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A New Year

Island Life

I don’t know how you treat the transition from one year to the next, but generally I tend to try and temper disgust with what has taken some three hundred plus days to ebb and flow with a modicum of hope that the next, similar cluster of days and nights offers a chance at redemption and renewal, in spite of the fact that not enough has changed in the interim to warrant either expectations of the extraordinary, or the pyrotechnic display that pretends to guide us onward into the fog. In fact, the continued lameness of the fireworks and the music that made up yet another New Year’s Eve at the Needle on TV and elsewhere, coupled with the shaking and cowering exhibited by dogs and cats alike in our household as celebratory bombs exploded in the airspace surrounding our compound, all made for a less than festive tone for transitioning into this 2015 timeslot. I believe the anticipation for New Year’s disappointment was established in the formative years of me, way back in 1961, when I went to bed hoping that President Kennedy would sign a midnight executive order allowing us to remain forever in 1961, as you could then continue to write the year down anywhere and not be certain as to whether it was right-side up or upside down, all of which perhaps goes a long way toward explaining something about my world view and the priorities that inform it.

I can’t say that legions of profundities were marching through synapse and cortex as this past year’s grand countdown proceeded toward zero. My greatest concern, as I recall, was to attempt to stifle the pop on our one bottle of holiday cheer as it opened unto the evening, so as to not further rattle dog and cat nerves. In spite of a concerted effort on my part, with even the semi-stifled pop, the largest dog in the house immediately sought refuge in a corner of the room at the top of the stairs, disregarding my apologies and an attempt at explaining that the war outside had NOT invaded our private gathering. Besides being baffled at a post fireworks TV special on the meaning behind the background music selection for what had just passed as “awesome” pyrotechnic entertainment, I really had very little gray matter activity to speak of that night. I can safely say that in the few days following the great turning, three words come to mind as being at the forefront of the “things going on up there”. Also, there is a nice alliterative quality to their recitation: parents, parks and prevarication, but not necessarily in that order.

As a euphemism, the word prevarication is a rockstar. If one goes to the Latin derivation from the word praevaricatus, one finds that it means to walk crookedly. From there we go from “turn aside” to “evade the truth” to finally the basic: to lie. I can remember about when and from whom I first heard the word. It was, I believe, my first year at boarding school when my table master, and one of the English teachers at the school, used it at one of our meals. I don’t remember the context it was used in, I just recall liking the cadence and tone with which it was spoken. I also liked the fact that it allowed one to almost be paying someone a compliment if you called them a prevaricator rather than liar. There is also a grand irony in all of this, as this particular teacher was found, posthumously as it was, to have been molesting boys at the school, or at least having had inappropriate relations with them. An English department chair that had been in his name was eliminated- I don’t know what other purges have taken place there to remove the stain. Having not been one of his objects of desire I would probably still elect to call him a prevaricator in at least one regard- I’m sure others would not be so generous.

And then there are the parents, or more correctly- were. As has been related here on and off recently, there is this ongoing matter of settling their estate. I recently received two boxes from my lawyer in New Hampshire containing what seems to be more than two reams of financial records which I have been pouring over. While a lot of it was a bit Greek-ish to me, I finally deciphered the gibberish and worked out a pattern of deception that had been woven into the mix by someone I thought was my sister. It involved moving funds from account to account to invisible account to pay her bills and buy her things. She told me, whenever I asked while I was back there last Summer, that the money had ‘gone to pay Dad’s medical expenses’, and as trustee and executor of the estate, I assumed that she should have known. As I now see that this was all as far from the truth as one could get without running into one’s self while coming around the other side, I haven’t quite decided as of yet just exactly what I want to call her, so since this is all just about to get good, I’ll wait to say anymore until I find out more about something resembling the truth.

And besides, I’d rather talk about something good, which brings us to parks. For the past couple of years there has been a lot of bad to do with the parks- all one had to do was go to a park board meeting and get their fill of it. On the other hand, if one were actually to go to the parks and park facilities, in many cases the bad was hard to locate. For a brief period of time a year ago, as a part of the rowing team (prior to succumbing to acute old-fartism) I was made aware of a vignette of Island Life of which I had only caught vague glimpses. What is cool is that there are national class rowers coming out of this program. And just the other night I was at a meeting of folks working to expand the possibilities of the Vashon Pool. We will have an extra month of outdoor swimming this year, and in an effort to see what the new thermal pool covers can do to hold heat in and conserve energy (they will lay right on the water and are deployed overnight during the pool season) Scott Bonney, Pool Manager, is hoping to have a Winter swim weekend coming soon, which may sound a bit crazy, but should be a lot of fun if the weather even at least part way cooperates. And I just this afternoon went down to the Burton Adventure Recreation Center to see the new skate bowl, which is quite impressive, and is already attracting people from off Island- while I was there someone was skating who had taken the ferry over from Tacoma just to try the new bowl. I understand from skate advocate Jenni Wilke that there will be a celebration of the new bowl on Sunday January 25th at 1pm, and that plans are already underway for events and competition this Summer.

This is all good, and along with a takeaway from the meeting that the Friends of Vashon Pool had with parks director Elaine Ott about ideas for a vision of the future of the park district, I have changed my mind about support for the upcoming levy election. Having previously stumped for the “Vote No on the Levy and Send a Message to the Park Board”, I will have to say that I have changed my vote to a Yes on the levy, and will save the voting messages for when the three commission seats come up for grabs in the Fall. There is just too much good stuff happening at parks now to jeopardize that. So yes, vote yes, and show up at the park board meetings in order to add your voice as to where you would like to see this Happy New Year of Parks ramble.