20 January 2015

The Exodus Begins

Ian and I left Seattle yesterday morning, following my piano, about twenty minutes behind the guys from Can’t Stop Moving. We would’ve left sooner than that, but they forgot the ramp to their moving truck, which they’d removed and placed on the parking strip of 39th Street while loading our 500 LB, newly refurbished, thick old iron clawfoot tub.  They had my cell phone number but I didn’t have any of theirs, and it was well before nine, when their office opened.  I flapped around in a brief but useless panic while Ian strapped the ramp into the back of Nublu (thus doubling her length), carefully wedging scraps of Polartec fabric under the ropes he used, to keep the end of the ramp from sawing itself free on our drive up I-5, and tying some bright red scraps of warning nylon on the end. I left a breathless and quavery message on the voicemail at Can’t Stop—we had to meet up with the van and transfer the ramp before checking in for the ferry, so please  . . . help . . . uh . . . somehow . . .

Making a move that involves riding a ferry boat to the San Juans is not an uncomplicated endeavor. In the summer, there are crowds of tourists and full boats to contend with and so timing is everything; in the winter, the boats are never full, but the schedule is spare and, therefore, timing is everything. For movers who can typically accomplish two jobs in one full day, our job—spending, because of the ferry schedule, 14 hours carrying a small subset of our household goods from Seattle to Hogan House—was essentially a day of paid vacation. The ramp was forgotten simply because it was still early dawn when we all left Seattle, and in the rush to make the boat two hours north, its low profile was easy to overlook in the dim, overgrown grass.

Aside from a small rainy squall somewhere around Marysville, the weather was clear and bright and gorgeous for our drive north, and holiday traffic was light. We met up just outside the ferry terminal in Anacortes, in the parking lot of the defunct Charlie’s, and transferred the ramp. The boat ride displayed the San Juans in all their glittering winter glory; and two of the three had never been up here. I felt the proud, proprietary satisfaction of introducing them to a new and delightful region, regardless of the fact that my “ownership” of this exquisite bit of nature is nothing more than unbelievable good fortune.

After a short stop at the House to leave the tub and then a brief, breathless moment with the piano on the ramp at Hogan, the guys rapidly emptied the rest of our core valuables into our temporary home. They were easily done with us by 2:00pm, which left them more than two hours (at $160 per) to lumber around central Orcas in their giant truck before returning to the late-afternoon sailing.

Here I am. Couch at Hogan. West Sound and Shaw through the window before me. Dog snoring blissfully to my left. My piano, the alembic through which I distill mood into song, on my right--the only piece of my soul that’s been missing up here. Ian, just off the phone, at work in the Dacha.

Seattle? What is that? Are there still tasks there? Responsibilities? Frustrations? Finalities?

Maybe. I wouldn’t know. 

08 January 2015

The Water is Wide

I woke up this morning with a song swirling through my mind, a song that I sang long ago, in one choir or another. It was not a song I particularly liked--kind of a simple melody and chords--nothing terribly interesting or challenging to perform--so, the perfect kind of song to get stuck in one's head.

"I have this awful boring song stuck in my head this morning," I said to Ian as I came into the kitchen with the coffee he'd just delivered to me in bed. "The water is wide . . . and I cannot get o'er . . ." I sang, "and neither have I . . . wings to fly . . ."

He laughed, and pointed out that yesterday my life had been all about fixing the side sewer in Wallingford before putting the house on the market (to the tune of about $20,000); and dealing with the annoyances and frustrations of the new Orcas and San Juan Islands ferry reservation system.


The water IS wide.

01 January 2015


We went to celebrate New Year’s Eve at Burke’s house last evening, at least for a little bit. He and his wife have five grown children, and four were in attendance with various significant others, as well as several friends and their families. It was a far cry from the quiet evenings Ian and I have been spending here in Hogan House (we’re trying to train ourselves to use the actual name of our guest house), but it was a beautiful home (naturally, as it was built by Burke), and the greatroom was perfectly designed to host large numbers of people. New Year’s Eve dinner is traditionally make-your-own pizzas, with crusts and sauce and various other toppings supplied. We brought some pineapple and Point Reyes blue cheese and salami, and our pizzas were delicious. We weren’t entirely in the dark about who the other party attendees were, because there were at least four men there whom we’ve met working on our house (including the one who installed our first Orcas Christmas tree).

One of the builders, introduced to us last summer as a finish carpenter who was slumming it as a framer (albeit a framer using a laser level to make sure our stud walls are square), came by with a young girl, to chat with Ian and me where we were sitting enjoying our pizzas. I had noticed her just before, and idly supposed she looked related to Robert, and then there they were. “Calin,” said Robert, “when Burke and I were in high school together there was a girl named Calin. And this is Cailin,” he said, indicating his daughter. “Calin, Cailin.”

“Do you spell your name C A L I N?” I asked. No, C A I L I N.

“Do you get called ‘Caitlin’ a lot?” asked Ian. Yes, of course, she does. We laughed about some of the things I get called, and how it’s easy to know that junk mail isn’t for me when it’s addressed to Calvin or Colin, but behind the scenes, my brain was doing a rapid-fire calculation. If Burke and Robert were in high school together, and Burke is a little younger than my parents, and Calin is a pretty darn uncommon name . . . “What was her last name?” I asked Robert.

“Marr,” said Robert.

I burst out laughing—the delighted, incredulous laughter that I’ve come to associate with the serendipity of this island for me.  “I was named for her,” I said. “She was my mother’s student when my mom was pregnant with me.”

“But she wasn’t from Bellevue,” said Robert. “She moved from Renton.”

“Yes, exactly,” I replied, “my mother taught her in Renton.”

The story I’ve heard my whole life is that my mother had wanted to name me Angela, but my father was not going to truck with any angel for my name. “Let’s name her Calin,” he said. “I like that name!”

“But I don’t like that girl!” was Mom’s reply.

So there you go. Yet another absurdly awesome—and kind of stunning—coincidence;  yet another tie with Orcas and our blossoming lives here—this one connecting me back to when I was just a gleam in my father’s eye (and a great, distended burden in my mother’s belly).

I feel like I caught a glimpse, this New Year’s Eve, of a network of forces at play above and beyond our ken. A pinprick image, if you will, of the Interconnectedness of All Things; or at least All Things Calin.