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“Lost Out There”


Mt. Baker, across Salish Sea, from bluffs at Fort Worden SP, Port Townsend, Wa.

[Updates below]

Sometimes I feel like I might just fall off the edge of the continent and vanish into the Pacific ocean.

During one of these moments, I heard James McMurtry’s “Canola Fields” the other night and it struck a cord:

I was thinking ’bout you, crossing Southern Alberta
Canola fields on a July day
Are about the same chartreuse as that sixty-nine bug
You used to drive around San Jose

 More than 40 years ago, my Margaret drove a ’70? orange chevy, not a chartreuse 69 bug. (her favorite song “Angel From Montgomery”)

Back to McMurtry:

You never knew where my old white Lincoln might take you
Party on wheels with suicide doors

And I drove a huge old yellow Buick Lesabre (later a white Chevy Impala), a party on wheels – and just as large as a Lincoln. (my confused reply songs to Margaret were: “Amie” and Dave Mason’s “We just disagree” and everything from Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, and some stuff from Eric ClaptonJackson Brown, Van Morrison, and Moody Blues).


Rockwood (Hudson River)

But these are technical diversions.

Here’s what was really going on at the time: (McMurtry)

Til that white-knuckle ride back from Santa Cruz
Second-best surfer on the central coast
Had you wrapped up all the way back to Los Gatos
And I could’ve cut his throat 

And it wasn’t like we were an item to start with
It had no basis in fact
But the whiskey could push me to sudden extremes
I don’t want to think about that, I don’t want to think about that

Yup, the Tarrytown “surfers” were clearly “second best” and the whiskey sure did “push me to sudden extremes”.

But we just as surely don’t want to think about that.

Margaret and I – no doubt –  we were an item at the time.

And, I couldn’t cut my best friends’ (plural) throats – instead,  I almost cut off my own arm.

And I still live with the memories and scars. (McMurtry)

And there’s not much moving on the romance radar
Not that I’m craving it all that much
But I still need to feel every once in a while
The warmth of a smile and a touch

So, wouldn’t it be great if Margaret could: (McMurtry)

Take my hand Marie
Take a death grip on some part of me
Keep me from drifting far out to sea
Or I’ll be lost out there

Cause I’m definitely “lost out there”.

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[Update #1: I posted this today (7/20), just before 1 am, EST (around 10 pm, PST last night (7/19)).

In an either incredible coincidence, or a not so subtle dagger to the heart, my “Margaret” posted this photo to Facebook, which I received via email at 9:54 EST. Her text said something about a 5 year old Facebook photo from Paris just “popping up” (randomly? Like you didn’t search and find that photo on your own?):


You just can’t make this stuff up.

[Update #2 – In response to this post, I got the following note and request from “Margaret” via FB message:

Karen sent July 22 at 10:23 AM

Hey, so also in response to your blog, clearly I was not a good girl friend and you drank too much. That horrible night when you cut your arm was a terrible thing that happened. There were better times I’d rather remember…like sledding in Rockwood or camping at Poundridge reservation… On a different note, I must say that I’m not comfortable with your posting my pic on the blog. Can you remove it? If not, not a big deal. It just made me feel awkward. FYI I love that you’re out there fighting the good fight for our environment. It’s amazing that our politicians aren’t answering the wake up call. Glad you’re calling them out! Hoping for environmental legislation…

“clearly I was not a good girl friend” – ya think?

You don’t want to know the details. But “not a good girlfriend” doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. I hope she was/is a better wife (and I never camped with her Pound Ridge or sledded at Rockwood – is she thinking of my friends she hooked up with?).

At any rate, I just let it go and didn’t respond and didn’t take down the photo.

And, wouldn’t you know it, she “unfriended” me on Facebook! Hahahahaaha! ~~~ end update #2]

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