Monday, June 17, 2013


Well, today is our last day on Kauai, and it is hard not to feel melancholy about that!  But life goes on, and I have a garden to tend to when I get home.  Our housesitter and our neighbor have been looking after it.

Yesterday we spent pretty much the entire day at the beach near our condo--Popui Bay and Brenneke Beach.  It's good to mix the laid back days and the active days.  We also insinuated ourselves into the __________ Hotel pool and hot tub.  I know this was on the wrong side of the ethical Jacuzzi, but I figure $30 for some nachos and a couple of glasses of wine at their bar was worth a half-hour pool pass.  (I'm guessing the pool is there to attract non-guests in exactly that fashion.)  Otherwise, the day was spend snorkeling, swimming, reading, and boogie boarding.  I fell asleep flat on my back on the floor at 9:30 after a Puka Dog, which The Travel Channel recommends but I do NOT recommend.   

I've really been enjoying the novel The Book of Secrets by M.J. Vassangji, number three in my tour of Africa book itinerary.  (Not an itinerary because I don't know which country or book I'll choose next.)  It started with Cutting For Stone (Ethiopia), on to What Is The What (Sudan), and now this book set in Kenya.  

The one book that really changed my reading habits in recent years was Don Quixote.  It is so generous and messy and long and full of unguarded emotion and silliness, plus it's a classic of world literature.  It takes a long time to get through and has ups and downs, like a long, kooky trip.  It kind of changed everything, book-wise, and I began to see it in every book I've read, and in books I hope to read.  When I read Don Quixote, I looked at my average books per year on Goodreads, measured that against an average life expectancy, and became anxious and kind of morose about the potential of reading any books that weren't as good as Don Quixote.  That's a very Don Quixote moment.  

The book I'm reading now features history I wasn't aware of (German/English front in Africa in WWI) but has a local kind of village pace.  I guess I no longer have as much interest in writing that seems to feature only one side of the American brain.  Maybe that is why I have read alot of international crime fiction. (Maybe that's why millions of people do.)  In crime fiction, life is at stake, and a sense of local place is usually required.  The urgency of crime books with colorful characters and a defined sense of mortal threat at least protects what's at stake in life: that life is worth living in an engaged, curious way.  I did have a professor who once told us "tell your spouse you love them every day" but not one that said "life is worth living in an engaged, curious way."  More than one said, "Don't read Stephen King, read Raymond Carver."  I enjoy Stephen King's books a lot.  I recognize the world we live in, in them.  And I am necessarily in awe of Carver's books, but, like Nirvana, they spawned some horrible imitations, and the spiritual states described in them are severe and very difficult. 

The Royals won again yesterday with some strong pitching and clutch hits.  In the hot tub at the ___________ Hotel we chatted with a contractor from Philly working at the naval base here who asked me who we'd give up for Chase Utley.  Acutally I started the conversation about Utley, in a respectful way.  He's tops--trading him would be a huge loss for that franchise and community.  The only emerging prospect I see is Yordano Ventura (not an option), but I'm sure there are lots of less developed prospects.  He also asked "what's up with Butler?"  I hypothesized that no one had to pitch to him in the first quarter of the season because (statistically) the lineup had more holes than not.  And walking alot was making him nuts because he want to HIT IT A TON.

    The next thing The Royals can do to drive their fans crazy is send Lough down to make room on the roster.  Lough has been a sparkplug in this amazing June run (14-3, or something like that).

Anyway, it's the final day of vacation--what else?  I have a gig with The Golden Motors on Saturday.  I haven't had much to say about music lately.  I guess you could say it is a fallow time--not what you are supposed to say, promotionally, but it's true.  The truth is you go on vacation for renewal.  People rag on the Eugene scene for being dead as a doornail, but I don't think that's true.  It could be that guys like me have been doing the same thing for so long that change is in order.  Trebly electronic pop is the order of the day, and at house parties and venues you hear about via word of mouth, it is happening.  Punky banjo music happened, bluegrass jam music happened--stuff just happens, and through it all, things come and go, you just have to keep renewing and that can mean not doing anything for a while.  That was what Neil Young wished he could have taught Kurt Cobain--just make music when you feel it, don't push it too hard. 

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