Everyone Knows It’s Windy

Ahem.  Yes.  1967.  I was 13.  Remember 1967? 

It’s windy.  Today and yesterday, in NOAZ (that’s what they call Northern Arizona), upon wave of wind up to 50 miles an hour!

The sky is a perfect blue diamond.  I’m surrounded by forest, Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, some kind of Spruce.

The waves of wind from the South-Southwest pile up on that majestic escarpment, the Mogollon Rim, and spill over into the Coconino Plateau, which rides above the Rim like a giant plate rising to 8,000 feet before cracking in half to form the Grand Canyon.

And I, in my tiny RV, with my not so tiny canine pal Atina, had a choice to either go crazy in the two days (so far) of relentless waves of wind, or…or not.

At times the wind rocks the RV so hard, I think it’s going to tip over.

Atina thinks so too.  I can tell by the way she clings to me and farts.  As I write she is wrapped around my leg with her ass in my face, farting great clouds of evil fumes.  At the risk of being covered in red volcanic dust, I have had to open the window.

Every three or four minutes, another wave of wind-here it comes now-roars through the tree tops and through my window.  Atina sleeps, heaves a big sigh, farts.

I’ve been nervously checking my NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) high-definition radar app for any approaching precipitation.  This volcanic soil, when rained upon, becomes a treacherous soup of slippery mud.  If the soil becomes saturated, it can turn into quicksand.  So I watch the sky and keep track of the aviation forecasts.

I’ve always loved weather.  When I was 10 or so, a gigantic tornado passed right over our house.  We were listening to a record on the old record player.  Suddenly there was a deafening roar.  The dog dove under the couch.  The lights flickered.  The phonograph slowed eerily to a halt.  The lights went out.  The roar passed overhead…we thought it was a low flying jet, but strange… Then the lights came back on, the record player started up again, the dog came out from under the couch, and everything went back to normal.

The next morning my mother and I went to the laundromat.  It wasn’t there.  Just nothing but the concrete pad it was built on.

The mile-wide tornado sheared the city of Toledo, Ohio, off at second-story level and dumped it into Lake Erie.
_________________________________

My father and I were big buddies.  We used to pack a lunch, a frying pan, a little bag of corn meal, a couple slices of bacon, and our fishing tackle, and we’d go fishing.

Dad taught me to fly fish.  I was good at catching twigs from overhanging trees.  We never caught anything, but we did forbidden things like chewing tobacco (yecch) and smoking corncob pipes (blecch). 

We did better fishing in ponds, where we caught pan fish: crappie, sunfish, bluegill–cleaned and scaled them on the spot.  Dad taught me how to make a small cooking fire, and we’d fry the bacon, roll the fish in cornmeal, and fry them in the bacon fat.  A delectable feast.  We ate them, fins, tails, and all.  Crunchy.

We went surf casting in the ocean, using long heavy rods baited with 8-10 inch long Styrofoam lures called Atoms, bristling with hooks, in hope of catching a bluefish and not getting bitten.

Once I was in a rowboat in Narragansett Bay with my friend Becky.  The bluefish were running, a huge school of them, so many that it seemed the boat was riding on top of waves of bluefish instead of waves of water.

We happened to have fishing poles, so we threw a line in, without bait, just bare hooks.  Becky hooked one immediately, and it fought so hard it took both of us to get it into the boat.

(Breaking news: Atina just puked.  She’s such a good girl, she urgently asks to go outside when she has to puke.  It was the Malinois Empty Stomach kind of puke, so I just fed her.)

We got the angry bluefish into the boat.  It thrashed and snapped, jumping around in the bottom of the dory.  Bluefish have a mouthful of deadly sharp teeth.  They can take a finger off, and bluefish bites seem to always get infected.

Becky yelled, “Hold into him, there’s a club in this boat somewhere!”

It was her father’s dory.  He was an avid fisherman, so there had to be a club in the boat, for whacking fish over the head.  That’s how you kill a fish.

She had to find the club, because the only other choice was to throw the fish overboard and cut the line.

But this could not be done without getting bitten, because a dory is a deep sort of boat.

No luck with the club, so we pulled one of the oars and whacked the fish to death, but then a wave came along and snatched the oar; and we were forced to paddle back to shore with one oar, which was not an easy task.

In normal conditions, if deprived of an oar, a person would jump into the sea and push or pull the boat ashore; but the sea was filled with snapping bluefish, so we managed, after a long time, to get the boat to land, more worried about what Becky’s father would say about the lost oar than anything.  Becky’s father was a kind man; he didn’t say anything.  He was a man of few words.  Not so, her mother.

One bright blue morning, Dad and I packed up our surf casting gear and headed out for Horseneck Beach to try our luck.  Somebody had told somebody else, who had told Dad that the bluefish might be running.

By the time we got to the beach, it was starting to cloud up.  Nevertheless we hauled our tackle to the shore and threw a line in.

The tide seemed to be coming in strong, although by the tide tables it should have been turning, just at the end of going out and starting to come in (“neap tide,” in fisherman’s terms).  High tide wasn’t for a good few hours yet.

But we cast our lines and tried to smoke, he his cigar and I my Balkan Sobranies, daring black cigarettes with gold leaf where the filter would have been, if there had been a filter, which there wasn’t.  By this time it was impossible to smoke, as the wind kept putting our smokes out.  So we put them away and turned our attention to trying to get our lures in the water.

But the wind, which was now howling like a banshee, kept throwing our lures back in our faces along with sheets of rain and salt spray.  We decided to pack it in and go have lunch.

We threw our fishing gear into the back of Dad’s Ford pickup and wallowed through the driving rain to a nearby fishermen’s bar that served the best conch chowder ever.

The scratchy t.v.was on.

When we came through the door, soaking wet, stamping our dripping boots on the mat, the boys at the bar said,

“What in the world have you two been doin’ out THEYAH?  In the middle of this hurricane?  You-ah lucky you didn’t get taken by a storm wave!”

Hurricane?  HURRICANE!  Nobody said anything about a hurricane.

The lights went out, and the barkeep lit kerosene lanterns.  Dad ordered us beers (yes, I was only fourteen, but the law was that a minor could drink if accompanied by a parent), and we lit fresh smokes.  The fishermen looked on approvingly.  We ordered hot conch chowder, and crumbled Common Crackers, which the barkeep scooped from a barrel, into the rich stew.

It made us forget, temporarily, that we were soaking wet.

(For you who did not grow up in New England in the ’60’s or before, Common Crackers, also known as Ship’s Biscuits, are rounds of flour, water, and baking soda, slowly baked until completely dehydrated, and dangerous to teeth unless broken up into chowder.  They keep indefinitely when stored in an airtight container, and thus were taken on long sea voyages on whaling ships.  As long as they don’t get wet they are good practically forever.)

After the wind died down some, we hydroplaned for a couple of hours till we got home.  My mother was frantic.  No cell phones in those days.  For all she knew (she wailed, through tears), we could have been taken by a storm wave.

Mom seldom approved of our adventures.  That’s one reason we seldom took her along.

The wind-waves seem to be slowing down now.  The NOAA weather discussion said it was going to, but I don’t trust it, as that’s what it said last night and today was worse than yesterday.

So I’ll keep on recollecting pleasant memories of dangerous adventures that turned out good.  Atina and I are warm and dry, and we’ve got plenty of food and water, without bluefish…although they are very tasty.

image

My father, with a giant pot that he made for a demonstration at some art school or other.  Note that the pot is wearing his apron and hat.  He was 5’8″, so that gives you an idea of the size of this pot.

Below on the far left are a salt glazed porcelain teapot and vase that he made.  The rest of the pots were made by his former graduate students.  From a show in 2001 more or less.  I hope he’s playing in mud in Potter’s Heaven now…and enjoying a good conch chowdah, with a good cigar for dessert.

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26 Comments

  1. You know they were at the Monterey Pop Festival
    They are one of my favorite
    Oh god don’t get me start
    The dog farting in your face
    I am so glad to here there joy
    In your voice at least that’s what I hear
    And the picture of your father
    Sweet Laura
    Stay safe
    As always Sheldon

    Reply
    • I love it that even in ’67 they had a Brown Person singing in the band…that was really radical back then. Yes, Atina the Biggess Doggess does bring me joy…even though she eats my hair thingies…I don’t know how she finds them. And of course she farts and does all kinds of other oafish things…being a dog and all…not that other people don’t fart, but you know what I mean

      Reply
  2. I enjoy your stories so much. I had to laugh about Atina’s flatus. We tend to put up with a lot from our pets don’t we? Your dad was quite talented. The pots are a gorgeous collection. I hope those are in your possession but you did not say if they are or not.

    Be careful of the wind. Is there some other place that is not so volatile with the iffy weather?

    Reply
    • Yes indeed, our fur babies give us so much joy. I think the teapot and vase are in someone else’s collection, but I do have ones from this same series, AND an entire dinner service for eight, one of two sets of actual dishes he ever made…well, three, counting the set he made for us when I was a little girl. I still have a couple of pieces from that set, many times broken and glued together over the years.

      I love wild places and wild weather!

      Reply
      • I’m glad you have some of your dad’s art. I didn’t know that you are a “wild woman.” Just kidding but really you like the wild weather. Wind drives me crazy. Can’t tolerate being outdoors when it is really windy. Gentle breezes are nice though.

        Reply
  3. laura..so super cool..super loved that song and the video…i want some of her clothes!
    now..me, i could listen to your stories all day…i loved this whole thing…i can picture u fishing and smokin that cigar…
    and the pic of your dad..my fave…
    stay safe..i know u do..
    peace and love -alex

    Reply
  4. Laura, very nice memories of younger time with your talented father! Stay safe and away from the wind as much as possible. 💛 Elizabeth

    Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth! Glad you enjoyed my ramblings. I do try to stay out of the wind, but today I just had to get outside with the Doggess. I literally had to fight to stay upright in the 50 mph waves! But I needed a walk to save what’s left of my sanity. I’m not in Kansas yet…

      Reply
  5. I just reread this post for the third time. It makes me smile like the fool that I am…I love your stories. 😄

    Side note: don’t light a match until the dog exhaust clears.

    Reply
    • Awwww, shucks, you maketh me blush! Glad you enjoyed, and don’t be calling yourself a fool or I’ll beat you up. 😆. Good advice regarding keeping fire away from noxious fumes. You have fired my memory of a certain Irishman who came to grief lighting farts…I will have to tell his story. I think he’s safely far away in Newfoundland, where he got lost and was not heard from again.

      Reply
  6. I love the stories your tell about you and your father. Such fun times. I bet he’s enjoying his time upstairs… patiently waiting.
    Just like you, I’ve always been fascinated by the weather. I was also in a big twister in Kansas back when I was knee high to a grasshopper.
    Dog farts are fun… my dogs have even mastered the art of “fart ventriloquism”. They can throw thier farts to sound like they are coming from me! Amazing! Even better, they can throw the smell also 😉

    Reply
  7. Wonderful windy stories. You must have had a great relationship with your father. Little five pound Rikki doesn’t make farts. He has bad breath despite the expensive teeth cleanings. I fart I’m sorry to admit and Rikki seems to worry about it. His ears go up and he looks at me for confirmation that I’m still okay. I say, “Well, you’ve got bad breath.” but little guy doesn’t seem to realize it. Maybe sitting in the RV just thinking is better than going to the doctor. Love ya.

    Reply
    • Nothing to be ashamed of! Farts are natural, you know. Especially if you eat a whole lot of beans and other semi-digestible foods. I’m not so much into cooking these days, so I’m afraid the canned soups with rice and beans are heavy in my diet.

      Lil Rikki…do you brush his teeth? Tiny dogs have problems getting the food out of their teeth. They don’t take too well to Waterpiks. So we have to brush them with that chicken enzymatic tooth paste. Saves on cleanings! But of course some little dogs bite…or go all hysterical….so to introduce the whole business, I generally put a dab of chicken toothpaste on my finger and let them lick it off. I had one little bugger who was suspicious and wouldn’t take it from my finger. There’s always one who just won’t cooperate….

      Reply
      • I have the chicken toothpaste and I’ve tried the little moldable plastic toothbrush but he does get hysterical. I’ve should have given him the option of licking it off. I’ll try again.
        I don’t eat anything that has been prepared in a box or can. Than I go out and eat everything in a restaurant. No beans. They are deadly. Love. Anne

        Reply
  8. Common Crackers sound like what Terry Pratchett based Dwarf Bread on (although I suspect he was also taking the mickey out of Lembas from Tolkien).

    Atina’s farts sound highly amusing from this side of a keyboard. I guess not so much when confined to an RV with her.

    Reply
    • I do think Tolkien must have known quite a bit about ship’s biscuits. Lembas must have tasted a lot better, even though the Hobbits got sick of them, eventually. I’m not familiar with the other author you mentioned. Sounds like I ought to be, if he’s messing about with Dwarves!

      Reply
      • Dwarves, witches, wizards (and one wizzard), anthropomorphic personifications, dragons (of the swamp variety, therefore more likely to explode than burn people), vampires, zombies, werewolves, Egors and Egorinas, all on a flat disc which travels through space on the back of four elephants who stand on the back of a turtle. The Discworld is a world and mirror of worlds. There’s also trolls, golems, golem horses, theology, moral standards and a gentle mickey-take of many things.

        Reply
  9. Loved reading this post. Great memories. Hope your RV survives the wind.

    Reply

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