Media

AlJazeera crew2Nice people from Al Jazeera America came to visit me at the ruins of my property last weekend. Check it out.

I have some other stories to tell you, but they’ll have to wait. Stay tuned!

 

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Afterlife

It’s my hurricane party and I’ll cry if I want to, and take all the pictures I want.

my watchersThe End! I know, right? Yet my place hung in there, on the edge, for a long, long time. I appreciated the clamor for updates, but I simply could not deal. I needed a break from doom.

my power pole

Pacific County Treasurer sent me a property tax bill. My three lots that cost $15,000 twelve years ago, were now valued at $17.90. Guess they didn’t get the memo.

“Tell them to get in touch with King Neptune,” my Dad suggested. “He’s the new owner.”

-my sunset doom

And that business of people throwing my cabinets over the bank, and kicking a hole in the wall of the cookhouse? Well, I did not like that business one bit. This is one of the things I really hate about Washaway, the compulsion to beat the ocean by destroying things first. Indeed, I was  certain that if /when people decided to break in and trash the Vagabond, I would not be able to bear the sight of it, that I would have what was back in the day called a “nervous breakdown.” So I stayed away for three weeks, preferring to remember the good times.

fire pit

celestial Hugo

MLK day by Jenna Steffenson

Vagabond signvagabond w:pink jacketvagabond window

pink curtainsvagabond, springvagabond, duskFinally I had Marcy check. She said the padlock was still on it. So I decided to go see my place.

People had set up a scenic viewing station on the cliff with my grey plastic chair and a stuffed armchair that was not mine.

viewing station 3

 beach chairs viewIn the cookhouse, nearly everything that was mine was gone now, and people had brought in the rest of the crappy, burnt-sienna upholstered living room set. Also a couple bags of garbage. It may have been tweakers, but it kind of seemed like the work of teenagers.

cookhouse as living room At any rate, people were still enjoying the cookhouse. Maybe there had been some Peer Review, for no more destruction had occurred. I liked to think of them, whoever they were, catching whatever buzz, and checking out the wallpaper project made from years of beach firework wrappers, literally years and years of work, and being like, “Whoa. Dude.”

black cat wolf pack

A document, really.

A document, really.

I let myself into the locked Vagabond. By this point, it was so rusty that opening the door was difficult. I did a last pass, going through the cabinets. I’d open cabinet doors and they wouldn’t close again. It seemed that the Vagabond waited to see me one last time.

In the drawers I found some irreplaceable treasures: mixed tapes from my friend Chuck from 1994, Christmas lights shaped like fish, and a clay coin my dearly departed friend Regnor made for New Years of 2008, depicting the head of his dog Mingus, wearing a hat, over whom is floating what appears to be either a very small baguette or a joint. Now that the Captain  has crossed the River Styx, reunited with Mingus, all we can do is speculate.

While I was in the Vagabond, I looked at the gorgeous, golden wood door to what was once its bathroom, if there was water, with its beveled glass mirror. I realized this was something I could actually take with me, a piece of the Vagabond. So I took the door off with a screwdriver and loaded it in my car. It really helped that it was not raining and no one was around. I was on a covert mission, ripping myself off. The Vagabond’s outside metal door was very, very  difficult to close behind me, like this was the end. I put its lock back on, mindfully, with love and a prayer.

Meanwhile, life goes on in my “new” pad, the Airstream trailer that I moved to Marcy and Bob’s place two years ago. They built a pathway for me out of broken Washaway road.

airstream patio

I always stayed in the Vagabond, the Airstream was the fancy guest cottage. Now Hugo and I get to enjoy its finery, like guests.

-Hugo airstream 1-30-15

airstream and mannequin 2airstream interior 2

The whole beach experience is different now, approaching from Warrenton Cannery road. This is where cars can get on the beach, so it’s much busier. Also, there’s no doom up here. I’m pretty tired of doom. Get this: I walked down to the beach at sunset and let the ocean make me feel better.

Warrenton Cannery Road

Warrenton Cannery Road

sunset 1-16-15

The next week I got a call from the power company, Gray’s Harbor PUD, on a Sunday, the linemen letting me know that what remained of my estate was facing imminent, impending doom, and was everything all squared away with my account? Now, that’s customer service. Even then, despite gale force winds, I stuck around for a few more days.

On January 24th at 12:40 pm, Marcy and Bob happened to walk by and the cookhouse looked like this (photos by Marcy Merrill):

Photo © Marcy Merrill

Photo © Marcy Merrill

Then about fifteen minutes later, on the way back, they came upon this:

Photo © Marcy Merrill

Photo © Marcy Merrill

Let me get this straight. So instead of “succumbing to Mother Nature’s fury,” slipping off the cliff into a roiling, churning sea, the cracking and splintering of the cookhouse all but muffled by the angry ocean’s roar, I fell flat on my face on the beach, at low tide,  in broad daylight?

I once saw a really drunk lady do this. She was walking on the beach, we exchanged a few words about her Golden Retriever, then FLOP! She didn’t even try to break her fall. My friend Kelsey and I helped her to her feet. Her face was all encrusted with sand. I had a crazy impulse to clean off her face, like a stylist, but I didn’t, as she seemed crazy.

“I’m just really tired,” Drunk Beach Lady said. But she made an impression on Kelsey, who months later was inspired:

“Beach Face-Plant Lady = Halloween Costume Idea!”

I figured I’d better go get a picture of my sideways demise. As I turned the corner onto Blue Pacific Drive, the first thing I noticed was that THE VAGABOND HAD BEEN MOVED UP THE STREET.

Vagabond moved 1-30-15

blue pacific drive 1-30

Well, that would have to be Les, who loves the Vagabond and also fancies that it is wildly valuable, like $30,000. And perhaps it is, though it pretty much needs to be poached in Ospho, the rust-reducer of the Bering Sea, at this point. Moving it must have been quite an ordeal, what with the two rusted, broken trailer hitches lying along its path. I am now thinking the only way it could’ve even be possible was he must’ve subcontracted the services of a well-known Tweaker with a backhoe.

doomed trailer hitch #2

Now the Vagabond had been relocated to Stanley and Resha’s other property, which houses several derelict trailers already. Did they bequeath the property to Les, or was it Manifest Destiny? Some questions are better unasked. But this is not the longest-term solution. Its new home abuts the Myles, so the Vagabond is once again Next To Next.

Myles-next to next

But it made my heart sing, to see the Vagabond living another day with its trailer brothers instead of lying sideways on the beach like a dead cockroach, or like the dead cookhouse, for that matter. Naturally I wanted to hear the story. It occurred to me that the perfect trumpet serenade to summon Les now would be Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”:

Trailers for sale or rent.

yep, that's me

Rooms to let: fifty cents.

cookhouse sideways wide

No phone, no pool, no pets.

cookhouse floor 2

I ain’t got no cigarettes.

Black cat sideways 2

Ah, but two hours of pushin’ broom buys an eight-by-twelve four-bit room.

cookhouse sideways sunset

I’m a man of means by no means.

-cookhouse sunset sideways

King of the Road.

e selfie sideways cookhouse

Third boxcar, midnight train

Ray's place. My problems are far from unique.

Ray’s place. My problems are far from unique.

Destination: Bangor, Maine.

Belly-Acres

Belly-Acres

Old worn out suit and shoes

Like the smartest of the Three Little Pigs, someone at Belly-Acres was crazy for masonry.

Like the smartest of the Three Little Pigs, someone at Belly-Acres was crazy for masonry.

I don’t pay no Union dues.

doom 3-dutch cuteness

I smoke old stogies I have found.

doom 4

Short, but not too big around.

doom 5

I’m a man of means by no means.

Belly-Acres

King of the Road.

Someone put a stuffed animal in one of my last trees.

Someone put a stuffed animal in one of my last trees.

Soon it will be impossible to find, but for now there is still an enchanted path through the elfin-grove fairy forest behind where Ray’s place was, marked with Hansel-and-Gretel-style red arrows.

path arrow enchanted 2

path arrow enchanted

Where there are not arrows, I marked with the Sign of the Sneaker.

path sneakerI went over to Les’s to get the scoop. Katie came out barking after just a couple bars of “King of the Road,” sparing me from trying to hit those “man of means” high notes. For the first time in eight years, Les invited me onto his property, a museum of rust with a million-dollar view.

Les and estateLes's sunsetLes and Katie sunset waterfrontkatie ear and Les footAt one point Katie scrambled off the bank and couldn’t waddle back up, so Les had to perform a daring rescue.

Les Katie rescue

“You saved the Vagabond,” I said. “HOW DID YOU DO IT?” Les demurred, saying only that it was very difficult, and that the Gray’s Harbor PUD electrical linemen were duly impressed. But there were politics.

Les sciatica pose

“Leah stole the Vagabond mirror, that tweaker,” Les fumed.

“I took it,” I confessed, defending Tweaker Leah for no good reason.

Les said he had some of my stuff, and mentioned a green stained glass candleholder that hangs from a chain. I knew the one, I got it at Goodwill. I always liked it, and I said so. Les said something about stuff was hanging on it. I said I wanted it, and that is how I got invited inside Les’s trailer.

I had a little flash of Is This A Good Idea? Going into the lair of Les Strange and all. But then I was embarrassed for thinking that way, and curious, too.

Inside, I was amazed to see that I was Les Strange’s interior designer. I knew he’d helped himself to my stuff, but, come to find out, I had given him his whole new sense of style. My cute but uncomfortable rattan couch, really only good for putting your backpack on, was his couch. My Ikea rugs were on his floor. He had a cozy fire blazing in my Trolla wood stove. And, hanging over the dining table, like a grand chandelier for a guy without electricity, if not without power, was my square green glass candleholder, with various Les bling hanging off its four corners: a tiny noose, a metal fish, a little skull, some feathers.

“Ah, never mind, you keep that,” I said.

Les wanted me to carve my name into his table. When I suggested that would take too long, he had me write it in Sharpie marker for him to carve later.

I told Les that, other than the epic theft and destruction by Mother Nature’s Fury of the only property I’ve ever owned, and missing my hideaway, and the feeling of both privacy and openness, and my trees, really missing my beautiful trees, I was reasonably pleased with how most everything had turned out: the rescue of the Vagabond, and him enjoying all my cast-offs and such. And there’s a pleasure in downsizing the belongings. In fact, the worst part of falling into the ocean, for me, was that people went and ripped me off before I was ready to free everything. just the bad juju of that.

Crow trees, harvested

Crow trees, harvested

Les shrugged and said he’d been ripped off so many times that he was basically used to it. “I take everything with me that I can’t replace,” Les told me. “That’s Katie and my word. The rest is junk. They make more of it every day.”

Posted in Tides-A-Com'n | 8 Comments

WillShe B. Next

Me doomedDo not go acting a fool right now, for I am in the angry phase of grief.

In addition to other events, which we will cover shortly, my friend Regnor, one of the most inspiring and disciplined artists I’ve ever met, died of cancer.

Regnor in studio 2-2-2He was born in Norway, above the Arctic Circle, and spent his life on fishing boats. His father was lost at sea. He told me he liked being on the water so he could spend time with  his Dad. Whether he was throwing a pot, or sailing the 1930’s teak sailboat from Burma that he gorgeously restored (with its little mother-of-pearl inlays depicting the elephants moving its logs), he had a way of making mastery look not just effortless, but playful.

Regnor portrait-2-2The ocean was his muse, and he was tireless, creating series of works featuring boats, fish, lighthouses. His enthusiasm for working in clay was infectious. I spent many fine evenings (he was definitely a night person) in his studio, hanging out with Regnor and his excellent Australian Shepherd, Mingus, playing with clay, drinking beer and listening to jazz. He loved to entertain, and threw huge bashes for every Summer and Winter Solstice.

Regnor in studio-2

"Galactic Sea" by Regnor Reinholdtsen

“Galactic Sea” by Regnor Reinholdtsen

He told me he wanted to write a cookbook about his experiences fishing in Alaska.

The title would be “You Can’t Fuck It Up If It’s Fresh.

Regnor phone-2I’m not a big fan of the New Age woo-woo, but I recently read a good essay by Ram Dass about grief. “The older we get, the more we lose; this is the law of impermanence.”

He suggests that, rather than suppressing grief, to “open to it as fully as possible and allow our hearts to break,” noting that “it helps to realize that we only grieve for what we love.”

So I’ve been employing some of his techniques. Only problem is that a broken heart will make you lose your mind.

Siesta and ladder

Meanwhile, at Washaway, three powerful storms came ripping through the week of December 8. Marcy called me at work throughout the day on Tuesday, the first of the storms, to report updates: Les Strange was dismantling the metal roof over my Vagabond trailer in preparation to move it. Likely for financial incentives, Les was busting ass for me in a crazy storm while his own place was washing away. And then the Vagabond’s rusty trailer hitch broke off, and then it was jacked up and put on another trailer hitch, but that one broke too, right at the end of my driveway, which is where the mighty Vagabond came to rest, and where it was now tarped.

“Miss Marcy, I’m doing my very best for Miss Erika,” Les told Marcy.

(The next 3 photos are by the great Marcy Merrill).Les move 2Les moving Vagabond

Les move 3

vag hitches

Marcy put Les on the phone. He told me my vision of moving the Vagabond to the Third  Estate (the Second being a swamp between my lots) was impractical now, as that lot was eroding at the same rate as the First. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Last week, the Third lot was still deep in the woods, with no view.

Tarped Vagabond.

Tarped Vagabond.

“You’ll see when you get here, Miss Erika,” Les said. “This is heinous.”

vagabond shadow

There was nothing to do but keep going to work, while seeing all the horrible pictures and video of my neighbors’ places on the news, TV and Facebook. I was crippled by dread, yet there was not a thing I could do to change the outcome.

Then Regnor died. Vise grips closed around my heart, making it difficult to breathe.

“This is definitely the end of a good time,” Stanley told the TV news.

Vagabond

Vagabond

When I got to the beach on Friday I was the last one standing, Willy B. Last, with all the full-time residents gone. There went the neighborhood. Stanley and Resha’s place was gone,

Where Stanley and Resha's was.

Where Stanley and Resha’s was.

In God We Trust was gone,

In Log We Trusted

In Log We Trusted

and Ray and his girlfriend Arlysa had evacuated, having become a peninsula, their driveway inaccessible, their roof blown off.

Ray's peninsula.

Ray’s peninsula.

It was impossible to fathom. Last week Ray and Arlysa were ACROSS THE STREET from doom. Yet it came from two directions: the street, and the path to the beach, now gone.

Ray's view

Ray’s view

My next door neighbors’ place, The Doyle’s, was sideways. It was very, very spooky.

The Doyle's place.

The Doyle’s place.

The Doyle's clothesline.

The Doyle’s clothesline.

Doyle sideways2

It was lucky that my boyfriend Todd was with me. He is an upright bass player in high demand. Do you know what kind of music needs a good bass player? Every kind. It was a miracle he had this particular weekend off during Christmas-Nutcracker time. Without his help, I would not have survived this ordeal.

*Doyle's doomed w-chairs

Todd on benches2Todd waterfront2Todd, Hugo in sunny cookhouse2

bench w- crow treesI had lost about 50 feet, or half the property, in a week. The glass is half full! Let the festivities begin!

Moet

But there were challenges. The outhouse was gone, yet its presence was still required, like a phantom limb. Also, my power had been turned off, the meter vanished, the wire gone. I called Gray’s Harbor PUD. “This is unacceptable,” I said. “I am still here.”

Gray's Harbor PUD.

Gray’s Harbor PUD.

Two guys came out right away with a cherry-picker truck and were very helpful and apologetic. “Sorry for the inconvenience, we thought we were doing the right thing.”

But one of the guys seemed concerned. “Are you guys staying here tonight?” he asked. “Have you got a gun?”

life preserver

That seemed a curious question. “No,” I said. “Why?”

“There’s tweakers everywhere, coming out of the woodwork, stealing stuff left and right. We scared ‘em off last night when we came by to turn off your power, but they’ll be back.”

Todd and cookhouse

Tweakers are, of course, the wild-eyed, scab-faced devotees of Crystal Meth, best known for theft. So I figured the guy was trying to scare us, to get out of having to turn the power back on, but soon I began to see he was telling the truth. Two skinny, sketchy characters came stumbling through my yard, carrying a big piece of metal pipe.

“Hey, this is private property. No trespassing,” I said. Blank looks.

“You can’t come through here.” I insisted.

They shrugged, mildly inconvenienced. But how much policing can one do, not being there all the time, with all the permanent residents gone, who used to keep an eye on things?

Why, look. In fact, I was already getting ripped off! Firewood: gone. Rain barrels: gone. The cute little birdhouse in the shape of a trailer that my friend Sue got me, that I meant to snag last week? Gone. There used to be protocol, that you don’t take stuff until a place is either undercut or on the beach, but now no one is here to enforce the proper decorum.

zombie w- vagabond 2

In a week’s time, my paradise had transformed into the zombie apocalypse.

Blue Pacific Drive, 12/19/14

Blue Pacific Drive, 12/19/14

Blue Pacific Drive, 12/26/14

Blue Pacific Drive, 12/26/14

In a plot twist the author was not expecting, the villain of this story, the eroder of the good time, turned out to be not Mother Nature’s Fury, but people.

Les Strange stopped by to collect his fee. I paid him in full, even though things didn’t go quite as well as planned. Les told an elaborately embroidered tale of the spiders he encountered under the Vagabond in the line of duty: big as a quarter, big as a golf ball. Les does not love the arachnids.Todd, Les, Katie

Les pontificating 2AThen Stanley and Resha swung by to observe the last of their place, unrecognizable concrete rubble.

Where Stanley and Resha's was.

Where Stanley and Resha’s was.

But Resha did find a magnet from her fridge that said “Wonder is the seed of knowledge.” They stopped by my place to watch the sunset.

Stanley and Resha, 12/12/14.

Stanley and Resha, 12/12/14.

my view 1

my view 3*“You have one more storm,” Resha told me, measuring time.

Resha watching

It was not the most restful, that last night in the Vagabond, listening to the tweakers’ rattle-trap trucks roar up and down my lonely street in the darkness, all night long.

vagabond smear

No one can steal from me now. I’m giving it all away. First, we loaded up Todd’s Honda Element with the irreplaceable treasures that could reasonably fit in my modest storage unit in Seattle, also known as my dead Honda Accord: the wood-burning stove from the cookhouse, the table at which we dined, now disassembled, the record player. There were tough choices to make. I limited myself to only ten records, three of them Duke Ellington. This will be an interesting experiment: do tweakers like jazz?

Cookhouse stove.

Cookhouse stove.

Then we moved key items, such as the Vagabond’s bedding and the cookhouse’s beautiful propane oven over to my Airstream at Marcy and Bob’s, over in the Less Doomed part of Washaway Beach.

I had Les move my Airstream over there two years ago, where it’s been a guest cottage for Marcy and Bob, while staying secure for me. This, it turns out, is the only happy ending: I can still come here, and have a beautiful and safe place to stay.

airstream and mannequin

In their back yard, the Airstream was waiting, nestled among various junk from my old place: the mannequin, the ROAD CLOSED and UNSTABLE SAND signs, all priceless treasures now. Inside the Airstream, Marcy and Bob had set up a welcome gift basket with a bottle of Cuervo Gold, limes, two glasses and some pink Himalayan sea salt. Tears sprang to my eyes.

unstable sand

My remaining best possessions would be pro-actively given preemptively to the right people. I gave Marcy and Bob keys and told them to help themselves to the cookhouse’s beautiful windows and full glass Craftsman door. Without a door, the place would then be literally wide open, for the vultures to swoop upon.

fall cookhouse

cookhouse windows

Marcy and Bob

Marcy and Bob

Which came to pass, of course. People who I’ve only met once were quick to snatch up my stuff while being amazingly tactless. “Went to your shop on the beach haha,” Freddy, the hat-knitting “photographer” messaged me.

vagabond lights_0000

Vagabond lights

Vagabond lights

I allowed for the possibility that my property would be gone the next week. On the way out of town, I stopped by Les’s place to say thanks again. I summoned him with a trumpet serenade of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” that had a bad case of the blues.

*Hugo waterfront

“You didn’t save the world, but you sure as hell tried, and that’s all that matters,” I told Les. He gave me a hug. Then I gave him the keys to the Vagabond and told him to help himself to its beautiful “Trolla” wood stove, all the $60-a-foot metalbestos stovepipe in there and the cookhouse, and anything else he might fancy or turn into money. On purpose, I left behind an ugly but warm men’s down jacket and the quilted red lumberjack vest I wore for my appearance on “Evening Magazine.”

Let’s review: in order to outwit thieves and reward loyalty, I gave some of my choicest, most valuable and expensive possessions to someone who’s always done right by me, who bent over backwards for me in my time of need while his own place was falling into the ocean: Les Strange, the guy who everyone always likes to call a thief.

Les portrait 12-12-14

A week later, I came down alone, and stopped by my place first before going to Marcy’s. The cookhouse, without windows, door, or stovepipe, with a hole in the roof and a week of rain, was a ruin. Yet my toaster and records were still there, as were the fridge and cabinets. I always liked that little toaster, so I snagged it. I made a plan to come back the next day for the records and to dig up a plant I wanted. But it was not to be.

door, windows gone

The next day, 20 more feet had fallen in, so the plant was gone, as was the magnificent alder tree the crows used to sit in, sweetly and quietly, waiting to be fed (any hollering resulting in denial/removal of their favorite treat, old, cold french fries). My friend Lamar had suggested to me that, since I always knew this would happen, wouldn’t it be actually really important to watch my place fall into the ocean? Yet I could clearly see the crow tree and the firewood shed in the surf, and it was not cool. Also, someone had taken all the records overnight.

crow trees, firewood in surfI ran off all my Watchers, including Freddy, for I was in no mood to be a spectacle, or suffer fools.

E on cliff w-cookhouseI am grateful for the help of a sympathetic and kind man who loaned me a screwdriver to help get my power strip off the cookhouse wall. At the end of the street, Ray’s place was falling into the ocean and the tweakers were openly looting, staggering under the weight of his cast-iron sink.

As the cover of a tide book from the Minit Market put it a few years ago, “It’s Not the End of the World, But You Can See It From Here.”

Ray's doomed with Rhody

Suggested talking points for visiting a place falling into the ocean:

1. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

watcher w- golden

2. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

willywatchers 3 dogs 2

3. “Is it OK to come on your property?”

Blue Pacific watchers

I left for a little while, then came back. Now there was a guy parked on my property, and I told him “No Trespassing.”

As he put his car in reverse, he remarked, “this place’ll be gone tomorrow anyway.”

windows w-firewood shed

“Fuck you!” I screamed. There are problems with allowing the heart to break.

end of a good time

It was definitely the end of a good time. I’d say that this is the fundamental problem with what Hunter S. Thompson called “Gonzo” journalism, where you’re an active participant in the story, instead of doing a fly-on-the-wall, drive-by, objective-journalist thing.

Like getting stomped by the Hell’s Angel’s, when the story starts to suck, it really, really sucks. It’s personal.

cookhouse side 12-20-14 2

To make matters worse, I really wanted that jerk to be right, for the last of my place to “succumb to Mother Nature’s Fury” the next day, on a King Tide during the Winter Solstice. Wouldn’t that have been a nice Regnor-esque ending? But the talent would not cooperate. I’m still here, two weeks later, what’s left of me, the ruin of the cookhouse and the tarped Vagabond that has ceased to roam, just hanging on like a loose tooth.

cookhouse side 12-26 wide

The tweakers are getting bored. Now that everything of interest has been looted, including the fridge and the kitchen sink, they have too much leisure time. They threw my cabinets and microwave over the bank and kicked a hole in a cookhouse wall. If they had asked me, I would have illuminated to them the fact that the solid brass drawer pulls on the small white cabinet are useful for opening beers. I salvaged a cute little drawer off the beach. I really must stop stopping by this place, it is hurting my feelings.

crow trees smear 2

One good thing about grief is that it’s better than dread. I know what’s going to happen. It’s happening.

Marcy E  doom picI never thought I’d say this, but I’m ready now.

Let’s have that storm.

Posted in Tides-A-Com'n, Watchers | 11 Comments

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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