Saturday, April 24, 2010


What’re the chances?

It doesn’t take but a speck of red to turn bright white paint rosy. You discover that pretty quickly when you set about to learn to paint—pink, the girly color. It’s light red. So specific. There are names for light blue—baby blue, light brown—tan, light black—grey, but there’s nothing like pink to embrace the territory of the feminine. It’s like no other color. You think pink and you think girl.

It didn’t register when I picked up the pink pirate out of the chaos of beach debris but it did go in the pocket of the hiking vest where I stash special things, lighters, hair clips, bottle caps with Asian writing, toy soldiers. It wasn’t 'til I got to doing a high rez picture of the little guy that I thought ….pink pirate? Where would he fit in some kid’s fantasy play life? Pink Pirate….
Maybe when they were mixing up a batch of white some red got in? Maybe he got bleached? The high rez image shows he’d been chewed on and spit out, the tooth gashes show he’s pink all they way through. Not bleached. The World Wide Web may have a clue, anyway its fun to be sleuthing about.

Five minutes of www. And I find Classic Toy Soldiers "No batteries required . . . powered by imagination." A company not too far from Kansas City, MO but in Kansas. CTS as they call themselves. Yes, they had my little guy for sale in a pirate kit with five figures and accessories (cutlasses, a jolly roger, a treasure chest…) colors vary, vintage MPC (Multiple Plastic Corporation no longer in business) $23.00. The set shown is brown, black and red. Very not pink. Google to “Pink Pirate” and I get Pink Pirate Sword, $12.99 from Kohl’s which must be an accessory to the “Pink Pirate Dancer Adult Plus Size” $49.99.

I talk to my daughter Amelia to get her thoughts. Pink Pirate? “Well, it’s both good and bad. Soft risky. Do you remember my six-year-old Halloween costume?” “What do you want to be this year?” “A bat”—her little hands up as claws, “rrrrrrrrawwwwww! I want to be a bat, a pink bat.” We made her the pink bat costume. What are the chances? But two days later I find a pink bat at Kehoe Beach.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Oil Truck

About halfway down the north side of Kehoe Beach, the buckskin colored cliffs of Laird Sandstone rise directly out of the beach. The formation is named for the Laird Brothers who dairied there in the 19th century. Kehoe is a favorite geology class field trip destination with its dramatic and easily definable formations. Geology teachers we have talked to at Kehoe tell us the Laird formation was laid down in the Miocene in shallow water flood plains and relatively quickly, so the rock is soft as a result. "I was here" graffiti scratched into the rock face is commonplace. Granite beds lace the formation giving a hold for the sandstone and you can easily find fossils of barnacles and oysters. Because the cliffs are perpendicular to the beach, wind shapes a dune 10 feet away. There is a quiet space out of the weather and it's a good place to find plastic washed up long ago. There is a kind of churning effect that unearths the long buried.

Digging into the sand, Judith found a green truck, the remains fairly intact but missing wheels and crusted with crude oil in places. It’s been long in the elements but still pretty well recognizable. In a book from the local library about plastic toys, there's the exact thing. Turns out it was a gas truck made by the Ideal Toy Company sometime between 1946 and 1949. Plastic Toys: Dimestore Dreams of the 40s & 50s. Here it is sixty years later—plastic is forever.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pattern Recognition

This little duck is exactly 11 millimeters across the bottom or .43 inches. To see it in the swirl of tons of other plastic takes a sharp eye and lots of practice. Judith gets the prize for her awesome skill at pattern recognition. We sent the pic on to our friend Curtis Ebbesmeyer, author of Flotsametrics. Curt is the oceanographer who uses cargo spills to track currents, most famously tracking a bunch of spilled rubber duckies. We surmised that maybe the diminutive duck had been at sea so long it shrunk? The little fella it turns out is a cake decorating jimdad. Here he is pictured with a couple of nurdles, pre-production plastic pellets.