Tuesday, September 13, 2005


It was spring of 1973, and I was a first time homeowner, there in Renton, Washington, a stone’s throw from Seattle, where I had landed after my band days, with my wife and two young daughters. The same Renton where Jimi Hendrix lies buried.

Long before the days of DIY, and Home Depot, I had a need to do all my own home improvements. I screwed up a lot, like the time I tried to cut the long sides of bi-fold doors with a small jigsaw, which of course was a disaster, since a person cutting with a jigsaw will never meet the needs of a door, which needs to be perfectly square and straight. Over the years, I have learned lots of DIY lessons this way. That time, my next door neighbor, who was a bit older, took pity, and helped me start over, using his table saw, but not before I had ruined four doors and had to buy more. Let’s just say, it wasn’t long after that, that I had my own table saw.

We lived on a pleasant little rural street, and had a sizeable piece of property, where our postage stamp size house stood. Being a creative sort, I set out to improve the property, and learned all sorts of gardening skills, like how to rent a rototiller, how to use one, and began my library of gardening books. Before long, I had a yard full of nastursiums and sturdy daisies, and even shrubs, including a long planting of arborvitae pyramidalis, which stood barely protruding from the soil, lining the property by the street. Years later, as I passed the house on a visit to Seattle, those little half-gallon trees had spread to form a solid wall 50 feet long by at least 10 feet high, and I breathed a sigh of completion.

The neighborhood was full of children, and was close to a grade-school, where my daughter Stacey went to kindergarten, when she turned 5. Since it was rural enough, back then, to be referred to as “out in the country”, it was extremely quiet, as I would dig new shrub holes, except for the shrieks and laughter of the many kids, on our street, and on streets nearby.

One of the older children, a tall, fair, muscular 14 year-old named David, who also owned a huge loud voice, took a liking to me, after being introduced to me by a neighbor, and stopped by frequently, as I gardened, to talk, and I would give him this and that to do, which he enjoyed. David’s father had died when he was 12, of a massive heart attack, and he once told me that he could recall running down the street after the ambulance, after they had picked up his father’s lifeless body. I never met his mother, but I spent a lot of time with David, and I thought he was a very innocent, good kid who definitely needed a buddy. He would stop by at some odd times, but I never did turn him away. We would invite him in, he would eat, watch tv, just sit there in his army jacket, size XXL.

I had acquired a small utility trailer, which would trail behind my soft green 1961 Volvo, when I went to pick up plants, barkdust, soil ammendments. One day, after David arrived to kill some time, I invited him to go along with me to the garden center, and we hooked up the trailer. We left the house, and traveled through the neighborhood, on a lovely Sunday morning, my only day off from my bakery job, along the tree lined streets, past the kids and dogs and basketball hoops, and eventually, past the grade school, where David had been a student before his graduation to Junior High. As we approached the school, David began to roll down his window. “I know those two girls”, he said, pointing to a hilltop by the school, where two young ladies moved away from us, on an expansive lawn. All of a sudden, and I swear this is the truth, David, with his huge man voice, wound up and hollered, at the top of his lungs, right there, right out the window of PTA member Ric Seaberg’s soft green Volvo, at these young ladies, and from the depths of his being,............

At times like these, what IS person to do? I drove on, and I scolded David, oh, I dunno, maybe something like, “YOU IDIOT! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING”, but, in all honesty, I don’t really remember what I said. Suffice it to say, that I do remember, as I continued on in the car, being completely mortified. Eventually, squirming in my own private Idaho, I did envision myself, perhaps at a PTA meeting, or a Parent’s night at my daughter’s school, being pointed out by one of those young ladies, to her parents, as I entered my soft green Volvo, “That’s the guy in the car who yelled snatch at us, mom, that guy right there.”

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Pacific Beach, Washington, United States