Rounding Past the Solstice

At the next table, the First Windbag discusses his recent successful speech to hundreds of thousands in which he urged global connection and cooperation in the effort against climate change. He has friends who are friends of Al Gore and Richard Branson. His non-profit organization and his website are imminent.

He will accomplish nothing of consequence to anyone else. He is uneasily unhappy. He needs to get small and doesn’t know how or has forgotten. His friend describes a recent conversation with an artist in Washington, D.C.: “I said to him, what good is it?” (art). I left the coffee shop after that, taking a long look at them. Least said, soonest mended.

A mile down the way, the regular musician outside Trader Joe’s was working through “O Come All Ye Faithful” —single violin, bare pavement, traffic, hurrying shoppers, the plain old tune, his red face—I was suddenly fine again. I gave him enough for a bottle of wine.

“Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas!” We shared a silent moment—equal, small, grateful, if not joyful and triumphant.

 

November

November

3 a.m., Pam coughing angrily

5, quiet, the night has filled
with those no longer here,
things unsaid, things never said,
forgiven, my books unread,
long efforts past—
a rich and healing dark
made of the forgotten,
the way a color wheel
spins white

7, gray touches the window,
Pam breathes evenly,
the other side of the wall

Seattle

End of the Season

End of the Season

carefully wrapped
in her sorrows,
an older woman
walks to the bakery

a donkey watches

a man on a bicycle
passes,
straining to be younger

luminous blue greens
cradle toward shore,
roll into white,
tumbling, spreading,
returning

Kanali Beach
Greece

Launched!

The Auk is now floating peacefully by Finn and Shan’s boat in Shilshole Marina. If you scroll down past the “archives” on the right side of the display and click on “the Auk” in the categories list, you will see just the posts describing the build.

Finn & Hannah bringing the Auk from Ballard

Finn & Hannah bringing the Auk from Ballard

Shannon applauds

Shannon applauds

traditional greens

traditional greens

O.K., launch me!

O.K., launch me!

don't forget these

don’t forget these

AukLcarried

Shan's benediction

Shan’s benediction

docked at launching ramp

docked at launching ramp

Auk maiden voyage

Auk maiden voyage

Auk at Shilshole Marina

Auk at Shilshole Marina

Note to Iain Oughtred:

Iain,

We launched the Auk yesterday! She floats high, lightly balanced. Three adults bring her down a few inches, settled and stable. Bone dry. A beautiful design—the boat seems alive, matched with the water, a surface dancer. I once saw a Herreshoff dinghy in Maine, a hundred years old, that had the same quality.

When we recognize something as beautiful, we are inspired and calmed. The harmonies promise or reflect or express a universal order, a higher standard. This order is integrated with the uniqueness of the beautiful object, person, sound… The universal and the unique within each of us are often out of balance. A re-balancing happens when we let out a breath in the presence of beauty.

Several centuries ago, Francis Bacon observed, “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.” The “strangeness” in the Auk is the sum of my mistakes, irregularities, choices of wood and finish, and the care taken or not taken in small details. No two boats built from your plans will be the same, but each will express the harmonious design.

It has been a challenge, a pleasure, and an honor to build the Auk. Please add my voice to the many who have thanked you for your work.

John

Auk built!

The Auk is ready for salt water! Here are some last pictures from Finn and Shannon’s garage:

Auk complete

Auk complete

Auk bow

Auk bow


Auk floor boards

Auk floor boards

Auk bow interior

Auk bow interior

The only metals in the boat are the oar locks and some bronze screws and stainless steel fittings for the floors. The center floor board is removable.

The hull is made of 6mm Okume marine plywood. The skeg is Douglas fir. The keel is oak, the stem yellow cedar. The floor boards are alder. The breast hook (the triangular piece in the bow) is purple wood. The knees and stanchions are oak and alder. The thwarts are pine, the gunwales cedar. All is bonded together with West Marine epoxy (great stuff).

The next picture posted will be when she’s on the water!

Plenty

Plenty

in the time of plenty,
remember want

in the empty days,
recall a lei
placed around your neck
by a stranger,
brushed with perfume
on Kalakaua Avenue

kitchen

houseboat kitchen remodeled

houseboat kitchen remodeled


more light now

more light now

shelves strong enough for Pam's dishes and tagines

shelves strong enough for Pam’s dishes and tagines

We finished remodeling the kitchen: replaced the formica counter and steel sink with butcher block from Lumber Liquidators and a ceramic farm house sink (which required a new supporting structure), replaced the upper cabinets with open shelves—1 x 12 Douglas fir on steel corbels that Pam found made in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, and refaced the lower cabinet doors and drawer faces with Euro birch plywood.

I cut the door/drawer pulls from rectangular walnut table legs that Pam had been saving. We copied the general design from photographs on the net, published by Sam Correa, a wood worker in the southwest. They are curved on three faces and are pegged in place with hardwood dowels. The tiles in the back splash(es) that Pam made are from Morocco and Tunisia.

La Strada

La Strada is a perfect tragedy, no excess, the pure bones of life and death and love in the face of crushing impossibility. I saw it for the first time at Hamilton College in 1959 and staggered out into a cold winter night. The stars seemed to be saying, “That’s right, kid.”

Last night we watched it from the cozy quarters of a houseboat in Seattle. Pam hadn’t seen it. I think it was the fourth time for me, so I knew enough to lay in an extra bottle of wine. I can report that the movie has improved over 55 years.

The film cohered for Fellini when he drew a circle on paper and then saw his wife’s face within. She, Giulietta Masina, plays Gelsomina, using an utterly original blend of mime, kabuki, and dance to express undiluted emotion on a canvas of innocence. A small down turn of her mouth, her eyes open and still, rings a bell of anguish inside us.

Anthony Quinn, the brutal circus strong man, and Richard Baseheart, the subtle high wire fool, are also excellent. When Gelsomina cries, “The fool is hurt,” her heart breaking, your heart goes too. It is the gift of tragedy and of this movie that your heart heals stronger than before. And, down La Strada, should you get a little full of yourself, Gelsomina’s trumpet theme will sound and put your feet back on the ground.