay if I leave early in the morning?”

“Of course, but I have a favor to ask.  Take Barnaby with you.”

“What?”

“Will you take Barnaby with you?  He loves you.   The family that planned to take him just called.  They’ve been transferred out-of-state and they don’t feel like they can take him with them.  And I can’t take him to Park Place Villa.  They don’t allow dogs the size of Barnaby.”

“What about your daughter?”

Mrs. Browne laughed.  “A dog at her house, you’re kidding of course?  White carpet, glass tables and Barnaby, I hardly think so.”  Tired already from just standing, she settled herself back into her chair waiting for Sierra to reply.  Sierra knew that Mrs. Browne  hated giving up Barnaby, but Mrs. Browne knew she was too weak to stay in her house alone. 

“Let me think.”  Sierra grabbed a broom and swept up the sand from the worn wooden floor while she stalled.  A dog, she loved Barnaby.  Could she travel with him?  Could she afford him?  What would happen if she didn’t take him?  Suddenly the last question was the only one that mattered. “What will happen if I don’t take him?”

“The shelter I guess,” Mrs. Browne couldn’t hide her tears.  It was difficult enough to admit she needed help, but to give Barnaby to a shelter was more than she could handle.  “What if no one adopts him? Will they put him to sleep?”

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I Count My Blessings

As I watch the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene, I am reminded how much we take for granted.  We flip a switch and a light comes on.   When it’s cold we turn the thermostat up and expect instant heat.  When it’s warm we adjust the thermostat for cooler air.  Those of us that live in the Pacific Northwest, I am sure, cannot begin to imagine what it is like to experience the damage, inconvenience and loss of our Eastern neighbors.   We may have winter flooding some years, but seldom is it as widespread as what the East has seen these past few days.  My heart goes out to all of you that are suffering. 

You are all in my prayers.

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Up the Hill Again

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

 Amazingly, we had another beautiful day.  We started our drive up the hill with the sun already warming the air.  It was early enough that the parking lot at the lodge was only partially filled. We drove past and found several parking spots at the trail head today.

We checked the sign at the trail head to see how far the trail goes and what the elevation change is.  We discovered that it is 1.6 miles to the Hurricane Hill Trail Look Out.  The distance didn’t bother us but the idea of a 650 foot elevation change sounded like more of a challenge for a couple of old geezers, like us.

 

We decided we didn’t care how long it took.  Our goal was just to make it to the top.  So we started out putting one foot in front of the other.  The wild flowers were probably prettier today than they were last week.   I took pictures of the lupine, some tiger lilies and whatever else was growing along the road.

 

About two-thirds of the way up we moved out-of-the-way to let a man and his nine-year-old daughter pass.  We had a really pleasant little chat before they headed on up the hill. They were from Wisconsin.  He had grown up in the area and decided that he would bring each of his children to the park (Olympic National Park) and hike the trail the year that they were nine.  He had been here three years ago when his son turned nine and plans to come back in two years when the next child turns nine.  This was a trip just for Dad and daughter.  They had left the rest of the family at home.  How special was that? 

We also chatted with a couple from New York. He was 74-years-old and quite a character.  I have no idea her age, but probably a senior citizen also.  They were on their way down.

We continued putting one foot in front of the other until we made it to the lookout.  It was worth the effort.   Sites of Port Angeles and the water greeted us.  The temperature was in the low 70’s and except for a few bugs, there was little to complain about.   The meadow was a sea of blue lupine and best of all; the route back to the car was nearly all downhill.

My 87-year-old walking partner at the lookout.

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Still Walking —

It was mild but cloudy when I left the house for my daily walk.  I guess mild is relative.   In the Pacific Northwest, 63 degrees is mild.  I consider it perfect walking weather, no coat required, no sun glasses required, just get out there and put one foot in front of the other. 

As I headed in the direction of town, I walked through several residential alleys.  Alley walking is an interesting adventure.  I have walked by these same houses on the street side.   From the front several of them are lovely well maintained homes, but the alley sides, my oh my, what a difference.  Behind some of those lovely homes the grass is so tall that it would hide a small deer.  Others have so much junk scattered around that you couldn’t find your way to their back door, heaven forbid if they ever had an emergency.  I have to admit my yard isn’t perfect.  This year my front yard looks pretty good.  I have made it my priority.  My back yard isn’t quite as neat and tidy, but I do keep my grass cut and I don’t pile debris all over the yard.  To each his own I guess.

I discovered that the neighborhood dogs don’t like it when you walk through the alley.   They run back and forth along the fence barking menacingly.  I always check to see how big they are and how well they are restrained as I go past them.  The big dogs can be scary and some of the little ones can be even scarier.  Most of them probably just want someone to play with them, but I usually talk to them from a distance and hurry past.

My favorite site today was the little purple backhoe sitting in the front yard of one of the homes I passed.  I could just picture a petite little gal, hair tied in a pony tail, confidently pulling the levers, lifting the bucket and digging a trench.  Someday, I hope I can figure out how to get that purple backhoe into one of my stories.  Doesn’t it just make your mind go wild with ideas?

Tomorrow we hope to make our walk out Hurricane Hill Trail again.  If we make it I will let you know what is happening with the wildflowers.

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Chapter One – Sierra

Chapter One

It was that late evening time of day in Florida during early spring, when the mist settles over the water, the sun disappears rapidly behind the hotels, the beach is empty and loneliness wraps itself around you.  Sierra ran allowing the tears to fall until her anger turned to sadness.

She hadn’t left town yet and Bret had turned his attentions to another.  He had dismissed her as easily as he would dismiss an inept housekeeper.  Was she wrong to want a career or was she wrong to have believed that she and Bret had a future together?

  Watching the sun set during an evening run on the beach should be a time of joy, but there was no joy in Sierra this evening. It was her last evening in Florida and the longer she ran the sadder she felt.   “I really don’t care,” she said to Barnaby as he ran behind her.  She glanced back at him as if she expected him to answer, but he just gently wagged his otter-like tail as he followed her along the beach.

Barnaby stopped and sniffed at a shell, just as any brown Labrador is likely to do.  Then he ran into the water, splashing about until he came out ahead of Sierra.  He stopped briefly and shook the water from his coat, spraying Sierra as he frolicked in front of her.  Sierra continued her tirade without noticing.  “He’s a jerk.  You know it too.” Although she wanted to believe it, Sierra hadn’t quite convinced herself that she didn’t care that her fiancé had broken off their engagement.

Sierra had been running long enough that she was winded, but as she slowed down her thoughts did not.  I knew I shouldn’t have come back to Florida, she thought.  I should have looked for work in California as soon as I graduated.  Sierra had earned a degree in French from the University of Florida, but then decided to pursue her dream.  She had gone to Manhattan and had recently graduated from Manhattan’s School of Fashion Design.

She could still hear Bret’s words.  “Fashion design is such a frivolous choice for a career,” he said.  “You need to settle down so we can get married.  You’ll make a great hostess. Together we’ll make a lot of money.”

Money. That is all that matters to him.  What I want is unimportant.  The more she thought about it, the more she realized she really didn’t care that she wouldn’t be marrying him.  It hurt that he had decided to break up but she couldn’t image a life as his wife.  They had dated on and off ever since high school.   He had always expected her to do what he wanted to do.  It had always been about getting together with Bret’s friends, or going hiking where Bret wanted to hike.  It had always been about him.  

Now, totally winded, Sierra stopped, bent over and grasped her knees.  Her long dark braid shifting over her shoulder as she took several deep breaths.  The sun, now no more than a strip of yellow low in the sky, no longer cast shadows on the sand.  “Well Barnaby, we better get back.  Mrs. Browne is going to think I’ve stolen you.”

Barnaby stopped in front of her, held still, except for his wagging tail, and waited while she hooked the leash onto his collar.  “Let’s go.” And she headed toward Main Street and Mrs. Browne’s cottage.

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