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Three score and ten or more

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Just had to reflect a little bit after a looooong day. I am now out in Washougal, Washington. Yesterday, I surrendered to my taxes and sent in the request for automatic extension (Otherwise know as the procrastinator's crutch), and sent a bunch of money to the IRS, hoping to avoid penalties when my anti-procrastination gene finally puts in an appearance. I finished up some business here in the house that included ordering another phone from Alltel (mine didn't make it home from Hilton Head Island), packing some clothes, and otherwise getting ready to see my Washinton grandchildren (and their parents too, but that is probably incidental). I finally schlepped off to bed at about 11:30 knowing that I had to get up in time to get an early morning plane out of Jacksonville (I fly out of Jacksonville, Atlanta, and Savannah, depending on who is getting good reviews from Expedia, Travelocity, Cheap Seats, Hotwire, and whoever else is haunting my computer.) Savannah doesn't often win because, though closer, it is usually more expensive, and whatever else I am, I am a tightwad. At about 12;30 in the morning, the doorbell rang.

It was Carl, the homeless guy who owns the franchise on me. (I think there is some hidden label somewhere on my person that lets people know that I am almost incapable of turning down someone who puts the touch on me. Carl isn't usually so bad because he always offers to cut the grass, wash the car, (my cars have never been so clean) etc., etc., and HE ACTUALLY DOES IT, (not too carefully, but hey?) which is more than many of my "clients" have done over the years. But, this was almost one o'clock A.M. and I needed to get up before two and drive to Jacksonville. "Hello, Mr. J. can you do me a favor?" This means he wants money. I stomped angrily into the kitchen, took a pound of deli ham out of the fridge, stuck it in a plastic bag with four slices of whole wheat bread, and apple, four little fast food package of mustard and an apple, shoved it at him and told him to go away. He had a number of arguments about how money generated hot food, but I've know him long enough to know that it means that he is desperate for a package of cigarettes and/or a beer. I 'm almost always good for something to eat, but I draw the line at getting out of bead after midnight to provide cigarettes, so I told him to make the ham sandwiches and go away and that if he came back again after midnight, I would call the cops. He grinned knowingly and walked away.

I went back to bed for an hour, took a cold shower, drove to Jacksonville, got on the plane, and arrived here about two o'clock in the afternoon (Pacific time), periodically thinking bad things about Carl, but otherwise just napping, reading and looking out the window.

Like any teen age fan I spent a few minutes giggling because Ted Danson (Cheers,etc.) was wandering around at our gate at the Dallas airport where we changed planes. I had met him once about two hundred years ago, but was careful not to reintroduce myself. He was casually enjoying no fans in the area.

I don't believe I mentined how we happened to decide (we, heck!!) to come to Washington. My seven (almost) year old grand-daughter was talking to her grandmother on the phone. (grandpa listens on the phone, I am not a good phone conversationalist). She said, casually "Grandmother, you have never seen me be a fairy, have you? " Janet casually answers "No, I don't believe I have "(not true, if you schlepp through my moribund webb page at www.puppenrich.com you can find her being a fairy where her father is being- something with horns--.) "Well, I am being a fairy in Midsummer Night's Dream, and you certainly are invited". Her grandmother bought tickets so fast you wouldn't believe it. Anyway, that's how I got drafted into this trip. (Couldn't you see me struggle?).

I found myself looking out the window for that last part of the trip, the vast plains of north Texas and what appeared to be parts of Kansas and Colorado, checker boarded with straight north-south and east-west road dividing the lands into sections (a quarter section is 360 acres, a section is four times that) marked by the strange partial circles created by modern irrigation, and slashed periodically by both dry and wet riverbeds. Gradually these give way to desert, followed by the first foothills of the Rockies, then the snowcovered crags with mottled scabs of pine, cedar and other evergreen forests.

I was born in Idaho, and though I haven't lived there since 1961, I forget how much I miss the mountains till I stare our the window and find my throat constricted and tears running down into my beard.

I dont know much about flying. My flights have been passenger flights, a few helicopter rides, and a brief stint training to be a smokejumper (not one of my most successful vocational efforts), but I was struck by the seeming irrationality of the route from Dallas to Portland. North to Eastern Colorado then over beside the mountains with a left turn to take you over Pocatello, Idaho (my home town), then west through the Snake River country to the eastern Washington/Oregan border. The route then went north of the Snake River gorge and parallel to the Columbia up between Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens (Mount Ranier was near as well, but I couldn't see it through my window).

How the airplane flies certainly isn't what I was taught as a boy to be "how the crow flies." If I were to draw a line from Dallas to Portland on the map, it would certainly cover different territory. The weather was beautiful though, and when we finally slipped out of Washington into hard left U turn, to touch down at PDX (Portland International) my heart was so full I could hardly breathe.

I was in a play many years ago, wherein a teenager was agonizing about his lack of talent, good looks and intellect when his grandmother (I think) challenges him with the assertion to stop running himself down because (she says) "God don't make junk". That same sentence came to me as I looked down a wide dry river bed that had filled up with farms and a couple of small towns, and again when this plane slipped down quite low over the North slopes ofMount Hood. Indeed, no matter how we try to spoil it all, God don't make junk.

I going to go over to a rehearsal of the play now, stuffing my mouth with cotton to keep from side-coaching actors that are working for another director.. I'll let you know how it comes out.


At 8:17 AM, Blogger Ed Abbey said...

I am going to put my farming background to the fore front and correct your blog. A section which is one square mile, is 640 acres. A quarter section is thus 160 acres. Probably just a typo.

I love flying over the midwest in airplanes and checking out the landscape. It certainly does look UFOish with all the crop "circles" out west.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

You got up out of bed and gave the man food! You are indeed a good samaritan. Especially since you had to get up that early.

You flew over part of Texas, but not my part... dang! :)

Hope all works out well.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

You took me on that trip.

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

You seriously take care of a homeless guy like that? Good for you! As for Ted Danson, I think I'd avoid him too. He's kinda weird. But if it was Jeff Goldblum...!!!

At 9:41 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Sigh, Ed, you certainly caught me in a midnight typo. I was so tired I couldn't go to bed so I typed and multiplied the sizes of the homesteads (limited to a quarter section or 160 acres) of thousands of turn of the century homesteaders.

At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

Wow, I would not open my door to the homeless person late at night. You are a braver person than I.

Flying over, I am always struck with how flat Kansas is and the irrigation circles make it look a bit like a moonscape. I think I understand why Dorothy may have wanted to leave.

I miss the mountains too.

At 9:07 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

I must agree with Kathleen. I've driven through Kansas. Yuck! I truly would not want to live there.

In pioneer days many women who lived there on the open prairy went mad. The lonliness and continuous wind got to them. I can understand it perfectly.

At 10:27 AM, Blogger Walker said...

My liberal uncle-in-law claims that the cities are full of homeless people begging for bread. But I've never seen one. Course I don't live in the city and if someone knocked at my door at midnight... first I'd call the sheriff.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger BarnGoddess said...

I followed you from suzies assorted babble, I hope you do not mind. I enjoyed reading this post. I love Dallas/Fortworth airport : ) wow-you must have a huge heart to take care of that homeless guy like that. My 75 yo father would have done the same as you. I'd have chased him away w/ the 12 gauge. This world needs more people in it like you.

At 10:01 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

There was nothing brave about opening the door to Carl. As I said, I think he owns the franchize (I think HE thinks so to) on me. He is likely to knock on my door at any time. (Though it is true that my wife won't open the door when he is around). One unfortunate fact about being willing to help is that some folks really push it to the wall. Some will come, and if you aren't home, they feel justified in stealing something portable from you. I have had them come by and be really upset if I wasn't willing to drop everyhing and give them a ride to Macon or Augusta (125 and 80 miles respectively.) But it is part of my faith and my character to help as much as I can.

I am not sure if I have already blogged about driving US 36 across Northern Kansas (NO curves, a couple of left or right turns with a stop sign) I'll look through my archives and if I haven't told the story, I'll do it.
wellcome to Walker and BarnGoddess. I love new readers and commentators (I know-- Walker's been here before). I really envy bloggers who can go through the comment section and answer almost anybody. My mind won't just gather it all together any more. I am doing all right if I can just get my own word verification right.

At 1:06 AM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Walker the cities ARE full of socalled homeless people - really just old-fashioned hoboes and Richard is a modest man.

BTW yourt word verification right now is socittome.


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