70th and Love and Marriage

Well, my 2nd ex just bought me dinner and drinks…….

In Ballard, stopping at Market Street, 3 or 4 people loaded immediately, as I was closing the door I heard a voice call, “Wait” A man, 70s, white beard, dressed in jeans, work boots, baseball cap, for some reason, I thought “Sailor” started to enter my bus, “sorry, I’m moving slow” your doing fine, “its my 70th today” wow, Happy Birthday! “thank you, I made it” he said as he slipped his dollar in the till and I handed him his transfer.  He stood by my chair, I asked, you gonna celebrate?

“Well, my 2nd ex, just bought me dinner and drinks” Nice I said, cool of her, “yeah, we have always kept in touch, she was 2nd out of 3….. 1st one, I was too young, we were too young, my 2nd, well, 15 years was enough” 3rd? I said, “She died a couple years ago” sorry man, “its ok, this one was always ok, tonight was steak at my favorite bar, she bought me a bunch of shots, I’m a bit tipsy” you seem fine, I said, “about 7 or 8, I asked her if this meant she was staying tonight” I chuckled and looked at him, hmm, “yeah, she kissed me on the cheek, and said, no, sweetheart, I wanted to get you those shots so your hung over tomorrow, that’s my gift to you,

 she paid the bill and left me there, she always seems to get the upper hand” …….. I had to laugh.

A buddy of mine since childhood married his childhood sweetheart and have been married since they were in their early 20s…. He would bring up times when he felt he knew he was married, Kids, 1st purchase of a house, things like that  seemed to be reminders to him, I didn’t know if he was keeping track of what they did, or these things made the marriage seem more real.  In their 20th year together he was confiding in me how things had changed… Yeah, love was still there, but sex wasn’t what it used to be, and on a Sunday morning after a session together, draperies were closed, lights were off and they were talking and laughing about how their bodies had changed, softer, more folds, patches of padding,   Home, Kids, college funds, careers, friends, families, these kinds of subjects came up during sex, that morning their discussion led to how intertwined their lives were and marriage was not what they expected, but what they had hoped for, and talked about how sex seemed to become both a discussion of tasks as well as a physical connection. They were happy,  While he was laying on his back and she sitting on his stomach, she taps his chest right on his breast plate, her finger beads a drop of sweat, she leans down and taps again with her ear to his chest, she brings her lips to his ear and says softly “if you ever leave me,  I’ll stab you in the Heart…Do you understand, the Heart.” 

Reptilians and a Guy with the day off

There are times when you ponder when we are still human, and if one can come back from not fitting that definition.

There are times when you ponder when we are still Human, and if one can come back from not fitting that definition.  I have partook in casual drugs in my life, and believe moderation and light use is part of the human experience, alcohol, weed, pretty mild stuff when enjoyed lightly, there are those that are more bold in their “exposure”

At the corner of 3rd and Pike, across the street from me, a young blond girl struggled walking with her 2 pair of shoes, her lace up heals wrapped around tight jeans, with the heals sideways dragging on the street to the outside of each foot wearing tennis shoes,  ever see that video of the husky wearing shoes?  This is how she moved. 

Behind her, an older man in at least his 70s, long hair and long beard, worn jeans that sagged, way down, whitey tidies……. He was bent forward with his butt against the building, rubbing it up and down, drooling.

The blond started to cross the street towards us, busses slowed and let her go, her movements were reptilian.  Think of the Chicken picking its way through the yard. She walked towards me, I looked into her eyes, it was disturbing how vacuous and empty those eyes were, a woman standing next to me gasped and moved behind me, the blond strutted by me, walked to the building behind put her hand on the wall, turned left and  continued up the street.  I had a chill from the encounter.

At Aurora and 105th I approach a stop light, there is a middle-aged man dressed in torn clothes, long blond hair and unshaven with a spotty beard.  He slowly spins with his arms stretched out wide, comes to the edge of the curb, steps back as he turns, comes around and steps onto 105th, a small Honda swerves left to miss him making the car in that lane stomp on his brakes, send the car behind him into my lane, missing my bike rack by inches.  The man freezes in the street as horns blare. He stares off in the distance unaffected and unaware of almost being hit, and the situation he caused.  A few weeks later he boards my bus at Northgate, pays his fare in coins and stares forward all the way to 3rd and Pine.  I saw no change of expression in his face. He stood up his face still forward as he walked past me and out the bus.  I did not watch to see where he went.

In Freemont, a Saturday afternoon I pick up a 20s something guy, wobbly drunk and openly friendly, says, “man, I don’t have any cash on me, beer is expensive” I smile and hand him a transfer. “Thanks man, I’m drunk … just sorta happened, kinda” a s he took a seat near the front. He burped loudly and said, “oh man, I’m sorry, this is kind of embarrassing” thinking of nothing else he could say, he blurted out “GO Hawks”!! the Bus was silent… he waited a moment,  then said, “Ok then, I get it, I’m drunk, how bout politics. Trump, sheesh, am I right”? silence, “I mean seriously, Jesus”! silence, then he said, “ok, pardon me, Love you guys”

An older gentleman was getting off the bus and leaned into me as he said, “you have an intoxicated young man there”  He seemed to expect me to do something about it, all I said was, Yes, I noticed.

The young man stepped off the bus in Ballard, thanked me for the ride, As I waited for the light to turn green, I watched him go into a coffee shop.

While Stopped

a Lovely brunette in her mid twenties is turning as the seamstress pins the hem

I pull into a stop on Greenwood Ave, I have a view of a Bridal Gown store, a lovely Brunette in her mid-20s is turning as the seamstress pins the hem, her Mom is taking pictures with a camera, a friend takes pictures with her phone. On my left I’m passed by an electric bike with the cargo spot in front carrying a set of what I think are twins, toddler age, I begin to get ready to pull out and am passed by a small car with a husky hanging out the window, he barks at the lady riding the bike, she veer’s to the right but manages to avoid hitting a parked car.  Across the street the Fire House doors begin to open, a siren turns on and the flock of pigeons lined on a power line take flight.

Sunrise I’m at a stop, facing Mt Rainier, the foot of the mountain is pink, then is dark blue at the summit, the mountain dominates the seen as the buildings, cars, people become unnoticeable,  sheep clouds are red underneath, then cotton white at the top.  I watch the blinking red lights of a plane as its on its way to Sea Tac, my window is open, and the air is fresh as it gusts in my window. The early Seattle city planners designed the road this way and this is why we call it Rainier Avenue

I’m headed down a hill and stopped just before a busy intersection downtown, it’s Game day,  there is a Seahawk fan in full garb, hat, coat, shorts, shoes and socks in hawk colors throwing a football to other fans across intersections, he points at me, I shake my head no, and he throws the ball over my bus and to another person dressed in garb on the other side.  The crowd laughs and he throws the ball over to another corner, as I wait for the light, the ball has been thrown 4 or 5 times to different people.  There is a dog pulling at the leash wanting to get into the game, a street singer saws “Go Hawks” on her microphone, the crowd yells “Go Hawks.”  There is an old gentleman at a bus stop bench sleeping.

I’m at a stop that is by the front door of a small chain restaurant, they have a line on Sundays that goes about a half a block, people are drinking Starbucks, couples are meeting other couples, a family of 5 is carrying presents as to celebrate a Birthday. Inside the restaurant the tables are full, the windows are slightly fogged.  At the door the hostess is calling the next table. I pick up a couple that just finished eating and they ask me if I go near the zoo.  A younger man wearing a hoodie and headphones pushes by without paying or caring that he knocked food out of their hand, walks towards the back, they look at him briefly, shake their heads then find a seat in front. He gets off later at a busy downtown stop and pushes through the crowd, another younger guy swings back at him and hits him on the shoulder, he ignores it and goes into a drug store.

The crosswalk is full of people dressed in various types of garb, going left, right,  phones, briefcases, purses, wheel chairs, bags of food, clothes, dogs on leashes, hats, sunglasses, scarves set up multi moving patterns of color that hints of the stories they are telling.

Conversations with Katy

About a year ago, I pulled into my stop at 56th and 25th nw.  Katy about mid 30s who stands about 5’4, uses a walker, ski cap over her forehead and just above the eyes that are the opposite of cross eyed.  Jacket a bit too large, a scarf around her neck and pajama bottoms. Sneakers on her feet.  I kneel the bus and ask if she would like the ramp…… “Yea” she responds.  She uses the ramp as she begins her discussion.  “I need to be careful, because I fall” Oh no, take your time, be safe, “ I know, I get in trouble when I fall, I hate that”  She scoots and waddles, its apparent she has some kind of hip or leg issues.  “I gotta get my pills for my blood pressure day” OK I said. The person sitting at the front vacated the seat for her, she started to settle in, “ don’t go yet, wait till I  get seated please, I fall”  I fell about a year ago at a stop I hate that, I get in trouble”.  Oh no, I hope you were ok…. Are you ok?  “yea” I check my computer, its about 2 mins to get her loaded and seated.  We chat as I make my way down the road.  She speaks slowly, a bit loudly.  “ I gotta keep my walker near by recliner” she tells me, When I recline, then have to use the bathroom my legs fall asleep and I forget to take time to wake them, then I fall, I get into trouble when I fall.  I hate that” I guess it’s hard to be careful all the time I said.  “Yea” she said.

Mostly, our conversations go like this as I take her downtown where she transfers to another bus to her appointments.  I find her kind of funny and enjoy seeing her as she wobbles with her walker, her googly eyes, snotty nose.  Easy going and concerned that she might get in trouble if she’s not careful. She makes it to her appointments, grocery shopping, home. 

She speaks slow, her pace of the conversation stretches out between stops and sometimes she focuses her conversation on me.

About a week ago: 

“How late do you work”?  Oh, about 630 tonight.  Then is your wife making you dinner?  No, I’m not married……. I pull into a stop and start to let people on, “You’re not married”?  No…. I make it about halfway up the block. “How come”?  I don’t know I said, I pull into another stop, “Women don’t like you”?  I look at her, one of her googly eyes is behind her nit hat.  Not really, I said.  “Oh” We go up another block to a red light.  “Are you nice to them”?   Not always, I guess. The light turns green… “Maybe you should be nice, then you might get a date” Yea, I said. We pulled into a stop…. “Have you tried telling a joke?  Yea, but that doesn’t always work… another minute goes by and she asks “you’re not funny”? No. 

We arrive at her stop, I lower the ramp and she waddles off as I wish her a good night, she says “good night, Thank you”

Today I pick her up at Macys, she’s on her way to the grocery store, she complains she’s out of paper towels and has to remember to get them this time. “Ill remind you I said, “No” I can do it” I just have to remind myself, I keep my walker by my recliner, and when I get up to go to the bathroom, my legs are asleep, and I don’t give them time to wake up”  I’m wondering if this has something to do with the paper towels.  “I might have to get a caretaker, I get in trouble when I fall.

I know, I said, hate to see you get in trouble. “yea” she said.  I’m thinking that our year long of trips have sort of bonded us in a way, where I know her routine a bit, and she knows me.

  “How late do you work tonight” she asked. About 630 I said.  Is your wife making dinner tonight?  I smile and say, (and think I might dodge a bullet this time, so I lie…No, were going out tonight.

“Oh” we pull into a stop and I let some people on… “Does she make you shower before you go out”?  Yea, I said.  We make it to a light… “cause your sweaty”?

Yea, I work very hard I said. Another block… “Yea, you work hard” she sort of snickered it.  I look at her “Does she drive when you go out”?

No, I drive.  “How come”?  well, she doesn’t like to drive, I do.  “oh” we turn a corner and pick up a bit of speed.  “I need to pick up paper towels” Ill remind you when we get there…. “No, I can do it.” 

We arrive at QFC, I lower the ramp as she prepares herself to leave, “Are you nice to her”?  I always try. “There is another driver that isn’t nice, he’s single” She’s at the end of the ramp… Pick up paper towels!!  “I Know”

An older lady with blue hair blinks both her eyes at me while she leaves. I raise the ramp as Katy is waddling towards the store entrance.

Some Interactions on the Bus

Life should always be as happy as feeding birds

An older gentleman that I believe to be in his late 60s early 70s, definitely a hippy, hopped on to my bus and explained he was from out of town and has no idea how much it costs to use our bus.   I said, “well, people in their 20s pay 2.75, people a bit more mature pay a dollar”  Through his long beard his toothless smile chuckled and he said “ Im a bit past 20 but still immature” good for you sir, that will be a dollar and Ill give you a transfer for the next bus.  Yea, I’m heading up to Shoreline and need to get on some giddy bus” giddy bus? I said…. “something like that, a buddy of mine has an art show at the Shoreline town hall I’m in town to see it.  Very cool I said, I think you want the

E line, yea, that’s it. We were chatting as we headed down the road, Ill let you know when we get to that stop, great he said, I just got in from Spokane about an hour ago, I hitchhiked…. Really? That’s a long ride…. Yea, been 4 days, I picked up a ride to Republican, then over to Wenatchee, down to Arlington, then up here… sheesh that is a journey, yea, I like to get out at least once a year, hitch a ride and go for a bit…… you do that as a thing? I asked, oh yea, been doing it for years, my buddy said I should see this show, so this was a good reason for the ride…. You’re a good friend I said as we arrived at his transfer… I reached out and shook his hand, He struck me as a guy that’s had a lot of good conversations.

There has been what I believe is a Mother and Son that get on my bus in Ballard and ride into town, or from town to Ballard, her health has been on the decline and she moves a bit more slow each time and now has a hearing aid and wears dark glasses. I tilt the bus for her, she is careful with her cane as her son holds her arm, they sit close and chat to each other.  He is very attentive, they seem very close.  It reminds me of my mothers last days, as hard it is to watch a parent that is in their end of days, I think of my moms as some of the sweetest times I had with her. 

She had Leukemia. The last few weeks were a fast decline, I lived near by and would go to her place each morning to check on her before work and after.  One morning she was having a difficult time getting out of bed.  Mom was a big woman helping her out wasn’t easy, As I got her to her feet, she passed out, It was all I had to keep her from falling, and because of her size and physical condition, getting her back on the bed was more than I could do, I held her up in a bear hug.  I had my cell phone in my pocket and called 911 and explained the situation, and let them know her bladder just let lose, the dispatcher said they wouldn’t be long.   

I called into work and let them know I wouldn’t be in, she started to come too and started to cry, I’m so embarrassed she said, Mom, don’t worry about that, they are on their way, we will get you checked in for a few days…….. As upsetting as that memory sounds, and the loss of some very nice Italian shoes, I find it to be a moment of intimacy that is unforgettable one of those moments of love and understanding that can only be achieved with a lifetime behind it.

I envy them as much as I cringe at what will come next for them.

Don is a middle-aged man that lives in one of Seattle’s halfway houses, Don has a great nature, positive, fun, he doesn’t have walls nor is he shy from sharing anything.  He Physically seems to be in great shape, and I believe his situation is simply a limited mental capacity, which has never seemed to bother him.

His favorite coat is his mariner coat, he has gone to the expense of printing pictures of all his favorite mariner players on this coat, he shows it off with great pride, explains which picture is, when they played he shares a memory of them and there must be 30 or 40 pics on this coat…. It’s a good-looking jacket, I’m surprised no one has stolen his idea yet.

I see Don usually around the Denny area, lately he sells a local newspaper to people as they pass by, he loses interest as the pigeons flock to him, he loves his birds, they sit on his arms and shoulders as he feeds them, laughing, having a blast that these birds flock around him, sometimes must be a crowd of 30 or 50 birds around him as he puts bread crumbs and seeds on his shoulders, feet, hands , head he waves as people drive by.

Life should always be as happy as feeding birds.

Earnestine

We kept food out for him, and discovered he was living under our side stairs

We moved into this house about a year and a half ago, the house is smaller than we preferred, but the yard is huge, two greenhouses and two storage sheds, and still plenty of room for my workshop.  When we moved here, we inherited a yard that attracted a number of cats, 4 or 5 by our count. A few were neighbor cats and 2 or 3 were strays.

At first, we didn’t see much of our new little grey cat, we would occasionally see him looking from a distance or hurrying around a corner, he kept his distance. He and Sheba got into a scramble, I stamped my foot at him, he ran and kept his distance from me for quite a while.

About a year went by and we started to see more of him, we also kept food out and found that he had be living under our side stairs. He would watch us with a serious face.  Long stares of sizing us up, he watched our every move.  I thought he was watching with Earnest and that would be a good name for him.

We got to know our neighbor and He told us what he knew of her, (Earnest now became Earnestine) that she had been around for at least a decade, was the two occupants ago cat and was left behind for some reason, and might be the mother of several of the neighborhood cats. He kept food out for her, but never saw her much.

When we would did see her, she was always tense, Earnestine’s survival method was to run and avoid all cats, she was the one lowest on the totem pole, she was too small, too old to protect herself, avoidance was what worked for her, when she was confronted by Tom, she screamed, some kind of unearthly type of plea, would break our hearts as we ran out to chase Tom off.  Pam would spend time with her and was making slow progress, It was then that we learned she is a “Hemingway” cat:  If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to 6 toes on each foot, (24 toes) also, one eye socket is a little smaller than the other,  Earnestine would take food from us as long as we weren’t too close, then one day as Pam held out her hand, Earnestine touched her nose on Pam’s finger, then soon Pam could pet her, I was making similar, but slower progress, her face started to relax from being earnest, to something sweet and curious. Food would now be eaten while we were close and we were allowed to pet her, then she came into the house, as long as we kept the door open, she was ok, if I closed the door, she would jump at windows trying to get out.  It took a bit, but now she trusts us, and will lay with us if we sit on the kitchen floor and purr while we pet her and talk to her. She never ventures farther into the house.

Earnestine still wants to stay outside, she is a feral cat, and showing her age, too skinny, bones, and limps from an old hip injury that might be arthritic, we put together a warm cat house that has a heating pad and is insulated. We have fallen in love with her and hope this keeps her well for the winter, as she has lived a long time for a feral cat, as much as we want her to share her house with her, we fear this might be her last winter. 

Driving on Christmas and the Best Muffin in the World

Today she gets on the Bus carrying a large Tupperware container, “Oh Hello, Merry Christmas” she says Merry Christmas I said, she sits at the front, She’s in a Burgundy coat, black stockings, matching heels, wonderful scarf, Hair perfec

I would have considered this day pretty uneventful; I had a few more people than I expected, they were all on their way somewhere, traffic was very light, the weather was clear.  My Bus warmed up this morning, then the heater went out about halfway through my first run up to Shoreline Community College, I called it in, Transit Control would get me a new bus on my run back to Westwood Village. 

Heading down Greenwood I stop by an assisted living building, it’s a very nice facility, I understand its pricey to live there and is excellent in its services and the condos are spacious and well appointed.

I have picked up this woman at the stop many times over the course of the last 2 years.  She is over 80, always well dressed, even when dressed casually, her hair is perfect, makeup well done, fashionable and accessorized.  She has always struck me as well accomplished; she communicates well and very direct.  I’ve thought of her as rather Grand, though we have never had a conversation more than a general greeting.

Today she gets on the Bus carrying a large Tupperware container, “Oh Hello, Merry Christmas” she says Merry Christmas I said, she sits at the front, She’s in a Burgundy coat, black stockings, matching heels, wonderful scarf, Hair perfect.  You look like your on your way to fun I said, “ Yes, she replied, Granddaughters first time hosting Christmas.  “Wonderful” I said, Yes, and its my job to bring these muffins, everyone knows how to make them, but they have made it my job.  “No one cooks better than Grandmas” I said.  That’s so true, she said, This is my Grandmothers recipe, She taught me how to make them, and I make them every year, taught  my daughter, then taught my granddaughter, “ I love family traditions like that” I said.  The recipe has changed a bit since my grandma made them,  we lived in Idaho, I grew up in a cabin, my grandparents didn’t have power, back then, grandfather built the Cabin, not very big, large fireplace, exposed timbers, wood stove and they got by with lanterns.  It was a farm, they had some livestock but all of it was very modest, we made our own butter, Milk from the cow, eggs were fresh and the squash were from the garden.  So much now is store bought, its all easier, but I think they have dropped a bit in taste.

“that’s Amazing” I said.

We pulled in near Woodland Park Zoo, she stood up and walked towards me opening the Tupperware, Here, take a few,

“ Oh Gosh I couldn’t”  ( I have a policy of not taking food from people on the bus for obvious reasons of being too risky)

Of course you can, I want you to, please take some.

You, know, I have so much food in my bag, those look really good, she smiles and said……. Take !  I took one, and thanked her profusely, “ Merry Christmas Sir, your always so nice to me, I appreciate you.  Merry Christmas Mam, it’s my pleasure.

She stepped off and I pulled away with the muffin stored in a napkin to my left.

It was a light day in Traffic, and I couldn’t help but to think of her growing up in a cabin, no power, snow, warmth of a fire, I imagined the cabins fireplace, river rock, a Mantel made out of timber.  Her Grandmother in a calico dress and white apron with lace ( maybe I watch too much tv.)  I drove through our city of cement, steel, glass, I drove my near million dollar bus through the streets with many people, and thought how her Christmas has changed.

No power, then radio, then TV, highways , Trak housing, Moon landing, Internet… the list is huge, Her experience then is so different from her Grand daughters experience of Christmas. 

But they share a tradition,  Muffins, Muffins that have a recipe of perhaps a hundred years, maybe more as I have to think her Grandmother learned to cook from her Mom, maybe Her Grandmother, so perhaps food now isn’t what it used to be, so much now is ready made, flour, butter, pasteurized milk,  ingredients from all over the world are available now, few people grow their own food, much less cook from scratch of the level of churning their own butter, picking their own eggs.

Was fun to think about.  A new bus was waiting for me at 1st and Lander, a couple of customers quietly changed buses with me and we continued on, dropping someone occasionally. I pulled into Westwood with 1 person to drop off, Merry Christmas he said, I waved back and wished him the same.

I lifted the Muffin, perfect color, not a cupcake style, the old school type, that has the top.  I thought again of how old this recipe might be, I took a bit and held it in my mouth. 

I should have taken more.