The last day of dry dock

The last day of dry dock was yesterday, September 26, 2008. Dry dock lasts for 3 weeks and is the time when our car ferry, which carries about 25 cars, sails off to Seattle for annual repairs, painting, and general sprucing up. During dry dock we have a replacement ferry that carries passengers only. We keep our cars in a crowded parking lot on the mainland.

Just about everyone on the island claims to love dry dock. They say that the pace of living, relaxed anytime, gets even more sedate. They say that you see people you haven’t seen for months riding the passenger ferry and catch up on lots of news. Dogs and children and old folks are safer because there are so few cars on the roads. And tourists have left for more entertaining places. All this is true. But since everything has to be hand carried across on the ferry, it requires forethought. If you forget something big you need for a project or a party, it just has to wait. Then there is the parking lot. Never get there at the end of the day when the commuters have all parked their cars. No space. Long walks to illegal parking places.

So while we all love the peace and tranquility of dry dock, most of us are mighty glad to see the ferry come back. There is always a bit of suspense about it, since in the past the dry dock period sometimes got prolonged. One year it came back, joy, and immediately broke down, sadness, and went away again for 3 long days. Yesterday was the last scheduled dry dock day.

It was a Saturday and Jerry and I had no plans, except that my new house cleaner, a friend and neighbor from up the road, was coming in the afternoon to clean. For most of my life I have cleaned my own house, but now that I am 76, though perfectly capable of doing it, I have decided that I can indulge in a little laziness and luxury and have it done. As everyone knows, you must clean up for the cleaner. So in the morning I tidied, folded and organized.

A friend called and suggested that we meet him and his wife for coffee in the afternoon at one of the 2 island restaurants. Great. You never want to be underfoot when your house is being cleaned. We sat outside in the sun with our cappuccino and brownies. Our friends are both professors. He is a retired physics professor, she teaches abnormal psychology at the local university.

The conversation meandered pleasantly. I told the latest moose story from Manley Hot Springs. A moose was shot out of season and someone called the troopers who descended in a helicopter and arrested the perpetrator. Our friend said he needed to install an antenna for one of his multitude of hobbies, talking in Morse code with other enthusiasts by ham radio.

Someone came in with a service dog, and I said was reminded of a lady in my summer art class in Fairbanks, AK, who had a toy poodle service dog. I was interested, since I have a toy poodle myself, and I enquired about what sort of service the dog was trained to perform. The lady said the dog was trained to help with her special disability. She and I became good friends, and I learned that she was having therapy, Jungian psychoanalysis, by telephone to Anchorage. Her dog had to do with some sort of anxiety neurosis. The abnormal psychologist was amused. She talked about her teaching schedule, which is light this quarter, only 2 graduate courses.

We compared notes on island elder sitters. They are caring for his 90 year old mother, and I had cared for my mother who died at 100. We launched into an analysis of the presidential debates and I promised to email a Sarah Palin joke that my nephew sent me, since the psychology professor said she is the keeper of Palin jokes for her department. Our friends got on their bikes for home to relieve the elder sitter.

Our next stop was a wine tasting and retail wine studio, a hobby enterprise for a neighbor couple, a few houses from ours. It is open on Saturday afternoons for wine and cheese and art on the walls of their small gallery. Their only other customers that afternoon had just left. We talked about my having a show of my paintings and etchings in the gallery. We sipped good wine, did some reminiscing about past times (even though they are only in their 60’s, 10 years behind us). With a bit more wine (really good wine) things got funnier, especially with occasional allusions to the physical limitations of aging.

When we came home to our clean and shiny house I cooked an old person’s dinner, liver and onions and fried potatoes. (No one under 65 eats liver these days, but you sometimes see it on the senior menu in country restaurants.) My only concession to healthful cooking was to fry the potatoes in olive oil.

After dinner we took the dogs for a walk to see whether the car ferry was back. It was not, but next morning we repeated the walk and there it was, freshly painted yellow, white and black. Our friend the physics professor was there on his bike. He said he knew the ferry was back, but he just had to see it for himself.

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