Sanctuary

The Farmer’s Almanac called this last full moon the “Cold Moon, when winter fastens its grip,” and noted that the Cheyenne Indians called it “Moon when the wolves run together.” I need to write those wolves a thank-you note. What a blessing for a mild week.

grand estate at dusk 12-5-2The previous week I had met with local legend Les Strange. A name like that, people want to either make jokes about More Strange, or call you an outlaw. But the facts remain that Les has always done right by me, and has already successfully moved two of my trailers, masterfully, and our hopes are high for the Vagabond.

Palace of Crossed Swords and Vagabond

Palace of Crossed Swords and Vagabond

The first trailer he moved was the Aljo, a big, bad trailer from the 70’s with teeming wet carpet and black mold. Both floor and ceiling were collapsing, its shell was fragile as the exoskeleton of a locust, yet it was full of choice building materials: cedar siding, a truly massive 10-foot beam, and more.

“Make this go away,” I said to Les, “and you can have everything in it.”

“Yes ma’am,” Les said.

Les silhouette-2Then, in 2012, the last time it seemed that doom was truly at hand, I had Les move my Airstream over to my friend Marcy’s for safekeeping, which was a ninja drive detailed in my post “Interlude” and established Les as the Lord Of Fix-A-Flat.

Les and Katie on edge-2So I needed a consultation with Les, but how to contact a person with no phone, when one is disinclined to knock on the door of a property that says “STOP STAY OUT”? I stood outside his property and played “The Godfather” on the trumpet until his little dog Katie started barking and he emerged.

boat 1-2Les said he’d move the Vagabond, named his price for that, then asked for a retainer. I agreed and gave him all the cash I had, $18.

boat and watchers-2

So, I thought Les was going to start dismantling last week, but everything was the same when I arrived. We had another consultation. “I think you have some time, Miss Erika,” Les said. “It’s all set up like you like it. You still have power. Enjoy it, and I’ll move it when the time comes.”

vagabond side 12-14-2

But Les did think I should prepare. “You need to get some Ospho,” Les said.

Ospho?

“It comes in gallons at the hardware store. It turns iron oxide, which is rust, into iron phosphate, which is paintable. We used it on the boats in the Bering Sea.”

So I went to the True Value and got me some Ospho, and I did my Ospho chore on a beautiful day, then decided to crawl on my belly like a snake and get the inside of the wheels and the axles too, whereupon I did notice that the front trailer hitch featured a disintegrating rust that fell into my hair and compelled me to hit up my friends Marcy and Bob for a shower. Yet my spirits were not dampened. In Les We Trust!

vagabond wheels-2What a beautiful reprieve from preparing for doom. I slept in until 11:30 in the sunshine with a pal, listening to a frog serenade us from my swamp in the unseasonable warmth.

Hugo vertical in vagabond-2Hugo sleeping-2

Vagabond views

Vagabond views

vagabond interiors 2vagabond interiors3Then I decided to take a stroll down the street to see what was up with Stanley and Resha and check out In God We Trust in the 9.9 tide.

S&R watchers 1-2The watchfire was burning at Stanley and Resha’s, and a crowd had gathered.

watchfire-2

S&R watchers 3-2S&R watchers 4-2S&R watchers 2-2One thing I noticed right away was that everyone was wearing these Dr.-Seussy hand-knit hats. How did Washaway Style Watch miss this important new trend? Your correspondent is asleep at the switch.

S&R watchers 8-2

S&R watchers 6-2Fortunately, I met Freddy, photographer, birdhouse maker and prolific knitter, who had a car full of these hats, and gave me one, so I could be as cool as the rest of the class.

S&R watchers 7-2

e and hatsI made a joke last week about In Log We Trust. Now it is true.

In log we trust 2-2In log we trust-2In log we trust detail-2In God we trust and ladder-2

In Log We Trust was being salvaged by Tom, of A-Frame fame, and another guy. The house was leaning sideways on the log over the churning sea, yet they were going up on the roof with chain saws to get into the attic.

Tom and chainsaw-2“What in the attic could possibly be worth it?” I said to Resha.

“The ADVENTURE!” Resha said.

cliff salvager-2I took a stroll to the end of our path to the beach with Resha. What was once a fairy-tale trail through the Elfin Grove was now, as Resha pointed out, 30 steps long. But there was no wind. Things were reasonably calm. We were standing by this sideways tree, then we moved further back, while singing a few bars of “I Felt the Earth Move Under My Feet”, and then the tree fell off the bank and left a huge hole where our feet had been.

tree chained to bank-2toppled chained tree-2

S&R beach chairs-2

Resha

Resha

Resha 2-2Resha 3-2It will make you younger-2

Stanley

Stanley

I asked Resha if she was experiencing the anxiety and dread. She said she got her grieving mostly over with two years ago, and was really trying to focus on savoring. She told me that my worrying might actually make things worse for me. “You need to be present and in the moment, so you can make good decisions when the time comes,” she told me.

sod clods-2silvery metal-2Craig’s outhouse was still standing. I decided to help myself to his abandoned multiple gallons of unopened drinking water.

2 outhouses

2 outhouses

Craig water-2A reader named Dianna commented on my last post. “That ‘ragtag compound of trailers, shacks and buildings’ is your sanctuary, that is why you and your various neighbors are there. It was cheap enough so the ‘everyday person’ could afford to buy it and live so close to the ocean. It is magical to be there, and the rush to the sea has long been one of woman-kind’s ways to heal the soul.”

grand estate 12-5-14-2Feeling healed, I headed back to Seattle, feeling like I had some time and that things would be handled when the time came. It did not seem like our Cold Moon wolf luck was about to run out.

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Trust

Things are happening so fast here, it’s making my head spin. Every week, this is a different place.Chuy and boots-2

“In God We Trust”‘s whole yard disappeared in a single high tide, and now is on the edge, with a huge log protruding underneath it.

11/22/14

11/22/14

In Log We Trust.

In Log We Trust.

 

About 70 years old.

About 70 years old.

Craig’s driveway is gone now, along with his shed, and his foundation is in pieces on the beach.

11/22/14

11/22/14

Craig's shed

Craig’s shed

Craig foundation-2But things aren’t all bad at Craig’s. Do you know why landscapers hate Pampas grass? Because it’s impossible to remove.

pampas grass-2Over at Stanley and Resha’s, the lanai is gone now.

lanai 11-22-2They were having a wake and had a guest book for people to sign. They had a blind gift grab. I reached into a box and got a wrapped blue mug with seagulls on it. They gave away piles of stuff, including their light fixtures, mirror and bed, and drove a U-Haul to Seattle with the rest. Then they came back for more.

Resha and Stanley 11/22/14

Resha and Stanley 11/22/14

And with the cozy fire burning in the hearth, and Yoshi, the sweetly aging but still-puppylike big black dog chomping away on a stuffed penguin on the couch, and the sun shining, things just didn’t, and don’t, seem real.

Stanley and Resha's 11/28/14

Stanley and Resha’s 11/28/14

Others had come to mourn, too. I met Gary and Sue at the end of Spruce Street, about 50 feet from their “Belly-Acres By The Sea.”

Gary and Sue at Belly-Acres By The Sea

Gary and Sue at Belly-Acres By The Sea

Seagull at Belly-Acres

Seagull at Belly-Acres

Things are about the same at the end of Spruce. “The Ralphs” are hanging on.

Ralph's 11-22 2-2

One cool thing is that, next to the Ralph’s, there was this gorgeous, pristine vintage Boles Aero trailer, that looked like it was from the 50’s, about to fall into the ocean. It evidently was Grandfather’s, and his people came and saved it at the 11th hour. Yaaay!

Boles Aero-2The horribly stormy, then beautiful weather is confusing.

Stormy view

Stormy view

Vagabond view

Vagabond view

asphalt undercut-2asphalt chunks-2The Yellow and Black house, next to the departed Yellow and Brown Compound, is being salvaged and/or looted, and appears to have been, in its day, a nice place.

yellow-black house-2

inside yellow and black-2

OX OX

OX OX

love

love

sideways tree-2

Whipple St. 11/22/14

Whipple St. 11/22/14

beach walkers-2

“Smell the flowers. Blow out the candles.” I was on the bus recently, and this woman was talking about teaching her class of preschoolers to yoga breathe: in through the nose, out through the mouth. I’m trying to savor the moments, but the dread of impending doom looms, so I’m up for trying little tricks, like oxygen.

It’s December, so the Christmas music is here, which makes me think of Mom, which leads to unscheduled and inopportune crying jags. Vets of loss, when does this stop? This is fixing to be a long month.

sideways Xmas tree-2By now, you may have deduced that my place is not a nice, picturesque house about to fall into the ocean, but instead a ragtag compound of trailers, shacks and outbuildings. So the loss will be multiple times. Buckle up! Since I don’t know if I’ll still be seeing these places next week,  join me now and bow your heads for the Lost Soles…

Hugo and lost soles-2lost soles 11-14 2-2

No fair, I'm still working on this side!

No fair, I’m still working on this side!

…and, sadder still, the Palace of Crossed Swords.

palace  exterior-2palace  painting-2palace artwork-2

palace glass-2I got this idea from Karl Krogstad’s outhouse at the “Shrine to Circusanity” in Eastern Washington that burned up in the big Wenatchee fire a couple years ago. Wine bottles and mortar = stained glass.

bottles exterior-2 Except that white wine bottles, which, as the diamond people say, have better color, cut and clarity, are not my beverage. Fortunately, at the time, I had glamorous, Prosecco-drinking German neighbors whose recycling I would raid. If I were to do this again, which I probably won’t, I would hit up a restaurant for materials, though drinking has its charms.

palace grotto-2That last-minute rescue of the Grandpa trailer was inspiring. These things are wheeled! So, I’ve retained local talent to try to move my Vagabond, on its 1930’s wheels, to my tiny vacant lot a little ways down, soon. I need the gift of time. Please, send me all of your positive vibrations. The sun went down on the last of Craig’s shed. Smell the flowers, blow out the candles. Let us be gypsy wagons, transient as the beach itself.

Vagabond 11/29/14

Vagabond 11/29/14

Craig shed sunset-2

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Watcherfront

What a surreal image, to see the last part of Craig’s house clinging to the bank early Friday morning.  In gale-force winds on Thursday, November 6, the bedroom and living room fell off the bank, were smashed into bits and vanished in the 9.9 tide. Now just the kitchen was hanging there, upside-down.

Before the fall.

Before the fall.

I went back to my warm bed, yet soon heard a THUMP! so close it sounded like it was on the roof. It could only mean one thing.

Another 9.9 tide.

Another 9.9 tide.

My neighbor Resha was already out there, and Craig, who’s living in Grayland now, arrived shortly thereafter.

Craig and Resha

Craig and Resha

Craig 11/7/14

Craig 11/7/14

“I’m sorry for your loss,” I said to Craig.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Craig said. This is the most we’ve spoken in two years.

threshold

threshold

logpile

logpile

3 chairs-2At low tide, it was a confusing sight. The kitchen looked normal for a second until you realized that it was upside-down, and the cabinets were the upper cabinets.

Craig kitchen low tide-2cabinets and glasses-2cabinet-2E Washaway-2Craig's upside down-2

View.

View.

Craig sneaker-2Of course, I’m a contender too now, but there are other candidates for Willy B. Next. My money is on “In God We Trust.” Their drainpipe is sticking out of the bank with water flowing out of it.

In god we trust pipe 1-2In god we trust pipe 2-2My neighbors Stanley and Resha are a little further back.

Stanley and Resha's 11-14

There is also “The Ralph’s” at the end of Spruce.

Ralph's cliff-2Houses falling into the ocean, as we’ve discovered,  are very picturesque. Here’s what I saw on my first day being waterfront.

ivy Craig fence-2watcherfront 1-2watcherfront 2A-2watcherfront 4-2watcherfront 5-2watcherfront 8-2watcherfront 6-2watcherfront 9-2watcherfront 10*-2watcherfront 11-2watcherfront 13-2Craig sunset 3-2Craig sunset 1-2Craig sunset 4-2With such a conspicuous house as Craig’s, that made the TV news and all, falling into the ocean, I fully expected our Washaway Beach newspaper of record, The South Beach Bulletin, to cover it. Sure, the story must become old hat after awhile, but in the past the SBB has never passed up the opportunity to write, “Another home succumbed to Mother Nature’s fury!”

5 crows-2

I only found a fragment of the recipe for success.

I only found a fragment of the recipe for success.

The WWII gun turret is visible now at super-low tides.

The WWII gun turret is visible now at super-low tides.

Please leave a message.

Please leave a message.

But there are three holiday bazaars coming up, and the Grayland Players are doing a performance of the aptly titled “You Can’t Take It With You,” so Mother Nature’s fury wound up on the cutting room floor.

Craig hoop-2

 

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View

Craig's with water 1-2Now, for the first time, I can see the ocean from my place. Not just a thin blue line glimpsed through the trees, or nice golden west light at sunset, but actual waves, moving.

Craig's with water 2-2This is due in part to the changes at Craig’s place, and also to the disappearance of the trees on Oak Street, which vanished with Oak Street.

Hugo and Oak St. 3-18-12

Hugo and Oak St. 3-18-12

No Oak St. 10-31-14

No Oak St. 10-31-14

Oak St. signs

Oak St. signs

Things at Craig’s are not looking good at all. About a third of his place is undercut now.

Craig's undercutCraig's 1-2

Willy B. Next is funny until it's true.

Willy B. Next is funny until it’s true.

All this on a beautiful, sunny Halloween. A day so gorgeous, it can’t help but seem filled with hope and promise. Why aren’t I scared? My capacity for denial amazes me. Maybe things’ll stop right here. This is just enough view, thanks. I guess I’m like those climate change deniers. I can see what’s going on, but it’s not really going to happen. You can say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

sunny Vagabond view sunny Vagabond view 2-2 Vagabond halloween-14Vagabond rear endUnfortunately, reality informs my dreams, and they are terrifying. I see my beautiful Vagabond trailer sideways on the beach, looking like a train wreck.

yellow and brown train wreck-2In dreams my luck has run out. Then I wake up and say, “It’s OK, that didn’t happen. Yet.”

This is not a comfort.

yellow and brown horseshoe-2

Heart bookcase crumble

Heart bookcase crumble

buckling fixtures-2

Yeah, I'm trying to strike deals with Him too.

Yeah, I’m trying to strike deals with Him too.

Erosion control techniques

Erosion control techniques

Further down the beach, Les Strange’s compound has been getting hit pretty hard too.

Les's waterfront

Les’s waterfront

Les Strange 10/31/14

Les Strange 10/31/14

Les is defiant, yet also considering going back to Kodiak and the fishing boat scene. “There’s nothing holding me here,” he said. Except his little dog, Katie, who couldn’t go on the boat, and he “wouldn’t sell her for a million dollars.” And this is a guy who could use a million dollars.

Also further down,the A-frame is being dramatically dismantled.

A-frameA-frame 10-14 2Behind the Yellow and Brown Compound is the Pink Porch House, which I’ve always loved for its wraparound New Orleans-style porches, and which would also seem to be in line for Next.

pink porch house 10-14-2One good thing, I suppose, about Washaway being in the news is that it brings me new readers! Welcome, doom lovers! But also, predictably, every single time Washaway Beach is in the news, the internet trolls come out with their clever, zippy comments: “What’dja expect, idiots, it’s called WASHAWAY BEACH!”

Maybe dumping rocks isn't such a bad idea!

Maybe dumping rocks isn’t such a bad idea!

Thanks, how original! But, by these calculations, everyone who lives in Florida on the water, or in New Orleans, where there’s hurricanes, or near the ocean anywhere, or near the volcano in Hawaii, or in the midwest, where there’s tornadoes, or in California, where there’s ocean AND earthquakes…well, you get the idea. Proximity to beauty is a calculated risk. Sometimes you lose. I’m terrified, but it has been worth it, every precious minute.

rock dumping on 105-2Meanwhile, Washington state has been dumping new rocks alongside Highway 105, the only part of this area there’s ever been any effort to save.

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Autumnal

 3 crowsIn just a few weeks’ time, things have gone from a whiff of ominousness to full-on terrifying destruction.

tipping spooky trees

I suppose there were some clues. For one, the presence of the sand shelf. It seems so hopeful at the time: the sand is building up! Last time I remember a sand shelf like this was in 2010, and that was a very bad winter indeed.

more shelf-2sand shelf 2There has been steady erosion down on Spruce and Willow streets. The Pentagon finally fell into the ocean.

fallen PentagonAnd there has been slow, if steady, undercutting of the Yellow and Brown Compound.

9/1/14

9/1/14

10/10/14

10/10/14

But now things have gotten very serious. Yesterday the Yellow and Brown Compound was flying in the air.

10/25/14

10/25/14

side view vertical-2Its siding had blown off and inside, from the beach, you could see a cozy living room, still intact, with a lamp, a TV and a bookcase with hearts cut into it, ready to break mine.

I heard it fell off the bank later in the day.

*yellow and brown cutaway view 2-2heart lamp vertical-2The only relief in the destruction that’s been occurring has been that, well, it’s not on my street. But all that has changed now. A giant cliff replaced the sand shelf earlier this week.

new cliff-2In God we trust cliff-2

The swing's tree fell in today.

The swing’s tree fell in today.

My neighbor Resha built an elaborate beach garden this summer. Now she is digging up and giving away her plants.

Resha's garden-2For the past three years, my neighbors have been waterfront. This includes my neighbor over the fence, Craig. Craig being waterfront has meant that I am Next to Next. I have no desire to be waterfront, for that would make me Next. But things are not looking good over at Craig’s place.

 9/22/14

9/22/14

10/25/14

10/25/14

The "Stop" sign is a nice touch.

The “Stop” sign is a nice touch.

Bud on Craig's roof-2

Bo waterfront-2Years ago there was a place that called itself “Willie Washaway.” The place behind it had a sign that said “Willy B. Next.” They’re both gone now, of course.

Oak St. signs-2Sure, I always knew this was going to happen. It’s called Washaway Beach. I knew that going in. But how do you prepare yourself for loss?

root infrastructure-2

I know, in some part of my brain, that nothing lasts: spring, youth, beauty, your pets, your Mom, this moment. I like to think that I embrace this, that photography’s currency is things vanishing. That, as a gardener, I’ve seen leaves fall enough times to know it’s a cycle. All this sounds great in theory. I’m not ready. This can’t be happening.

fog footprintsMy first year here I met an old woman on the beach who told me she keeps coming back  for the smell. I smelled it when I pulled into my driveway Friday morning: wet trees, moss, salt water and sand, an intoxicating brew. The woman told me she’d had “ten good years” here. I’ve had twelve. It’s not enough, never will be.

ocean crowLike the smell, I’m trying to practice savoring. I must closely observe and experience the warmth of my fire, the percussive drumbeat of rain on my trailer’s roof, to each day I’m lucky enough to have here. If I could just act with such certainty that all things won’t last,  then I’d be really paying attention. Premature grief is what I feel.

But then, amid all this, are these messages of hope: “May you have a shell in your pocket and sand in your shoes.”

shell in pocket-2

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Glory

You may want to pick up some shoulder-launched missiles. The Pentagon is about to fall in the ocean.PentagonAll right, it’s a hexagon, which is less funny, and it was clearly crafted with some love.

Pentagon roof I’ll bet it has a better view than the real Pentagon.

Pentagon viewSummer is usually the less-eroding time, and this has been mostly true except for in a few places. There’s the last of the Yellow Compound at the end of Spruce Street:

last yellow compound 2yellow compound cross sectionThis place, which I will unimaginatively call the Yellow and Brown Compound:

yellow-brown compoundAnd, of course, the hard-luck A-frame.

A-frame 2

crow silhouetteWhile these serve as an ominous reminder to never forget,  the glory of summer is distracting. It’s trendy now to post lists of the things you’re grateful for. Here is mine:

I haven’t been able to get to the beach much, so my neighbor Ray has been cutting my grass for cash and Bud Lite. This has been a rewarding investment.

Ray and mowerI am delighted and entertained by Washaway Beach and its fascinating curiosities.3 sandpoints

tire and gooseneck musselstire 2beach bananalost pantscliff facefeathersshipwreck and barnaclesvelellapaddleboarders 1paddleboarderspaddleboarders groupI’m thankful for our beautiful Northwest king salmon cooked on the fire, smoked with leaves and branches from my alder trees, served with a sweet corn summer salad.

salmon cookingsmokersalmon and corn saladAnd then there are the guys, the best boys, my goodfellas, always looking out for me.

GoodfellasHugo jagI’m especially grateful for my place here, my piece of this, for a little more time here, for as long as I’m allowed. I guess I’m just a lucky so and so.

vagabond and daisiesbeach foxgloves

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Inland

The rockets’ red glare? Pass. Washaway is next to an Indian reservation, so the Fourth is a Mecca for meatheads seeking explosives. The beach must be avoided at this time, unless patriotic terrorism is your bag. Besides, my firework wallpaper project is now complete, so I have no need to go harvesting anymore.

firework wallpapercookhouse interiorThis is not to say my Seattle neighborhood was immune to constant shelling, but, unlike the beach, I do not expect it to be quiet. I stayed inland to make sure no one set my roof on fire. While I was at it, I decided to be a tourist in my own town.

space needle and tree

I go to the coast so often, I forget that the mountains are pretty cool too. I went for a beautiful hike amid alpine wildflowers on Little Bandera Mountain, just east of here.

bandera 1bandera 2

bandera 3

Then I headed down to Seattle’s waterfront, to observe the wildlife.

3 chihuahuaschihuahua

The Chihuahuas in sombreros were hilarious, but they must’ve been heavily sedated. That would explain the shades. All I know is, the sombrero did not go over well at home.

Hugo sombreroAnd there were other creatures with addiction issues too, namely the Ivar’s seagulls, endlessly enabled by Ivar’s sub-par french fries.

Junkies.

Junkies.

seagull and ferry

I went for a ride on Seattle’s Great Wheel. This is a gorgeous way to see the city.

great wheelwheel view 1wheel view 2wheel view 3wheel view 4wheel view 5wheel view 6

Missing the beach, I headed over to the Seattle Aquarium for some sea life.

Young salmon

Young salmon

aquarium 1aquarium 2aquarium 3aquarium 5aquarium 6aquarium 7aquarium 8aquarium 9

While a lifetime in captivity sounds like no fun, I think the sea otters have figured out how to do it, spending the long days eating clams, doing the backstroke.

sea otter_0001

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