Dream – Night of 2016-12-07

Takes place in the 80s some time in a country town.

  • Guy comes home from somewhere.  Jail / College / Army, something like that.
  • He’s always been in kind of a rowdy crowd.  He calls up his old friends to see what they’re doing.  His kid brother wants to come with him so he says ok.
  • They all meet down at some quarry overlooking a processing plant.  3 cars, 3 guys and the kid brother.
  • The third guy has this weird thing he says a lot, it’s like his catch phrase.  “Here’s to you kid” followed by something that just happened.
  • They split most of a 12 pack of beer while shooting the shit (even kid brother has one).
  • From the overlook you can see the entirety of the plant and all the machines moving stone around.  It’s nearly automated so there’s not really anyone to catch them drinking beer up on this overlook where they shouldn’t be.
  • They decide to leave and kid brother wants to ride with guy #3 – they live next door and kid brother wants to see if this guy #3’s kid brother is home (who is our kid brother’s friend and who he wants to brag to about hanging with the big guys drinking beer).  Ok, fine says big brother.
  • They all race their way out of the quarry because it’s fun on the dirt roads, you can fish tail around corners and stuff.  They are dirt roads and giant clouds of dust form which looks wicked cool but also is an advantage if you’re in the lead – not so much if you’re one of the cars behind.  Right now it’s the main character in the lead, the second car, and then the third car (with the kid brother and other guy driving) fighting to get in front of #2.
  • They go around a large corner, a small straightaway, and then are back up onto the main road.
  • Main character turns left, second car turns right, and the third car can’t be seen in the rear view.  Oh well, they must have slowed down because they couldn’t see.  He’d see them back on their home street.  He leans into the gas and accelerates onto the highway.
  • Main character gets home, takes a shower, and then is getting dressed.  He notices the other guy still hasn’t come home yet (he can see guy #3’s driveway from his bedroom window).
  • Main character calls second guy,  “Hey have you seen #3?  He’s not home yet…maybe he broke down, his car is a piece of shit you know”
  • They decide to go check.
  • It’s getting towards sunset now and they are re-tracing their path into to quarry when they see a break in the bushes and tire tracks leading to it in the dirt road.
  • They stop, get out, and walk through the bushes to emerge out on the top of a very steep hill.
  • At the bottom of the hill they see the #3’s yellow car’s taillights, trunk, and some of the roof, but the rest of the car is buried under stone, and more is slowly covering it because it had slammed into into a pile that was being built up by one of those stone conveyors.
  • They run down the hill to the car and get to the driver side first.  It is blocked from being opened, half because it is crumpled, but half because there is a large rock on the ground keeping it from opening all the way.  They move the stone and get the driver’s side open.
  • Stone chips just like the ones that are covering the car come pouring out…the inside is filled with stone. They frantically scoop with their hands but can only find a pair of feet on the driver’s seat with the legs leading towards the passenger side where the kid would have been sitting.
  • They run over to the passenger side and open that door.  This one also opens roughly but not as bad as the first one. More stone chips come pouring out and then they see the rest of guy #3’s body covering / laying on top of the kid who is still in his seat with his seat belt on.
  • Guy #3’s fingernails have stone chips embedded everywhere under them.  He had been trying to dig his way through the stone with only his hands.  His hands are raw, like he’d been digging for a long  time.  At first probably just to try to get to the door handle and get the door open, but afterwards in a vain effort to keep the ever-deepening stone away from their faces (remember, they are underneath a conveyor which is constantly pouring out more and more stone chips).
  • They see a cookie – one which kid brother had brought with him from home – and it was miraculously preserved.  It had a single bite taken out of it and was still in kid brother’s lap.
  • Big brother looks at guy #3’s face and thinks to himself it looks like he’s saying: “Here’s to you kid – I tried.”

In the actual dream it was peat moss and not stone chips but I don’t think they move peat moss on conveyor belts so I changed that, and there wasn’t beer in the dream but that seemed like a good addition.  I also couldn’t remember exactly what the “catch phrase” was that guy #3 had (i.e. “Here’s to you kid”), but I think that might be right.

NORTHBOUND 2015

“Be careful what you wish”

I advised my Daughter-in-law’s Sister Elise to consider that old saying before joining  the crew for this trip aboard BETTY ANN. But she was game to do it, so on Sunday 10 May we gather at the Southwest gate for the flight to Charleston, South Carolina. But, surprise, we learn the BETTY ANN had put in at Savannah due to tropical storm Ana so a new plan is put in play.

Larry had flown to Charleston the previous day so he rented a car, met us at the airport and we drove to the Isle of Hope Marina located on the Skidaway River portion of the Intracoastal Waterway. We picked up Archie, and with Elise navigating on her phone, headed into the Savannah Riverside Market section for lunch. We ate at Joe’s Crab shack (actually a large full service restaurant- and very good) then return to the marina. Archie and Larry take the car to go provisioning and Elise and I spend time familiarizing her with Betty Ann, stowing our gear and doing final preparations for getting underway in the morning.

The provisioning crew return with three overflowing dock carts. While they begin stowing that Elise and I take the rental car and the marina’s loaner van to National rental at the airport. We fear the worst since neither of us are listed as drivers on the agreement but the agent smiles and says, “You’re returning this for a friend, right” NICE! The two of us then head back to the marina in the van – a true beater – with labels all over the interior indicating what doesn’t work. lol most everything!  On the way back we make a quick stop at The Pirate House Bar and Restaurant to check it out, have a beer and then return to pick up Archie and Larry for dinner.  Unfortunately, the little place Archie had picked out had just closed their kitchen (9:00) , as had the second choice Japanese restaurant. The third try is open, Jalapenos Mexican food, pretty good, perhaps because we were starving by then.

MONDAY 11 MAY

Up early for showers etc. and a quick trip to Walmart for some forgotten items. We’re underway heading down the river for open ocean and have plenty of excitement as a large outbound RORO (roll-on, roll-off) ship and and incoming container ship meet with us at a narrow bend in the channel. Things get back to normal quickly and soon we’re in the Atlantic. We make our turn onto course 060 M; unfurl the main, jib and stays’l, cut the engine and bask in the glory of an 8+ knot broad reach. For Elise the thrill is short lived as she begins to succumb to seasickness. She applies a Scopolimine patch, and through the bright sunny day appears to be making a recovery. The watch bill is set with a four on: four off schedule so at 1600 I go below for a quick snooze before my watch at 2000. My eyes open at 1800, still no diesel engine noise so I lay back,  smile, and enjoy the sounds of the Betty Ann working in the seas.

One of the great things about offshore sailing is dealing with adapting to the watch schedule. You go to sleep with one set of circumstances on the boat, then awaken several hours later and your mind has to catch up to what is now going on.  I spot Elise, she is upright, a bit pale but smiling. What I had missed was her “mal-de-mer” moment of truth that occurred when Larry had handed up a big bag of garbage to stow in the dingy on the aft deck.  She relates her husband Rick’s line to sea sick boaters, “How would you like a Whoopie Pie dipped in an ashtray”? With that she lies back in her rack for some more sleep. We’ll have to wait for 2200 to see how she’s doing.

Tuesday 12 May

Over my many trips aboard the BETTY ANN I’ve come to believe she will always present the crew with a problem to test their worthiness. Our test this trip arrived at around 2 AM. I’m awakened by the sounds of a sail change. Archie and Elise are on watch and I go up to assist. When Archie pulls the throttle back to idle we hear a beeping alarm. Thinking it’s the autopilot he taps the “Auto” button, but at the same time I see the red ignition warning light – the engine has died. Attempts to restart it prove futile, it cranks but won’t fire. I check the Raycor filter bowl and it’s clear, no water. There’s a light breeze so we decide to sail through the night and figure things out in the morning. Some things you just can’t do in a powerboat! Archie and Elise go below and Larry and I take over.

0600 and Archie arrives on deck. We start the generator, make coffee and charge the batteries. The engine still doesn’t start so we ponder the possibilities. There aren’t many on a diesel – fuel, air compression. It ran perfectly immediately prior to stalling and hadn’t overheated or smoked excessively so air and compression aren’t likely issues. We check the filters again and they look fine. We change them anyway and assure there is fuel pressure leaving the secondary filter. While Archie cranks the engine I crack the forward injector nut and very little fuel comes out. Perhaps the fuel shutoff solenoid is faulty.  Larry reads the engine schematic and identifies the solenoid wire color coding. I find the white/brown wire and test it with a meter while Larry works the ignition and stop switches. There is some voltage to the solenoid but not the full 12 volts.  Larry disassembles the control panel in the cockpit, there is some minor corrosion but no major issues. Not much else we can do so we set sail for Southport, NC . With  a fresh breeze pushing us at 7 knots we plan on making the Cape Fear River entrance channel by late afternoon. I go below to get Elise out of her cabin and into the fresh air and sunshine. The news we are heading into Southport does wonders for her.

The wind holds and we have a great sail into the channel and up to buoy #15 where a Tow Boat US Captain meets us to take us into the Marina. He’s alone on the boat and hands me a ratty length of 3/4″ line to put on a bow cleat. I’m thinking “this isn’t the way the USCG has us do it” There is a strong current against us and he tells me “I’m going to tow you up to that daymark in front of the marina dock. When we get there drop the line and I’ll drift back to put you in a side tow. Besides being very skilled at what he does he also has a sense of humor. When we get to the daymark and I drop the line Betty Ann is still making about 5 knots. He drifts down the starboard side and calls up to Archie at the helm ” Slow it down Captain, you’re going way too fast”. It takes Archie a few seconds to realize the joke.  He takes us right to the dock which involved making a 180 degree turn against the current which he did by using a spring line from his boat, to the dock and back to our boat. Later, while completing paperwork he asks Archie for his name. “” Archibald Kenyon says Archie. “Now that’s a real name says the captain. “Yeah” replies Archie, “You learn to fight early growing up with it”.

While walking to the marina office a guy passing by asks us if we’re going to his weather briefing. We asked when and where it was and agreed to go later that evening. Being perhaps a bit to casual, Archie and I show up at the marina conference room  with cold Yuenglings in hand. “where’s my beer”? asks Hank, the presenter.  It turns out Hank Pomeranz is a retired US Navy meteorologist, who not only provided an excellent briefing on the upcoming weather  (pretty much guaranteed perfect 10-15 kt SW sailing winds for the next few days. He also convinced us to take the inland route to Masonboro Inlet rather than going back down the river and around Cape fear as we planned. He gave us detailed charts of the route with up-to-date comments from other boaters and explained the shoaled spots had been dredged and we would have no problem. That tip alone would save us 50 miles, or about 7 hours, and we’re anxious to put it to use.

Wednesday 13 May

At 0815 Dave, the mechanic, arrives. He is a classic “Tar Heel” and could have been Tom Hank’s voice coach in Forrest Gump. He talks constantly as he completes the exact same troubleshooting steps Larry and I had, explaining the technical steps he’s following, providing advise to us and relating personal stories as he goes. I only had time to jot down a few notes as I realized he had “good material” Excerpts from Dave’s monologue:

  • “When I was on a commercial fishing boat I had to go below and change fuel filters if I wanted to get home. All those other boys would just stand around watching, saying we don’t know nothing about that stuff”.
  • “If you ever have to go to Dosher Hospital (the local hospital), what you need to do is ask for a ride to Wilmington.”
  • “Look now boys, you came close to solving your one problem but getting yourselves into bigger one.” (he explained how cranking the engine for long time could build up water in the exhaust and back flood the engine. He showed us the drain plug in the exhaust muffler, and said to close the engine seacock to prevent that.
  • “Don’t Armstrong that plug when you put it back in” (plastic plug, steel pipe = be gentle)
  • He also had an offshore fishing boat distress flare story. Hopefully one of the crew can remember that and edit it in because I did not take note of it.

Dave gets the engine running but re-starting it is still a problem. He noticed the same low voltage we did and replaced the starting battery which was bad. (“If they’s big ole batteries I’ll need to get a couple of those yard boys to tote them down here”)  He thinks the alternator may be the problem but acknowledges ” I’m a good mechanic but electrical systems are way over my head”.  So Larry , Elise and I walk along the river into town for lunch while Archie waits for the electrician. Larry returns to the boat and Elise and I explore further having beer and wine and Rum Runner punches at the Flying Fish and Provisioning Co. bars.  Archie texts us that the electrician found a bad fuse in the main electrical panel. If course it is not a stocked item so we’ll have to wait another day. We all go to dinner at Frying Pan Restaurant even though Hank had given it an “interesting” rating. The food is good and the view over the marsh and inlet is spectacular from the 2nd floor dining room.

image-11-1

Thursday 14 May

The waiting to get underway is killing us. The winds are holding as predicted by Hank and we could be making a lot of progress. Elise has to be back to work Monday and we’re starting to run out of time . The fuse arrives via UPS and is installed by Jay, the electrician. The engine fires immediately. Larry drops the spring lines but when I pull the throttle into idle the engine stalls. OOPS! I restart it and go below and find air bubbles in the filter. “Long story short” I install new O rings, and follow all of Dave’s advice about closing the seacock, draining the muffler etc. crank the engine and it starts.  So off we go, North up the ICW to Masonboro Inlet following Hank’s guide sheets. At 1800 we depart the inlet at slack high tide, all of us packed with Larry’s secret recipe Philadelphia Lasagna. Our course of 090M will take us clear of Cape Lookout and  ESE winds at 10 Kts, 2-3′ seas and clear evening sky will make for good motor sailing. We’ll round Cape Hatteras tonight or early tomorrow morning and then decide if we can make Cape May, NJ in time for Elise to make connections home. If not, we’ll head into Norfolk, VA.

Friday 15 May

Under power and stays’l we pass Cape Lookout during the night and Cape Hatteras in the morning, a distance of 150 NM. Thank you Gulf Stream for the push! The day slips by with only one porpoise and a few flying fish for distractions. Given our progress we now think we can make it to Liberty Island Marina inside New York harbor, a good transportation hub for Elise.

Saturday 16 May

By mid morning it is apparent we can make it to Point Judith if the forecast Southwest winds proves to be true (always a crap shoot as we’ve found out on prior trips).  So we alter course to starboard, set the main with a jibe preventer and motor sail wing-on-wing making just over 8 Kts. Archie announces our decision to go for it to Larry ” Because of your wonderful cooking the crew has approved an award for you, we are sailing directly to Point Judith”.

The conditions hold all day with only one sail adjustment needed. It is warm and sunny, a perfect day for an on board shower.  Minutes later I emerge obviously refreshed and Elise decides to go for it too. She comes out with a big smile and destroys a large bowl of Larry’s chili. As we pronounce her totally cured of seasickness, as if on cue a large pod of porpoise come to the bow to welcome her to Neptune’s kingdom. She heads forward on deck with her camera and a big grin.

If we can continue at this rate we should make P.J. between 8 and 10 PM tomorrow.

Sunday 17 May

Night watches pass without incident and the morning breaks cloudy with the South wind easing to the point the sails aren’t drawing as we motor along. The GPS shows nine hours to the waypoint off Montauk so our ETA still looks good. Smoke and fumes from below indicate the galley master is active and soon a wonderful breakfast of cheese omelettes and grilled English muffins appears. We develop our final Plan-Of-The-Day: motor sail until we are within cellphone range and call Andrew, who is in R.I. for a wedding, hoping he can pick us up at Point Judith Marina, take us to the airport to pick up Larry’s and Elise’s cars, drop off his rental and head home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BETTY ANN – NORTHBOUND 2012

BRAEDONTON, FL TO CHARLESTON, SC

NOTE TO READERS:

It is 05 December 2016 and I’ve waited far to long to transcribe my scribbled journal notes into a cohesive accounting of this trip. So I will capture the highlights I can decipher.  Captain Archie’s crew for this leg include “veterans Jim and Larry, and “greenhorns” Ray and Glen.

Saturday/Sunday

0600 sunrise on Tampa bay. Winds light and variable means 30-40 hours of motoring to Key West.

  • Helm school for the new crew
  • Guiness World Record Blueberry pancakes for breakfast
  • Slab of Prime Rib for lunch
  • Ray eats mostly rice cakes but the brand/style Larry bought are not to his standard. Larry bought “a lot” of them so we spend the day brainstorming possible uses. (Life jackets is the best idea)
  • Ray’s new nickname is “Rice Cakes”

Late afternoon converstion:

Ray  “Where will be be stopping?”

Jim  “Key West”

Ray ” when will be get there?”

Jim “Tomorrow afternoon.”

Ray “I meant where will be stopping tonight?”

Jim “We aren’t”

KEY WEST

  • Michael McCloud at Schooner Wharf Bar and dinner at PEPE’s for dinner
  • Ray and Jim find good music, Jameson’s whiskey and West Virginia dance partners at the Hog’s Breath Saloon027

Ray proves to be an excellent liberty “wing man”. On the way back to the boat I tried several directions with no success but kept insisting it was only a couple of block so we should keep walking. Ray hails a cab and tells the driver the marina we’re going to. “But that’s only 2 blocks away”, says the cabbie. “That’s what this guy keeps saying but he doesn’t  know which two”.

  • The main outhaul needs replacing. With splicing, jerry rigging and patience. we manage.
    Archie and Glenn snaking line through boom

    Archie and Glenn snaking line through boom

    Larry's answer to missing boom stop.

    Larry’s answer to missing boom stop.

    Monday

  • We depart into 15-20 Kt Northeast wind with 4-5′ seas. It’s going to be a very long day and night.
  • Archie and i share a 3 on 3 off watch schedule supplemented by Ray, Glen and Larry.
  • 0230, autopilot shuts down and we do a 90 degree turn in a couple of seconds (WOW).
  • Another conversation during middle of the night watch.
Glen "So where did you grow up"?

Jim "New Jersey"

Glen "So did I, what part of the State?
Jim "East Orange, outside of Newark"

Glen "Wow, so did I. What school did you go to"?

Jim "Ashland grammar school and E.O. high"

Glenn "I went to Ashland"

Jim "Is your last name Ramsey"?

Glenn "Yes it is, Hey! You're Jim Beardsley and we were best friends in the 4th grade".


  • Tuesday

  • Another long, hot, humid day of motorsailing into big swells
  • The seas cause Larry  to do a pole dance between the two posts in the salon earning him “the stripper” nickname
  • Meat balls A-La Cockpit floor for dinner. “It’s like dog shit” says Larry to Ray, “You’ll track it all over the boat”.
  • Ray “We’re still going to Fort Pierce aren’t we”?  Archie, “No, we’re going straight to Charleston”.  Ray “You’re bullshitting me right”? Archie “No”

Wednesday

  • A perfect day. 10-10,7 Kt beam reach in the gulf stream.
  • I take my first shower while underway in an active sea. To use Andrew’s description of scuba diving “It’s a lot of work for what it is”
  • Ray proves to be a comic with great one liners. Like “I’ve never in my life been with a bunch of guys that sleep so much and drink so much water”
  • During deck rounds I find the jib furling line is nearly parted and we do a temporary repair.
  • Glen hears a US Navy transmission about a warning on the VHF. I get US Warship 42 on the radio and they say we  are 8 miles inside a 25 mile exclusion area and are sailing into a live fire exercise “firebox”. I get instructions to sail East, and coordinates where we can resume our northerly track. When we make the turn the radio comes alive. “Sailing vessel BETTY ANN, this is USN warship Predator,  is it your intention to cross my bow?” We turn to look and see a frigate steaming up our stern. “Predator gives us new instructions which we willingly follow.
  • Big plates of corned beef and cabbage for dinner.
  • Larry's Corned beef and cabbage in the works

    Larry’s Corned beef and cabbage in the works

  • Clear and hot with a 10-12 Kt port quarter wind and ETA at MEGA Dock of 1200. We’re two days early so we hope there’s a spot and there is.051
  • Larry is off to visit his son. We do some work on the boat, have dinner at Fleet Pier and a drink (or two) at Salty Dog bar and turn in for the night.

Thursday

  • I make two attempts at splicing double braided line but can’t get it right so Archie gets it done for $20 at the marina shop. I make a pledge to learn this skill and now splice all the dock lines, mooring lines for friends at our boat club.
  • I talk on the phone to Jake, son of a friend of mine, that is stationed at the USN base attending nuclear school. He’ll meet us tomorrow for dinner and recommends the Blind Tiger Pub. He suggests we try the King St. Grill Sports bar tonight. We do and the appitizers are great but the meal is mediocre. The Pop D.J. that follows drives us from the place.

Saturday

  • We do more cleaning and work on the boat and provision for the next crew.
  • Evening at the Blind Tiger Pub where we meet Jake, and are all taken by the beautiful and entertaining bar maid. It is the day of the Kentucky Derby. She stops at each patron at the bar and asks “Which horse won the race, I missed it” The answer of course is “I’ll Have Another” So she refills your drink and moves on to the next person.
  • Jim, Jake and our waiter

    Jim, Jake and our waiter. Jake can’t take his eyes off the barmaid

 

Snowball Cookies

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2/3 cup confectioners sugar (I use a little less because I don’t like them so sweet)
  • 1teaspoon vanilla
  • Blend above together until smooth
  • Add:
    • 2 Cups Flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt and blend until flour is completely mixed
    • Mix in 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • Take about 1 Tablespoon of dough and roll into balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. (I fill the cookie sheet because these cookies don’t spread,)
  • Bake 300 degrees for about 20 minutes or until bottoms begin to get a little color.
  • Roll in confectioners sugar twice while warm. (I only roll once, again because of the sweetness.) I actually like this cookie without the sugar coating. They’re just not as pretty.

Dream – Night of 2016-08-30

This was a huge dream that I was happy to remember when I woke up:

  • I think it started off in a water park or something, and an entire group of people finds themselves at the end of the ride and at the beginning of a new one called “The Game”
  • The Game is a problem-solving game, and only those who find the solutions advance to the next room.  Advancing to a new room is called “getting older” in the vernacular of The Game.
  • It starts off very easy and everyone makes it to the next room.
  • This next room was a little harder and required you find a lever or something which they saw you find and would usher you through to the next room.
  • It becomes clear at this point that the participants are being observed by the people running The Game.
  • In this next room there are only ten or so people, and there are two glass walls.  One looks out into the “next” room that we are trying to get to, and another looks back into what appears to be the previous room.  In the previous room is a single girl who looks confused and perhaps frightened because she is alone.  She is clearly trying to find her way out.
  • We bang on the glass to try and get her to realize where we are and give her a hint to where she needs to go.
  • We realize we have guns (aren’t dreams great) and start shooting through the glass to make holes in the glass and noise.  The girl in the other room sees/hears these and runs over to start pounding on the glass.
  • Meanwhile, everyone else in our room is trying to get to the other, “next” room.
  • I am eventually able to get the other girl in to this room, and it turns out that’s what you needed to do in order to advance.  The observers are about to send someone else into the room but she speaks up, “No, it should be him that gets older, he brought the other girl here.”
  • I am ushered through a door and into the next room where there are six or seven other people.
  • Everyone is wearing headphones, and I am given a pair.  There is some sort of soft music playing in the headphones.  I realize there is a bar where everyone else is sitting so I go over and sit down too.
  • Sandwiches are placed in front of us and we all realize we’re starving because we’ve been playing this game for a long time now.  The food is devoured.
  • The headphones come alive with a voice telling us to move through a new door that opens in the wall.  We all walk through and find ourselves in what appears to be a standard room of a house with a fireplace at one end, a couch, and some other features.  It’s decorated like an old Victorian house.
  • We are all milling around for a while, unsure what to do.
  • Three of us sit down on the couch, a guy on my left, me, and then a girl on my right.
  • A skeleton, perhaps two and a half feet tall appears on the floor of a side room to our right.  It is writhing around and lit up with some sort of internal glow.  When it finally stops I nudge the girl next to me and say “You should go pick it up.”
  • She does, and as she does it comes back to life and starts writhing around again.
  • She screeches and throws it into the corner of the room where it lands and then stands up.
  • It says something like “congratulations, you may all proceed to the next room.”
  • Everyone leaves except me.  I walk over to inspect the skeleton and see that it’s made of plastic with little lights inside.  I then decide to inspect the fireplace and realize it is also not real.  What appeared from a distance to be ashes inside of it was really thin sheets of tracing paper. There is a hole in one of them and I can see something through it.
  • I tear the paper away and see that under the fireplace is another room with corridors and railway tracks.  I am about to jump down in when a man appears behind me.
  • “Congratulations,” he says as he guides me through a door in the wall that is not the one the others went through.
  • The door closes behind me and I realize the girl who grabbed the skeleton is there, but not anyone else.
  • We are atop a giant concrete platform on the edge of a body of water, and in the distance is the sound of a rumbling diesel motor.
  • I walk over to the edge of the concrete platform and look over the twenty foot drop.  I am trying to see if we are floating or if everything else is.  Before I can find out the girl grabs the back of my shirt and pulls me back.  “You could fall over!” she yells.
  • We are wondering what to do next when three actors come up a gangplank.  At least, we assume they’re actors because we don’t recognize them but they seem to be directing their play towards us.  This goes on for a few minutes and we watch trying to gather clues about this challenge.
  • Suddenly the platform jolts to the left – we are floating apparently because now it is separating from everything else in the room. The girl gives me a look that indicates “if you had been looking over the edge when that happened you’d be at the bottom.”
  • Water from somewhere is rushing around the base of the platform.  Walls come down and doors start to close around this giant room.  The actors are gone and we are left alone in a room that is rapidly becoming a death trap.
  • We begin running for a door at the far end that is closing from the top down.  The girl is in front and it becomes clear that she’s going to make it and I am not.
  • She slips through and lies down on the ground to look back and plead that I crawl through too, but there’s no way, I would be crushed.  She’s crying.  The door closes and I am left alone in the room.
  • I look over off the platform and see some rubber boats floating in the churning water.
  • I run and jump for one and land in the water next to it.
  • I swim to it and easily slide on top of it – I am surprised that I was able to get onto it so quickly.
  • From inside the boat I look around and see that the water in this basin has begun to drain.  There are bubbles everywhere and there is one place where it looks like what could have been a stairwell made out of cage and tube metal, but is now more like a waterfall that descends downward to some unknown
  • Seeing no other option, I decide it’s my only choice and direct my boat towards it.  I crash down through the structure and water, flipping my boat a couple times but managing to right it.
  • After numerous turns the boat is spat out onto a sidewalk where there are cars and people walking around.
  • I look towards the road and see a tractor trailer towing some sort of eqipment made of pipes and pumps and stuff.  I see that it has the same logo as the company running “The Game” so as it passes I run towards it and climb up the back.
  • I find a spot to nestle myself in and find that it’s very comfortable and end up falling asleep.
  • When I wake up were are in a larger city.  At one point a tour bus full of Chinese people drives by and they point out the windows at me laughing, pointing, and taking pictures.
  • I turn away from them and look at where I am laying down.  I am wrapped up in my Top Gun towel and blanket.  “That doesn’t make sense” I think to myself, “Where did i get those?”
  • I look to my right and see we are entering a huge city.  The colors are super-saturated making everything look like one of those crazy HDR pictures.  It’s like everything is made of the color of sunsets.
  • “I wonder what city this is?” I think to myself, “Maybe Gotham?”

At this point in the dream I realize I am dreaming and start to get worried that I’ll wake up.  No, this is too cool, don’t wake up! If I could control it maybe I can make it even better!  Of course, the super-vivid colors of this city start to fade to grayscale and then to black….and I wake up.  I am unhappy that I didn’t get to see what happened.  But magically I am able to fall back asleep, and the dream continues which NEVER happens.  Unfortunately this “part two” of the dream wasn’t as vivid, I was still aware I was dreaming and had trouble controlling it.

  • I am dropped off in front of a hotel and realize I need to go inside if I’m going to find the girl.
  • I search through the hotel lobby to no avail but see an exit towards a mall.
  • The mall is a big courtyard with shops along the edge and people milling around.
  • Suddenly someone shoots at me and I dive out of the way.
  • I see one of the stores is selling antique guns or something, so I make my way over there and steal a couple of them.
  • I return fire to the people shooting at me and I think manage to hit one of them.
  • I run to the other side of the courtyard to escape and continue my search.

I know there was more to that second part but I can’t remember it.  As a note, “The Game” is a similar movie with Michael Douglas so I’d have to change that if this became a story somehow, but the “plot” of this dream is certainly not the same.

Dreams – Night of 2016-08-24

Dream #1

  • Sitting in a bar waiting for friends.
  • Girl arrives and sits Indian style in the seat next to me.
  • She pulls out her phone (which I can’t see yet) and says “yeah, it’s not a flip phone”
  • I look over ans see it indeed is not a flip phone, but is also not a “smart phone”, just a mini phone about half the size of a large spice bottle.
  • I laugh and pretend to be talking like I’m talking to someone else but I’m really talking to her (the thing where you cup your hands over your mouth): “Oh my god, look at that, it’s not even a flip phone.”
  • She laughs and says “Yeah, not even a Razor”.
  • I continue, “Yeah, it’s not even a Razor….I think she’s from even farther in the past than that…or perhaps the future.”
  • Scene cuts forward to a nearly-empty bar/restaurant and we’re still talking.  I’m showing her pictures from this book I happen to have of all my travels.  I show her a picture from a pool in Las Vegas where you go down a water slide adventure and then are floated into a room that has only a couple to a few feet of water in it and explain how you could sit at a swim up bar, swim over to do some gambling, walk up to a platform where there are bathrooms, etc.

I think this could be a story about Lucid dreaming where the main character is so infatuated with the girl he meets at the bar he tries to get back to her.  He can’t, until he learns about Lucid dreaming.  He trains himself to be able to do it, and then starts reconstructing her, the scene, an entire world perhaps.  But then something bad has to happen, not sure what…maybe she starts to realize she’s not real and attempts to deconstruct the dream herself.  He of course can’t understand how this would happen because he created her…something like that.

Dream 2

  • Skiing down a mountain at nearly night, I’m the last one on the mountain.
  • Get to the bottom and get on a lift that takes you to the parking lots
  • I see a phone blinking blue LED in the snow below.
  • I get off at the mid station which is a ski rental shop.  I notice that if someone wanted they could rob the store (it is closed).
  • I walk out of the store and there are people everywhere.
  • I turn around and make my way back to the area under the lift.
  • I pay a hotel bellboy $0.25 to help me look for the phone
  • For some reason there are drunk French tourists also walking around – I realize they are walking back to the hotel where I found the bellboy
  • I find the phone which is a broken Motorola Razor (the top part of the flip has broken off)
  • Somehow (because it’s a dream world), the phone still works.
  • I walk back to the top of the parking lot and there are even more people
  • Somehow I realize that there’s about to be an attack with a “pumpkin bomb” (did I look at the phone and see their plans?
  • I see a truck drive past me on the road but realize it’s actually two
  • The second one is a contraption of two parts, one which is pulling another.
  • I realize the second one is the “pumpkin”
  • I start running away, and am almost run over by another truck.
  • I look to my left to follow the truck and see it has stopped in the road — blocking a fire truck’s access to the rest of the area.
  • BOOM
  • Fire truck can’t move

 

 

The Rice

“What was it about the rice?” you say.

“Ah yes,” I reply, “the rice was what made me realize this entire situation.”

“The situation?” You have been traveling yourself, and haven’t had time to inspect the surroundings.  But you have seen your fair share of hotels, and from what you have seen this one bears no special differences from any other mid-tier hotel you have been in before.

“Yes, the situation,” I reply, “Have you not seen the paintings on the walls?” I motion with my head towards the art on the wall, “Do you see anything off there?”

You turn your gaze in the direction of my nod and see two paintings on the wall.  “I see nothing special about those paintings except for the fact that they are unexceptional,” you turn back to meet my eyes and in them you can see that you have missed the point. “Well,” you continue, “perhaps if I look again?”

“Yes,” I reply, “take another look and tell me what you see.”  I take a sip of my red wine while waiting for your second inspection.  After setting my glass down on the table I twirl the thick stem of the hotel glass in my fingers.  The wine has no legs, it’s the kind a hotel provides for free at their evening social.

You look back at the two paintings hung on the wall, trying desperately to see what I am trying to lead you towards.  The frames are black, cheap bulk industrial frames no doubt.  Between the two paintings is a TV that is blaring tonight’s Wheel of Fortune, but that is just a distraction.  What could it be about these paintings?  And then you see it.

“The matting!” you shout too loud for this lazy hotel lounge.

“Yes, so you’ve seen it too now,” I lean in closer, “why so much on the bottom? It seems intentionally off doesn’t it?”

The paintings are being dragged visually to the floor by an over-abundance of matting.  There is the print, and then as much unused matting under the print as the print is high.  Perhaps an artistic choice, or perhaps some frame shop’s idea of a joke.  In any case, it’s unattractive and looks annoyingly out of place.  Once you see it you cannot stop seeing it, the giant white blank spots of matting scream out at viewers from across the room.

“So,” you ask turning back to me, “that’s the situation?” You give me an incredulous smirk, “that’s why you distracted me from my buffet salad?

I have to think now, how to explain the oddness of this place, how to best explain it, and then I remember what first made me realize the ridiculousness of it all.  “No,” I say, “it was the rice.”

“The rice.  You mentioned that before but I didn’t know what you meant,” you nervously nudge your glass of white wine a millimeter across the table with your finger.

“It was what I noticed before everything else.  This buffet we both ate at tonight, they had rice, cream of mushroom soup, Italian-type sandwich-sized bruschetta things, salad fixings, and more.  But two people,” I pause to make sure you’re still with me, “two people just had rice,” my voice trails off as I point out that last detail.

“Just rice?” You’re unsure how to respond except by reiterating my last words in the form of a question.

“Yep, a giant bowl of rice and nothing else. Big mounds of it in a bowl.  And they just dug right into it like it was perfectly normal. Like it was the best bowl of Cheerios they ever had!” I can see now that you understand and my own voice has risen above the din of the hotel’s makeshift dining room.

You correct my eagerness by continuing softly, “Well, perhaps it was perfectly normal for them?”

“No, I think it was something else,” I say, “I think they just have no clue how to put food together, as in seriously no idea at all.  So instead of risking putting the wrong thing in the wrong place, they just ate an entire bowl of rice because it was safer that way.”

“That sounds horrible,” you say.

“It is!” I stop and point at your plate, “Look, you put salad on top of your rice. Right?  And I put the broccoli soup on top of my rice.  Both perfectly reasonable things to choose. Something any normal human would know to do.”

“Yes,” you say, an unsure frown forming on your lips.

“Neither of us in our wildest dreams would have thought that filling up a large bowl with plain white rice and eating it was a reasonable thing to do!”

“No, clearly not,” you say.

“So why them? Why would they do that?” I ask, “To say nothing of the pool.  Have you seen that yet?  That’s even worse.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6 – Ex 1 – Perspective

##1

I entered the hotel restaurant leaving the noise of the lobby behind the slow swoosh of a large glass door. Inside the restaurant it was dark, like all upper crust restaurants seem to be. Standing at a small podium were two young people, probably in their early twenties.

“Table for one, sir?”

“Yes please.” I said.

The hostess removed herself from behind the podium, grabbed a sheet of thick paper that I took to be a menu, and marched off through the sea of mostly-empty tables. I followed.

Soon enough she stopped and pointed towards an unremarkable table, “Will this be acceptable?” she asked?

“Yes, thank you.” I replied.

She handed me the menu. “Justin will be with you shortly.”

“Thank you.” I replied.

I scanned the menu looking over the short list of available items. That’s another thing about fancy restaurants, small menus. I immediately discounted the fish options, not my cup of tea. Some of the other dishes looked good but had at least one ingredient that ruined it, there always is in fancy restaurants. In addition to chicken and potatoes, they feel the need to add pine nuts and water chestnuts. Or instead of beef and potatoes they decide that it would be better with edamame and fish sauce. At least small menus make the decision easier. I picked the braised short ribs. They sounded like they hadn’t been too bastardized. There were Brussels sprouts, but I felt I could eat around those if I had to. I placed the menu on the table in front of me ti indicate to the staff that I was ready to order.

Another young person walked towards me. It was a male, and looking right at me while he quickly closed the distance. This must be Justin.

“Hello, my name is Justin. Can I start you with a drink?”

I had prepared the response in my head even before he asked the question. Before he had arrived actually.

“Yes, and I’m ready to order as well.”

“Ok, great! What can I get started for you?” I find his enthusiasm slightly off-putting.

I broke eye contact and stared at the far wall instead of the eager eyes of the waiter in front of me. “I’ll have a Tanqueray and tonic, and for dinner the braised short ribs.”

“Ok, excellent choice sir! I’ll bring some bread out for you too.”

That would be great, thank you.” I said.

As Justin left another nameless waitstaff appeared. He filled my water glass and removed the wine glass that I would not need. As quietly as he arrived he left. Never said a word. I was fine with this.

While waiting for my meal a couple arrived. An older woman and a younger lady. I watched as the same hostess who had led me through the dining room now led these two. To my surprise she sat them directly across from me. Odd choice I thought. I was sitting facing the windows and street, their table was turned ninety degrees from mine and about ten feet in front of me. They faced each other, and I faced them. With nothing else to look at I decided I would watch them.

The younger of the pair was also the fatter of the two. Modern society I figured, too many french fries and too much ice cream. She was easily less than half the other woman’s age. Mother and daughter I assumed. They both had that southern look, it’s hard to put your finger on it but you know it when you see it. Lips that stay pursed except when speaking and a little squint in the eyes, this latter an artifact of too much sun I supposed. Jewelry on view, big rings and large necklaces. All of this on display over draping clothes that could also double as curtains.

I watched as the younger of the two began to cry. How unexpected! My gin and tonic arrived just in time for the show. I squeezed the lime into the clear drink and took a sip. I placed the drink down in a couple places on the table, trying to decide where it should go. The fat girl was still crying, but was also buttering a second slice of bread in between sobs. I wished that I could hear better.

The older lady buttered bread too, but with much less emotion. No emotion in fact. Those pursed southern lady lips only parted to allow the bread to enter. The bawling girl two feet in front of her was having no effect. I decided that the fat girl probably cries a lot and the old lady is tired of it.

My meal arrived and I barely noticed. It was a good thing that the meat was “fork tender”, I had mentally checked into the conversation in front of me, a knife would have been beyond my ability.

Once the fat girl turned her head towards me and me made eye contact. Yes, I thought to myself, very awkward. I allowed my lips to form a smile, not a I just won ten dollarssmile, just enough to say yes, I am aware of your presence in front of me and I can do little else but watch you such is our proximity and the angle of our seating arrangement, I’m sure you can understand.

As I finished my meal Justin returned. We went through the paces of him asking if I want desert, me declining desert but ordering another drink, and him saying very well sir, I’ll bring your check but please stay as long as you would like.

I watched the couple a while longer, the fat one stopped crying eventually and I never did get a clue what it was that set her off in the first place. As I was getting ready to leave an old Japanese man arrived who walked hunched over due to some old person’s debilitation, like his skeleton was folding in on itself. He sat on the same side as me, facing out the windows towards the street. I thought to myself that this must be where they put the single guys. Me and Japan Man sitting facing Fat Girl and Old Lady.

##2

The Man entered the restaurant leaving the noise of the hotel lobby behind the swoosh of a large glass door. He crossed the dimly-lit entranceway to where two young twenty-somethings await his arrival. Both were fine arts majors at the local community college, they had chosen this restaurant to work at due to its proximity to the museum. Tonight however they were waitstaff at this upscale hotel restaurant. It was Jenny’s turn, so as the man approached she said the same thing she would say a hundred times tonight, with minor variations, “Table for one, sir?”

The Man seemed distracted and responded with something that Jenny couldn’t quite understand. She didn’t think he responded in the negative, so Jenny grabbed one of the thick paper menus stored at the hostess station and began walking towards the line of tables. The man followed her, they always did Jenny thought. She looked good tonight and she knew it. The hotel required that restaurant staff wear black, but they didn’t say what that had to be. Jenny had long, straight, black hair and she was wearing black everything else tonight: eyeliner, form-fitting dress that ended at her thighs, black tights, and black platform heels.

She stopped at a random table and gestured towards it, “Will this be acceptable?” she asked knowing full well what he would say in return.

“Yes, thank you.” the man replied.

She handed him the menu. He was dressed differently from most of the men who came into this restaurant. He didn’t look like the normal business men who came down from their company-paid hotel rooms to get whiskey drunk with their friends and make lewd comments towards her. Those men were easy to spot with their business-casual sport coats, tan khaki pants, and slicked-back hair. He also wasn’t a family man, too casual were his gestures, too empty was his finger, and too reserved his mannerisms. It didn’t matter, she supposed, she was a hostess tonight and her job was to put him at a table, she had done that.

“Justin will be with you shortly.”

“Thank you.” he replied.

Jenny walked back to the hostess kiosk wondering if the man was watching her go. She hoped so. Not because she found him especially attractive, but just because she liked the feeling of being watched. When she reached the kiosk she turned quickly, flicking her hair in an arc away from her face as she did. That usually did it. To her dismay the man was not watching her at all, instead he appeared to be lost in thought gazing out the window. Oh well. His loss. Jenny grabbed the stack of menus and straightened them like a deck of cards. They made a satisfying thump on the table as she did so.

Jenny watched as the waiter Justin made his way slowly over to the man’s table. Justin had asked her out on multiple occasions and every time she had giggled and said she was sorry but she was busy. She didn’t mind Justin, but he was too geeky for her. He was an engineering student, there was no way he could understand the things she did about fine art, it just wouldn’t work. Better to let him down easy by leaving the door open instead of a flat out refusal. She was of course aware of the effect she had on men of all ages, but she couldn’t bear to completely shut them down. Besides, you never knew.

Jenny was interrupted in her thoughts by two women who had arrived at her podium and were waiting for her to say something. The older of the two was clearly in charge, so Jenny directed her question to her. “Table for two?” Jenny asked.

With the negotiations complete Jenny went through her ritual of picking a table. How about another table for Justin’s section? She led the couple over to a small table by the window. She asked if it was ok and it was. She told them Justin would be with them shortly and made her way back to the hostess station. She giggled at the thought that perhaps one of the women was watching her leave like the men usually did.

After arriving back at the hostess station she turned and gazed out over the sea of tables. From here she could see nearly every table in the restaurant. It was still early, and most of the tables were empty so she resigned herself to watching the two tables she had just sat. The man had a drink now, something clear. Vodka tonic perhaps? Or maybe a gin and tonic? She couldn’t tell if there was a lemon or a lime in the drink, that would certainly help to narrow down the options of what else might be in the glass. What was it one of her professors had said about art? Form, space, color, line, and texture. She unfocused her eyes and attempted to see the whole room at once. How many colors were here? Brown wood paneling, amber lights, blue from the glass candle covers, and black shadows. Outside the sky was on its way through the blues, about to descend into the ultra-dark blue of night.

Motion brought her back to her senses. It was one of the waitstaff bringing the man his meal. From here she could tell it was the short ribs, the white bone sticking up in the middle of the plate was a giveaway. Jenny watched as the man picked up a fork, the wrong one, and began to eat. She noticed as he was eating he seemed to be watching the two women in front of him. Perhaps it was a bad idea to set them so close together like that. The women might complain, and then she would have to find them another table. If the manager found out then she would get a talking to about personal space, and how the customer is always right. Which is bullshit, of course.

Jenny watched the man watching the women. Most people who ate alone in the restaurant looked at their phones the entire time. Sometimes this happened with tables full of people too. Maybe he knows one of them? Or, maybe he knows both of them! That was much more exciting to think about. Jenny began concocting an elaborate story in her head of a love triangle that was sure to erupt into a finale in front of her. The man with two lovers who sees them both in a restaurant eating together. If the movies she had seen all her life were true, there would be a perfectly reasonable explanation for the whole thing but the shouting matches would start before anyone had a chance to explain. To Jenny’s dismay this didn’t happen. Instead normal life continued on in its dogged pace. The man kept eating, the women sat at their table, and an older gentleman was now standing in front of her at the hostess station.

“Table for one?”

##3

Ahh Justin, what are you doing? Your’e supposed to be studying for your fluid dynamics exam but instead you agreed to work a double shift tonight. You had to look at the crew roster didn’t you? And you had to notice that she was working. Her. Jenny. You think she’s wearing that short dress again tonight?

You exit the kitchen to enter the dining room and have your question answered. Just as you exited the swinging double doors, the kind with two round windows in it, she was there walking some dude to a table. And yes, of course she was wearing that short black dress. She probably did it on purpose. Of course she does you idiot. She seats the man at one of your tables. Well, you think, the solo guys usually tip pretty well. At least it’s not one of those bible thumper groups, they are always the worst. Once you worked a table of five of them and when you looked at the receipt nothing but “God loves you” was written on the tip line. That’s great, you thought at the time, but God’s love doesn’t pay for my textbooks.

After an acceptable amount of time, you make your way over to the man’s table. You wonder on the way if she might be watching you. Maybe you should ask her out again tonight? AS you get closer to the table you wonder about the customer. Will this be Mr. Important, or Mr. I’m Too Busy To Look At You? Maybe it’ll be Mr. I’m so Lonely Will You Please Talk To Me. Looks can be deceiving, you’ve learned your lesson there after three month of being a waiter at this hotel restaurant. Okay, here we go Justin, show time.

“Hello, my name is Justin. Can I start you with a drink?” Ugh, how many times will you say that tonight you wonder.

“Yes, and I’m ready to order as well.” This customer is looking up Justin. Probably going to be one of those eats quick, tips well and gets out guys.

“Ok, great! What can I get started for you?” You hate that you have to say that, but the management has made it clear that what they order is always a good idea. It might even beone of your favorites.

“I’ll have a Tanqueray and tonic, and for dinner the braised short ribs.” the man replies.

“Ok, excellent choice sir! I’ll bring some bread out for you too.” Did you put too much emphasis on the excellent choice part?

“That would be great, thank you.” the man says. He doesn’t seem to have noticed whether or not you over-sold your enthusiasm. So much the better. You make a note of his drink and dinner and turn to return to the kitchen.

There she is Justin. Standing there at that hostess station. Yes, that settles it, you’ll ask her out tonight again. There’s a new movie coming out with superheros in it, she’s artsy so she probably likes movies. You think back to the other times you asked her out. She never said “No” did she? No she didn’t Justin, you’ve got this, you’ve got a shot.

You make your way to the kitchen trying not to look at her on the way. This is impossible of course. You settle for looking but not looking, a skill you’ve mastered since you hit puberty.

Back in the kitchen you enter the order into the computer system. You briefly wonder at the slight magic of it all. You enter the order here and printers across the restaurant spring to life with whatever the customer has ordered. The bar gets one for the drink, and the kitchen gets one for the meal. In the office the main computer records the sale, updates the expected quantities of alcohol that should be at the bar, updates the sales figured for the night and who entered it. That would be you Justin.

It’s a slow night so you go back to the double doors to look at Jenny again. If she turned she could probably see you looking out the window at her. If she did you would have to push through them like you were on your way out anyway. Always planning ahead Justin, that’s the engineer in you.

You can’t see your table from here, but you don’t care. There are runners for the food and drinks, you only have to take the order, check up once during the meal, and then arrive somewhere towards the end to ask about desert and coffee.

She seems to be looking out over the dining room and you can’t help but wonder what she’s thinking of. Certainly not math equations and physics. The engineering girls think about that, but the engineering girls don’t look like Jenny. What does a girl like Jenny think about? You asked one of the other guys in the kitchen about her once but he only laughed at you. “You think you have a chance with that?” he had said.

You return your gaze to her. Be careful Justin, there’s that line. The line between gazing affectionately and staring. Just a little bit more you think. She would have said no right? You’ve been over this a thousand times in your head but still cannot come to a conclusion. She would have said no if she wasn’t interested. She didn’t say “I have a boyfriend”, she didn’t laugh and go “ohmygodno”. She had only said she was busy. That’s basically a yes, right? You’ve got this Justin. Now you just have to think of what to say. Maybe if you look at her again something will come to mind.

The Dot

Upon opening the shower curtain I saw it.  At first I assumed it was a piece of lint, or perhaps a torn bit of cloth from a towel.  But when it began to move towards me I realized my mistake.  Aha!  It is A Dot!  It was too far away from me to see what kind of Dot, so I cautiously exited the shower and toweled off while keeping a periodic eye on The Dot.  After reaching a satisfactory level of dryness I turned my full attention back to The Dot.  I stooped over and inspected the creature.  The Dot is a Spider Dot.

There is a set of rules I have created between The Dots and myself:

  1. You do not live here, I do.
  2. You live outside.
  3. If you accidentally find yourself inside do not surprise me.
  4. If you surprise me I will most likely kill you through pure instinct.
  5. If you do not surprise me I will take you outside.

Since The Dot did not surprise me (he was marching across the bathroom in plain sight), it had earned a free trip outside.  I informed it of its impending travel plans and told it not to move because I would be back soon to provide transport.

I went off to the kitchen to find a suitable Container, and after a few short seconds found a small plastic Tupperware Container with a matching Lid.  Perfect!  With Dot Transport Device in hand I returned to the bathroom to find The Dot waiting patiently for me.  Still wrapped in my towel I crouched down low over The Dot and set about my work.

Being closer to the dot revealed more about him (I do not know how to tell male Spider Dot from female Spider Dot, but I have decided this is a he, perhaps because he is travelling alone across the empty desert that is my tile floor).  He was black, with legs extending perhaps as wide in diameter as a penny.  Examining his legs closer I realized a problem.  The Dot had four legs on one side, but only two on the other.  Spider Dots are supposed to have four legs on each side.

Now I felt bad for The Dot.  Somehow he had managed to lose his two front-left legs.  For a Spider Dot this must be a major inconvenience, I thought.  But he seemed to be walking alright to me,  so perhaps my logic was faulty and Spider Dots do not need all their legs as much as I imagined.  I continued with my plan to move The Dot into my round Transport Device.

Each Dot is unique in the way they let themselves be ushered.  Some Dots seem completely oblivious to the events going around them, they go about their business without a care to what you might be doing just inches away from them.  These Dots are the easiest to usher.  You just put a Transport Device in front of them and they walk right into (or onto) it.  Beetle Dots seem to be in this category.  The Dot was not a Beetle Dot.

Other Dots will take a more regulated approach.  They will walk up to your transport device and stop just short of it.  They will commence an inspection of it, feeling around the edges, perhaps trying to identify the plant that this strange new object is made of.  More often than not, after this short inspection is complete, they will march ahead and into (or onto) the Transport Device and put their faith in you to get them to a better locale.  Ant Dots seems to be in this category.  The Dot was not an Ant Dot.

The Dot was a Spider Dot, and you never know how Spider Dots will react.  Sometimes they act like Beetle Dots, and sometimes like Ant Dots, but The Dot acted like neither of those.  The Dot approached round my round Transport Device, which was now on its edge in front of The Dot.  He inspected it quickly and then brought a leg up onto the rim.  He wanted to get in, but could not make the final climb over the rim due to his missing appendages.  I used the lid in an attempt to help The Dot (sometimes Dots need a final light encouragement to enter the Transport Device).  This worked, but his remaining legs found no purchase, and he slid back onto the tile floor.

I imagined The Dot’s eight eyes (Spider Dots have eight eyes too, did you know that?) looking up at me, annoyed with my choice in Transport Device.  I tried again, but this time with the Transport Lid instead of the Transport Container (this Transport Device came in two pieces).  This had much the same result – The Dot was able to get onto half of the lid, but when The Lid was raised he slipped off to the tile floor, tumbled once, righted himself, and then resumed his annoyed glare at me.

I had it!  The round Transport Bowl needed to be flattened to create more of a ramp for The Dot.  I pressed down on the Transport Bowl and created a much better loading zone for The Dot.  With some encouragement from The Lid I was able to coax The Dot closer to The Container.  Much the same as last time he began with his front-most leg.   This he followed with the leg right behind that one (his second right leg if you are having trouble visualizing it).  He scrambled with the rest of his legs, nearly over the round edge and almost fully into the container now.  He just needed one last push to get in.  I brought The Lid behind him and positioned it so it would provide the lifting action that The Dot so desperately needed to get into The Container.

That’s when it happened.  I’m not sure exactly how it did.  Maybe The Dot was startled by The Lid, or maybe he slipped and fell back to the tile floor.  It didn’t matter exactly how it happened, the reality was that he was no longer in a position to be lifted by the approaching lid.  Instead he was directly between wall of The Container and the approaching Lid.  There was the most faint ‘snap’ sound I have ever heard, and The Dot was no longer spread out like a penny, but instead curled up on himself like a fist.

Spider Dots don’t have muscles like you and me.  Instead Spider Dots use hydraulics, like the kind that the big tractors have.  Like us, Spider Dots have hearts though, and it is their hearts that provide the pressure to control their legs.  Without the pressure of their beating hearts, Spider Dot legs curls up underneath them, just like The Dot did.

I hoped he was pretending, but if I was being true to myself I knew he wasn’t.  The Dot was no more.  I scooped him into the Container, and lightly placed The Lid on top.   Now that he was inside the Transport Device I granted The Dot his trip to The Outside – he had certainly earned it.  I placed him in The Planter on my porch which holds the Basil in the summer months.  I hope he likes it there.

 

I Don’t Know Why I Remember

I don’t know why I remember him but I do. I first noticed him in the produce aisle. There was something about the way he pushed his cart – perhaps slightly unsure of himself. He was old, the kind where you can see all the veins in his wrist, and discolored blotches of skin appeared in random places along his exposed forearm. There was also frizzy, thinning white hair trying to escape from under his baseball hat.

As he picked through peppers I watched him for a few seconds; he would pick one up, study it as best he could with shaking hands and then put it back.  He’d select another, look at it inquisitively, and then place that one back on the shelf too. Picking through produce is normal, but the way he did it indicated inexperience in the exercise. After watching for a few seconds I left him to his peppers and continued on to the next item on my list.

Later, I saw him again in the transition between the hair products aisle and the one with paper stuff in it. I probably would not have recognized him again if I hadn’t been so intrigued by his pepper-picking before. I was following behind him as he pushed his cart when he and another woman passed each other going different directions. At the same moment two bottles of shampoo from a supermarket display fell to the floor. The woman was closest to the display, and she picked up one of the bottles and put it back. The old man picked up the second bottle, and with a wide grin as if to say “Ha! Isn’t this a hoot!”, handed it to the lady who was still standing in front of the display case. The lady returned his good-natured smile with a scowl, grabbed the bottle from his hand and put it back on the display. She pushed her cart off in a hurry, and left him standing there with his smile fading. Finally he turned back to his cart and continued on to the juice aisle.

As I watched him turn into his next aisle I felt I understood his story. He was inexperienced at this. Very inexperienced. He had been married for sixty years to a woman he loved. She always did this part while he was away at work. Now she was gone and he was left to fend for himself. What’s a “good pepper” look like? Who knows? He knows they tasted good when she made them, that’s for sure. Now he lives alone in the house they built together, mostly reading his favorite books or maybe watching some TV.

The only time he really gets out and has some human interaction is when he has to do the shopping, and that was the smile I saw when he handed that lady the shampoo bottle from the floor. It was interaction, it was life, it was a chance to strike up a conversation about the weather. Maybe he was about to tell her she looked a little like his wife, at least until she gave him that I’m Too Busy For This Shit snarl. Not then. Nope. She grabbed that bottle from his hand and unknowingly threw something away. He might not have a whole lot left to give the world, but he had a little bit that day, and she didn’t want it.