12 Whole Years!!!

12 years ago I met Dena for our first “real” date at Louie The Blacksmiths Halloween party and we have been almost inseparable since that day, that day being October 25 1996. Two short years after that day we called all of our friends and family together to meet us on an Island in the Puget Sound to celebrate a set of promises that we had written together for each other. Ten years! I never thought for a second before meeting Dena Hankins that I would be able to put up with a person for more then a decade but even more phenomenal is the fact that she has not only put up with all of my many idiosyncrasies but she in turn loves and respects me in the same way that I love, honor and respect her. The promises that we wrote to each other and proclaimed to our family and friends a decade ago read like this; We promised to work at loving each other. We promised to take care of each other when we need it, to leave each other alone when we need it and to ask when we do not know which is needed. We promised to communicate our needs to the best of our abilities. We promised to remember that we are both individuals. We promised to weigh each others wishes before making decisions concerning each other. We promised to to try to know each other to the fullest extent possible in each phase of growth and change. We promised to keep the above promises fresh and relevant and to keep our love young and new!!! I look back over the last decade plus two that we have been together and I can clearly see that we have kept our promises to each other[…]

Read more

No God

I have never been so unwilling to be mistaken for a Christian. It’s been a long time now since I claimed that belief system, and I’ve gotten used to the subtle and blatant ways of cluing the people around me into the fact that I’m not a believer. But here, wow. I didn’t even realize it was happening. All this time in India, throughout North India, all the way down to Trivandrum and back up to Cochi. It wasn’t until we stopped and met some fishers on the beach at the mouth of the river that runs nearby that I realized what was happening. It had even happened before, but I hadn’t recognized it. They thought we were one of them! They – these guys – were Christians, Keralan Christians. The whole way they came up to us and spoke with us and urged us to go out drinking with them and asked to come to our house…it was all so intimate. It was as though we were supposed to know them already. And it was all based on a fallacy. Finally, one of the boys mentioned being Christian and we clarified that we were not. What are you? What are we? In India, being non-religious seems to be the only really strange thing to be. There are religious systems in India, ancient and unique systems, that have fewer than 200,000 adherents worldwide. There are Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, Jews, and of course, Christians. Being as though Goa was ruled by Portugal from 1510 until 1961, it shouldn’t be surprising that there would be so many Christians…but it was. About 75% of the Christians in India live in South India. A Syrian Christian named Thomas Cana, a merchant, arrived in the 4th Century. He had 400 families in[…]

Read more

Blue Water Dreams, Chapters 1 & 2

Chapter 1 A light breeze floated the jib’s clew high above the impenetrable green of Lake Union. Lania sailed northeast into a cobalt sky unseen in Seattle since the previous spring. She slipped over the little wind waves, the lapstrake planks of the boat’s hull amplifying the whispered flirtation between wood and water. Alone in a responsive boat, Lania sailed across the north end of the lake as though racing, every gust an opportunity and every slack a test of her judgment on sail trim. Fingertips alive to the precise tension on the jib sheet, she milked each patch of moving air by hauling in or slacking the line a half-inch at a time. Slipping from pocket to pocket, her eyes scanned for the ruffled water that indicated air currents. Puff chasing in a long ellipse around Lake Union. Heading south now, rougher water ahead revealed the salty compressed air currents caused by Puget Sound winds circumventing Queen Anne Hill. Many a sailor had capsized in that knockdown alley but Lania could see it coming. The varnished teak tiller rested along her hip, transmitting the Morse code of the water’s motions from the rudder into her listening flesh. Her right hand tugged the main sheet free of the fiddle block’s cam cleat. The line sizzed through a four sheave block and tackle system that quadrupled her strength and made short work of bringing the boom lower and closer to the centerline. Capable hands firmed on the tiller and jib sheet. Lania slid to the starboard settee as the green waters lifted, the peaks lightening to celadon and then growing frothy white beards behind each wind wave. One foot braced on the opposite settee as the small wooden boat began to heel. Forearms and wrists flexed in slow counterpoint to the[…]

Read more

The Barbarians

There is etiquette and the rules. There is also non-verbal communication, the cues that are below conscious interpretation most of the time. If you find yourself studying someone’s posture, expression, hand motions for meaning, for clues about the meaning behind their words, you are looking for the non-verbal communication. For many people, reading these cues is automatic and happens unaware. This happened to you when you realized that your cousin wished you would leave though she invited you to stay for dinner. This happened to you when you said no to a second cup of tea when your hostess offered one, though you didn’t realize that she was actually out of milk. As we have met more and more people here, I’ve been more and more conscious of my illiteracy. I wander around this country unable to read many of the signs and advertisements. Some of them are in English, but many are in the language of the state. Similarly, I have been more conscious of my non-verbal illiteracy. I am not sure of my reading of people’s cues, the things they say without saying them, the delicate and important business of being honest while protecting their images of themselves as good hosts and nice people. I have had so many things pushed on me with great force: food, drinks, chairs, extra servings. And I’m not fluent enough to know when I please the host by acquiescing and when I displease them. Even more difficult, when I persist in declining the offers (too full for more, tired of sitting, etc), am I making things difficult or easy? I worry about putting people out. When I’m offered chai and I say yes, someone has to go make it. It’s not the fastest process on earth, either… Imagine a woman in a[…]

Read more

I Love My Washing Machine

No, really. Here’s how it works. Put the clothes in the side with the big bin.  Turn the water faucet on. Once there’s enough water, turn the water off.  Add soap.  Set the timer for the agitator. When the timer goes off, click over to “Drain” to, you know, drain. Click back and refill.  Reset timer. When rinsing is complete, move clothes to the other side – the spinner.  Turn on that timer and hold onto the thing while it bumps a few times until it evens out. Put the clean, semi-dry laundry on the clothesline on the roof. It’s pretty satisfying, actually.  I was dubious while shopping, but I’m glad we didn’t pay double for a fully automatic version.  We’re cleaner and better smelling than we have been since we arrived! I’ll have James take a picture…

Read more

DJ Schlomotion

Schlomotion sits at the radio console and stares at the soft amber glow of the instrumentation his thick brow is furrowed in concentration and the anger is welling inside. The song, She brings the Rain by Can is quickly coming to an end, it ends and yet he stares emptily into the dead air as if the aether was somehow speaking to him in a soundless language that only he could understand. The silence drives a painful stake into the dark studio. The mic is live and through the crackling silence you can hear Schlomotion lick his cracked, bloody dry lips. Finally, “I can see you.” Then again, a stunning silence with the occasional pop and crack of the signal as it bounces from one solid structure to another. “You think I can’t see you but I can see you, you and your lover, you are both lying side by side, naked, panting. I can see your breath, you bitch, you fucking bitch.” Schlomotion’s heavy Israeli accent, grated to shreds by nicotine and crystal meth bites off the i-n-g and the t-c-h as if it was cut from his tongue, he goes on, “You will pay, yes you both will pay. I will teach you, you fucking cunt, I will teach you, you will pay.” Presently my pager massages my thigh with my invariable conscientiousness. I lamely excuse myself from the table, drop the quarter with a sigh and a slight “g-by” dial, wait. “Phelch?” “Yeah. Dave?” “Yeah, are you listening?” “No, I’m eating, what’s up?” “Where?” “Snatch and I are at Mini’s why?” “Which one?” “Belltown, why, what’s up?” “Dude, Schlomotion has totally lost his shit and he’s airing his dirty laundry, you better get to a radio quick!” “Who gives a fuck? If the dude wants to bitch[…]

Read more

A Sunday Travelogue

Today we went to the beach. Name of the beach? Hmm. I just don’t know. We decided to just head out and try to find it. Looking at the google satellite view of the area (a while back), I thought there seemed to be a relatively straightforward route. But the roads that the maps choose to mark don’t necessarily look any different from other roads. Like in Seattle – sometimes a road will be marked Arterial, which I would think means it’s a more major road than the others around it. But you can’t always tell the difference without the little signs. Here there are no signs. James and I both thought we remembered a through road that left from the school, so we turned left out of the lane and then left again after the school. We found the first thing we were looking for deep in the neighborhood lanes – a chai wallah. Yay! Deliciously caffeinated, we set off again. We felt safe just wandering because there’s a major river that meets the sea just south of us. If we crossed any good-sized bridges, we had gone too far! Well, we meandered for quite some time before suddenly realizing that we were paralleling the water. James turned off at the next opportunity so that we could take a look from the edge and figure out what part of coast we were on. What a reception we got! Boys poured out of every building around. Little boys, big boys. Boys who thought they were men and boys who hadn’t started thinking about that yet. They all said hello and all shook our hands. A few even had decent shakes! Just so happens that we turned into a little fishing community with a…yes…a christian church. Denomination? Um, I have no[…]

Read more