AUGUST 22, 2010

It's been a cool and foggy week up to the weekend on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. This weekend marked the first time Summer really made its presence felt as the El Nino fog burnt off for many adventures along the Coast.

Saturday started off inauspicious, but by afternoon the Strand was packed with dogs and kids and volleyball and BBQ from the jetty all the way up and around the Cove. By Sunday, the bright color dabs of parasails and windsurfers dotted the intense blue sky over the high tide water as temps racheted up into the nineties, bringing a real sense of summer at last.

Cowboy Wiz dropped in for his sixty-seventh birthday, saying that Phoenix had topped 110 degrees again. So the old barfly tugged on his alligator boots, his turquoise-studded belt and set his Stetson at an angle to troll the waters of the locals around here. We told him to do his best to stay out of fights, as few in the Bay Area still enjoy the old-fashioned knuckleduster quite the way he learned in knockdown saloons and fandango joints across the West, complete with smashing crockery, splintering chairs, bleeding stitches and broken bones.

Ah, them were the days.

So, after a mildly regretful evening of Jaegermeister shots he finished off his birthday in true Western style by going up to seal Craggy Doyle's cabin roof under the blazing sun, fix the jammed garbaged disposal, cook up a BBQ feast for a gang of outlaws passing through and generally needle Craggy Doyle -- who was somewhat hard of hearing -- by whispering every time he talked to him.

"Hey Doyle, yer shoe's untied."


"Doyle, yer fly's unzipped."


"Doyle, the sink is about to overflow and your underwear is showin'."



"Oh okay, that's all right then. . .".

Then the two would start punching one another in a way that Doyle always lost because Wiz would kick loose Doyle's wooden leg untilt the man fell over. Real cowboys know it's always good to have long-term friends who know your strengths and your weaknesses.

To work off the steam all the outlaws went out for a bike ride with Susan leading the way. The sun glanced off off the points on her collar and wrist spikes most charmingly and at the end of the day a fine time was had by all.

The heat kept off the fog well into the evening as the nearly full moon began its leisurely walk across the sky. Lionel returned from his movie date with Jacqueline and got berated -- again -- by Luther, who never could understand the man's fascination with the oh-fay hairdresser when so many fine Sisters were available.

"Why don't you go out with that Yvonne over at the Creek?" Luther said, but Lionel's opinion that Yvonne was a nurse at the Clinic and too smart a gal.

"Truth be told," Luther said. "Just about every woman out there is smarter than you, Lionel."

It also may be added that it was generally agreed that no one could decide for which party on either side this was most distressing.

Meanwhile Tommy and Toby were having margaritas on board their sloop, the Lavendar Surprise, with Lynette and Shelly. They all commented on the fine weather as the moon continued its promenade above. Lynette said the weather made her hands feel better. All the bones had been smashed up during the attack long ago outside the Pink Triangle Bar in Boston. She had nearly died in the snowbank where she had fallen under the baseball bats, and there were still health problems. All of them had experienced, either directly or indirectly through friends something similar before coming to California and the Island. She looked at Shelly, whose grey eyes reminded her of the nickname for the Wise Goddess, Glaucous Athena. She would never have met her had she never left Boston.

There was Trouble every day, but for now, there was the slap of the water against the ship's hull after a fine day of sailing on the laughing waves and the pitcher of margaritas and old friends and lovers. From across the way, the strains of an acoustic guitar drifted from a party. For the moment, life was good.

Across the way, Denby was playing music with Andre -- the entire Household had gone down to the water for relief from the heat and Occasional Quentin had brought a jug of wine with him which he passed around. Somebody sort of found a cache of beer cooling in the water which had been sort of left behind by a boating party. Sort of. The beer got definitively handed around as well.

"Trouble in mind
I'm Blue
But I won't be blue always.
'Cause the sun's gonna shine
through my back door
someday . . . "

Rolf clinked bottles with Marsha; they understood one another. Perhaps no job or prospects, but definitely no Vopos, no Stacheldraht, no husband knuckle sandwiches and definitely no Jersey despair. Marsha fingered the sand dollar that she had kept of the two found hours after arriving at the beach so long ago.

"Honey please send me a sand dollar so I knows you got there to California alive. So I knows there be somethin' better out there, some kinda thing to hope for. Least for one person like you. Promise me you'll send me a sand dollar. . . ".

Bonkers sniffed at a box he found sitting on a bench there and whined. Somebody had left what looked like a simple cheese hotdish embedded with what looked to be jalapenos there. It didn't look that old and perhaps it was still edible. There was even a plastic spoon in there . . . .

At that moment, walking by on separate walks, Father Danyluk of the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint and Pastor Nyquist both heard the music and paused to admire the peripatetic moon, each according to their likes and their liturgies. Bless us O lord for this moment and the simple joys. The moon continued its walk, unheeding. Pallas Athena going to meet her brother in the morning.

The West is big and wide and full of a million stories and a friend says you can go crazy if you listen to 'em all. The Editor turned from the window and looking out at all the bonfires flickering far away on the beach, Lights of Earth, another friend had said, meaning not the fires but the people there, each one a bright star. Thinking of friends, those who had passed on and those who abide, he returned to his desk and the pool of light cast by the lamp.

From far across way the long wail of the train ululated across the moon-walked waters of the estuary as the locomotive wended its way from the starlit gantries of the Port past the dark and shuttered doors and windows of the Jack London Waterfront headed off to parts unknown.