Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Atlas Beach Fest

Near the last part of May, Eveline, also known as my girlfriend, visited Bali from Jogyakarta and we spent the last day of her vacation in Canggu at a place called Atlas Beach Fest. I had not been to Canggu in years and found myself gobsmacked all over again. Canggu along with Kuta and Seminyak are what I would call the tourist traps of Bali and indeed they trap hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. The Atlas Beach Fest itself is an enormous commercial complex of restaurants, bars, live entertainment, swimming pools, a shopping center, and God knows what else. Give me peaceful little Sanur any day. That said, we had a pleasant time, along with Wayne and Louis, who drove us there and very kindly paid our way as well. So here are some photos.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Flying Coconut

Coming home from Sanur this evening, darkness having already fallen, a coconut somehow falls off a motorbike somewhere ahead and starts erratically bouncing around on the highway. Just when you thought it was going one way, it would bounce back the other way. This made trying to drive like being trapped inside a pinball machine. And this is not the sort of little round hairy coconut one is accustomed to seeing in America. No, this is a big, green, basketball sized thing heavy enough to knock over a bike or two like bowling pins. Luckily, everyone was able to swerve around it without swerving into anyone else, nor did anyone appear fearful or surprised. Eh, business as usual. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

The Final Time

 My cousin wrote today of being aware some seventeen years ago, standing in a high place in the High Sierras, that he would be seeing the place, experiencing the place for the last time. Never again would he find himself beneath "the wonders of sky filled days and bottomless starry nights."

There is a certain comfort in this, however sharp the regret--like being at the bedside of a dying loved one, perhaps. There is closure, there are words of farewell. 

I enjoyed no such fond departure, because the last time I stood in my beloved mountains I had no idea it would be the last time. I'm not even sure now what year it was. It was 2006, or perhaps 2007. There seemed at the time no need to mark the date in my personal history. 

I had simply decided to take a day trip with my stepson, because I longed to see the place, as always, and because I thought it would surely be a high point of his own young experience. He had never been in the forest, in the mountains and was certain to be dazzled and amazed.

Except that he wasn't. All the way there, he asked glumly 'How much farther?' He did not like the bumpy dirt road that stretches the last 30 miles, objecting to every jarring dip and rise. He did not like the dust, the wind, the mosquitoes, the long grass of the meadow, the ice cold of the lake.  

It was early in the season and the meadow where I had so often pitched my tent was an inch deep in water, making it necessary to skirt the meadow through the woods, which themselves were pocked with puddles. Eventually though we were able to make it to the lake, though my stepson rode the last half of the journey on my back. 

We got in a swim in the icy lake and then I set about to cook some hotdogs I had brought along for a picnic. I had forgotten however to bring a knife, and so I bought one at a little store in Government Camp. 

Who knew that this knife was going to be so sharp? It was just a cheap little thing, and I needed it only to shave the bark off a couple small branches so that we could spear the hotdogs and roast them over the fire. As I stripped the bark off the first branch, I managed to plunge the knife into the side of my thumb, creating a deep cut that pumped out blood like a faucet. 

I tried to continue with our hotdogs but the ridiculous finger just kept gushing blood. How to stop it? 

Well, what I ended up doing was to take off my underwear, wrap the fabric around my thumb and then stretch the elastic, tightly tying it around my elbow. 

Our trip was done. 

Back in Portland, in the Emergency Room of the hospital I worked at, the examining doctor pronounced my bandage/tourniquet "really neat". Quite an inventive idea. 

And that, for one reason and another and another, turned out to be my last trip to my beloved mountains. I don't even count it now in my mind, in my memory. It was a do-over that will never be done over. Sometimes I imagine somehow going there again, and yet must admit that any circumstance that would find me there is perfectly unimaginable. And so I remember only. I remember the feel of the forest floor on the bottoms of my feet, the smell of the pine and fir trees, the glitter of the water when the sun strikes the ripples, the gentle seam that my fishing line makes as I cast the fly one more time just beyond the ridge where the deeper water begins. My final journey never arrives yet never ends. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Temporarily Disabled

 My apologies for being absent for an extended period of late. I actually had some things I wanted to write down, but was suddenly experiencing pain that was worse than usual in my right shoulder and back--a longstanding problem, but somehow exacerbated. This made the 'typing position' particularly uncomfortable, such that I really couldn't concentrate on composing anything (not that concentration brings such good results even on my good days, but you know what I mean). 

I ended up using a combination of icepacks and Advil to gradually get the pain under control, and I am now feeling pretty much back to 'normal'. Normal for a decrepit old man with various decrepit old issues.

Unfortunately, I have essentially forgotten the things that I wanted to write during this downtime, or if not forgotten, at least lost interest in. 

I did have the chance to read a number of books-- 

In English: The Book of Form and Emptiness, Ruth Ozeki; The Secret History, Donna Tartt; Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Haruki Murakami. 

In Indonesian: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald; Who Is Maud Dixon, Alexandrea Andrews. I've also started Les Miserables, which I expect will take some time to read through, for it is difficult enough in English, all the more challenging in a second language. 

Of course, I meant to say something about each of these, but my shoulder is beginning to hurt, so never mind. 

Hopefully, you'll be hearing more from me soon.