a giant pacific octopus (just squirted ink in your tea and pooped on your crumpet)

For teatime on Sunday we met north of the Ship Canal at the Crown Hill cottage of a dear friend who makes the most beautiful watercolors, she’s quite insecure about them yet not overly modest so if something catches your eye it’s a knife ridge. Sitting in the living room with a view out the picture window past a billowy willow up to Greenwood, we sipped with our eyes open the better for advance scouting the tray of muffinish breads, the delicious kind with seeds and berries that get stuck in your teeth so you end up savoring them for hours like a flavory electric toothpick until finally much later you just about go bananas in the mad dash for floss. One of us is a bus driver for Metro and always gets around to sharing one or two remarkable tales of collisions between ambulances at four way stops, we were on the edge of our seats and I was feeling a little more grown-up than usual in my v-neck sweater while I may have hogged too many of the things on my side of the tray, that’s why you’re probably better off serving freezer-burned crumpets when the big lug comes over. We were getting sore from sitting so long, you could tell because one of us stretched across the sofa like a geriatric pet and it spread like yawns or maybe it was the heavy woebegone family matters which must always be gotten over, we lightened the mood a little with a tour of the charming rented house and everyone gasped at the tiny bedroom with the stunning nautical mural on two walls featuring a two masted whaler, octopus, fishes and other stuff but I found myself astonished when everyone voted the mural down, they uh-huhed and oh-boyed at the lifelike diorama (someone suggested it was time for the whole thing to be painted over which I thought was the most terrible thing anyone had said about the ocean all afternoon).  While generally-speaking I do believe life-size bedroom murals can be risky propositions, I found this vivid, pulsing seascape utterly charming, the stuff of childhood dreams and just maybe little Greta or Gunnar who grew up in that bedroom now works for NOAA doing important research or maybe they’re a Little Debbie-addicted chain-smoking, salty liveaboard at Shilshole.  Moments later a miscalculation was made on my part, nobody seemed terribly impressed as I reminisced about a few days ago when the boys and I found a severed, sand-breaded octopus tentacle on the beach, this was deflating to me but once again with my childish notions and bad timing. While the conversation floated to transitional ephemera I drifted happily to the Peninsula: Turning over the sucker-covered tentacle with my foot, bemused at the grotesquely solid, rubbery heft, deftly balancing it on the end of my foot like a crude ball, chucking the fleshy mass toward the boys (and grandma) who shrieked with terror. The next morning that shoe smelled really bad. Coming to moments later, it was all I could do to not beg for the tiny, exquisitely-inked octopus on the browned art card which I’d nosily discovered pinched between papers in the napkin holder on the side table in the kitchen (the cottage is just one big room, really). I’ll admit to admiring it for longer than I should’ve in the hopes it would be mine, wasn’t that selfish of me to think my friend should give her hard work to me? Everyone started down the treacherous steps to the day-lighted basement to inspect the humongous backyard (there was even a treehouse in the front yard), I shuffled the tiny illustration back into the deck of charming doodles like a coupon for toothpaste. On the other hand, my dear reader, you just take all these words and keep’em. That’s right, all eight hundred and ninety eight are for you! Scramble them up for something else when you’re done, I won’t be the least bit offended. They make super-good compost, even.

Teatime really was wonderful as I have an abiding love for these friends as they have always been the smart, particularly virtuous kind busy making the world a better place.  Plans we’d made for a walk to nearby Carkeek Park disintegrated with storm clouds, I’d been looking forward to showing everybody where the boys found a broken bike in the dark woods back in February (they managed to ride it hairy scary) but it’s probably better we stayed at the cottage because it had to be wet as hell in the park (it rained a lot on Saturday). Really isn’t it kinda cool we found a chunk of octopus (don’t get me wrong, I’d obviously rather see an entire living one)? Maybe the damned thing got whacked by a freighter propeller and right now it’s sulking on the bottom of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I know it’s not as though we found the Loch Ness monster, people savor these things like butter-soaked crumpets in some places, but the boys were delirious at the discovery. Me, too. The Giant Pacific Octopus is truly one of the fascinating, arrestingly magical species of the Sound and if only we could have transported the hunk of tentacle back home for closer study but alas we were swiftly disabused of the notion by adults in the room, er, on the beach.

7 thoughts on “a giant pacific octopus (just squirted ink in your tea and pooped on your crumpet)

  1. I’ve only seen them in tanks, but the octopus is pretty fascinating, in grade school, I was given a great book about a young one trying to cultivate his garden. There’s always little articles about Inky escaping from the aquarium in New Zealand, or raiding the neighboring fish tanks for late night snacks, etc. Crumpets are sounding pretty great right now, too, lunchtime is still far away. I hope the one that lost a limb is ok, may just some teenage ones daring each other to poke at the ship’s propeller.

    • And but I wonder how Blotchy is doing these days. After I saw your remarks last night I couldn’t help listen to Octopus’s Garden and then we put it on repeat at breakfast-time this morning, because it’s Friday and besides Oliver Fern needed a toe-tapper for brushing his teeth and putting on his socks. Adam is going to try and puzzle out a cover for us on the piano, after school. Hope you had something good for lunch. Have a good weekend, Robert.

  2. I really enjoy your writing. To aid one’s reading though, would you consider a larger font size and a narrower central column? On a tablet (iPad) it’s a squint, without endlessly resizing and shifting the text around the page, on a phone near impossible so I don’t try! Thank you for considering.

    • If you think it’s hard to read now you should have seen it a few months ago, Dan. You would have needed the Hubble Space Telescope. It all started a long time ago when I made the font teeny, ridiculously tiny to make my long-winded ramblings seem shorter, more compact. Lo every time I make some changes to the format on the site it dawns on me how bad it really used to be yet this cycle repeats itself every year or two upon heartbreakingly feeble begging by eye-hurting, font-hating souls (among the most memorable was that plea several years ago by a close friend who is a librarian of the sort to not suffer nonsense in any quarter, stack or cubicle and she dutifully informed me the lettering I was using should be a crime against humanity because “i” was indecipherable from “l”). Clearly I’ve got more tinkering to do. Thank you for saying something, I’m glad you did.

      • I think the choice of font size can be counter-intuitive. I know what you mean about making it smaller so overall the writing seems less and easier to digest, ie read. But I think the initial impression of “woah that writing’s a bit small” has more of an impact than “that’s a long post”, because you just make that first judgement based on what’s presented there in front of you on screen when you first open the email or visit the website.

        A bigger barrier to me as a reader is writing that is more difficult to read, rather than the length of any blog post.

        Of course this is purely personal. But i’m glad I’m not the only one who’s mentioned it. : )

  3. A title like that just screams, “read me”, especially for octopus fans like me. I’ve spent many a dive looking under nooks and inside crannies to find them, hopefully with sight of more than an arm or two. And while I’ve seen ’em squirt ink on occasion, there was nary a crumpet in sight, although a hot one after a cold dive would always be welcome.

    As for your unimpressed friends, perhaps if they had the chance to shake hands/suckers with a live one (and not on the end of a fork, God forbid) they would think more of them.

    • It probably has less to do with those friends’ impressedness or imagination than my artful inability to tell a potentially good story in less than a million words as I’ve taken a few too many incidental bumps to the head over the course of my lifetime and believe me they do their best to tolerate my aggravated mental deficiencies. And I dunno, it was only a chopped-off tentacle. Probably I rushed to that part instead of setting the stage a little more. But still, I appreciate your thoughts, Dave. Your diving background did come to mind when I put this up. Bet you’ve seen some incredible things. Enjoyed the recent account you shared of diving the Grand Turk.

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