Saturday, April 30, 2005

another comp day

Only this time I didn't participate as a climber, but volunteered to belay instead. I did lead belaying for the 15-16 year old girls, who towered over me and mostly outweighed me, which was good for them, since it afforded them what is known as a "soft catch": If/when they fell, I went flying up off the ground, so they didn't go slamming into a wall. There were a few tense moments when one fumbled around too long at a clip, and another pulled up a lot of rope to try for a long clip, as well as the girl who eyed the route and announced that she didn't do too well leading and was probably going to fall. I cheerfully told her not to think that way before she'd even left the ground, that the first clip was not too hard to make; by gum, she managed it, and made advancement towards the second as well. Better than I did last year on my first onsight lead last year, when I fell off the fourth hold and hit the deck! (Explains part of why I was a volunteer this year rather than a participant...) Well, we got free lunch, and the satisfaction of having helped the kids compete safely.
Went off for a spot o' sushi with the dear spouse, as well as a little walk about and a cocktail, in view of some basketball playoff game. We stopped by our local Japanese patisserie, to gather up a few items for tomorrow's early breakfast, and got a delightful raspberry-filled meringue thrown in for the bargain. A delectible evening all around.

Friday, April 29, 2005

The end of the week

We did our thing today, despite the return to chilly, rainy conditions. Got in a walk, lots of chores, then off to a rival climbing gym to get in a workout. It's called Stone Gardens, and is primarily for bouldering; consequently their rope climbs feel like extended boulder problems. Well, we tried some bouldering, but dang, they got hard in a hurry. The rope climbs were all right, a few actually being fun. What the hell, it was a rainy afternoon, nothing else to do, so my friend and I had fun.
As the weather has turned to shit, I will hie me off to my home gym tomorrow to volunteer for the comp. Our son crammed his old bass amps into his 1990 VW Fox, and went up to his guitar-playing buddy's house to play some music tonight. Hope they have fun.
Listening to my spouse's music collection, specifically some old live Maktub stuff from the 2000 Bumbershoot. Mucho dulce.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


So we did hairdo day, a bit of grocery shopping, a walk, and lunch; then I was off to the gym to make my contribution to this weekend's competition. After two-plus hours of hauling myself up the walls, removing holds, and hauling them back down, my arms were tired and my legs sore from hanging in the harness. For relief, I tried out the 15 year-old girls' warm-up route, a stiff 11a lead that I top-roped successfully. Still... those little girls are among the harderst working climbers on the team, and it's quite astounding to see how well they can climb.
I had agreed to go out this weekend with our son, if the weather is good. I think I still will do so.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Waddaya know...this thing works, finally

Tried to get in here earlier today, but it was glitchin'. Finally got back to climbing, even if it was only the gym. Had a pleasant surprise, as the shoe resole guy didn't charge me for the last pair. Then there was a huge sale of climbing clothes and accessories, so geeze, for ten bucks a throw I acquired a couple of shirts and a pair of shorts. The main route setters had begun stripping the walls for the upcoming comp on Saturday, and I'm heading over there tomorrow to help strip some more. I'll also help lead belay with the coach's girlfriend; we decided we'd be best suited to belay the younger female climbers, since we're about the same size, maybe slightly heavier. We'll see; our dear son wants to go out to real rock on Saturday, and if it isn't raining, I would really like to go with him. Don't know how many times I'll get invitations from him as time goes by...
Okay. Outta here, going to read my novel, In the time of Our Singing, by Richard Powers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Tending to this neglected plot of a blog...

So! Back from five days in Myrtel Beach, SC, spent with members of my dear spouse's family; the weather, by my lights, was good, the beach was long, uncrowded, and always fascinating to me. We saw a small shark struggling to get back out to deeper water after grounding itself a few times, according to a nearby observer; several ospreys hunting; squadrons of dignified-looking pelicans soaring, diving into the drink, or cruising the wave crests; innumerable beached large medusa jellyfish and what appeared to be orange sponges or soft corals, as well as some clumps of either sponges or coral that resembled monkey brains - squirting monkey brains; and the grand finale - while out watching some of the family surf cast - we sighted several dolphins feeding not so far offshore. There were snapping turtles sunning by the ponds near the condos, and a five foot long little 'gator, and many herons and a few egrets, as well as mocking birds, cardinals and blue jays. Early evenings, you could hear mourning doves. Only lack for me: not a jot of landscape higher than those stranded jellyfish, so I did get a bit of climbing withdrawal. But the long beach walks made up for it, as did catching up with the spouse's family.
Got me mum out for her walk late this morning, and returned to call her oldest living friend back in Cincinnati. The lady's declining, I think, but my mom got to laughing, and managed to coax a sort of conversation out of her old friend, who sleeps much of the time now...she sounds pretty feeble to me, but Mother enjoyed hearing her voice. I wonder how much longer we will be able to do so.
Back to running and a Nautilus workout; tomorrow, over to the climbing gym to see if I still remember how to do it.
The evening has become absolutely gorgeous.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

On the eve of a long weekend in Myrtle Beach, SC

My 87 year old mother negotiated two 8 block long walks today, and only showed signs of fatigue at the very end, as she climbed up the steps to our house. The day grew increasingly beautiful, and is now almost unbearably lovely at 6:00 in the evening.
My run up into the hills began well, but by the time I got back down to the gym, my head felt disconnected from the rest of me. The gym manager told me I was glycogen depleted in my brain - insane in my brain - and handed me a bottle of juice. Gradually I regained some equilibrium, but eventually bailed and walked home. Not sure what's going on; perhaps I am stressed about leaving my mom, but our son knows the drill, and is as qualified to take care of her as I am.
I'm looking forward to vegging out on the beach. Projected weather looks great.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Fun of a Monday

All signs point towards a successful walk this morning... and so it was. The chickens across the street have been chafing to get out, since their mistress has been in Hawaii since last Tuesday.
The visiting Japanese professor staying with our friends has been feeding them and harvesting their "yeggs," as he pronounces it, but he is not disposed to hanging around to monitor their out-of-coop meanderings. One day Effie, the biggest and hardiest-looking of the three hens was actually hurling herself at the door to their coop, trying to get out. Strange creatures.
Met up with a friend who's been in Pamplona, Spain going to school, but has returned to pick up a certificate to teach English as a secodn language, and will be heading down to Mexico for a year to do just that. We met at the climbing gym, where it seemed as if between the two of us we knew everyone there. Had a good workout, then went to the Old Towne Alehouse in Ballard, where my son met us. He and she had worked and climbed together in years past. We had a pleasant evening, and went home to serious conversation with his dad.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Thoughts of a Sunday

No, not the fudge-covered kind! The kind after you've slept late, gotten breakfast, attended to various exercise and luncheon needs, and gone out on a nice long run. I managed to muster enough energy to get all the way up past the zoo, around the pocket park full of crows, and back down along the lake to the gym. It was a lovely albeit chilly afternoon, and the second walk for my mom had a backdrop of spectacular skies, with enormous dark storm systems skirting us round in every direction, and us in the blue eye of it all.
We took our son out for a bite this evening, and ended up staying for a couple of hours or so, having a widely varied and productive round of discourse. Much of it revolved around his concerns about consumer society, and how it perhaps is being stage-managed by nefarious agencies for, well, nefarious reasons. He just left to go off to the People's Pub to hang out with some of his wonderful buddies; I am sincere in this observation, I like his friends.
To bed, to read a bit more of Atwood's book about writing.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Swimming into Saturday morning

...and by late morning, the skies had drained, thankfully. Out for a longer walk with my mom - fingers crossed - and it went well. No "spells." No falling down.
Went on a bit of a walk about, in search of less grungy clothes than I currently possess to wear next week when we go to Myrtle Beach for a mini-family reunion with my in-laws. Thankfully we all will be non-Republicans; some perhaps a bit more "conservative" than others, but at least there won't be that baseline discomfort to deal with. It used to be simply something one did not bring up, along with religion and what one did for a living; now it's a more essential matter, at least to me. I don't want to spend one more minute than I have to with plunderers and usurpers.
Had a nice dinner of fresh halibut and asparagus, accompanied with noodles called "Okinawa Soba." They appeared to be a thicker version of yaki soba.
Off to bed at a resonable hour, to read more of Margaret Atwood's "Negotiating with the Dead."

Friday, April 15, 2005

Friday route day

Was cautious this morning with my mom's walk. She admitted that she felt tired, so we only did a short one.
Off to the climbing gym about 1:00, to strip an old route and put up a new one. Things went swimmingly, and I got done in under two hours. Climbed with my 40-ish friend Candi, as well as a male acquaintance a year older than I, and a new female one who's 25. Motley crew, but we had fun.
Upon returning home, I had a message from an old climbing friend who's been in grad school in Pamplona, Spain this year. She's back in the US briefly, and we'll get together next week for a workout at the gym and a beverage and bite. I'm looking forward to hearing how it's been going over there.
And my dear spouse will be home late tonight. Can't wait to have his warm body next to mine, conscious or not!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Grouchy and mean enough to skin a certain cat

If it isn't the fucking dog next door, it's my own bloody cats disturbing my beauty rest. Last two nights, Simba, reputed to have an indeterminate amount of brain damage, has awakened me twice during the course of the night so he could be put outside. Unconscionable. Begging to be addressed. So when I found him this afternoon, sleeping peacefully at the foot of my bed, I woke him up! Told him he was a fuckwit, and didn't deserve to rest so sweetly. Put him outside. He appeared to be... confused. I was so tired I didn't have the energy to feel bad about hassling him.
Well, the sun was out, so off we went on a shorter walk for Mother, but she still started having a weird spell. She has a cold, it seems, and probably isn't sleeping well, but she can't remember. She seems more tired than usual. She rallied for Hairdo Day, however!
I managed an abbreviated run down to the Nautilus, and dragged a copy of the PI's recreation insert around with me, as it had great photos of Index, WA, of its compact granite cliffs our son likes so well. I thought perhaps the sight of those sun-drenched walls would inspire my workout; hmmm, mixed results.
Had to call the neighbors again last night after 9:30 p.m., as their hairy little dachshund was yelping again for hours. No one answered, so I left a tired yet polite message, and the dog was taken in shortly thereafter. I am desperate for sleep.
Dipped into Moby again, a couple of chapters full of soliloquies by various crew members regarding the doubloon nailed to the mast; very Shakespearian in flavor. Ishmael's voice is a mixture of omniscience and authorial intrusion this late in the game. (about page 500)
Read a bit more of Margaret Atwood's book about writing; I do admire her intelligence and humor very much.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

...and the hair is marvelous!

My hair stylist is a magician. Every three months she gets her hands on my mop of hair, and restores it to a lovely condition, with no more roots, thinned and trimmed; makes me feel, if only for a few days, like my inner freakiness is well-disguised.
Near the end of our morning walk, Mother showed signs of being about to pass out as we approached the steps to our house; having her fall ascending them is one of my big worries, so I told her she was on the final pitch, which she usually announces, and she counted the steps to the porch. Don't know if this is a harbinger of impending weakening, or just one of those crazy things. She has forgotten it by the time she's seated on the couch, with her electrolyte-enriched water and her book.
Another pretty good session at the climbing joint, again with the coach's girlfriend. She's getting onto more challenging routes, getting back into it, and seems motivated. Lots of buddies arrived, and everyone was off and scaling. Upon returning home, cooking up a quicky sort of cassoulet, I got the talk from our son, who's urging me to get out on Real Rock, and not spend so much time inside. Well, if it hadn't been raining, hailing and otherwise being miserable for the past month,
and I'd had the mobility to go south to get away from the local weather, I'd have been more likely to get out somewhere. He tells me it's fear that binds me; I say, it's caution due to my age.
Always a divide.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Gray day

Starting out slowly, but a couple of hits of that maple butter I found yesterday at the Iwajimaya's store in the international District is starting to course through my veins, so I'll be up and running shortly. Maybe another little taste...
A wild day for weather extremes: Gray in the morning; sunny and windy as I ran down to the Nautilus gym, but as I looked behind me, I saw a black wall advancing, which by the time I was safely inside, dispensed several minutes' worth of hail. Half an hour later, things were sunny and bright again, but as I ran up the hill towards home, another wall of blackness swept in, dumping rain just as I reached my front porch.
Rest of the afternoon, fairly uneventful. Clear again around 5:00, so I walked over to the supermarket to get a few items we can't live without, such as dinner fixings and nonpareil capers in white balsamic vinegar. Oh, yeah, and bananas.
Got to bed early with the journey to Portugal, since I'm getting up earlier than usual for Hair Beautification. At about 11:30, the dog next door woke me up with its crappy yipping, so I called the neighbors and asked nicely if they would please take her inside.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Monday, Monday

Huh...somehow I lost the start of a post. Well, what I was noting was another episode of patching my mother's old mouth together. While she was in the chair, I went to Iwajimaya's to wander around, as I usually do when in the International District.
Got home to walk and get lunch. After a bit, I went to the climbing gym for a workout and to check in with my buddies there.
Yikes...accidentally hit the publish button, but it still doesn't seem to be working. Um, okay, back in draft mode....
Perhaps it's time to vamoose.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Winter is a grinding on...

Maybe all the seasons have slud, as in we have already had a brief, drought-threatening spring/summer, and are back to winter. (Lyrics from an old Jefferson Airplane song: "Summer had inhaled and held its breath too long/ Winter hung on as if it never had gone")
Sunday has also slud by, spent in laundry, exercising, herding chickens, baking cookies and other such sundry activities. I'm getting close to roasting the stupid little dog next door, which has been barking all day, since about 7:45 this morning, now sounding like a smoke alarm going bad. Neighbors' dogs.... one of the unsung causes of murder.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Good comp!

This whole day has been spent in transit to a climbing competition, participating in it, and getting home again, jiggedy-jig. Left with my friend at a little after 8:00 this morning, waited around for over an hour while registration went on, then spent four hours trying to get in enough whole climbs to make the effort worthwhile. There were over 160 competitors in this not too spacious gym, plus oodles of parents, spouses and other lookers and hangers-on. Contrary to the appearance of the description above, it was a convivial and jolly scene, at least for the likes of me, the only Old Broad climbing and not much concerned about competing against anyone besides myself. Of course, had a fat bit of prize money been at stake, there'd have been more Old Broads to contend with! Well, I didn't win anything in the drawing at the end of the day, but lots of kids did, which is more appropriate anyway. Made a few new friends, contributed towards the sport, and got a terrific amount of exercise. I'll be sore manana.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Technical difficulties

Our internet access was poor yesterday, growing worse as the afternoon waned. And something was wrong at this site, preventing me from saving, editing, publishing, or even looking at my draft. This will serve for two days' worth of musings.
More good posts on the NYT book group discussion of Cloud Atlas. I'm far less enthusiastic over their seeming drive to read Neitzsche next month for their nonfiction choice. I haven't re-read any of it since my freshman year at CMU, and after listening to our son's love/hate reactions to him last year when he read N. for a senior class at the UW, have no desire to revisit Zarathustra.
Just started Margaret Atwood's "Communicating with the Dead," on writing. Of course I'm appreciating it, I have always liked her work; intriguing to see her thoughts about this art form.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Another hairdo day has come and gone. It was almost balmy today; no, nearly muggy. It was a relief to head over to the indoor climbing gym for a nice long workout. I met with the climbing team coach's significant other; they are a cute couple, both 27 and just getting serious about life together. They've acquired a bitty chihuahua to raise, and seem to be working on all those adjustments that two people make as they get used to living together. She has been feeling overwhelmed by his expectations for her concerning climbing, so it seemed to be a good thing for her to just relax and do what she felt capable of. At one point, she told me she'd never be as strong as she used to be; I pointed out to her that I was twice her age, and have been able to build up a good deal of strength. She pondered that for a moment, and decided that perhaps she wasn't a has-been after all.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Waiting for sun

Almost warm enough to go out for a walk. When we did get out, my mother as usual looked at every plane that flew over, waving to the smaller ones. By gum, one of the seaplanes headed for Lake Union actually tipped his wing to her! They were flying pretty low over Meridian Avenue, and she stood there waving both arms energetically, in her bright blue raincoat. The pilot clearly saw her, and rewarded her persistence.
Seems to be the dying season for old power-abusing men. Unfortunately they have plentiful accolytes, not-quite-as-old power-abusing men.
Hying me to bed with Moby Dick and the journey round Portugal, which I haven't quite finished. There's more whale decimation in store, I know, so I have to have a neutral book in which to ditch out. Don't want nightmare fodder right before I go to sleep...

Monday, April 04, 2005


What... what... oh good grief, it's after 10:00 AM! Well, going to bed early didn't work very well. And whilst reading Moby Dick, I hit revolting chapters describing the harpooning, killing, sharks-eating-the dead whale at night and the next day's cutting out of the poor sperm whale. The kind of shit you read while you hide your eyes behind your hands. In fact, I pretty much skipped a bunch of it. I am completely not interested in any depiction of killing whales, historical value notwithstanding. Fuck it. Even Melville called it murder.
What we know now about these creatures makes it tragic beyond description. Yes, I'm for saving the gay baby whales; they add much more beauty to this world than the aging white power-hungry men that run this country, for example. We need more unconscious beauty and grace in the world.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Lost an hour...

...and the damned waffles turned out weirdly.
Stumbled onto a discussion of "Cloud Atlas" on the New York Times website; there was a markedly higher level of observation than I've been seeing elsewhere. It may prove to be a productive alternative.
So do you go to bed early to combat losing an hour, or later? Guess I'll try earlier. Hello, Moby.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

dazed and content

Really enjoyable dinner party this evening at a climbing buddy's house. Her favorite sister and her boyfriend were visiting from Tampa, so she threw a little soiree in their honor. He's a retired airline pilot, and at the end of the evening came out with some pretty funny stories about being caught, unbeknownst to him at least at first, in the middle of "swinger" functions, with the emphasis on "function." Another friend of the hostess's also related a tale of having wound up in a Thai restaurant in Ballard just as a group of swingers took over the place for one of their..."dos." Hmm. Both men professed to have known nothing about these affairs beforehand, and seemed genuinely bemused by them, but one does wonder...
Several of us brought wine for dinner, and they all turned out to be malbecs. It was a very good dinner, with very good company. A few of us stayed a bit past the big migration of guests around 10:30 and had a few more rounds of conversation.
One mutual friend there told me he's never read Moby Dick. Think I'll get him a copy for a belated birthday present. After all, he did give me the Mother Theresa breath spray on my birthday...

Friday, April 01, 2005

It sped away

Eventually I wound up at the climbing gym, setting a route. Turned out I chose a particularly problematic wall to put one up, and struggled for a while until I could get some traction. Several of my climbing acquaintances stood around for a bit, observing my efforts; occasionally I had to draft one or the other of them for help in retrieving a dropped hold or giving me a shove back onto the wall. The three males in the group appeared far more interested in paying attention to the young woman we've befriended recently, especially the guy my age who's single. He's giving off an almost palpable aura of attraction to her. Not sure how to read her, but it should be interesting to see what happens as he gets more and more obvious. Her humor seems to have a bit of an edge to it, so I suspect she's not exactly a Dewy Young Thing. She and I had fun trying out some TR routes and a few boulder problems before I needed to heed the signals my arms werer sending to me. And as soon as the guys realized she had gone to boulder, there they were...funny, I often feel like a zoologist, observing mammal behavior from a safe neutral post.
Broiled razor clams and curried prawns for a simple dinner, then went out for a walk and a beverage. We had a lovely late evening talk at Mona's, over some kind of drink made from a Brazilian liquor called cachaca and fruit juices for me, and marninis for my dear companion. The barkeep said cachaca was made from sugar cane, so basically it was a high-priced white lightening. Just looked it up: it's a brandy distilled from sugarcane, and has been made since the mid-1500's. Originally it was a poor man's drink, but has gained popularity as a "fun tropical drink." Usually it's blended with lime juice and sugar in something called a caipirinha, which sounds like any number of other cocktails, except with a different type of alcohol. Myabe caipirinha means drunken piranha...