Raining, Maybe

It was raining outside just now. At least, it was raining on my street. But at the moment, all of the heavy clouds are pushed off toward the horizons. There are only a few thin streaks of cloud in the sky above us. There were three or four people stopped in the sidewalk, studying the sky, trying to trace the raindrops to their source. I wandered by, also looking up, and a man told me, “It’s raining!” And then, sounding less confident, he asked, “Isn’t it?”

I reassured him, “It is.” Then, less certain, “Where is it coming from?”

You Like Ropes?

I didn’t see the old man walk over. He was just suddenly standing beside me. I said, “Hello,” and he just looked at me as if I were wearing my bicycle as a hat.

I was caught up with his puzzled facial expressions, so it took a moment before I noticed he was wearing a security guard uniform. “Oh. I’m just taking some pictures.”

“Of what?” He had a Scandinavian accent.

“Of these ropes.”

Tom notice the confrontation and wheeled his bike over.

The security guard took a long moment to think about what I’d said. (Or he might have been waiting for me to explain my explanation.) “. . . Do you like ropes?”

“Well.” I hesitated. “. . . They just seem kind of funny . . . to me . . . someone who hasn’t been around big fishing nets . . . I guess.”

There was humor in that man’s eyes. He was ready to laugh with me, but I had no quip to deliver. I disappointed.


Unfortunately that wasn’t my least confident moment of the day. I took a spill crossing over some disused railroad tracks in Ballard. There are bits of me scraped across a street in Ballard, and there are bits of Ballard scraped into my hand and my leg.


Tom and I rode out to the Ballard Locks and Fishermen’s Wharf today. My bike’s odometer reports that we traveled 17 miles, but it also reports that my maximum speed was 99.5 mph. I guess if that were true, then I could have my pride back.

Green Bugs & Fire Hydrants

Photo: A stack of uprooted fire hydrants

Terminal 91 Bike Trail

Over the course of an hour, three or four insects and other crawlies – all in unlikely shades of chlorphyll green – fall from the tree I’m under and flicker across my arm hairs, my ear, and the pages of the book I’m reading. Later, a mile from the park, I tie my shoelaces and shake a tiny green caterpillar from my shoe.

Fruit and Vegetables

Pier 57

The food pyramid only applies to people who were born after 1982. The rest of us live under the authority of the four food groups. But in a filmstrip in second grade, Jiminy Cricket went on about the virtues of the five food groups. The fruit and vegetables group was divided into the fruit group and the vegetable group. After the movie, Miss Carlson had to run damage control. “You see what they did there? They put fruit and vegetables into separate food groups,” she told us.

Fruit and vegetables are in separate groups on the food pyramid. (Do we still get to call them groups?) Jiminy Cricket was before his time.

The Bike

Downtown

I took the bike out for a long ride on Sunday. The odometer clocked it at about 14 miles. Yesterday I took it out for errands and ended up riding five miles total. My apartment is on a hill, so the last length of any ride is pretty steep, and it’s really worn me down each time. I’m taking this too seriously. It’s fun, but that last part of the trip is pretty discouraging.


The guy who sold me the bike has a nice set of landscape photos on his site, by the way.

Bailout

There are things going on everywhere and most of it, though interesting, is none of my business. That goes double for anything overheard at Elliot Bay Cafe.

The last time I was there, I overheard a couple talking about the man’s extra-marital affairs. (The conversation just kind of drifted in my direction.) Today there was a middle-aged woman in the corner of the cafe farthest from the door, seated with her back turned to the rest of the room. She was on a cellphone, enunciating carefully to compensate for the cafe-sounds and her indistinct accent. She was trying to arrange bail money for somebody.

Today

Southworth Ferry Terminal

I bought a bicycle from a man in Port Orchard today. I gave it a test ride and loaded it into the back of my borrowed big SUV. The bike’s old owner had a big friendly poodle, who had to wear an old sock over an injured back leg.

The radio came on when I turned the ignition. It was a Radiohead song, which sustained itself for five miles, until I reached the ferry dock, ending as I shut off the engine.


There was an hour’s wait for the next boat. A sugar craving led me to wander away from the dock in search of a convenience store.

I stopped on the way back to watch goats eat the grass around the “Welcome to Southworth” sign. A man pulled over across the street and asked me, “Where is Manchester?”

I resisted my impulse to recite, “Across the Atlantic Sea,” a lyric from Hair. “I don’t know. Sorry.”

The goats wandered away, so I headed back toward the car. The ferry workers were at the fare booth teasing each other about how many dates they had.


The ferry arrived soon enough. Workers in orange vests directed traffic off the boat – pedestrians first, then cars.

The deck was cleared and the row of cars that were headed for Vashon Island were coaxed on board. Vashon Island is the first stop, but the fare is higher than the longer trip to West Seattle.

I looked over the cars that were passing by. A bald eagle glided out over the water toward the dock. (There was a scurry of excitement in the cars parked around me.) A crow flew in and took a couple of swipes at the eagle. The eagle circled back and gave the crow the evil eye; and you’ve never seen the evil eye until you’ve seen it given by a bald eagle. The crow cackled. It was a draw. The eagle flew low over the dock, maybe 100 feet overhead, and perched itself in the trees on the other side of the ferry terminal.

The ferry ride was uneventful. I drove back into downtown on the Alaskan Way viaduct. It turns out that this is the best way to get a grasp of Seattle’s skyline – coming from the south, driving just above street level.


It’s not important what I was thinking after I noticed that the fuel gauge was pointed below E. What’s important is I’m here now and the biggest story is still the price of gas. The car didn’t putter to a stop on the slopes of Seneca Street.


Across another body of water, by bridge this time, to my sister’s house, where the kids have access to more Silly-Putty than you’ve ever seen. It turns out that, these days, Silly-Putty won’t pull an impression off of newspaper. Apparently Silly-Putty didn’t changed their formula; the papers changed theirs’. I think it might have something to do with DRM?