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‘The Greatest Writer’
Blessed in the Pacific Northwest: 1/31/2023
© 2023 James LaFond
AUG/14/23
I split and stacked the remaining firewood to season for next winter—in the yard: chords remain to be got from the surrounding wood. I have to be careful using saws and maws and wheel barrows, so take my time. I think it will be reasonable for me to cut, split and haul to the now tarp covered seasoning pile, 2 wheel barrows a day. Not very much. But, with 24 more days, maybe that is a chord, a way to pay my way.
My expenses are zero living in the Cascades, a subject of Christian charity, I am. The women are painting a room. It is cold, and these people of the mild Pacific Northwest are ginger about that. I have the world to myself when the ground is frozen hard.
I took the hounds up on the mountain for a walk and used the old logging road. I counted six blown down cedars, one 100 foot blue-barked vine maple, and a maple. The maple has one four foot thick trunk for six feet, then it branches into three 1 foot thick trunks and each of these has four inch thick branches that are straight and make nice starter logs.
The Captain is away and I recall him speaking highly of maple as fuel, that it gets you better BTUs for weight then fir or cedar. I returned for a pruner and a hand saw and headed back up, clearing a wheel barrow path and sawing some small logs. Hardwood saws more easily with the light hand tool then the coniferous woods. The Colonel’s hounds lay there in the mossy path and look at me like I’m insane. I like having them there as I bend to work in the middle of cougar and bear country. Hell, Amos looks like a bear and has been mistaken for one.
The Colonel has recently mentioned how many books I write and took me with his bride to the place where the highly regarded TV series Northern Exposure was filmed. I recall Andy Edwards speaking highly of the writer and his work. He and his wife both beat me in shuffle board in The Brick tavern, with its huge custom made wood stove and 20 foot long running water spitoon at the foot of the bar. I was not supposed to see this stuff, to be in these places—this is all an accident of two pair of men trying to mug me on the same night and me taking it as a message from God that I need to move on and begin travel writing and setting novels in places I had yet to visit.
I feel blessed in this accursed way.
Then, beat, and wondering if I pushed the hernias too much, I limp stiffly down the mountain and the Captain’s darling wife has made another sneak attack on the crackpot living area, which she is thrilled I keep squared away. On the small white nightstand next to the empty coffee cup, eye patch and arnis stick, is a folded wad of $20 bills. Paper clipped to it is a post it note that reads:
“Thank you for helping so much around here & lightening the load!”
I put this in the side pouch of the ruck sack with the envelop the Captain gave me with similar thanks. They won’t let me spend any money around here. The Colonel bought us a whiskey tray at Heritage Distillery in Roslyn, Washington yesterday and would not let me pay, not for lunch at The Brick either. I tipped the girl $5 and he said, “Already took care of that, LaFond.”
“Oh, I took that for granted—but she has a great big ass, a pretty white girl at that.”
We laughed and I reflected then, as today, how concerned these folks are about my well-being, that they have noted my eye giving some trouble and make sure I rest and eat…
How lucky can one broken down paleface be?
This brings to mind a comedic scene back in Portland, where I am bound in four weeks—which makes me sad about leaving here. This happens every time I pass the halfway point in a stay, I get homesick for the place I have yet to leave while still yearning for the training and friends in Portland, the young babe in San Jose, the old girls in Baltimore, seeing my grandchildren…
Well, Lynn sends me numerous packages of winter gear when I am in Portland—she’s like having a remote sister, using some of her Crackpot industries earnings to keep me supplied with vitamins and wool socks. Since Yeti Waters calls me either James LaFond, or “the Great Writer,” when I am there, she addresses my packages to The Greatest Writer, as she refers to me as the worlds greatest living writer.
Well, the Yeti den is a bit rough looking, cigarette butts all over the porch, no weeding and little grass cutting, no amenities—you know a bitch does not inhabit this house. It will be the last place on the block to get invaded. The place is 50 years out of style and snarls, “Men who do not give a shit about what you think live, drink and fuck here.”
I had just left the house when an Amazon driver pulled up. I thought he was delivering to the next house, so walk down the sidewalk headed to the liquor store. The driver closed the door, and hearing that behind me, I stopped two houses down and saw him come up on the porch, look at the package, knock on the door, and receive no answer. He then stopped and read the address label, set the package down and began peaking through the front window through the bent and cockeyed blinds.
I thought to myself, “This dude must have a package for The Greatest Writer and be trying to get a gander at Cormac MacArthy or some such literary light.”
I let him pull off, not wanting to ruin his high with the discovery that The Greatest Writer is a hobo. I then went back to the house, and sure enough the package was addressed to The Greatest Writer, no sender listed.
Thank you all. It’s been a lucky run and I will try to not screw it up again.
James, Selek, Washington, Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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