Elliott Bay is beautiful, urban, exciting. Dinner guests arrive in limos, and dine on the finest seafood and expense accounts. The Seattle skyline twinkles at dusk, the occasional cloud snagged on the top of the Space Needle. Ferries glide in every direction. Container ships cozy up to bright orange derricks. Channel 14 is a constant chatter of VTS traffic. It's thrilling.
There but for the grace of the railroad gods goes Anacortes. It's been a grand Summer in the big city, but it's time to go home.
The cedar house sent out its siren call, and Cap'n Tom & Sara were helpless to resist. It is perched on a hill, overlooking Pacific Puffin's home marina, as well as Fidalgo Bay--and on a clear day--Mt. Baker. You can sit in the living room, which in this case really is designed for living, and watch the fish jumping in the water. Anacortes is a good home port for people as well as boats, and now the cedar house is in the family. In about a year, the family will be in the cedar house. Until then, it's a good place to hang out for frequent holidays.
Cap'n Tom and Sara determine that between them, they have two of practically everything, and that the extra stuff would furnish a vacation house quite nicely. In some momentary lapse of rationality, they decide that they could bring the extra stuff up to the house in a Ryder truck. Son Jim has offered to assist, and the hot, dusty trio get the truck packed to the rafters. Tom drives, Sara rides a drowsy shotgun, and Jim wisely flies. The three reunite in Anacortes, on the doorstep of the cedar house.
Out of the truck comes the furniture, bedding, dishpacks, clothing, and miscellany. It occurs to us that the neighbors must find it odd that the new people came in a Ryder truck instead of with a regular mover. Our aching muscles remind us that we are in fact not college students, and that Ryder trucks are for the young. Well, we're young-at-heart if not in body, and besides, it was a cheap thrill (cheap being the operative word) to do it ourselves.
We spend the first night in a motel. The next day, we have the goal of scoring a box-spring and mattress for the brass bed frame Russell used when he was little. Our first stop is The Merchantile, an estate liquidator open only twice a month. We're in luck that this was one of those days, but they don't happen to have a twin set, so we try a regular retailer, A Better Night's Sleep (on Commercial Ave. of course). We introduce ourselves to the proprietor, who asks our quest. We tell him we need a box-spring & mattress for a guest bed, and he says it would be irresponsible of him to sell us a twin set, because his product is too expensive for our needs, although Tracy's down the street could probably accomodate us with a good product at a fair price. We can barely stifle our laughter at the idea of a merchant from the Bay Area making such a claim of sincere concern. In the Bay Area the anonymous quick-sell is the order of the day, and "building a relationship with the customer" is management sending down an edict to make eye-contact for a prescribed number of seconds. In Anacortes, the guy you sell to today is the guy sitting next to you in church, or the bar, tomorrow. And next week. And next year.
We then turn our attention to pillows, and are finally successful at parting with some of our money, but only after a very lucid discussion of sleep disorders in general and apnea in particular. We are forced to cut the discussion short when we realize it's almost time to run back to the house for a call from the security company, scheduled so they can explain to us how we can get in and out of our house without accidentally calling the Police. Also, the house makes the most annoying chirping noise everytime an exterior door is opened, so we need to learn how to turn off the alarm. Anacortes being the hotbed of crime that is it, we are very concerned about security, by golly!
Part of the walk-through of the security system includes a test of each of the security zones, which means we have to trigger the alarm on purpose, and run around breaching the doors and motion sensors while the alarm shrieks in our ears. We're sure the neighbors find this sight almost as amusing as the fact that we arrived in a Ryder truck. The alarm is enough to raise the dead, so there's not alot of doubt that there's a new family on the block.
Step right up and see the circus! In the first ring, the big, yellow truck! In the second ring, the security drill! And if that isn't entertaining enough, in the third ring we have crew from the landscape company sitting on the driveway with their hands over their ears waiting for the alarm to stop squealing.
It may seem odd that we have made the acquaintance of a landscape company so early in the possession of the house. But the weeds in the back yard are now as high as an elephant's eye, and the pollen is blowing 'way up to the sky.
More correctly, the pollen is blowing in the neighbors' yards. To the left, we have a neighbor with a well-tended fruit and vegetable garden. To the right, we have a neighbor with a lovely yard of flowers which might have come right out of Buchart Gardens. In the middle, they have us. A field study of nature reclaiming her roots, as it were.
The landscaper tells us they can do weed abatement in the back, and re-bark the front for "only...$..." an number which chokes us even more than the pollen. As we attempt to revive ourselves from the shock, he points out that our neighbors would be grateful if we did something about the weeds, so we would really be buying the goodwill of our neighbors, as well as a greatly improved back yard. He presses for us to consider putting in landscaping, but we remind him that we aren't interested in any major investment in the yard until next year, when we will be around to tend it. Eventually we capitulate to his logic, and sign up for weed abatement in the back, and bark in the front.
By now curiosity about the unfolding side-show has begun to get the better of the neighbors. They begin to wander by, under the pretext of walking the dog, picking up the mail, or no pretext at all other than friendliness. Soon we have met the neighbors to the right (with the flowers) the left (with the veggies) and across the street. We find that word has gotten around at lightening speed that we are from out of town, have a son just finishing high school, and that we'll be moving up "for real" in about a year. Within the first day, we've spent more time chatting with neighbors than in the last year down here in the 'burbs. We're liking this a lot. Of course as retirees, we have nothing to fear and everything to like from a town where everyone knows everyone's business. As teenagers...well...that might be a different story, but we aren't teenagers any more, merciful God.
We are however still in need of a bed. So, we head out to Tracy's, an old-time furniture store with a traditional showroom and salesman. He greets us, asks our names and our quest. We tell him we are in need of a box-spring and mattress for a guest bed, and a low-profile inexpensive mattress for the trundle.
He directs us upstairs, where he shows us a display of good quality, moderately priced twin sets. In a repetition of the mantra we heard earlier in the day, he tells us he does not want to sell us something fancier than we really need for our application. We select a modest but servicable set, and he asks us when over the next few days we'd like it delivered.
We look at each other. We look at our salesman. Hmmmm. "Well," we say, "we guess we were a little naive." He gives us a puzzled look. "We'd like to take it with us now."
In a masterfully professional performance, the salesman surpresses a look of surprise. "I'm not sure we have them in stock in the store," he says, "but I'll check and see. We normally don't like to sell the display sets, but if it would help accomodate your needs, you could likely take the one you are sitting on, if you wish." We look at eachother, and at him. "OK," we say. He disappears briefly, and on his return says that the manager has said that they would do whatever was necessary to provide what we needed, and that we could in fact take the set with us. A short time later, a couple of young men arrive at the back door leading out to the parking lot with a box-spring and two mattresses, as we requested. They assist us in loading the beds into the truck.
We suspect that at some point, someone might ask us to pay for the items, although up until then, no one had. We follow the salesman back into the store, and plop down in a couple of very nice chairs we had been eyeing on the way in. The salesman, who calls us by name, tells us about the chairs, where and how they are made, makes observations about what seems to appeal to each of us, and after much trying of chairs, we have a winner! So we take a couple swatches with us to decide which color would look best in the new house. Oh, by the way, we also pay for the mattress before we leave for home. We drive gingerly up the hill, pulling up in the driveway and unloading our latest prize. Jim will have a nice new bed to sleep in tonight, which pleases him since we've squished more than a couple spiders on the floor downstairs, and he wasn't too enthusiastic about sharing the floor with pouncing spiders.
Before long, the beds are assembled and made, and we fall fast asleep in our new home. We are dog-tired, so we know we'll sleep a long time. Or so we thought. The next morning, Tom and Sara upstairs and Jim downstairs are awakened "the old-fashioned way" by the sun. A very, very bright sun. Oh well, there's lots to be done, so we get up. Very early.
But we have promises to keep, and miles to go before we can return the Ryder truck to the rental place in Burlington. We return the truck, eat breakfast, swing by Holiday Market, and thus the day is spent, running errands, unpacking, and settling in. We also go back to Tracy's and order the chairs, which are made-to-order in Norway, and will have to be shipped here. They will arrive in a few months, just in time for the holidays.
The next morning our built-in alarm clock fails to wake us, because sun is so obscured by clouds we sleep right through sunrise. That's more like the Northwest we were expecting.
And as soon as we've come, it's time to go. We head to Seattle for a couple days with the Puffin and the Seattle branch of the family, for the next trip will the appointed time for the Puffin to migrate North for the Winter. North to home.