The Games We Play

10/11/20 Sunday

The only good thing about a forecast of a straight week of rain is that sometimes the forecast is wrong. A few days of gray is fine, cozying up to a warm fire, hot soup, and movies on a fluffy couch. Today as the rain poured down I had the interesting experience of losing a 3-hour game of chess to my 10 year old son, and honestly I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day. However this was the second best part of the weekend. On Saturday, the sun came out.

after-the-rain.org / Beach rocks

On the way back from the boat, Day and I stopped off at the beach to grab a few rocks for the garden. While there, the wind backed off and the sun came out. We began to dare each other to see who could venture out the farthest to grab a pebble before the next wave crashed in. What started off

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I started writing this post on Sunday but never finished. Due to an unexpected text Sunday evening, I think my son may be having some issues that I need to focus on right now, and so I’ll be letting go of wordpress for a while (although continuing to support y’all the best I can!)

Take care

Puttin’ the Boat Away

10/9/20 Friday

It was a good summer, one I thought would never end. There was a good bit of learning, tidal cycles of give and take, but always an adventure. And through hardship, mistakes, joy, and surprise, there was always love. But uncertainty can be relied upon, and the season is changing. The days are shorter, the nights are colder, and the wind has switched around to the south – it’s time to put the boat away.

after-the-rain.org / At the mast

Gear gets removed and packed away. Small things that were once essential now have little meaning. I scrub and clean and beneath my hands most of the dirt washes away to a memory, but I don’t know if I can get rid of it all. There’s always a little bit left to remind me that it wasn’t just a dream.

It’s time to put the boat away, time to open up to new opportunities, to be free in the moment. I’m taking the good with me, and leaving the rest behind. I’ll miss her, but as I leave and walk away, I won’t be turning around to look back.

Brown, Blond, Gray

9/23/20 Wednesday

I turn 48 tomorrow, and am excited about it for three reasons:

1) I’ll get to spend the day with my son, which was a 50/50 shot considering our current parenting plan. Nothing will make me happier than an evening of cupcakes, candles, balloons, a kitty cat, and watching my boy’s favorite show with him on a big fat couch.

after-the-rain.org / Brown, blond, gray

2) I feel really good considering… I’m getting older but am in pretty good shape, definitely in the “I’m not as good as I once was but am as good as I was once – once” category. I play hard until I sweat and my muscles burn, but please let me sleep in the next day..

3) Learning to appreciate life – thank you to friends, family, and the good lord above. I’m lucky to be here and for the chance to experience the world and see my dreams come true, little by little and one at a time, often in the most unexpected ways.

Refuge

9/21/20 Monday

The smoke from the wildfires cleared out yesterday, and for the first time in weeks we can breathe fresh air. Conditions had become oppressive, with even healthy people reporting burning eyes and an irritated throat. People with lung problems had it worse, and it goes without saying that we were the lucky ones – many lost homes and even lives.

It was hard not to notice that even the animals were affected. Some were displaced, and many seemed to seek refuge or water from humans. I’m a construction manager for a cellular phone carrier, and we lost a handful of cell sites to fire last week. I was talking to a site tech today who said deer have been coming up to his truck for water, and another tech reported a black bear doing the same.

At the marina, visibility was down to just over a hundred yards at one point. This blue heron has been hanging around a little extra close lately, using the Flicka as a comfortable place to eat mussels, prawns and fish. He is a total slob and makes a huge mess, but I don’t mind having him around. I feel like it’s the least I can do to offer up a safe place to stay for a little while.

after-the-rain.org / Heron at the boat

Decision #2: Selling the Boat

9/13/20: Sunday

It’s leftover night for dinner. Sauteed onions and garlic in olive oil, mixed with the hamburger meat and mac & cheese that Day and I couldn’t finish last night, plus a drizzle from a glass of red wine. I just handed him back to his mom for the week, so I bury myself in food and thought.

I’ve been thinking about selling the sailboat, a 1978 Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20, hull #34 – the boat that has protected me while I learn to sail, taught me patience, and provided a place to live when my son and I needed it most. I have given her my time, my money, all my energy. Written off by others, I could see her potential. Pouring forth the effort, I gave all I had to give which was everything. What now floats before me is a structurally sound, stout but beautiful, tiny ship full of charm and possibility.

When I think of her, I dream of adventure – of exploring the Sea of Cortez, trucking her to Tennessee to sail with my dad, navigating shanty style down to the Mississippi River and on to the Gulf of Mexico, and sailing across the Pacific to Hawaii and on to Japan. I feel at home within her spacious cabin, and am comfortable with a life on and around the water.

The flip side is how demanding she can be. She craves attention, loves shiny gifts, new hardware, standing rigging, lines of all sorts, and an endless supply of maintenance products. Most of all, she just wants my time. People tend to think of the sailing life as the simple life, but in my view that is only if you live on your boat full time. Otherwise owning a sailboat is the opposite of minimalism.

I desire to shed my attachment to the boat, to set both of us free. It makes so much sense in so many ways. But much like decisions with actual women in my past life, I have a hard time saying no, and derive all satisfaction from giving. I need to finish writing now so I can sand and varnish the companionway drop boards that I brought home. I’ll bring them out to her tomorrow, probably with some flowers to apologize for my terrible thoughts.

after-the-rain.org / Flowers on a Flicka sailboat

Decision #1: Forgiveness

9/9/20 Wednesday

Over the long weekend, we had the best sunny weather imaginable for the Pacific Northwest. But instead of joining the masses out on the water, the new kitten and I stayed put at the marina tackling a long list of boat maintenance projects that need to get done before the rains begin. While I labored away, Little Miss Butter Biscuit explored the dark recesses of the bilge and took long naps. We both had a lot of time to think.

I want to forgive my ex wife, for all the things she did to me, herself, and my son. However I’m not sure how to go about it. First of all, I tend to think of forgiveness as something that happens after the harm is done. But since we are still going through a difficult divorce, the pain is still present and raw. I wonder if I should wait until later. Also, I don’t know if I really can forgive her for what she did to herself or others, am I only able to forgive someone for what they did to me?

Endlessly I sand, varnish, sand and varnish. The sun burns my back and sweat drips down my face. The terns cry over and over from high above, and the kitten emerges surprisingly from the battery locker. I’m ready for peace, to let the bitterness go. I’m ready to forgive, but don’t know how. We close our eyes, and rock gently with the wind on a late summer afternoon, safe and snug in our little slip.

after-the-rain.org / Sleepy kitten on a boat

Sailing with Cookies

8/16/20 Sunday

The heat warms by bones, the wind fills the sails, and the water cools my fingers as I reach over the rail and drag my hand through the sea. It’s been busy lately, and if I’m not working the days are being spent camping, fishing, swimming, and sailing.

A year and a half ago when my ex-wife and I split up, I tried what seemed the appropriate response – I posted myself belly up at the nearest bar with a big mug of beer. Watching football and attempting small talk with the people around me, it was soon obvious that this was not the direction I wanted to go. Since then I hardly drink, don’t smoke, and drugs were never for me. I work out and stay active, likely to a fault. I run full steam ahead, because I’m afraid of falling back. Moving forward with whomever and whatever are still around me, I cherish my time on this planet and appreciate everyone and everything around me. The sun feels more intense, the water colder, the sky bluer, and these chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are next level as my little ship pushes forward through the waves of time.

after-the-rain.org / Cookies on the boat

New Project

7/29/20 Wednesday

I used to live in a small but well built craftsman home on 6 acres. Other folks in the neighborhood had similar sized property, so there was a rural country feel to the place. Old logging roads have since turned into walking trails, and it was common to come across a neighbor while out for an evening walk. One of these neighbors was “Bike Man John”, who at 85 years old still rode a bike, and had a memory (still has a memory) better than mine at 47. I got a call from him the other day, and he wanted to talk about boats.

Bike Man John has built more than 20 wooden vessels, but was stuck on his current project. It took a while to get around to why exactly he was calling, and what the issue was with his latest endeavor. But I knew he still hadn’t finished the little stitch and glue project he had told me about years ago, and was really beating around the bush in telling me why. I had to figure it out which was tough because I can be dense that way. The reason he was calling was to tell me he couldn’t finish building his little boat, because he is going blind and can’t see well enough to fit joints, read plans, measure dimensions. He was calling to ask if I would take over the project, finish it out, and in return keep the boat.

I don’t know about women but I know for sure it can be really difficult for a man to admit that something is beyond his physical ability, especially when that diminished ability is due to age. Not only did Bike Man John have a hard time letting me know he couldn’t finish his project because he was losing his eyesight (and has had 3 heart attacks in the last year and a half), he proceeded to tell me about his “next 2 projects” – 2 more wooden boats he had been thinking about. I did my part as the receiver of this gift, which was letting him know in no uncertain terms what an honor it was, that I was thankful and would take good care of his dream, and encouraged his future boat building endeavors.

I look at his half-built project, which fits snuggly in the back of my truck. It’s an 8′ Glen L Sabotina, a beautiful little pram designed to sail or row. Somehow Bike Man John was able to true up the hull, it is even steven. He says he would have painted it white.

The last thing I really need is another boat, but maybe it’s just what I need. It makes me happy to think about, and I guess that’s as good a reason as any.

after-the-rain.com / Glen L Sabotina

Summer Afternoon at the Marina

7/15/20 Wednesday

North winds lately, the sign of good weather. After work, Day and I slip down to the local marina to try our luck fishing. We get snagged right and left, and catch no fish this time, although my boy almost hooks a pigeon and a seal that swam a little too close.

after-the-rain.org / Old dock pilings

I’ve felt a lot better the last few days, and have noticed a pattern. When my son is with me, I’m busy but happy and content. When he’s with his mom, life is easy but it feels like part of me is missing. I get low and it takes time for me to switch gears from being a Dad to just being… me. It’s such a big change.

after-the-rain.org / Fishing under the dock

It’s a summer afternoon, and life is a bit calmer than usual. The sand is warm and feels good on our feet. We play with old crab claws, look for sea glass, and watch the different boats go by. I have a fleeting thought. For a moment I want to think of myself as a marina – smelling a bit fishy, getting older and beginning to look a bit run down, growing a few barnacles, but still full of life, beautiful in its own way, and in general a fun place to be. I come back to the present and smile. We didn’t catch any fish today, but still got what we came for..

after-the-rain.org / Summer afternoon at the marina

Swayin’ with the Breeze

7/11/20 Saturday

I’m lying in a hammock, swaying with the breeze. Easy sounds drift across the water – laughter, seagulls, boat fenders rubbing against the dock. I smell the suntan lotion blend with salt and sweat on my shoulders. My eyes narrow, squinting toward the sun. It’s quiet inside, I feel my heartbeat.


I’m on Rainier. It’s April but might as well be February. Still dark, and we’re moving fast through the ledges by headlamp. My crampon dislodges a rock and instantly both feet hang in the air, but the handholds don’t budge. Lucky I guess. It’s quiet in the early morning mountain air, save for the rocks tumbling below. Inside, my head is pounding, and a minute later my body trembles uncontrollably.


We’re in the bedroom, I’m at the doorway. She’s yelling at me, her eyes like icy blue lightning. Somehow my ears close, her voice muffles, and I realize the cat is hiding under the bed. I feel the texture of the carpet with my feet and understand. I’m sure my eyes are open but inside I’m somewhere else, going from room to room looking for a bed to hide under.


I’m in the hammock, swaying with the breeze. But I’m a thousand other places, living a thousand memories, and dreaming up a thousand new ones. They come to visit, and I let them in to stay a while, then let them go. Now it’s the present, piercingly beautiful. I see schools of little silver fish, white terns flying high above, and a big fat seal swimming upside down rubbing his belly against the underside of the docks. In the distance there is laughter again. Inside it’s quiet and that’s ok for now. I feel my heartbeat.

after-the-rain.org / Hammock on a boat