Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Down to the wire

Packing, getting things squared away around here for our absence and my mom's caretakers. The cats don't seem to have picked up on it yet.
It may be just as well that we're going to be away for several days. One set of neighbors has started some kind of fairly big remodeling project, and it got noisy here today. Sorry my mother has to suffer through it, but they didn't start until 9:00 this morning, and knocked off before 5:00. No guarantee they will stick to that schedule; I bet they want to get it done as quickly as possible. They haven't gotten permits for past remodeling activities, and I'll bet they don't have one this round, either. It isn't posted. Ah, well. Cheaters always seem to prosper.
Another truly lovely day, and the rest of the week is supposed to be as well. I hope for nice walks and no dizzy spells for Mother.
Okay, we're off. Catch you later.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Family reunion

It's imminent. We leave tomorrow night on a red eye, eventually to make our way to Myrtle Beach, SC. One of them thar Red States. One that's working on passing a law banning sex toys, and if'n any prevert's caught sellin' 'em, why, they'll git lynched! When I impulsively dropped by the Lucky 13 Barber this afternoon on my way to the likker store, I discussed getting my head shaved and acquiring a satanically-themed tattoo to enter SC, but the woman who pruned my hair informed me I might actually be welcomed by certain parties down there in such a state. She seemed to have some knowledge of alternative lifestyles down south. About as soon as I'd set myself down in a chair, the women in the shop put on an old Elvis album. Wondering if I had inspired this at first, I soon heard that these youngsters were afficionados of the Pelvis, which I am not.
At the likker store, I gathered up a few bottles to replenish our house stocks. A young, kind of freaky yet fresh-looking woman observed me narrowly, and when I chose a bottle of Crater Lake vodka and one of Crater Lake gin, she went over and took down one of the vodka. She then sidled over to me and smiled shyly. I wasn't sure of what was going on, so I smiled and told her we enjoyed that particular brand. "Well, " she said, "I'm a naturopath, and I'm making medicine from it, so I want to get the most organic kind." This was a surprise, and I told her we didn't make medicine out of it at our house. "Oh, you don't?" she asked. Then she sort of drifted back to the shelves to look some more.
Organic booze. People, are we missing a marketing oportunity here?! It just occurred to me that what she really needed was pure grain alcohol, the kind we used to procure in college from friends in the chemistry department who had access to the chemistry department stores. A deadly substance, one we'd put in the innocent-looking fruit punch concoctions we served at our art department student art show openings. Colorless, tasteless, fire-in-the-throat and death to the white eyes. More powerful than Everclear. That's what the young woman needed for her naturopathic admixtures...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Heavenly day

Decided to go ahead with the climbing outing, despite another bad night. Six of us headed out I-90, to Exit 38, to an area known as The Far Side. We eased into the morning with a few moderate routes, did a harder one, then a two pitch we set up as a 50 meter top rope. It was extremely windy at first, but as the day moved on past noon, it seemed to abate, and the temperature inched up into the low 70's. When you're climbing on low sleep, things acquire a dreamlike quality, and, you hope, not a nightmarish one. Nice steep little half-hour hike up and then back down, a bit more on the down since one of our party got us off track in the woods.
The wind was so strong it managed to obliterate the freeway noise, which is a detraction from this area's appeal. You could almost imagine it was heavy surf pounding, the combination of wind and road noise. Our last route was down out of the wind, and up a dark nicely crystally-gritty slab with good edges and features. While we waited to take turns going up, some of us felt like sleepy lizards.
A great tune up for the week.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Pattern, pen, forth, my breath. After zipping around to various sources and sites, I am left with an increasing sense of fear about the future.
Out for a walk and a beverage with my beloved spouse.
Off tomorrow for a climbing outing on actual rocks with several friends from the gym.
From Heather McHugh's poetry:


I love a rock for holding
so much down (itself, for example,
its grounds.) From where we stand it seems

to set loose Alps of cloud above;
below, the lilies range
around its late, light-catching

faces. Lawns run right up to
its settledness: Your
Highness! buzz the grasses and

Your Heaviness! (their blades
ablaze). For they must come
and go, attracted now

to this, now that, while it
is always going - going with
the monolithic given,

given every day to love
(in winter as in heat)
only the planet's plunge through heaven.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Another night of disjointed sleep; no birdies early this morning to cheep salt into my semi-consciousness, but I'm approaching the zone of deprivation. Looking for a change in the weather and in my brain.
From Odysseas Elytis's poem "The Hyacinth Symphony":
"You have a mortal earth whose leaves you count endlessly and do not sleep. So many hills, you say, so many seas, such flowers. And your one heart becomes plural idealizing their fifth essence. And wherever you go space opens and what word you send out to infinity embraces me. Guess, work, feel:

From the other side I am the same."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Noisy hours of early morn

Woke up early to the din of happy happy birds, chirping their little brains out, over and over and over. What could they possibly need to repeat a thousand consecutive times which wouldn't have conveyed the message after the first five minutes? Shrieking the same horrid syllable at top volume right outside my window and directly into my brain; I do not find them a cheery harbinger of anything. They should go off like broken miniature car alarms for only a short while, then fly away, far away. Peep only when peepen to. Shut their blasted little beaks; let me have another half hour of dozing peace with a wisely quietly purring cat snuggled next to me.
As penance for that bit of curmudgeonliness, I mowed our side yard. Not my favorite activity, as it makes my eyes itch, but the grass was getting to the height of a hayfield. Then hied myself off for a run and workout, and got my mother out for her second walk. She's been logging 7 or 8 blocks total these days, owing to the balmy weather. We've gotten into a flower identifying activity, and every day she learns more, or I should say, remembers more of them. She enjoys it, and there will be many more varieties coming as the spring goes on towards summer.
Listening to old Thievery Corporation this evening; somehow they make me feel as if I'm having some sort of exotic time away.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Up too late

We met up with a friend yesterday evening (Tuesday) and headed over to our local Drinking Liberally weekly meeting. No celebrities were scheduled to be there, just a core of the folks who conduct a podcast. The atmosphere was convivial, with several of us newcomers trying to become better informed about local politics. The current focus appeared to be on gathering more information about Dave Reichert, on whose behalf Cheney was lurking about here recently. Reichert's being challenged by a political newcomer, Darcy Burner, a thirty-something who works for Microsoft. I wish her well.
Lovely day in which to be tired. The general balminess of the air kept me buoyed up, enough to go route setting and up a few routes. My oldest climbing partner was just coming in as I was leaving, and we talked about heading outside if it isn't raining.
A bit of a poem by Odysseas Elytis:

Fantastic truths perish slower. Rimbaud survived communism as Sappho's moon will survive the moon of Armstrong. Different computations are necessary.

The clock we face doesn't count hours but doles out imperishability and waste, in which we partake either way, as we partake of youth or age.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"Words are of two kinds, simple or double."

According to Aristotle. He goes on to say:"By simple I mean those composed of non-significant elements... By double or compound, those composed either of a significant and non-significant element (though within the whole word no element is significant), or of elements that are both significant. A word may likewise be triple, quadruple, or multiple in form...
Every word is either current, or strange, or metaphorical, or ornamental, or newly-coined, or contracted, or altered.
By a current or proper word I mean one which is in general use among a people; by a strange word, one which is in use in another country. Plainly, therefore, the same word may be at once strange and current, but not in relation to the same people."
Shades of Alice's hookah-smoking caterpillar... Ari's talking about the structure of words at first, but I think he's going on to embrace their meaning as well. I frequently feel as if I am from another country, or universe, when trying to find out just what the mis-leaders of this country are saying, and what they are actually doing. They indeed do violence to our language as methodically as they conduct it upon people in other countries.
A strange event in this area: As my 88 year old mother and I walked out in the sunshine late this morning, the heavy whumping of big helicopters could be heard over the freeway, about a mile away. Immediately I knew why: China's leader, President Hu, was in town to visit Bill Gates. Oh, yeah, and Cheney was skulking about extracting blood for local incumbent Repubs.
Great irony, big ass Communist leader wanting to meet big ass GOP software giant from a "democracy". Common language? Fluent in Universal Robber Baron, and its subdialect, Profiteering. Even without words, they could communicate by going into Gates's big money room and jumping around in the loot. They could have jolly pillow fights with bags full of bills, build hideouts and forts with bales of crisp IOU's.
Ah, I need a good tonic run.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Must be a trick

It's sunny, and nice out... we got in some walks, a trip to the hair joint. One of our usual routines. Very tired today from a crummy night's sleep, but I went over to do a climbing workout with one of my friends. Short yet satisfying round of routes.
Ah, now in early evening the skies are bruised and ominous-looking. That's more like it.
Watched a newer version of "Pollyanna" with my mother, done up proper by a UK operation. Many faces familiar from various PBS productions, including Jennifer Saunders as the hypochondriacal bed-ridden Mrs. Snow. Saunders played Edina on "Absolutely Fabulous," and was all but unrecognizable as a cranky fat crone in "Pollyanna." No, really, she looked absolutely horrendous, but did the character up well. But good grief, after several of Pollyanna's saccharine sessions of the Glad Game, I began mocking the activity, simpering artificially about how GLAD I was about this and that; my mother laughed until she nearly wept.
Above all, we should be GLAD this entertainment was brought to us by - EXXON MOBILE THEATER!! Gack.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sappy Yeaster

Big surprise: the White House rigged the distribution of tickets to the annual Easter Egg Roll. Who didn't see that coming? Someone oughta get several semis full of those government supported eggs and unload them onto the White House grounds, after the eggs have rotted for a while. A tribute to the accomplishments of this US administration.
Ah, let's see what has been gleaned from my reading? Again, our Ms. Bowen:
"I am dead set against art's being self-expression. I see an inherent failure in any story which does not detach itself from the author - detach itself in the sense that a well-blown soap bubble detaches itself from the bowl of the blower's pipe and spherically takes off into the air as a new, whole, pure, iridescent world. Whereas the ill-blown bubble, as children know, timidly adheres to the bowl's lip, then either bursts or sinks flatly back again."
She continues: "Total impersonality in story-writing is, for me certainly, impossible - so much so that it would be a waste of time to wonder whether it would be desirable. And I doubt, actually, whether for any writer it is either desirable or possible for this reason: the short story is linked with poetry, and that, we know, cannot but bear a signature. The tale without lyricism or passion dessicates into little more than a document. The poet, and in his wake the short-story writer, is using his own, unique susceptibility to experience: in a sense, the susceptibility is the experience. The susceptibility, equally, is the writer, who therefore cannot be absent from what he writes."
Beloved spouse returned from a business trip, and we went out for a a late afternoon walk in an astounding array of meteorological effects. Back home to enjoy a family dinner, a rare event. The dinner rolls were fabulous.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Desperate furry friends

So cold last night, in mid-April, that both our nutty cats clung to the bed as if it were a life raft upon ice-swirled Arctic waters; even the loonier one, the one who's gradually going bush and spending most of his life beneath the front porch. Now, in early afternoon, Mr. Loony is pressed against my back in my computer chair, inexorably moving me forward by dint of the pressure of his tiny feet.
And yet again I face the hour of exercise, time to run to the gym, and yet again, I am out in front of an enormous black bank of storm clouds. By the time I got done at the gym, it was raining and dark by mid-afternoon. As I headed up the hill towards home, the rain seemed...heavier... and the sky grew darker. If only it doesn't hail, thought I to myself. In the next few minutes, I was able to test my resolve concerning a claim that I have often made:"I'd rather run in a hail storm than spend time on indoor exercise machines!" Down it came, or sideways, in fact, and I ran on, covering my eyes from the assault. Once you are caught by weather in this way, you must keep up the pace in order to stay warm. I got up the hill in very good time. We saw on the news that they experienced golf ball sized hail to the north of us; I suffered only the usual pea-sized stuff.
The batch of bread dough I'd gotten ready for its first rise was ready to form into a braided loaf upon my return. I'd made a holiday type egg bread, with four of our friends' amazingly yellow-yolked eggs in it, as well as plenty of honey. It produced a fabulous big loaf, extremely delicious right out of the oven. There's a wad of dough in the fridge reserved for tomorrow's dinner rolls.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sleep, sleep, sleep...

Plenty was had, allowing for a pleasant day despite its regression into winter. Nothing for it but to repair to the indoor gym yet again, with a single and very outspoken friend. She minces not one word, ever. Good-hearted, generous, yet sort of like a somewhat explosive substance that one never is quite sure of. Oddly, if I speak out as boldly to her as she does to me, she seems taken aback. We have fun, anyway, and probably will go out tomorrow with a mutual friend, one she's known longer, for a refreshing beverage or two at Mona's. He is a tall, lean, athletic fellow who's the one that dared to go to an all female facial peeling party. He's a pretty sensitive guy, and my other friend says women love him for his sensitivity. She comes across as tougher than he does. They, in combination with me, the old straight married woman, shall have a good time.
It's getting colder, and I feel like hibernating with a book.
Oh, let us see what Elizabeth Bowen has to say:
"England - I sometimes feel, in the darker moments - would rather raise, and tolerate, crop after crop of playboys than honour, and take seriously a savagely serious and original mind. There has been a policy - quite, of course, unadmitted and unconscious - of 'Keep the children at play, so long as they don't break anything valuable, until, one morning, they wake up and find they are old men.' England is equally kind to the golden lad and the silver head - both voices are listened to with attention. Maturity, and its claims, on the other hand, almost always creates an awkwardness, a predicament. It seems one too many, in almost all fields of action. In fact, there seems to be little demand for it." (written in 1946)
And round and round and round it goes, over here in the 21st century, in the USA, the Best Country in the Whole Wide World. Only I do not think the current crop of aging playboys and their wastrel offspring can be said to be not breaking anything valuable...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cruel, crueler, cruelest...

Sigh of relief. I am always glad to have negotiated a trip into downtown Seattle and its fringes successfully, with no horror shows on the freeway, or clotted traffic through the city. My mother enjoys going back towards home through the city center, to look at the people thronging the sidewalks, the Seattle Library Central Branch building, which is a very impressive-looking architectural machine for...well, not living, and not really the best design inside for a library, but it of course LOOKS way cool, has to be, having been designed by a very famous and expensive guy named Koolhaus...
Phase one of her dental renewal went nicely, and there were no fainting or falling down spells. While she was in the dentist's chair, I of course trotted around the International District, picking up items at Iwajimaya's, and visiting a small Asian grocery not far from the dentist's office. I was looking for fish sauce, but their stock looked kind of congealed and dangerous. I also passed on the banana blossom buds, but am interested in what they are like, prepared as vegetables. Maybe similar to artichokes?
It grows colder by the minute, and I need to go running.
Not bad, if you keep moving fast enough; and you have all of Green Lake to yourself, other than the flocks of widgeons, ducks, coots and other water birds wisely layed up on the leeward side of the lake. You know something bad is coming when big flocks of seagulls are waddling around on the soccer fields and baseball diamonds. It's only weather, wind, rain, clouds and chill, not fallout.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cruel April

Cranking up the furnace again this morning; what a tension between hopes for balminess and the reality of drippy chilliness. Only way to look at it positively: Such extremes are stimulating.
The echocardiogram evidently went well. I took my mom up to the cardiology department, put her into the hands of the tech, and came back some time later to pick her up. No questions had to be answered, no further information extracted via my translation. I went out and walked in the neighborhood for a bit, stopped into a used bookstore and found a Margaret Laurence novel; she was a Canadian writer, by whom I 've read one novel about an aging woman who "runs away" and gets herself sort of lost, since she forgets why she's left and why she went to the place she gets stranded in temporarily; kind of a nightmarish scenario. Excellent writing. Found a couple of freshly baked macaroons at a local bakery, tender and coconutty beyond description.
When we got home, heard from a friend with whom I climb, and headed over to the gym for a workout. Another friend joined us, and we three women had a pleasant time; beats the hell out of cards at this point in life.
Another tidbit from Elizabeth Bowen, from an essay called, "ON NOT RISING TO THE OCCASION":
"Rising to the occasion: I do not remember that it was ever called that. No, I am sure it was not. There was no name for what one was asked to do - in a way, this made it all the more ominous. A name, the grown-ups may have thought, would have made too much of it - pandered too much to juvenile self-importance. Children, in my Edwardian childhood, were decidedly played down rather than played up. 'Just be natural,' - they used to say, before the occasion; 'nobody wants you to show off.' What a blow to ambition - what a slap in the face! 'Be natural'; really, what a demand! I could scent an occasion coming, a mile away. Everybody was going to be implicated in something tricky. Socially, 'they' were about to turn on the heat. It could be some primitive embarrassment wsa coming a shade nearer the surface than the grown-ups liked. This could have left me cold - had they left me out. But no, on what is known as an 'Occasion', children are useful. One was to be on tap. One would be on view. One would be required, and tensely watched. One would have to express, to register, something EXTRA. "

Ah, yes. Well, perhaps it would be good to bring back Edwardian standards for children's public behavior. One rather likes them.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The angle of the story

So I made a bit of an inroad on Vollman's Europe Central last night, and, unfortunately, some time in the wee hours when I was awake. It's moon madness, the burgeoning moon that keeps me wakeful, wandering around the house. My first rough impression is that Vollman is paying some homage to Tolstoy. There's an expansive quality to the novel which conjures up Anna K.
A day full of chores, including a trip to our bank for administrative things. I had to explain three or four times, as we walked from the car to the bank just why were going there, and then a couple more as we waited for a bank officer, and then some more as we left. Finally, she said she just couldn't keep it in her head, and thanked me for taking good care of her affairs. When we got her tax return ready to send off, she got a bewildered look on her face and said she didn't think she could do that kind of stuff anymore. I reminded her that she did it all after dad started declining, and she seemed to take comfort in that. It's clear that paperwork unsettles her almost as much as impending dental work.
While reading more from a collection of non fiction pieces by Elizabeth Bowen, I encountered what struck me as timeless observations about general malaise in people. She was writing in 1950, not long after WWII, but this could apply, unfortunately, to us right now:
"Are we to take it that our own time has been, from the point of view of its inhabitants, irreparably injured - that it shows some loss of vital deficiency? What fails in the air of our present- day that we cannot breathe it; or, at any rate, breathe it with any joy? Why cannot the confidence in living, the engagement with living, the prepossession with living be re-won?"
She says this, later in the essay:
"IS this an age of frustration - or simply one in which many more people ask more of life? Education, literacy, discussion, aesthetic experiences of all kinds, have widened the boundaries of our selfconsciousness. At its best, democracy breeds the sentient person - it is in the nature of such a person to seek fulfilment. His mind, his heart, his senses stand tuned in, wating for intimations. We are more aware than our forefathers of dissatisfactions - may this not, however, mean that awareness, rather than dissatisfactions, has increased? We give more expression to longings because we grow more articulate. More and more of us are being cast in the mould of those to whom no present time ever has been ideal. "
It's clear that we do not have the best form of democracy, since I think there are decreasing numbers of "sentient" people breeding out there...

Monday, April 10, 2006

New week

With much to do for my mother, relatively speaking. She is having a procedure to get an idea of what kind of shape her heart is in, an echocardiogram, which I am hoping won't be upsetting for her. Worse is probably the dental work she needs to keep her teeth from crumbling further. I feel so bad for her, since she realy hates going to any sort of medical appointments, but in particular the ones with the dentist. We have discussed this, and she's aware of it, and wonders why she gets so rattled by the dental sessions; I tell her, and I do believe it to be so, that no one really enjoys or looks forward to repair sessions with a dentist. We also have administrative things to do, but she considers trips to the bank exciting. Loves watching people going about their business, is fascinated with the outfits you can see down around the University District.
She has some off times, and today's kind of feeling like one, so it's good that the sun's shining today, that it's on the edge of balminess outside, that we have gotten in our first walk of the day, to stave off her mind's fogs.
A daughter of one of my mother's oldest friends called to check up on us. She and her husband have moved to some shoreline area in Maine, from which they can launch sea kayaks. No more Cincinnati, Ohio for them. Excellent to hear from her, and wonderful for my mother. Her friend died last spring, shortly before her 89th birthday; we had been talking to her weekly for more than two years, and when she died, my mother pretty much lost her last good friend from high school. Talking to the daughter was kind of a solace for my mom.
Late-breaking walk, down the hill to Gasworks Park to catch the sunset. Cool, breezy, but teasingly like spring. Interesting the way the micro climates change as you go down the south side of our hill. Bleeding hearts are out down that way, as well as more flowering trees. The cool weather assures that the blossoms will last a bit longer.
Off to get some traction in William Vollman's novel Europe Central, and a spot or two of Elizabeth Bowen's non fiction.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Family evening out

The beloved spouse and I went up to the little tavern and restaurant where our beloved offspring has begun the second of the two jobs he's taken on recently. It's well-known for featuring a variety of musicians, from jazz to folk, as well as for its pizza and area brews on tap. Dear son is doing kitchen prep and assembly, and is still in training. We met a few of his co-workers, who seem very affable. So he's now financing his pied a terre up in Index, which he shares with a fellow climber, and seems pretty happy about his situation.
Beloved spouse is en route to Milwaukee for business, which will include a trip down to the company's Georgia branch, where's there's been some nasty weather. Here's hoping the tornadoes die down for a while.
My longtime climbing partner and I headed over to the climbing gym for a session, since the weather's not good and her time was limited. We're starting to talk about getting up to Squamish again, and want to get outside to work on our trad climbing. We had a good time, and
no shins were harmed in the process.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Just spring

Windy, chilly, rainy, time for some reflection. A blog on my beloved spouse's roll had a bold-faced adjuration against other bloggers making more political observations, that it wasn't worth it, they'd never change anybody's mind, blahblah. Well, I left this post on his site:


We are children of our age,
it's a political age.

All day long, all through the night,
all affairs - yours, ours, theirs -
are political affairs.

Whether you like it or not,
your genes have a political past,
your skin, a political cast,
your eyes, a political slant.

Whatever you say reverberates,
whatever you don't say speaks for itself.
So either way you're talking politics.

Even when you take to the woods,
you're taking political steps
on political grounds.

Apolitical poems are also political,
and above us shines a moon
no longer purely lunar.
To be or not to be, that is the question.
And though it trouble the digestion
it's a question, as always, of politics.

To acquire a political meaning
you don't even have to be human.
Raw material will do,
or protein feed, or crude oil.

or a conference table whose shape
was quarreled over for months:
Should we arbitrate life and death
at a round table or a square one.

Meanwhile, people perished,
animals died,
houses burned,
and the fields ran wild
just as in times immemorial
and less political.

Another fine one by Wislawa Szymborska.

Fine, if you're weary of political rants, comments, observations, articles, analyses, then don't read them. Go hide under the bed. However, the issue of dust bunnies is a highly charged one, so don't think you're completely safe under there...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Healing and cleaning

One hopes the former refers to my wounded leg, and the latter refers to getting my mother to take her bath, and then go to the hair salon. I made the terrible error of glancing at a story about an area man who died, very rapidly, from the ravages of a flesh-eating virus. I thought I was immune to that kind of irrational fear, but it's eating at me, not a virus.
While looking for more peotry to cite, I found this in a collection by another female Polish poet, Wistawa Szymborska. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. The book's title is "view with a grain of sand". The poem is called:

Nothing's a gift, it's all on loan.
I'm drowning in debts up to my ears.
I'll have to pay for myself
with my self,
give up my life for my life.

Here's how it's arranged:
The heart can be repossessed,
the liver, too,
and each single finger and toe.

Too late to tear up the terms,
my debts will be repaid,
and I'll be fleeced,
or, more precisely, flayed.

I move about the planet
in a crush of other debtors.
Some are saddled with the burden
of paying off their wings.
Others must, willy-nilly,
account for every leaf.

Every tissue in us lies
on the debit side.
Not a tentacle or tendril
is for keeps.

The inventory, infinitely detailed,
implies we'll be left
not just empty-handed
but handless, too.

I can't remember
where, when, and why
I let someone open
this account in my name.

We call the protest against this
the soul.
And it's the only item
not included on the list.

Mostly I like this one, although I'm not quite sure I know what she's driving at about regarding the so-called soul. I suppose she's indicating that each of us has it free of charge. A bit too religious-y for me, but I don't get the sense from reading her other poems that she's terribly religious.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Beautiful lines

Well, this bloody stupid internet ether just scrooched my nascent post! Let's see, what was I saying....
Oh - there have been a few folks out there who have made note that it is National Poetry Month, which I think should be celebrated continuously, along with any form of "(fill in the blank) History Month," or any sort of one day celebration of parenthood or personage. I have posted a couple of contributions on sites which called for one's favorite poems, lyrics or lines, and I shall put up a couple of selections here.
These are from Anna Swir, a Polish poet who lived from 1909-1984. She was a member of the Resistance, served as a military nurse in a makeshift hospital during the Warsaw Uprising, and once waited an hour expecting to be executed.
Here is one of her poems:

The Soul and the Body on the Beach
The soul on the beach
studies a textbook of philosophy.
The soul asks the body:
Who bound us together?
The body says:
Time to tan the knees.

The soul asks the body:
Is it true
that we do not really exist?
The body says:
I am tanning my knees.

The soul asks the body:
Where will the dying begin,
in you or in me?
The body laughs,
It tanned its knees.

And here's another:

I Do Not Accept

I renounce this fingernail
already worn
by my grandfather.
This head occupied
for two thousand years
by the bloody body of Julius Caesar.

The dead sit on me
like a mountain. The carrion
of barbaric epochs,
of bodies and thoughts decays in me.
Cruel corpses of centuries
that I be as cruel as they.

But I am not going to repeat
their dead words.
I have to give myself
a new birth. I have to
give birth to a new time.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Another round of routes

The route went up nicely, but I did not. One of our climbing acquaintances offered to climb a few routes after I was finished working, so we merrily started out on a couple of easy leads, warming up before my long time climbing partner arrived. He was well up on one when a hold spun, causing him to fall and me to fly up in the air catching his fall. Nothing I haven't done before, except this time my left shin caught a big hit from a protruding hold. Kind of like the time I whacked it on the pointy end of my friend's Ford Taurus station wagon as we were heading home after an outdoor climbing sortie, only much harder. Nothing broken, hella big bruise developing, nasty-looking hole to the aide of my shin and below the kneecap. If I only hadn't started worrying about flesh- eating viruses late last night... Lesson learned: Even on easy routes, it's a good idea to anchor the belayer if he/she weighs about half of what the climber does.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Clear and cool

So now April tempts us with cheerily blue skies, yet once outside, turns on the chilliness. One can only stay warm via vigorous exercise.
My beloved spouse decided to go document that property I described yesterday. The early evening light was intense, illuminating the huge clumps of euphorbia we encountered on the way to the strange house and its wildflowers.
We put up the photos he took to illustrate the previous post.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cruel and usual

That would be April. Taunting with hints of balminess, then throwing buckets of cold water over anyone who dares to commit to an outdoor activity. So I look for signs which appear regardless.
Not too far from here, on my route down to the University District, there is a large, unkempt but intriguing lot with a Gothic-y old brick house settled in amidst all manner of plant life. The first to appear in their wild sideyard are snowdrops, countless numbers of them, very early in the spring. The snowdrops are supplanted with some astoundingly intensely blue star-shaped flowers; they in turn fade away, as a spreading stand of some kind of curly petaled, bent over pink and white lilies start blooming, way down in the northeast corner of their front yard, beneath a Sequoia tree. It has a companion tree, further north in the front yard, that has at least twice its girth. This tree is so huge, it will probably take over half the front planting eventually, if it isn't logged out. In all the years we've lived here, and all the times I've walked down the alley on this property's southern edge, I've never seen any signs of habitation, nor anyone in the yard. As I looked at the lilies this afternoon, I pondered what will eventually befall this unique little plot.

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Que hora es?

My 88 year-old mother remembered to move her watch an hour ahead last night. I, however, decades younger, did not rememeber to change the time on the few clocks we have which aren't automatically updated by the magic of wireless. Didn't really make much difference, since I have been waking up earlier the last several days, but I was glad to see she was able to do it. Interesting what things stick with her, and which don't.
Although neither of us had slept very well, one of my friends and I managed to get a passable session at the climbing gym early this afternoon. The day had begun pleasantly, so there wasn't a huge crowd, but it's growing gloomy as I sit here.
When I took my friend home, I went in to see the doglets, the chihuahuas, the Ferrari Brothers, Enzo and Dino. This time I avoided the dreaded tongue in the mouth one of them slipped me the last time I saw them. Adorable little creatures, other than their perverted tendency for oral gratification.
And onward with Shirley Hazzard's short fiction.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Calling an audible

Our afternoon session at the climbing gym went by the wayside owing to a key broken off in the lock of an old VW van. My friend's day went up in smoke, waiting for a locksmith. Choring took sway, and I got a couple of lovely loaves of bread baked by the time we needed to leave to meet friends for wine and a bite to eat. We met at a wine bar in a nearby restaurant; had a nice Argentinian Malbec and a Washington State syrah from Syncline Vineyards. The latter went nicely with my grilled lambburger.
The other man at the table besides my Beloved Spouse was suffering from the effects of a chemical facial peel. He had been invited to a party of all women the other night, and the main event of this party was getting one's face treated while eating handmade tamales and drinking wine. I had thought he'd just gotten a lot of sun, maybe skiing or hiking. The after effects of this peel were similar, except perhaps accelerated. He seemed to be shedding as our evening wore on, and in increasing discomfort.
I am less "girly" than even some men; there is no fucking way I would ever do this, unless I were being treated for cancer, or leprosy.