A Name Game

by SteveHulse on January 12, 2020 · 0 comments

Thought we’d start out the new year with something light and easy. God knows
it’ll get crazy soon enough. In our travels up and down this island i’ve noticed
the names of the roads, lanes and paths that connect to the main island highway.
Many of them are typically nautical, with some almost painting a picture of where
the road leads, why it goes there, even what one might find at the end of that
road. Some of them are fairly straightforward but there are a few that were
named with tongue in cheek. Those, naturally, are some of my favorites. A few
of them suggest a history that I have yet to look into. Learning of this island’s
history is far better served by finding some old salt in a bar, rather than digging
through books at the library. If i ever pursue the history of some of these places,
I assure you it will be with the former method.

There are, of course, some of the generic aquatic names that are self-
explanatory. Admiral Cove. Aqua View Way. Bay View Road. Deer Lake. Four
Eagles Lane. Standard fare here, no surprises. But then they begin to get
interesting. Puget Circle. Named for Peter Puget, the same person Puget
Sound is named for.Not sure I’d want to be named Peter Puget, but Captain
George Vancouver named the Sound for him, so he must have been at least a
good officer. He was a Master’s Mate, then a 3rd Lieutenant on the HMS
Discovery, captained by George Vancouver. Old George named all kinds of
places while here in 1792… Mount Baker, for Joseph Baker, another 3rd
Lieutenant of his on the Discovery. Vancouver also named Whidbey Island for
Joseph Whidbey, and he named some areas around the island, like Discovery
Pass, Mount Rainier, Port Gardner and Port Susan.

Useless Bay is true to its name… a normal-looking bay when the tide’s in, a
fairly ugly mud flat when the tide’s out. No shell fish, no redeeming qualities to
see… truly useless.

Smuggler’s Cove. There is no history of smugglers on Whidbey Island, and much
of the early history of the island has to do with settlers and fights with the existing
Native Americans. One has to wonder, however, if there might have been some
smuggling activity of one sort or another… hard to imagine. What would one
smuggle in or out of a brand new, as yet unsettled, part of the country? Timber? Mussels? Beautiful Indian Maidens?? Hmmm…

Double Bluff Road. Log Cabin Road. Possession Point. Frog Water Lane. Tree
Frog Lane. Island-type names, sure enough, but self explanatory. I like the more mysterious names, the names that ignite the imagination, of what it might have
been, what might have happened there. One of my favorites in that regard is,
Honeymoon Bay Road. Okay. So there must be a Honeymoon Bay over there
through the trees somewhere. And it stands that the road to that Bay might be
of the same name. But why call that particular bay Honeymoon Bay? Umm,
oh, wait…never mind.

Mutiny Bay. Another name that kicks up visions of potential activities, especially
in the early days, when the island had all sorts of ships coming and going by it.
One might imagine a ship anchored in that bay, a mutiny occurring, the captain
and his first officer tied up and dropped off in the trees next to the bay, and the mutinous crew then sailing away to plunder and pillage some unsuspecting village.
But I can find no historical evidence of any mutinous activities around the island. Phooey. I’m sure something like that must have happened…

Oh well. My favorite of all these names is CrissyBob Lane. How can you not
love it? Perhaps Crissy and Bob don’t even live down that lane any more.
It doesn’t matter. That little lane, off a small road in a somewhat remote area of
our island, is for me, evidence of an America of another time… of a time when
two people could find their own private paradise on an island out at the edge of
the country, and name their lane any damn thing they wanted to.

I miss how America was once. It was never perfect, god knows… but it was so
much better so much simpler, so much warmer and safer. I miss it. I miss the hell
out of it, nearly every day. I know it’s gone, and can’t return. But at least
CrissyBob Lane reminds me, every time we drive by it, that it once existed, that it
was real, and that we were able to enjoy it, for a little while.

Steve Hulse


Of A Winter’s Eve – A Musician’s Tale.

by SteveHulse on December 23, 2019 · 1 comment

Once upon a winter’s eve, an old gentleman was sitting in front of his
wood stove, deep into a cold night in Montana. His cabin was warm, the fire
crackled. He had pulled up his chair to the stove, as he often did, on the colder
nights. His legs stretched out toward the little stove’s welcome heat, a glass
of Cabernet and some classical music drifting across the room, it was often his
favorite part of the day, when he could contemplate, appreciate the
accomplishments of the day… and dream. Yes, dream.

In the sublime peace and comfort of his cabin on those wintry evenings, he
occasionally fell asleep in front of the stove, wine still in hand. He had spilled
it only once in a six-year span.This particular evening was no different. He
could hear the wind moaning past the fireplace chimney while the hovering
lilac bushes next to his window scraped against the window sill. He could see
the snowflakes outside by the light of the living room, all contributing to his
sense of safety, warmth and peace.

As he sat rocking, thinking and sipping, he heard a classical song that caught
his attention. Most of the classics that played in the evening were background
music for him, from composers he had studied and was familiar with. But this
particular piece pulled him from his reverie and gently demanded attention.
What was it about this music that was so familiar, almost disturbing? He knew
he had never heard it before, yet as it drew his attention he found himself
able to guess what was coming next… until he sat upright, almost spilling his

He turned and looked over at the TV screen, as the music was coming from
a satellite music channel. There he saw the name of the piece, which he
didn’t recognize, and the composer’s name, which was also unknown to him.
He peered at the name on the screen and kept listening to the piece, and yes,
it kept happening… he continued to guess correctly where the music was going
to next, although he was sure he’d never heard it!

Before the piece ended, he had gone over to his computer and googled the
name of the composer. Turned out it was a 19th century fellow, who, the
article explained, was a fairly mediocre and insignificant composer of that
era whose claim to fame, if any, was that he wrote a huge library of material
in his lifetime, most of which had a distinct stamp of mediocrity about it all.

The old gentleman refilled his glass, tossed another log in the stove and sat
back down in front of it. What had just happened, he found himself wondering.
That piece, written back in the 19th century, sounded exactly like something
he would have written himself… even felt like something he could have written!
But how could that be?!

As he sat musing about the curious event, a very strange thought began to
emerge. What if he were a reincarnation of the mediocre composer? It was a most uncomfortable thought for him, as he had never believed in reincarnation.
He had to chuckle, however, with the thought that he might be the reincarnation
of a mediocre composer. He knew people who thought he himself was a
mediocre composer whose strength lay in quantity rather than quality. Knowing
that certain individuals saw him in that light had never bothered him much.
Matter of fact, the older he became, the more he tended to agree with them.
He did write and record a large library of music during his career, and much of
it was mediocre… but he kept being well-paid for it. He had long ago made
his peace with all that. Besides, he spent 13 years composing and playing in
Atlanta’s recording studios… didn’t that count for something? But that was
simply his ego speaking, trying to mount a defense, and he had to wince.

As he tried to remember what he had composed that might be considered
good by his peers, he slipped into a quiet slumber. When he awoke, the fire
was nearly out and he hadn’t spilled his wine. He thought again of the
mystery composer, and looked over at his computer. It was off. The TV still
played and he wondered if the whole strange composition thing might have
been nothing more than a dream. It seemed real enough, and yet there was
an ethereal quality about it, that kind of clear, yet misty remembrance that
good dreams leave us with.

He arose, put one more big log on the fire to keep it through most of the night,
then turned off the music and the light and prepared for bed, still smiling at the
irony of the mystery composer. He was amused by the thought of being
prolific, but then he had never really had any kind of serious case of writer’s
block in his entire career. Do only great composers get occasional writer’s block,
he wondered, as he brushed his teeth. And what other idiosyncrasies might the
really great ones have that would distinguish them from him. Oh god, there
were probably a dozen things, little characteristics that one probably wouldn’t
notices if not paying special attention. Ah, but if one were paying attention, how suddenly fascinating might the truly gifted composers appear? Did he himself
have any little hint of uniqueness that might possibly separate him from the
mediocre bard he had just heard? Oh hell, there must be something, he
thought as he slipped between the flannel sheets and pulled up the quilt.

Who might he ask, who might know him well enough to tell him honestly
that he was a good composer, or even that he was different (in a good way)
from other composers? Not being able to think of a single person, he again
smiled to himself, deciding that it was probably a blessing that he would
never quite understand, that blessing of being just an average guy, a guy
who went to bed so many nights in his life, having created new music that
day and being naively pleased with his results. He guessed that if peace
and satisfaction came with his somewhat mediocre attempts at beautiful,
memorable music, then what was the difference, really? And he could
never know if some of those musical vibrations that he sent out into the
vast universe might bring a smile or a tear; a phrase, a line that might affect
another’s life, for even a moment or two. Hell, maybe things turn out just the
way they’re supposed to, after all, We can’t all be geniuses, what fun would
that be… how would we define good taste, poor talent, young brilliance and
artistic preference of any kind? And if there were a Great Spirit who judged
all and kept score, where would he, the old composer, fall? And what if there
were no one to judge him except himself, where would he be in the great
scheme of things? Hmm, slightly better than average, he decided, as he
drifted off into a long winter’s sleep.

Steve Hulse

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‘Tis The Season

by SteveHulse December 13, 2019

Am re-posting a memory I shared several years ago… it still holds my thoughts of the season, and of the times in which we now live. This is an experiment on my part, not sure it will work. Simply click on the address below and my Christmas post should appear. If it does, hope you […]

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by SteveHulse November 26, 2019

Is it just a word? Is it just an idea? Or is it a perceivable force? Whatever, it’s one of those invisible powers/concepts that one must pretty much believe in, or not. For some of us, it’s almost like a religion… no, a spirituality, that “what goes around, comes around” really works, and that by […]

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What Is Normal?

by SteveHulse November 1, 2019

This is an essay about us, mostly as professional folk… not a character analysis of any kind. All you who have held steady jobs most of your lives, all you who had families and raised children who became productive out in the world, I hold you to be far above “normal.” Life is challenging for […]

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Last Cruise Of The Summer

by SteveHulse October 3, 2019

This short piece is for Joani Gohn, who is recovering from a surgery. Get well soon, Joani – we love you! B & Joani, with Willie and Waylon and the boys… I was inspired, after hearing about the big snow storm in Montana over the weekend, to take one last cruise on The Aimless, out […]

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The Record Deal

by SteveHulse September 30, 2019

The Record Deal The first time I heard about a “record deal” was in Boston in 1965. A guy named Gene, from Philly, was putting together a latin band with Berklee students, of which I was one. Gene was a big guy with a nasally voice, and a Philadelphia accent. Don’t ask me what that […]

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A Brief History of the Man Cave

by SteveHulse September 23, 2019

Is there a history of “the man cave?” Probably not, so let’s try to write one. We’ll make one up, okay? Because everyone knows about man caves, what they are… but dare we ask why they are? Sure! The man cave can be a most necessary item, depending, of course, upon the man, and his […]

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The Doobie Brothers

by SteveHulse September 8, 2019

Oh, Oooh, Listen To The Music Once again, sitting up the other night watching AXS TV, a special about the Doobie Brothers. And once again, memories of my musical past shot to the surface, making me smile, blurring my eyes. I knew only one small slice of the Doobies, but man, what a slice it […]

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Cocktail Hour

by SteveHulse September 2, 2019

A curious phenomenon takes place in our little home, on our little island almost every afternoon. A phenomenon that might be defined as some sort of creeping dementia, or perhaps just a mental and emotional instability that manifests itself as a momentary, burning desire to slip back into the past, to temporarily recreate a better […]

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