Posts Tagged With: bainbridge island

Tales of the Tot Lot part 1

The long history of the Tot Lot demands an uncommon level of attention and patience; I hope my good readers might bear with this convoluted tale about a tiny children’s playground in the heart of Whimsical Winslow.

The Tot Lot tale extends as far back as 1997, when Randy Varga sold the property to the City  with a “Declaration of Covenants, Restrictions and reciprocal Easements” which specified the property be preserved as a park.  He also called  for the preservation of a lovely art studio which I occupied rent-free as an artist-in-residence and caretaker–though my caretaking often fell short with all the demands of creating art.

 It was a time when our last elected Mayor held a prominent position on the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council– though that detail is perhaps merely coincidental–after all, my significant other says I watch too many detective movies, and such things are only natural with all the demands of leadership and the equivocal nature of the greater good.

 Despite the prohibitions clearly spelled out in the Declarations, outcry of concerned citizens, several emails citing restrictions, heated Parks Board meetings, and a front page article in the Kitsap Sun, the studio was destroyed in 2011, just two years after it was transferred to the good, art-promoting BIMPRD–or whatever they’re called.

In February of last year, a land swap was proposed where the playground would be traded for a lot half its size on the corner of the island’s busiest intersections.  Well, you can imagine the outcry of local, island mothers over that scenario.

 Truth is, a big money developer had bought two properties adjacent the Tot Lot and wanted to realize a tidy profit by consolidation, and create a greater Wyatt Cottages.  Problem is, this is a greater good that mainly benefits said developer. .

So get this, the developer and Parks sign on as co-applicants to the Design Review Board for this swap which would grease the skids for this big money project on the homestead of Winslow’s founding father, Reilly Hoskinson, who settled it God knows when.  They fill out a legal form declaring there are no impediments to this swap, though–because of the brouhaha less than 5 years before–they obviously knew of the 1997 restrictions.

 So I give Val Tollefson a copy of the restrictions and the Council halts the swap, reminding Parks of their obligation to honor terms of the transfer.

To be continued…

Categories: Art, Musings, Paintings in Progress | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little Siberia

Past the Old Man Bridge is a harbor town founded by Russian emigre’s during the great War who had settled along it’s muddy shores to ply the dog-fishing trade as had long done in the home country.  I was led to this quaint town by a tip from Joel the barkeep at the Boundless Euphoria nightclub, who had said that the shady history of my new client, Edward G. might be found behind the gaudily painted facades of Little Siberia.  Joel is a failed impressionists who’s only hook seems to be early Peter Lorre.  In fact, Mochtar the Sikh says Joel really is the 21 st Century Avatar of Peter Lorre himself.  Be that as it may, Joel is prone wild imaginings when under the influence of his latest intoxicant dou jour which, as became evident as he waxed morbidly poetic with bug-eyed intensity about the satanic influence on local politics, to be of the hallucinatory variety.
 
  “Sy, I heard you were working for E.G…”
 
  “Yeah.  What do you know about him?”
 
  “He is, shall we say, in league with Mephistopheles.”
 
Dealing with nut-jobs is part of the job description.  I’m Sy Caymore, private eye.
 
Edward G,  the tragedian mobster–who did real estate transactions on the side–had hired me to help with his scheme to move the Grandiose Forest to Eagledale.  He had this hair-brained plan to reverse the course of western history, restore the sovereign right of kings, and score a nifty forest for his new racket club; a scheme that had all the makings of some looney, Shakespearean Tragedy for which, it appeared, Edward G had cast me in the role of unwitting stooge.  Against my better judgment, I’d taken the case in hopes of enhancing my meager bank account and getting some new material for a mystery novel I had been wrestling with for some time.
 As I crawled over Old Man Bridge in my ’66 Dodge Dart I had plenty time to think.  There is no better automobile for traversing the City of Night.  It’s revolutionary torsion air-ride and flight-sweep styling commands respect among the pale hipsters who haunt the labyrinthine city of delusion; and though the dashboard may go pixilated, technacolor haywire and transmit coded messages from the outer reaches of space, she now exhibited the sure-footed dignity of a thoroughbred as I negotiated the snarled Island Expressway. 
 
Joel had said the Mayor of Little Siberia might shed light on the Grandiose scam, and clues to E. G,’s shady past might be found among the brick, archival vaults of Little Siberia’s City Hall.  I pulled into the parking garage and took the elevator to a lofty hall where maritime artifacts were on display.  A Grand Banks dory, still manned by a skeleton in foul weather gear, lay under florescent lights, looking like it had just been hoisted from the murky waters of Dogfish Bay.  Display cases held models of the old fishing fleet that had once fitted out here for their seasonal voyage to the Bearing Sea. 
 At first, the place looked empty.  Then I saw a curly haired woman in overalls and Birkenstocks seated before an ancient laptop.  She had the wholesome aspect of an organic farmer.
 
“Excuse me, I’m looking for the mayor.”
 
 “That would be me,” she said with a bright, welcoming smile. 
 
I was pleasantly surprised.  Such open-faced candor is rare in Winslow, where getting a word—kind or otherwise – from city officials is like pulling teeth.
 
“Would you know anything about Edward G Snobinson and some wacky scheme to heist the Grandiose
 forest and remove it to the Dunsinane Racket Club in Eagledale?”
 
 Her pleasant manner suddenly vanished and she said with thinly veiled menace:
 “Questions like that can get you a permanent mooring on the bottom of Dogfish Bay.”

 

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Our struggle for the Varga Community Art Studio

studio exterior 3

We are involved in an effort to compel the City to abide by covenants they agreed to in the purchase in a local children’s playground called the Tot Lot.  These restrictions state that the public art studio–which was illegally destroyed for the benefit of a private developer–must be replaced on the same footprint.  This has been a lengthy struggle and the City of Bainbridge Island continues to neglect it’s obligation to see that the covenants are upheld.

See our website  http://totlotstudio.com/

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Old Hand’s Indonesian Voyage–episode 1

The bewitching breezes that had vexed our northerly course along the bleak, rocky coast gaveway to an absolute calm as we steamed into Sunda Kelepa Harbour and brought up under the ornate, lofty spires of Jakarta.  It was as though the anchorage were under the spell of somevengeful deity that held the stagnant seaport in irons– a fitful sleep of waking dream.I gazed up at Jakarta’s towers and heard, high on the ramparts, Rama’s  gong-struck plea to deliver a flute-weeping Sita from Ranga’s jangling curse.  A sword held against a blood-red sky by masked Barong tragediennes brought down the threadbare, red curtain in the ritual re- enactment of the primal leave-taking and arrival; when carved gods glared from the bowsprit, holding vigilant watch against marauders while we were moored off the savage isle of dreams.  I too, have sat hungry around those ancestral fires, a villan, hero or common swab, subject to the changeable turns of karmic law..

.“Skip lively, Mister Spencer.”

The resonant voice was hoarse, as if weathered by eternal watches on the Greenland ice, or worn ragged from hurling oaths into the teeth of a gail.  I flaked out 5 fathoms of chain from the locker with hamfisted elegance.

“Nicely done, lad. Ye’ll be a sailor before long.”

McWhirr is a pain in the ass sometimes. He’s a relic of working sail and can be as dark as Ahab in rehab on a bad hair day.  He stood stark against the red sky like a weathered piling on a  rocky cape.  Light flickered through the dark shrouds, his shadow looming on the limp stays’l behind him, as if projected on a movie screen.  The  harrowing passage through the Sunda Strait had frayed my nerves and I groped clumsily the 3/8ths chain from the locker.

“All right, Mister Spencer.”

I let go the anchor. There sounded a low rumble as I paid out 3 fathoms of chain into the muddybottom of Sunda Kelapa Harbour.

“Have you paid out enough scope, lad?”

“I cast the anchor in 6 fath…” I said.

“Avast, Ya greenhorn! You don’t “cast” anchors. This isn’t fly-fishing! My gorge rises at suchlubberly misuse of sailing language.”

His wrath, like a line-squall, subsided as rapidly as it came.

“Did you know that to raise an anchor you must first let it go?”

“That’s true, sir.”

He always makes these pithy pronouncements like they were scripture.  And, for McWhirr the act of sailing is a religious rite. He hails from Zoroastrian, Quaker stock and, for him, a ship is a vessel to carry his weary spirit ascending through the 7 concentric spheres of corporeality to the final landfall of essential being. He has seen the beatific vision reflected on the sea’s mirror and it draws him ever northward in search of the true face of divinity behind the mask of appearance.

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July art show–a retrospective

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Musings on local Politics

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Shoving off

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Old Reah’s Bulkhead

After a day spent prepping decks and bowsprit for paint, I sip a local sauvignon blanc in the wheelhouse and view the harbor scene. Old Don Reah is building another rock wall on his steep bank, setting boulders to shore the hillside against rising seas. While I admire his fortitude, I’d think he would take a break after nearly 90 years labor on life’s rock pile.reah

Old Hand lies becalmed while flotsam and weed drift slowly past the bow. I submit to the pull and creak of time and hear the low moan of the hawsers pulling against the weathered dock. Sometimes the almost human sounds start me from revery.   It’s seems as if they  were made by the phantom pioneers who lie buried in Kane Cemetary near the harbor entrance.

The thought of old age, sickness and death recalls me to particulars—the cerulean sky opens between massed cumulonimbus over Port Madison where  fledgling osprey arc in widening circles ever farther from their nests. Each year there’s a whole new crop of them, crying loud in their voracious flight in search of fleeting fingerling.

I am reading the biography of Thomas Wolfe. I love the extravagant, melodic rants of this failed playwright who, battling editors, critics and the philistine aesthetes of the the 20’s, went on to write one the great novels of the 20th Century: Look Homeward Angel. It is sad he died before he could haul his semi-fictional cast of Gants, Joyner’s or Webbers across the continent to the seaside town of Port Townsend as he planed. He caught pneumonia while crossing the very same Strait of Juan de Fuca Old Hand will navigate early next month.

But mostly, Thomas Wolfe’s work inspires me to write–to dare imagine that, after 63 years traipsing this wide, sad earth, I may actually have something to say.

Some, it seems, are born to write, to perpetrate effusive, yet judiciously restrained prose upon the citizenry of this steamship earth– writing which plumbs the deepest mysteries and gets at the heart of unshakable truth. But I have no pretensions to profundity and aspire only to create sea stories which might weather the deluge of time and stand as true as Reah’s solid bulkhead.

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The Sea – god’s gift

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A Tale of Two Houses–a secret history of Port Madison

farnham house croppedfarnam house cropped

Farnham

The rains have let up. I scan Port Madison’s northeast shore through binoculars to see the Farnham house, built above the old mill-site, where much of Bainbridge Island’s forests were milled in the mid-19th century. The house looks the same as when Judge John Farnham leaned on his hoe under his prize apple trees.

farnham up close

He  first signed on the General Park Hill at the age of 12 and spent 3 years shipping cotton between South Carolina and Liverpool before trading in contraband silk between Shanghai and Hong Kong. He rounded the Horn in the rush of ’49 and headed north to Port Madison when  loggers, ship builders and land speculators were rapidly displacing the indigenous Suquamish people.  He commanded side-wheel steamers, worked as shipwright and, in an odd –if not downright ironic–turn of fortune, served as keeper of the Seattle Pest House.

old maan hose cropped

Old Man House

This was when the Old Man House still stood; where creation was annually sung into being in the Winter Dances. It was the lofty, cedar temenos of the Suquamish tribe that was demolished by Albion’s brass-plated cannon of imperious might in 1870.

This is was the home of Princess Angeline.

After reading Jerusalem, I’ve come to see Blake’s Gothic, sweeping poetry entwined with the shadowy firs of Port Madison.  A rummy wastrel turned Urizenic guardian of self-righteous law, Farnham  became the very image of man’s fallen spiritual state, laboring eternally in the Satanic mills, separated from his Sophianic emanation and closed to the Divine Vision.

angeline cropped

Princess Angeline

And I hear fair Angeline as the banished Jerusalem, still weeping over the bay for her lost and tender children.

Farnham’s end was tragic. He had begun exhibiting signs of odd behavior and was forcibly dismissed from office. He held out against the deputy sheriffs in the Port Madison courthouse (then the County seat) with a shot-gun for 3 days before being led away quietly–a man forsaken by his adamant God of Reason.

Ballasted with river rock, he boarded the Seattle ferry, planning to jump into the deep soundings off Elliot Bay. But the emergency crew fished him out and he died shortly after.

Urizen

I honor John Farnham, respect his adventuresome spirit and outrageous character; whose salty yarn and prize apples are the true golden relics of another age.

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