Nice light from not much light

I went looking for the Jerry Garcia carving in the cutout by the lower greens, on the Halsey side, like the guy said. But it was foggy and damp, and what looked like Jerry on the other side of the green could just as well have been a tree. A small sign said Keep off the grass, and there were maintenance people milling about in little carts, like the guy who’d stopped and told me about the carving. He saw me taking pictures and asked, had I seen the Jerry carving? There was another car trying to get by, but he didn’t seem to notice and spent a good, solid minute giving directions. It was roughly 9 but felt a lot earlier than that, for a place people go to drink and indulge themselves in spas and soaking tubs (and golf). But because it’s got a hippy vibe, the place feels charmed—even the squirrels seem spirited by the way they look at you.

I worked my way to the top of the grounds, by the garden and glass-blowing shop, then ran into the same maintenance guy again. He asked if I found it and I said no, there was a sign saying Keep off the grass, which felt very non-Jerry to me. He laughed and said yeah, Jerry would want it to say Keep on the grass—but that wasn’t what I meant, I meant Jerry wouldn’t like a sign telling you what to do. There was another car trying to get by, so we just laughed and said goodbye.

All of us were pretty compromised from the night before. The first time we’d come to McMenamins in four years, a former poorhouse outside of Portland converted to a bed and breakfast, of sorts.

It’s one thing about overdoing it at McMenamins, you have a three and a half hour drive to look forward to the next day. And no mountains on days when it’s socked in, just cool-looking clouds at best.

So we talked, with Kelly in the front seat and Chris in the back, and Dawn going ahead separately in the other car. And we came back to the topic of where we live and our lifestyle, wondering if it’s the environment of over privilege that’s making it so hard to parent, or if it’s just cell phone addiction, or a combination of several factors.

The maintenance guy was recently retired and lived next door, so he took a job with McMenamins and dropped 20 pounds, he said. Seemed pretty happy. I wondered if we should just keep making as much money as we can now and retire early, or scale back and go somewhere quieter, which is what I really wanted to do. Everything was happening so fast, I wanted to slow it down.



Categories: Memoir, parenting, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. I like how you start these things, in that you just start them, and we figure out context as we go. Like when you start with “the Jerry Garcia carving in the cutout by the lower greens, on the Halsey side,” I have no idea what you are talking about, but I like that. The tendency for a lot of us when writing personal stories is to want to prep the reader with a lot of context, with setting or why we’re writing about something, and the result can often be that the reader gets one or two paragraphs or more into the thing before it actually gets going. Better to just start, and let the reader figure it out. Makes for engaging pieces. That’s it, I’m shop-talking, so I’ll stop now. Have a good week!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well I’m super happy you wrote that because I took this on as a kind of challenge to “not explain” and see if I could pull it off. Nice to hear it worked with you mister! I value your opinion and all that touchy-feely stuff too. Thanks for reading and for that super cool comment. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this post. Definitely a nice hippy vibe, if it can even mellow out the squirrels, those jumpy little devils. Ever since I saw some eating a discarded cheeseburger in the park, they’ve made me jumpy, too, another symptom of the end days, carnivorous squirrels. My hometown was the kind of place, where you’d overhear discussions about the advisability of hunting squirrels during hot weather, like eating raw oysters in July or whatever, and contracting some sort of brain fever – maybe the cellphone addiction is akin to the squirrel hyperactivity issue? So let’s stay away from the all-acorn diet and tree parkour, and try to slow things down, sounds good.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There’s a keep on the grass vibe here that I enjoyed, though probably more with half a bottle of red gone south than while munching an egg and lettuce sandwich at my desk. Makes me want to play ‘Blues for Allah’, but maybe later.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another roadside distraction. Jerry Garcia in a tree. That’s an odd thing. Elvis Costello in a pumpkin. Frank Sinatra in a corn field. I’m clearly tired.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right, it’s funny you mention Elvis Costello. I actually found a small memorial by a tree for a server who died in 1997 at one of their bars. And there’s an Elvis Costello quote from a song about red shoes dedicated to him. And oddly that waiter was the first one I met at the bar in 96. They named a hamburger after him that’s still on the menu at that location. Touching isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. thanks for letting the story unfold and trusting us to figure it out. a brave leap of faith and well done


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