Friday, March 31, 2006

Lookin' good out there...

So delicious to dive into bed last night, knowing I had not finished Shirley Hazzard's "The Transit of Venus," and had some more pleasurable reading ahead. She pulled off an interesting bit with the ending, which reminded me of her old friend Elizabeth Bowen. Hazzard's writing has a kinship with Bowen's, in some ways. Distinctive use of language, sometimes a challenge to grasp; her characters are maybe a bit easier to decipher than Bowen's.
Benefit auction dinner this evening for Washington Water Trails Association. Good food, flowing champagne, reconnected with old friends from years past when we all had boys who played soccer together. We all seem to have kayaks, so maybe we'll resume seeing one another.
Off to get started on one of Hazzard's short story collections, Cliffs of Fall. I like its title very much; it comes from a Gerald Manley Hopkins poem, [No Worst, There Is None. Pitched Past Pitch of Grief] which contains these amazing lines:
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind; all
Life does end and each day dies with sleep.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nice day for white teeth

Lots of good sleep last night, and early morning reading. Off to the dentist for my mother, who unfortunately once again has teeth that are crumbling and must be shored up. While our dentist was discovering this dismaying situation, I was out wandering around the International District, in particular Iwajimaya's supermarket. Had to survey the oyster selection, the geoducks and the lobsters, as well as have an exchange with an elderly woman who had mislaid her gloves somewhere in the produce department; she retraced her steps and found them lying on a mound of onions. Dear sweet old thing. She towered over me, and had to be in her late 70's at least. She must have been quite statuesque in her past.
Stupidly I shopped without eating anything but a banana and half an apple beforehand. Had to walk past their hot counters, which were emanating odors of all manner of Asian dishes. Finally found a bag of low salt peanuts in the shell, which I opened in the parked car in order to eat a handful before retrieving my mother. Realized I had forgotten her electrolyte solution, so I hurried up the street to a tiny market to find some GatorAde. There were a couple of cornfed-looking young women in front of me in line. An Asian woman behind them asked them what they were buying, and they told her it was the makings for bubble tea, that ghastly, unnaturally colored and flavored sweet stuff with globules of tapioca in it which youngsters like to suck up through oversized straws.
"We're from Montana, and we don't have it there," said one of the young woman." We're kind of slow on the uptake in Montana."
Such admirable self-knowledge.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On route

Finally got back in to the gym to do my route work. One up, one down. Caught up with a few folks. One wants to go down to Smith Rock the second week of April, but I fear that trip is quashed as well by my mother's medical needs.
Very tired, owing to a broken night's sleep. The lovely razor clams I'd bought for dinner were, to my taste, tough and unpleasant.
Eyes heavy - mood shifting - spirit drooping...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dark cool mornings

Even in the throes of our wettest winters, which can send California transplants hurrying back to their native landscapes, there are elements of cold gray weather to be appreciated. I'm not one to savor being awakened by loudly cheerful birds and glaring sunlight, so those dim rainy hours after dawn suit me nicely these days. Time to pull up out of dreaming gradually, with snoozing, lightly snoring cats sprawled about the bed; time to read a page or so, in order to wipe away any webbed nightmares. We've had a small taste of spring, so these dimmer days are a sweet contrast. Nothing can compare to the year we had 99 consecutive days of rain, and outdoor recesses at the school where I was teaching went ahead without delay. Three months and more of shivering on recess duty, November to March, watching kids joyfully soak themselves; the alternative was the madness of endless indoor recesses. So, I relish these quiet cool awakenings.
And we often have a payoff later in the day. It's creeping into the 60's at about 3:00, and I ran in a sleeveless top.
Beloved spouse came home, wanted a walk, so we headed out to try an Italian place we'd seen up on Phinney Ridge. It happened to be half price on bottles of wine on Tuesday nights, so we ordered some ravioli and gnocchi and had a swell repast. Lovely cool clear night for ambling around.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The cat on my lap came back

Hunting and pecking here with a ten pound plus cat on my lap, his head draped over my left arm; as long as he doesn't drool into the keyboard, we're all right.
Scored a couple of Shirley Hazzard's short story collections, Cliffs of Fall, and People in Glass Houses. For the time being, I feel fortified with excellent reading material.
It got warm enough for a short sleeved tee shirt and three quarter pants. I drummed up as many errands as I could that would require a walk, but now I seem to be out of them. So gorgeous, I cannot bear to be inside.
The weather's going to turn on us tomorrow. Someone once said Seattle's weather was "a fickle bitch." Indelicate,but accurate.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Climbing? What's that?

Hadn't been UP anything since last Saturday, and was able to round up a partner for the afternoon. She was even rustier than I, but we had a good session at the gym. Talked to some tanned and rested folks who hadn't been up anything for months, but had been traveling around over the winter months, to Hawaii, and I forget where else. Ah, I'd still prefer camping in J-Tree, any time, except when it's miserable there. Talked with a friend who's going to Indian Creek, Utah, for the big crack climbing. She said there'd been a not particularly pleasant development: People are now required to pack out all human waste. The logistical details are not enjoyable to deliniate. My friend and I who climbed the Grand Teton had to do this, but it was only for a couple three days. Well, it is easier on the environment, no scads of people burying their wastes, but could get nasty if you are staying for any length of time. One couple I know will be there for a month. No doubt they'll have to frequent offloading runs to the borderline. Ah, wilderness.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hazzard's no hazard

Unless you mind facing certain truths. Again I have found a writer whom I'd heard of, but in this case, don't think I've ever read: Shirley Hazzard, Autralian- born in 1931, won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2004 for her latest novel, The Great Fire. The title of a collection of her short stories seems familiar to me - People in Glass Houses - but I don't have it, so can't check to see if I've read any of it. Lately I have on the top of my TBR pile her novel called The Transit of Venus, and such a significant title it is, on many levels of interpretation. That's the least of what impresses me about her writing. Here, for example, is the scene of two young Australian girls seeing some objects one of their classmates' fathers had brought from America after WWII ended:
"One morning a girl whose father had been in America for Munitions came to school with nibless pens that wrote both red and blue, pencils with lights attached, a machine that would emboss a name - one's own for preference - and pencil sharpeners in clear celluloid. And much else of a similar cast. - No one could say these objects were ugly, even the crayon with the shiny red flower, for they were spread on the varnished table like flints from an age unborn, or evidence of life on Mars. A judgment on their attractiveness did not arise: their power was conclusive, and did not appeal for praise.
It was the first encounter with calculated uselessness. No one had ever wasted anything. - The natural accoutrements of their lives were now seen to have been essentials - serviceable, workaday - in contrast to these hard, high- coloured, unblinking objects that announced, though brittle enough, the indestructibility of infinite repetition.
Having felt no lack, the girls could experience no envy. They would have to be conditioned to a new acquisitiveness."
That's about the best little delineation of the advent of the crappy modern consumer age as I've ever read...
AND...This passage, regarding another character's post- WWII visit to Hiroshima to observe "survivors":
"A catastrophe of which no one would ever say, the Will of God.
It was now that Ted Tice's life began to alter aspect and direction. He was used to thinking of his life - I have done this, how could I have done that - like everybody. Barely twenty, he would have imagined he had overcome a fair amount. -
Due to the unearthly flatness where a city had been famously incinerated, the events he had already called his life were growing inconsiderable before he had practised making them important. This derived from a sense not of proportion but of profound chaos, a welter in which his own lucky little order appeared miraculous but inconsequential; and from a revelation, nearly religious, that the colossal scale of evil could only be matched or countered by some solitary flicker of intense and private humanity."
Yes. I think that is about our only choice these days, too, but we need many of those flickers in order to counter this century's version of evil.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Off to see a sunroom

After a morning of getting my mom to her Hairdo Day, walking, visiting the chickens and getting one to go back in its yard after it did a coop break, getting lunch for my mother, the Beloved Spouse and I walked out to take a look at a nearly finished sunroom project that was almost identical to what we have been considering. I've been kind of skeptical about the concept, mostly because it's pricy, and because I was having doubts about if it was the best use of the money. But you know, after seeing this room almost done, I was...smitten. SO much light is suddenly there, captured, and the woman of the house said,"You should see it at sunset." It faces west, to the Olympic Mountains on the horizon, and she said it could be spectacular. Now I just want it to be done. I guess we need to check some other options.
We went to Third Place Books, a great new/used bookstore and coffee house not too far from this sunroom project, and found almost every book we needed, including the collected essays of Elizabeth Bowen - I am ecstatic over that find - Jamaica Kincaid's Autobiography of My Mother, and two book group picks for Beloved Spouse, Henry James's The American, which I'm passing on, and Marilyn Robinson's Gilead. Joni Mitchell's "Hejira" was playing in the background, and I could have stayed until its end, finding more treasure.
On our way back home, we were near a storefront that sells bamboo products, including flooring. The stuff is gorgeous, and the residential material is in the $2.50-$4.50 per square foot range. You can get it tiles that lock together and "float" on top of the surface you're covering, no nailing or gluing necessary. Uh oh. I am getting into the remodeling zen state... speaking of which, this store was so peaceful, just the sound of little bitty fountains running, and full of bamboo poles, furniture, this and thats. Many pleasant vibes acquired during activities I'd usually avoid.
Last stop before home was Zoka's for a cup of coffee. I never go in there to sit, just to get a bag of coffee beans and a cookie, if I am weak. Very pleasant, a lovely end to the afternoon.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Gray growing weather

Such a strange day. Only late March, and it felt muggy. The vegetation is thriving upon it, you can almost watch the thirsty tendrils twining about anything that doesn't move...
My mother and I exchanged a few words with someone about to become a former neighbor, whom we hadn't met in the four years she said they'd lived around the corner. She told us they were moving back to Southern California, to the Redondo Beach area, that this last winter had been particularly hard, and they couldn' t take the rain any more. Southern California imprinted memories of constant sunshine drove them away. I do remember the first couple of winters and springs being a shock to us NW Ohio transplants, and even now, a particularly wet and chilly winter and spring can throw me, but the experts say our region's going to dry up and blow away in the next several decades, so we'd best appreciate this gloomy gray moistness while it still occurs. Celebrate the moss and lichen that will cover everything that remains stationary.
Running hills was hard, doing weights was hard, everything seemed extra heavy. I had to walk most of the way home, but it was pleasant at a slower pace.
Talked to our beloved son. I hope to go climbing up at Index with him next week.
Interesting to see Russ Feingold on The Daily Show. He appears to be a reasonable straight-shooting guy. He just sounded fed up with our craven bunch of looting pillaging barbarian leaders. (My words, of course!) Let's just install him right now as POTUS, eh? With Molly Ivins in his cabinet, and... How do they go about this in other places, bloodless coups?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Again with the routes -oops, not

Beloved spouse informed me this morning that he had set up a meeting with a representative from a company that makes customized sunrooms. I toyed with the idea of going to set, but decided I would stick around to hear what this person had to say. We are up against a decision regarding the deck off our bedroom: Either get a new waterproof coating and decking for it, or enclose it and make it into usable space. The deck, facing due south, has had limited usability over the past twenty some years. It's too hot in the summer, and too cold in the winter, so it makes sense to figure out a way to improve it. We really haven't done anything to the house over the past couple of decades, other than some painting and a new layer of roof shingles,
and this will give us more room for more books, too. We're going to go look at a similar project they're finishing which is fairly close to us, and their documentary photos look good. The woman who came here today, a brisk, take no prisoners soul, certainly knew her beans. She did, however, chill me when she remarked that she had run three construction companies over the past thirty years, and said,"And I'll be glad never to see another employee ever again!" Not your warm fuzzy type...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

More food for my thoughts

Last night, while reading yet more interviews of writers by writers, I came upon one of Marilyn Robinson answering questions and talking to Cornelia Nixon, whom I'd never heard of. Robinson I was familir with; she wrote a novel called Housekeeping, published in 1980, which I took a look at and wasn't enrapured with at the time. Her most recent is called Gilead, and the reviews of it did not spark any interest. It has much to do with religious faith, being in the form of one long letter from a 76 year-old Reverend John Ames to his 7 year-old son, in the year 1956. However, reading Ms. Robinson's remarks have made me reconsider. Part of her response deals with the Abolitionist movement, and its adherents' very hard and extensive work to rectify the crimes of slavery, primarily through educating former slaves, founding colleges which had thoroughly integrated student populations. But at a certain point, they hit a wall, were treated as fanatics; Robinson describes it thusly: "This huge kind of cultural overturning like an iceberg rolling over. And everything just gets lost and goes into abeyance." She goes on:" It's one of the most powerful lessons that American history contains, that so much could be done so insistently and patiently by people of great idealism, and it can all be lost. One of the things that is most painful about it, and I think one of the reasons it was most effective, the turnover, is because it started from the top down, because racial theory, which is what evolution primarliy was when it entered the country, came in through the universities. They would have their little charts, and it would show the ape, and the gorilla, and the black guy - "
Interviewer:"And then the white guy-"
"Yeah, and with a few other guys in between and no women at all. They had no role in evolution at all, you know." [Both laugh]
She makes another observation along these lines, a bit later:"The racial hierarchy was very much reinforced from reactionary movements in Europe, which were also aristocratic movements, nostalgia for aristocracy."
My thoughts are low. We have had nothing, really, in the way of dedicated work to cure any of the current ills of our country, that can compare with those Abolitionisits of the 19th century. And as Robinson also said,"You still can't find any women in those little charts." We're out on one of those icebegs, and it's about to flip over.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bouncing blog

There she is, the little darling! She's been elusive this morning. Sit, blog. Stay.
I just saw this near the end of a review of a book titled "Forever Free - The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction", by Eric Foner. It concerns the aftermath of the US Civil War. (the first one, in the 1800's, not the one that's brewing currently...) The review is in the WAPO weekly edition for the week of March 20-26, and is written by Heather Cox Richardson, who is billed as an associate professor of history at U of Mass at Amherst, and who has a published piece of work entitled,"The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Civil War North, 1865-1901." In the review, she examines Foner's work, which she says doesn't give the whole picture. She says racism alone wasn't the defining feature of of the nation, that other groups were engaged in the struggle.
"...the fortunes of different groups shifted as various interests fought for control of postwar America. But 'Forever Free' is curiously quiet about political competition and the class tensions that drove it. It suggests that whites and blacks fought over suffrage without reference to political policies.
In fact, white opponents of black suffrage hammered on the idea that black voters would support politicians who promised welfare legislation, paid for by taxes levied on propertied whites. When this idea took hold during economic downturns, suffrage became limited to those perceived to be supporters of conservative regimes - usually (but not always) white men.
Increasingly, powerful Americans embraced the idea that those who did not own taxable property should not decide how tax money was spent. By 1900, voting restrictions across the nation kept poor Americans, black and white alike, away from the polls. By the 20th century, political invective about tax reform had turned certain groups of white Americans into killers who found it entertaining to lynch the black men they thought threatened their own prosperity."
She ends her review with:" That 19th-century demands for tax reform blossomed into festive 20th-century gatherings where black people were lynched seems a perilous lesson for today's Americans to ignore."
Yes, I agree, but unfortunately, some of them are NOT ignoring it, and are in fact, taking that page from history to try to repeat it, or have been keeping the hatred alive all along, and not just in the Southern USA. And the passage about suffrage for those poor old beleaguered white men - spooky. Hence the current ravaging of our country by neocons and libertarians.
I'm thinking that one of the very bad ways of America - as in, "It's the American Way!" - is, fucking things up, as in not dealing fairly with former slaves after the Civil War, and letting it fester for a century and a half, then starting the sick cycle over. Somehow the USA skated on the aftermath of Vietnam. I do not think we will skate this time, in the Middle East.
In stark contrast to my dark thoughts: The beloved spouse and I put on our little backpacks, and walked down to the Puget Sound Consumer Cooperative branch in the Fremont neighborhood to pick up some special groceries, such as... maple butter. Yes, I confess, I buy such an "unnecessary" commodity, something which technically I could live without. Which, when Armageddon arrives, I shall endure existence without...but shit, it isn't as if I drive a Hummer, or have to have a fucking second home somewhere in a gated golf community!
Well, we had a lovely walk.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Beautiful morning

Our beloved son called from his pied a terre up near the Cascades, inviting us to come up and see the place he's sharing with a climber/photographer friend. His dad went alone, and I hope they have a good time together. It's gorgeously clear, and there's some good hiking around the area.
My mother and I stayed home, she going for a good walk, me doing my usual run and weight routine. Puttered around, spoke with a couple friends/neighbors, watched the day go away in a hazy sunset.
Beloved spouse returned mid evening - a bad aspect of this place where our son is lately, the traffic is growing increasingly hellish. What should be about a 45 minute drive can morph into a two hours plus nightmare, either way. They had a lovely day, however, hiking above the climbing areas, and going down by the river. B. spouse got many excellent shots of Mount Index, and looking towards Stevens Pass.
Off to read more thoughts from writers.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Out like a sodden lion

Yet the day took a very pleasant turn, as my friend and longest term climbing partner came over with her almost 16 year old daughter, the one learning to drive, and whisked me off to the climbing gym. Her kid is engaging and fun to be with, so we had a very good session. By the time we emerged, just before 2:00, the sun had appeared, and afforded my mother a terrific five block walk, no fainting, no weird motor failures, and much appreciation of our neighbor's profusion of daffodils. The latest bunch to begin opening have a ruffled trumpet the color of lox, a lovely translucent salmony-pink hue. So glad there are a few avid gardeners on the block, to offset parking strip... In my defense, I shall say that it's a mostly shady area, and it's hard to find plants that are both shade and drought tolerant. Oh, sure, plenty of noxious weeds, but nothing really appealing. Hm, maybe pot?

Friday, March 17, 2006

My face is green, anyway

Some creature from the invisible world of microbes is having at me this morning. Let's see how things go.
The day's chores seemed to have distracted my invisible assailants. I've been reading snatches from the Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers that I mentioned in a previous post. Just finished one in which Vendela Vida, of whom I'd never heard, interviewed Shirley Hazzard, who counted Elizabeth Bowen as a great friend years ago. ( A very good sign, in my book.) Ms. Hazzard's conversation produced some valuable bits for me. At one point, she was talking about her book called People in Glass Houses, a collection of short stories that contains some particular ones she referred to as "satirical stories that are on the side of truth." She goes on to say,"People in power, even if it's only petty bureaucratic power, are rarely good news. They become unreachable, unless by satire. Alexander Pope sees them as 'Safe from the Bar, the Pulpit, and the Throne,/ Yet touch'd and sham'd by Ridicule alone./ O sacred weapon! left for Truth's defence,/ Sole Dread of Folly, Vice, and Insolence!' " I certainly concur emphatically with her concerning people in power, but these days even our constant barrage of Satire doesn't seem to phase them, or not enough. I want these fuckers to feel DREAD. And you know whom I mean.
Ms. Hazzard observes thusly near the end of the interview:" As I consider our modern lives, I feel that, due to the growing uncertainty of the world, people anxiously want to believe themselves on top of things, in control. Especially in the United States just now, at the height of world power, there is the impulse to settle on what is attestable, to pronounce and explain; to exclude mystery, imagination, the intuitive powers of individual existence. What about the unattestable, that informs all that most matters to us? What about the accidental nature of our life? The salient events of private life are always tinged with the accidental."
And to finish: "From the psychiatrists and sociologists, we never hear a word about the accidental, the unattestable. Max Beerbohm said, of this era of explanation,'They explain because they can't understand.' Which is perhaps why, with so much elucidation, we're still in the dark."
Yes, I say yes. And I say further that these people who are control freaks, don't value anything without a bottom line, and that is why they must mine, drill, pave, landscape, manicure every last bit of mystery out of our world, in every sense of the words. No stone left unturned, literally, no stone left unmined, unmoved, and all crushed. NOTHING left to the imagination.
Ah. Firing me up.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Maple butter cheers me

The trip to the cardiologist proved to be very informative and mostly positive. One never know how to approach these events, but I have been trying not to have a pile of expectations either good or bad. My mother will have an echocardiogram next month, as a baseline to show her heart's condition. The cardiologist was a very nice guy, who spoke to her warmly and with good detail, which she started zoning out on, but I appreciated his manner.
Another day gone in a sort of daze. Running was arduous, as was weight training, and the afternoon turned gloomy.
My head hurts. I'm going to read.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Routes, in'it?

After a swell night's sleep, I felt energetic enough to head on over and do my route-settin' thang. Oh, and today was the actual Ides of March, not yesterday as I'd stated in my addled sleep-deprived condition. No matter, nothing horrific happened. Put up a good little easy problem, and got to whip up several routes before I headed home.
Tomorrow I take my mother to an appointment with a cardiologist, to further explore what's going on inside her ancient frame. Her doctor had told me to keep an open mind if it turned out that she's a candidate for a pacemaker. Supposedly not a terribly invasive procedure, could contribute to her quality of life, i.e., keep her going so she doesn't have any damaging falls. etc. Perhaps. Things just seem to be getting more complicated regarding maintenance of her health. I wish she could just remain in her pleasant little stasis until one day she simply doesn't wake up. I don't want her to suffer.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It's the Ides...

...but we've managed to tidy up some dealings for my mother without any mess ups, despite my overall state of dopiness. I'm really tired from another couple of lousy nights, but after reading about what a drug like Ambien can do, i.e., make one sleepwalk into the kitchen to stuff one's face and sleepeat, I'll just suffer from wacky lack of sleep until it catches up with me. After such a lovely late afternoon walk through Discovery Park with my beloved spouse, and a swell seafood dinner, it must have been the almost full moon keeping me up from 3:30-5 ayem. We had such a pleasant trek around the park, with gorgeous subtly colored views of the Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound, pleasantly tiring, I don't see why I didn't drop off to sweet long hours of slumber.
My Sierra Club calendar states that there was a "penumbral lunar eclipse" at 5:40 p.m. this evening. Not which time zone, however. I guess it must have been Eastern. It would have been too light here, anyway, even at our 5:40, and the moon not yet up high enough to see anything. Right now it's very clear, and the moon is brilliant, at around 8:30.
Shuffling off to bed.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Right brained

I've been picking out selections from a book of writers interviewing writers, choosing the pieces based on my familiarity with their names and work. it's titled, "The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers," put out by the people who started 826, the kids' volunteer tutoring centers. I didn't have many expectations of this set up, since so often writers discussing their work is somehow dissatisfying and I'm often downright suspicious of them. However, when one of the writers is someone like Joan Didion, whom I've always appreciated, particularly her essays, I have to give it shot. Certainly not disappointing to read her reflections on how California has always had a history of selling itself to the highest bidder for the quickest buck, although sad and depressing. A sampling of what she considers to be "unfortunate decisions California citizens have made: Electing two movie-star governors; building prisons to create jobs; neglecting the public school system in favor of short term gains; and committing a lot of sane people to mental institutions. She is interviewed by Dave Eggers, who helped found the 826 centers, and who is a published author. (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was his first big hit.) I also liked Didion's fiction back when I read it, but I consider her more successful as a non-fiction writer. Her ability to "cut to the chase" serves her best, I think, in non-fiction.
Another pairing I read was Zadie Smith - whose first novel, White Teeth, was published when she was about 23, and which I really savored - interviewing Ian McEwan, another British writer whose work is much acclaimed but which does not send me. Their interaction, however, is wonderful, and gave me new respect for him. I really admire his work ethic and intelligence, as I do Ms. Smith's. A comment of his: "I have now reached the stage where as soon as anyone says life moves around a single, organizing principle I stop listening to them. I don't feel that life organizes itself around any single principle. It's a religious impulse to only grasp at one thing, one explanation." And how can one not love this example of something they discuss? "Aspects of the 'English Novel' to avoid: Polite, character-revealing dialogue; stable, linear narrative; Lightly ironic ethical investigation; Excessive amounts of furniture."
Gasp. As I re-read that last aspect, I have to admit that one of my heroines of fiction, Elizabeth Bowen, definitely strew plenty of furniture around her interior settings! However, she broke out of the other conventions pretty well for someone writing at the time she did, early to mid 20th century. Anyway, I can't condemn the use of English furniture to appoint a story; I have a sort of geeky fascination in finding out what an ormulu thingy is, or a skeleton clock.
At any rate, I am enjoying reading these interviews far more than I expected. They give me hope that there might be good things to read even in the dismal future.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bluebird skies and a moonglow night

One of my usual climbing companaions bailed on me this morning, so it's been kind of a hanging around sort of day. Just as well. Got my mom out for a total of seven blocks of walking, including a couple this afternoon during which we didn't need our coats. Very thrilling! The skies were lovely, except for a gigantic anvil-shaped thunderhead that threatened for a while, but gradually dissipated as it drifted eastward.
Beloved spouse, beloved son and I went out for a walk about 8:00. The air was completely still, and Lake Union was black glass, reflecting city lights. A nearly full moon illuminated veils of clouds as they drifted below. A group of young Asian people were grouping and re-grouping as they took photos of themselves against the city skyline at the south end of the lake. We three climbed up Kite Hill for another drink of the views, then went on up the hill to home.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

After midnight

The beloved spouse made it home from Milwaukee intact. The cats, once over the initial shock of having him return, lounged about on the bed, purring like old Mercury outboards. They never treat me that way, and I'm the one who unconditionally loves them. Well, pretty much unconditionally. FUBAR animals...
Finished Andrea Levy's novel, Small Island; could not stop reading past my bedtime. Ms. Levy has a light touch, yet it isn't a lightweight book, regarding themes and character development.
Pleasant day, skittered away.
On my way to the liquor store, I saw some kind of feathery struggle going on next to a house. The barred wings looked familiar: A Cooper's Hawk, struggling to extricate itself from a string mesh for sweet peas or some climbing plant. I approached slowly, and had just tugged gently at the side of the string mesh, when the hawk burst explosively from its entanglement. I suppose it wasn't terribly wise to get so close, but it was making that noise that's been used in so many movie soundtracks, that high plaintive cry. Usually you hear it when the wise old Native American chief appears to counsel the stupid young white kid. The hawk flew up to the neighboring house's roof, and appeared to be panting and recovering its bearings. I saluted it, and went on my way.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Look out, world!

Accumulative exhaustion finally paid off, in seven consecutive hours of sleep. Now if I can only find a similarly nefariously oriented assistant, things will change. in this universe. At least for the day.
This afternoon, when I told our son I was heading out to run hills, he asked if he could join me. As we headed down to the park, a huge black cloud approached from the north, and followed us into the woods. After a long uphill stretch, it began to snow, odd clumpy lumps. Not hail, but large white blobs, no pretty flakes. It grew darker as we moved back into the little woods, and rabbits fled in all directions. The cold air and frozen morsels hitting the overheated skin on my face were sharp, delicious. Beloved son was kind for most of the hills, but notched it up on the last one, leaving his panting mother behind. Not too surprising, as he's been doing a fair amount of fitness training for some time now. I think he appreciated the hill course, something I've been suggesting for a while. Runing up a series of hills feels similar to hiking uphill with a loaded pack, I think.
We cruised on into the evening.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Danger - Bridge Out!

Last night they closed the 520 bridge, a major east-west artery, at rush hour. Here's"official" explanation for the closing: "The bridge was closed about 5:10 p.m. after workers inspecting it discovered a damaged bolt connected to a trunnion beam...trunnion beams stabilize the bridge's draw spans. The bolt in question attached the trunnion beam to the guide-roller assembly." What a load of twaddle. The guy sounds like Professor Frink on "The Simpsons", trying to explain something or other:" And the fribjoy is frenazzled to the groinjak, and babble, babble, babble...." They've been trying to get us to buy a new bridge, and we say, let Microsoft and the Eastsiders pay for it. It's their workers who use it the most.
Grump, grouse and curmudgeoning...
Off for a three-way with Gilgamesh and a modern British novel...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Route settin' time agin

Walp, I headed on over to the old climbin' corral this afternoon, roped myself up, and hauled my ass up the wall to put up another classic. We get to name our routes, so after a spate of problems inspired by our trip to Joshua Tree National Park, as in, "J-Tree Moon," J-Tree Skies," "J-Tree Sunset,""Dogleg," I thought I'd branch out. I used all yellow holds, so I called it "Arnica Montana," after the little yellow, daisy-like wildflower from which arnica gel gets its active ingredient. We saw this wildflower growing in the Tetons, and I think it has a pretty good range all over the West. I'm a fan of using arnica gel for my bruises and aches, and in my psychology, it works wonders. Can't seem to convince our rock climbing son, though - he accuses me of "witchcraft" - he prefers ingestion of beer.
Witchcraft - Now, damn it, I wish I really were an adept. In honor of International Women's Day, I'd be casting some vengeful spells right and left. Trading deaths of good people for the misspent lives of the people ruining this country. At this point in the looting and pillaging that the GOP and their fellow travelers have perpetrated, I would have absolutely no qualms or remorse in my occupation of Nemesis. Nothing good for this country or the world has come out of the past five years with these people in power.
I confess, in addition to reading Gilgamesh, I have gotten into a wonderful novel titled Small Island, by a British writer, Andrea Levi. She's in her early 50's, has a few other novels published; her heritage is Jamaican. It's deftly written, with immediately engaging characters, and goes right for the big issues: Race and love.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's a hard rain

Fortunately I got my mother out for her walk before noon. I just came back from running and working out - it's now around 3:30 - and only just made it into the house before the heavy icy cold rain I got caught in turned to hail. Not sleet, just about as cold as it can get and remain liquid. The run homeward was up a long hill, so I did stay warm in my little daffodil yellow rain poncho. ("I dreamed I won the marathon in my Maidenform poncho!")
Found a powdered form of electrolytic formula, which we will be trying tomorrow for my mother. The young woman running the Be Well shop over on 45th is a student at Bastyr College, a naturopathic medical school, and was brimming with information. Interesting; I'll keep her remarks in mind, and compare them with the traditional medicos' ideas.
An uneventful and peaceful evening; lately that's a good thing.
Off to ancient Uruk...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Creeping "decency"

When decency creeps, only the creeps are "decent." As displayed by the Academy Awards, which was so morally prissy in its celebration of mediocre crap. Ironically, the even more decency-challenged folks who are outraged by "Hollywood" and all it supposedly stands for can't see how bland, shopworn and second rate Hollywood's "creative" material is. Their movies aren't really art, they're just investments. They went on and on about their great risk-taking, and exploration of controversial themes. C'est drek.
Once again I went out hunting for one of the book group picks. I found another novel by the author, Elsa Morales, but not the one chosen. I did, however, pick up a new English version of Gilgamesh, and thanks to being horribly alert at 1:00 this morning, have almost finished the writer's long introduction. I thought it was important to read it, since I've only ever read excerpts of gilgamesh, and didn't know much about it. Eerie that it was discovered in the ruins of Nineveh, which today is Mosul, Iraq. Spirit-squashing, in its evocation of agressive adventures made by posturing males. Classic shit, never goes out of style, clearly. Quotes shall begin to appear, anon.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Not nice now

The damned weather gremlins heard me yesterday, and are punishing us with cold and rain. Beloved spouse had to go to Milwaukee this morning, left on the shuttle at 6:00. The cats and I repaired again to bed, perchance to sleep. I read in this morning's paper that sleeping for too long is bad for you; I'd like to see how that works. I rarely seem to sleep enough hours consecutively to feel good.
Late this morning, my mother and I headed out for her walk. As we reached the sidewalk in front of our house, we looked across the street and saw two of our friends' chickens teetering atop the fence to their side yard. I rushed over to shoo them back onto the ground, but they gazed at me brazenly and refused to budge, so I gave them a gentle prod with the end of my furled umbrella, which they protested loudly. By the time we'd made it up our block and down the other side to see them, they were back up on the fence. We flapped our arms at them, effectively this time, and left, hoping they would stay put until their owners returned.
Went out this afternoon for a session at the climbing gym with one of my friends. She told me the guy who's been managing the gym has cancer. He also has a pregnant wife and a baby about a year old. A very nice young man; we're trying to figure out what we can do to help him and his little family.
Geeze. The Academy Awards SUCK. Jon Stweart's coming across like a kid who's been threatened with the paddle one too many times. I'm outta here.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

(not too loudly, but it's nice outside!!!)

I ran in a sleeveless shirt this afternoon, and had to roll up my pants to keep cool. It is lovely, lovely, lovely, and I'm heading out to get ingredients for that skillet cornbread.
Which came out very nicely.
Just getting into Andrea Levy's Small Island.

Vino and laughs

We met a few of our friends at a place in Ballard called Balmar. It was touted to me as a great bar, but after an hour or so it turned rapidly, while we sat upstairs in what had been a relatively peaceful area, into a meat market scene. Hoochies in the bathroom, yacking on cell phones; deafening loud dance mix music over the ubiquitous speakers; eventually we had to get out of there. We tried some different wines, which were mostly good, but the food plates were stingily portioned and not very good, except for some shoestring French fries, which had paprika or cayenne or something red on them, bleu de Basque cheese chunks in amongst them - VERY tasty addition! - and, odd as this sounds, an accompanying delicious "banana catsup," which wasn't pale mashed 'nanners at all, but something tomato-y and sweet. I looked up the cheese - it's French, and made from sheep's milk. Probably expensive, but it doesn't take much of it to satisfy your taste.
We lost one member of the group, and on our way back to our cars stopped in at a pub featuring Irish music. They were very good, but I started feeling sleepy, as did our woman friend, so we all headed home.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Lost steam

If I ever had some today...choring around, waiting for a phone call regarding my mother's health care. Her next stop: Seeing a cardiologist, to find out whether that particular big muscle is involved in the awful and vague problems she's been experiencing. Today she walked five blocks at a good pace for her, no "spells," much cheeriness. Would that this could continue without any more horrendous scares. Spent a bunch of time talking with her doctors' offices, and we have another couple of visits to see them in the next two weeks. Wonder if they'll find anything definitive.
I've decided, changing my mind yet again, that this Hesse selection is one for pompous folks to chaw over. I'm moving on to Small Island, by Andrea Levy. British writer, current, sounds more accessible than blowhardy Hesse.
We're heading out this evening to hoist some vino with a few friends.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sleeping in a carwash

So windy and stormy last night, and our bedroom is right on the southwest corner of the house, taking the brunt. Fortunately, Hesse had lulled me to sleep before 10:00, and when I was wakened later, all I had to do was glance at the cover of the novel and off I went again, to bizarro dreamland.
A pleasant enough day, which culminated in an evening walk with beloved spouse, a stop at a nearby watering hole for a beverage accompanied by something described as "cheddar serrano cornbread," and which appeared to have been cooked in a skillet to order. It had a nice little bite from the chiles, kernels of corn, and a light honey glaze on top. Absolutely delectable, and my new favorite snack to go with beverages. I like items in the cornbread family, and shall be looking into this...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

In like a soggy lamb

And I couldn't finish a single page - no, not even a single paragraph - of that Hesse heap, so I'm not finished with it. Or am I? Someone in the book group compared it humorously to a grown up version of wizard school. That may have permanently ruined any possible appreciation of it for me, since I cannot abide another peep about Harry Potter.
Horrible night's sleep again; no energy for climbing, but a bit for hill running. By late afternoon, it was pleasantly warm. The crocuses in front yards are as wide open as they can be, soaking up the unexpected sunlight.