a giant pacific octopus (just squirted ink in your tea and pooped on your crumpet)
For teatime on Sunday we met north of the Ship Canal at the Crown Hill cottage of a dear friend who makes the most beautiful watercolors, she’s quite insecure about them yet not overly modest so if something catches your eye it’s a knife ridge. Sitting in the living room with a view out the picture window past a billowy willow up to Greenwood, we sipped with our eyes open the better for advance scouting the tray of muffinish breads, the delicious kind with seeds and berries that get stuck in your teeth so you end up savoring them for hours like a flavory electric toothpick until finally much later you just about go bananas in the mad dash for floss. One of us is a bus driver for Metro and always gets around to sharing one or two remarkable tales of collisions between ambulances at four way stops, we were on the edge of our seats and I was feeling a little more grown-up than usual in my v-neck sweater while I may have hogged too many of the things on my side of the tray, that’s why you’re probably better off serving freezer-burned crumpets when the big lug comes over. We were getting sore from sitting so long, you could tell because one of us stretched across the sofa like a geriatric pet and it spread like yawns or maybe it was the heavy woebegone family matters which must always be gotten over, we lightened the mood a little with a tour of the charming rented house and everyone gasped at the tiny bedroom with the stunning nautical mural on two walls featuring a two masted whaler, octopus, fishes and other stuff but I found myself astonished when everyone voted the mural down, they uh-huhed and oh-boyed at the lifelike diorama (someone suggested it was time for the whole thing to be painted over which I thought was the most terrible thing anyone had said about the ocean all afternoon). While generally-speaking I do believe life-size bedroom murals can be risky propositions, I found this vivid, pulsing seascape utterly charming, the stuff of childhood dreams and just maybe little Greta or Gunnar who grew up in that bedroom now works for NOAA doing important research or maybe they’re a Little Debbie-addicted chain-smoking, salty liveaboard at Shilshole. Moments later a miscalculation was made on my part, nobody seemed terribly impressed as I reminisced about a few days ago when the boys and I found a severed, sand-breaded octopus tentacle on the beach, this was deflating to me but once again with my childish notions and bad timing. While the conversation floated to transitional ephemera I drifted happily to the Peninsula: Turning over the sucker-covered tentacle with my foot, bemused at the grotesquely solid, rubbery heft, deftly balancing it on the end of my foot like a crude ball, chucking the fleshy mass toward the boys (and grandma) who shrieked with terror. The next morning that shoe smelled really bad. Coming to moments later, it was all I could do to not beg for the tiny, exquisitely-inked octopus on the browned art card which I’d nosily discovered pinched between papers in the napkin holder on the side table in the kitchen (the cottage is just one big room, really). I’ll admit to admiring it for longer than I should’ve in the hopes it would be mine, wasn’t that selfish of me to think my friend should give her hard work to me? Everyone started down the treacherous steps to the day-lighted basement to inspect the humongous backyard (there was even a treehouse in the front yard), I shuffled the tiny illustration back into the deck of charming doodles like a coupon for toothpaste. On the other hand, my dear reader, you just take all these words and keep’em. That’s right, all eight hundred and ninety eight are for you! Scramble them up for something else when you’re done, I won’t be the least bit offended. They make super-good compost, even.
Teatime really was wonderful as I have an abiding love for these friends as they have always been the smart, particularly virtuous kind busy making the world a better place. Plans we’d made for a walk to nearby Carkeek Park disintegrated with storm clouds, I’d been looking forward to showing everybody where the boys found a broken bike in the dark woods back in February (they managed to ride it hairy scary) but it’s probably better we stayed at the cottage because it had to be wet as hell in the park (it rained a lot on Saturday). Really isn’t it kinda cool we found a chunk of octopus (don’t get me wrong, I’d obviously rather see an entire living one)? Maybe the damned thing got whacked by a freighter propeller and right now it’s sulking on the bottom of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I know it’s not as though we found the Loch Ness monster, people savor these things like butter-soaked crumpets in some places, but the boys were delirious at the discovery. Me, too. The Giant Pacific Octopus is truly one of the fascinating, arrestingly magical species of the Sound and if only we could have transported the hunk of tentacle back home for closer study but alas we were swiftly disabused of the notion by adults in the room, er, on the beach.