Friday, December 17, 2010

How Did You Come to Vashon Island?

I had dreams about the island and Mt. Rainier all that summer.

I love to hear people tell how they stumbled on this island, and ended up living here. Here, I'll get the conversational ball rolling:
When I was going to school at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, back in the 60s, I was in a country-folk-rock band. The band consisted of Van, my sweetheart, on lead guitar, me as chick singer, Randy on rhythm guitar and dobro, Bruce as bass player, and a long line of drummers who came and went. That was when I learned that drummers as a rule are goofy, to put it mildly. I don't mean to impugn the whole class of percussionists, I'm just saying that rock drummers are predictably unpredictable.
Anyway – Randy met a married couple named Marc and Chrissie who were also old-timey musicians. Marc played wicked fiddle, Chrissie played banjo and guitar and autoharp and they both sang. We became friends and played music together, until Van and I moved to Los Angeles in 1969 to become rock stars.
Seriously. That was the plan.
After that Randy played gigs in San Luis Obispo with Marc and Chrissie. In 1971, just before I moved out of LA, I got a letter from Bruce the bass player. He said, "Bummer in the summer. Marc and Chrissie have moved to Seattle." Marc had apparently graduated from Cal Poly – who saw that coming? - and acquired a job up in Seattle.
Sometime around Christmas 1971 I received a letter from Marc. He and Chrissie had moved to an island, the letter said, and had met a couple of musicians who lived there. They were planning to build a concrete sailboat and sail around the world playing music, but they needed a singer. Marc invited me to visit. No one had ever literally invited me to sail off into the sunset before, so I quit my job, packed my '58 Chevy with a few necessary belongings, and drove up for a visit.
I arrived at the Fauntleroy ferry dock on April 16, 1972. Once on Vashon I followed the traffic up the highway, and it was right around the nursing home and the Episcopal Church that I knew: this is home.
I drove up to the main intersection, and using the pay phone there called my friends to let them know I had arrived. About 12 minutes later, up drove a VW beetle with a police car paint job - white doors, blue fenders, and eagle decals on the doors - with Chrissie waving at me over the shoulder of the young hippie driving. She jumped out of the car and introduced me to Rick Tuel. Yes, he was the very first person I met on the island, but we didn't get married until seven years later. Slow learners.
Now, there is quite a convoluted tale of that trip, but we'll skip that for now. I returned to California after a couple of weeks, but the island had taken hold in me. I had dreams about the island and Mt. Rainier all that summer.
In November of that year, I came back and decided I would move here. On January 4, 1973, I started driving north and arrived here on January 5 after driving all night through a snow storm. I had about $37 to my name. I moved into a house full of hippies, and stayed.
Interesting (to me) fact: my first son was born exactly nine years later on January 5, 1982, during a snow storm. Second interesting (to me) fact: my first boy friend on Vashon Island moved off the island after we broke up and went on to be Microsoft employee number 9.
A question I've never been able to answer is how Marc and Chrissie got here, because they soon got S-A-V-E-D and moved off the island to join a large evangelical church which later dissolved in lawsuits and acrimony. They got me here, though, and I never left.
So what's your island story?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eventually This Gets to John Browne

There was a column on my computer, almost ready to go. All I had to do was the final tweaking. I got up this morning, came in to finish the column, turned on the computer, and was greeted by a big red window telling me that my computer files were infected with a Trojan horse.
And that, my friends, was that. My computer was frozen solid. It would not work in my house, it would not work for the mouse. I did not like it.
I shut it down manually and unplugged all the peripherals. It's out in my car now, waiting to be transported to the computer hospital.
One of my first thoughts was, I haven't had this much trouble since I used Macs. I started out on Apple computers because I'd heard they were superior, more user-friendly, didn't get viruses, and didn't crash as often as PCs. Anti-virus sales people always tried to convince me to buy anti-virus programs for my Macs. I did that once. Put an anti-virus program on my Mac. The computer immediately crashed and had to be taken to the Apple computer hospital.
While Macs may be more immune to virus infections, what I found was that they “corrupted.” One little piece of data would mutate, and pretty soon the whole hard drive had a cascade of mutations and the computer would crash and have to be taken...well, you get the picture.
I know that Mac users are devoted to their computers and I'm not trying to argue with anyone. I'm only saying that my Macs crashed a lot more than my PCs. In eight years of using a PC, this is the first time one has contracted a virus. Apparently anti-virus software actually functions on PCs. Except this time. Oh well. Off to the computer hospital.
What am I writing this on? My Netbook, which runs on Linux, which is looking pretty good to me right now. Except all the games seem to involve penguins, for some reason.
Now, an explanatory note for those of you who do not live on the island and don't know what happened to John Browne: on November 22, there was a snow and wind storm that hit the island. A tree fell down across 111th Ave SW, down the hill from the home of John and Vicki Browne. John decided to go down the hill and clear the tree off of the road. He took his chainsaw and went to work. While he was working a driver came along, lost control, and hit the tree. The tree pushed the chainsaw handle into John's mid-section, damaging his small intestine, and bruising his liver, lungs and heart (so I heard - not too sure about injuries to those organs) and shattering his left elbow. He was taken to Tacoma General Hospital because the bridges from West Seattle to Seattle were closed that night with ice, and Coast Guard helicopters could not fly in the storm.
He had surgery to remove some of his small intestine and stitch it back together, and another surgery to put his elbow back together. He was in the ICU about a week then moved to another room, and I last heard that he was going to a recovery facility, or perhaps to one of his children's homes, or even home with Vicki. I don't know the whole straight story but the fact is that he's improving. Now he and Vicki need a little help.
There's a benefit for John Browne at the Red Bicycle on Saturday, December 18. Drop by and support John & Vicki. They have given the island the benefit of their good selves for many years; let's benefit them. Whether you come or not, you can send money to the fund for John Browne at US Bank, P O Box 428, Vashon WA 98070.
Factoid: the first time I met John Browne was when I picked him and another guy up hitch hiking at the intersection of Haight Street and Fillmore in 1966.
Final words for 2010: Merry Christmas, or Solstice, or Kwanzaa (Hannukah's already gone by), and stay warm with your loved ones, Islanders.