Monday, July 31, 2006

Outta town, briefly

My good friend and climbing buddy talked me into going out on real rocks for a bit today. We drove about forty miles east of Seattle, into the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, to a climbing area known as the Far Side of Exit 38, off I-90. We meandered about on climber trails that have proliferated over the past several years, doubling the approach in time and distance since we couldn't remember the exact path. I'd only been that way once, but even though my friend had been more recently, the scenery looked different with more brush, so she really couldn't take the rap for getting us misdirected. Her dog, as it turned out, always headed in the right direction, and heavily marked the trail, like Hansel and Gretal leaving bread crumbs... We ended up with less time to climb, but scampered up a few pitches in lovely cool breezy weather.
Her dog, not trusting us, continued to blaze a trail with urine all the way back to the car.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Itchy and scratching

Still can't make a fist this morning, but have found that the espresso maker is set up for righthanders, which makes me practice on the other side. Nothing motivates like needing that cappucino for breakfast.
Dramatic skies today, half blue and half nearly black. Ran with my arm in the air, and by dinner, could make a fist.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Swollen southpaw

My hand looks like a miniature baseball glove, one that itches and burns. I'm finding out how left-handed I really am. According to our consulting nurse, the swelling goes through several stages. Thus far, they have been: Ugly, uglier, and yet uglier.
Wonderfully cool summer day, marred by a constant need for an ice pack. No more benedryl duing daylight hours, makes me too spacy.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Cooling clouds

Which dissipated by mid - afternoon, providing a fine walking day. Fremont seemed a worthwhile goal, so I strode down to the ship canal to savor the breeze in the poplars and off the water.
When I got home, there was "breaking news" on the TV about a shooting downtown in the Jewish Federation building. The Federation had held a pro-Israel rally on Mercer Island over the weekend, and my guess is they enraged someone over the Lebanon debacle. Turned out to be one woman killed, four wounded, by a Pakistani /Muslim/American, with family in Pasco, Washington, over east of the mountains. Hadn't heard his motivation by after dinner, so went outside to water plants, during which activity I was nailed on the hand by a yellowjacket. It has swollen pretty badly, and I'm feeling murderous towards the perpetrator. Her nest shall go down. We sprayed it well after dark.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


A smorgasbord of horror today, in the paper and the internet tubes. Run, isabelita, run. The wind died down by the lake, settling a temporary layer of hot wet air over the area, and the lake emanated an aura of armpit or something worse. If it doesn't rain, the lake is going to be irridescent and reeking pretty soon.
Lake revolting, running was jolting, the crows are molting. On the way home, I came upon a wicked-looking knife, resembling a serrated mini-machete, laying on a green knee pad. Then I saw a shiny pitchfork stuck in someone's garden border, and realized I'd come across WMD's: weapons of mulching and destruction. There was a strenuous sound of hacking and chopping, and around the corner of the house came a gardener. She had left her arsenal scattered about so any terrorist could have made off with them. Foolishly negligent.
The self-defense introduction was interesting, but just not my cuppa. I realized yet again that I have a hard time with anything that's very structured. This activity had some almost cult-like overtones in its presentation. I walked part of the way home, and as I passed a church, noticed I had to pass under dozens of crows, all lined up on a telephone line and along the church's roof. Would have taken windmilling with my fanny pack to beat them away.
The evening cooled down beautifully. Everything was lovely until I neared the Green Lake boathouse, where a slew of police and medics stood by the shore watching as a team was using grappling hooks from a raft. Didn't stick around to find out what they retrieved.
Off to bed with the New York Review of Books. Interesting art review by John Updike.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wotta day

Another jewel of a day, wherein walks are like mini-vacations. We got a couple of good ones in before a drop in the breezes made our neighborhood too warm for vulnerable folks.
Went to the climbing gym with another friend, who hasn't been for a while. She's been participating in a Korean martial arts from called Um Yung Do, I believe it is called, and tomorrow evening we're going to the classroom to try out their form of women's self-defense. She said part of it consists of making a weapon out of your handbag. Well, being a NON-girly girl, I hate carrying a purse, so we shall see what deadly assault can be carried out with a fanny pack...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Miniature plagues of Egypt

We aren't experiencing rains of frogs, and blood, or swarms of locusts, but we have had a huge outbreak of fruit flies, and I found ants invading under the sink; there are yellow jackets around, mosquitoes, and, we fear, fleas. Let's see, that's five plagues of insects. The blood comes from smashing the skeeters, as well as red liquid if you swat a fruit fly. The final plague would be all the itching bumps and swellings engendered by the bites. Weren't there seven that hit Egypt, according to the Old Testament?
Ran and worked out mid-afternoon, and found this evening to be so delightful that I had to get out and walk. Around 7:30, I went briskly down past the Lower Woodland Park soccer and baseball fields, along Green Lake. The air felt so fresh it was like floating along in a stream. I joined the big passagio around the lake, and since I was walking against the human tide, caught fragments of numerous exchanges and conversations which formed a quick- cut fabric of emotions. I crossed the huge playfield south of the pool building, and stopped in the center; turning around slowly, I took in acrobatic frisbee, soccer, softball, volleyball, and dads getting kids accustomed to baseballs being tossed to them. The grass had just been cut, and the air smelled green.
As I got to our house, I stopped across the street to let my friend know I had had to rescue one of her chickens from a strange cat which had it cornered by her next door neighbors' gate. She had made a raspberry/rhubarb pie, which she insisted we taste. It was still warm, fragrant and jeweled with fruit. We decided that, a la mode, it would also make a fine breakfast.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mad cats, and Yankee gals

We decided to beat the midday sun, and get out right for my mother's walk after breakfast. Excellent strategy, since we made it the whole four blocks. Rico the cat heroically dashed from shade pool to shade pool, and appeared to heave sighs when he realized he needed to move to keep up with us.
Afternoon climbing gym workout with a bevy of similarly insane women friends. Took a while to warm up, but when my friend and carpool buddy had to leave to go pick up her kids at Husky soccer camp, I felt ready to try something hard, so quickly worked on a strenuous problem before we left. It was good to be out of the intense sun and drying wind. Perhaps we should look into developing old mine shafts for climbing when the weather conditions aren't right.
Went out to mail a letter, and kept walking south, down the hill to Lake Union. Many single crew shells dotted the surface, moving like water bugs on steroids. A few eights lay motionless, their crews taking a brief rest before powering up and moving along in their relentlessly regal way. The clogging group was there on the terrace, practicing their moves to the accompaniment of tuba and accordian. The sunset wasn't far enough along to lower the ambient temperature, so Kite Hill didn't afford as much relief as I'd hoped it would.
Walking uphill on the shady side of the street, I felt a hint of cooler air creeping down.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Heat of the day

Not such a great start, my mother was really laboring today on a truncated version of her beloved walk. I think it would be wise to declare this a rest day. Even that guy who won the Tour de France needs a rest day now and then, I told her.
Went for a run and workout. Down by Evans Pool on the northeast shore of Green Lake, the Seattle Super Sonics basketball team and Starbucks, whose owner owns the Sonics - er, used to own them - were having some kind of big hoop-de-doo with all ages of shooters. I'm always astounded to see professional athletes up close. One year, long ago in the '70's, we were walking through the Seattle Center near the venue they used back then and saw a bunch of L.A. Lakers leaving a practice; truly unearthly proportions on those guys. I suppose Starbucks and the Sonics were hoping to spread some little bit of good will, or maybe they were just locked into this event. There was quite an array of hopefuls, wanna-bes and has-beens, all competing for attention and prizes.
Everything was fine until I had to get back up the hill to home. Walking briskly was as much as I could manage.
Late-breaking delicious cool breeze. Warm-down stroll for my mom.
Off to catch the sunset.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Promising start

Down to 70's F this morning, with a sweet high cloud cover. Humidity, low and inside. Squeezed out a couple of walks with my mom, who is determined to get her exercise, even if it's hot. Moderation and plenty of electrolytes are key.
Brain not running quite at speed today, but I could walk away the rest of the daylight hours. We'll see what the evening offers.
Took our son out for a beverage and conversation. Images of the Tour de France on the screen across the bar area prompted discussion of bicycles and riding them, something I haven't done this year. Too many close calls with SUV mirrors in past years made me start to ponder numbers coming up. Talking about our past riding and trips stirred an old interest, so I may reclaim my Peugeot PX - 10 from beloved son to at least add some variety to my fitness practices.
Some people we'd met earlier this year came into the pub, having just finished a candlelight vigil for the Middle East. They'd been down at Green Lake, which is one of several popular gathering spots for all kinds of vigils and memorials, from the anniversary of Roe v. Wade to a recent one in honor of the local mother and daughter murdered while out hiking a couple of weeks ago. The people marching last night have family and friends in Beirut, and are receiving horrific reports from them. Lebanon's people are suffering enormously, yet again, for what seems to me merely being in the path of aggressors. Kind of like Poland.

Friday, July 21, 2006


High temperatures are besieging us again. Perhaps we should get some ice blocks and go grass sledding. The cats keep drinking the water in my pot of Egyptian papyrus, about the only houseplant which has survived my drought-tolerant regimen. Said felines creep from shadow to shadow outside, or camp out in hidey holes they've discovered under shrubs and porches. One still soldiers on with us when we go out for my mother's walks, unless it is so hot that he does not stir fron his fainting couch in the shade.
As I walked back from the Bee Well alternative drugstore, where I get my mom's ElectroMix powder packs to keep her runnin' smooth, I passed a small condo building which had a unit for sale. The agent's name was M___ Furfiord, a woman. Shades of "Dr. Strangelove"...
Oh, it has cooled down mightily, and I bet it wasn't the Perrier and gin that did it. Zephyrs of 80 degree air are wafting into our hot house. Official high today, 97.
As sundown was in progress, we took a walk down towards Lake Union. The cityscape was bathed in alpenglow, facets of buildings rosy and almost iridescent. Gasworks Park was full of clots of people in all possible combinations, from white-haired lovers giving each other affectionate massages, to an assortment of pairs in various stages of attachment, geeky 13 year old boys talking computer games, and a young guy in a "Tommy" teeshirt - "see me, feel me, touch me, heal me" - with a small papier mache skeleton by his side. They were just talking, no funny stuff. the breeze across the lake and around the hill was delicious, and we all faced west to savor the darkening cirrus clouds and distant pink beyond the Olympic Mountains.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Greetings from Beirut

My IM correspondent in Lebanon hailed me again this morning. We chatted a bit about weather - she said it was humid and foggy there - they couldn't leave to go on vacation in the mountains as they normally did, and she was sounding trapped and bored. We informed one another about what we were reading, and I found out that to say "How's it going, dude?" en francais, you ask,"Ca va, mec (or "vieux") ?" The respondee says, "Ouai, ca va." They are ten hours ahead of us, so it was very late for her, but she said it was too early for bed. Ah, to be young, but not there.
Running at Green Lake, the theme was: Mating, or not. Saw two heavy older folks leaning against one another on a bench on the shady shore; a spry elderly fellow in hiking garb legging it briskly and carrying a white birdcage with a peach-faced lovebird in it; a tall lean young guy sneaking up on a dewy-looking young lady in a bikini and grabbing her from behind for a smooch or two. Many older guys, ages forty and up, walking along without shirts on; not conducive to finding a mate! Young guys playing "skins" on the basketball court; they are allowed to doff their shirts.
Ah, blissful warm evening.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rosemary down

Went out to the kitchen this morning to make my cappucino; heard loud whackings near the back steps, went out to find guys cutting down the huge-stemmed rosemary shrub that's been growing back there for several years. The friend who's long gardened in our back yard had evidently told his landscape business employees to remove it, or maybe they misunderstood him, but I was shocked. He and I do not concur on how drastically to prune things. I guess it could be argued that I am too lax, but I think he's quite severe. He does do this for a living, though, so has expertise. I am after all a humble tree-hugger...
Just went out to see what the morning is like, and found that they had somehow gotten the rosemary bush splinted up. It isn't gone, so maybe will heal and survive. He said he wants to put in a smaller one and move it away from the walkway. Well, they do grow back. Kind of like mangled haircuts.
Had yet again good conversation at our Drinking Liberally gathering. We met a thirty-something woman who is an arts lawyer. Sharp as could be, engaging, and has an interesting background. She is in a minority group - well, two, counting being black and female - attended a local private high school that's known for producing the guys who started Microsoft, and which now is hard if not impossible to get into - and engaged us with things about her life and work. She decided to come to the gathering because she said she was weary of meeting up all the time with the lawyers from the third floor of her building for drinks across the street and the same conversations about work. I've met different people every time we've gone to Drinking Liberally, with all kinds of backgrounds and opinions, so perhaps she will find it refreshing as well.
In early afternoon, I received an IM hail from a young woman I've struck up an exchange with via our online book group. She and her parents and sister live in Beirut, and I'd put out a message to her to see what was happening. Her assessment of the situation is a classic distillation of being in a war: Much time spent being bored, interspersed with fear. She is the same age as my brother's older daughter, going to be a junior at university. Very well-read, multi-lingual, and well-spoken. Her family is shocked at the USA's UN asshole Bolton's statement regarding civilian casualties in Lebanon not being as important as Israeli ones. Meanwhile, their lives are seriously impacted in ways the fat-assed shits of America never seem to be. How 'bout if Hizbollah starts shelling Texas?
Off for a gym workout with my main climbing partner and friend. Too nice to be inside, perusual, but we had a limited window of time in which to do anything. We take what we can carve out.
Delightful early evening walk to a restaurant up on Phinney Ridge near the zoo which has long offered New Mexican food. And it was Margarita Wednesday, with slightly discounted beverages. Lovely walk, good grub, and lively conversation with the beloved spouse.
Time for repose.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Flowers in the gun barrels

...and upon the fields where developers want to pave and plunder. Saw a little piece in the Seattle P-I this morning about "suspected sabotage" in Sebastopol, California, based on the existence of an endangered wildflower, Sebastopol Meadow Foam, on a former bean farm doomed to become another field of overpriced megahomes called Laguna Vista. Supposedly there was evidence that the wildflowers had been transplanted to the area illegally, as a "silver bullet" to stop the development. After wrangling around, expert testimonies, blah blah blah, the City Council tabled final approval of the development, and "A mediator is now overseeing negotiations between the developer and residents in hopes of reaching a compromise that could involve a scaled-down version of the project." Well, better than unchecked building, which is rampant everywhere these days. Good for Sebastopol, at least trying to stave off this creeping growth in order to maintain their environment. I've heard contractors whining about too many regulations and restrictions on their business, but based on things I've seen around Seattle over the past three decades, there hasn't been enough keeping them in check. It's a huge issue here, and many other parts of the country. Builders' assocations are largely conservative - surprise! - and pumping money into GOP campaigns like broken sewer pipes. Around here they're trying to get our state supreme court stacked with conservative pro-business judges.
Would that there were some kind of blossom to stop these people...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Meteorological payback

Cooler by tens of degrees, and cloudy, with passing sucker holes; the fabulous weather is gone this morning, covered by a marine push. It feels good to me. Who wants to drive up Aurora Avenue, Route 99, endless strip mall and big box landscape, in breathless heat (our AC isn't working), to search for a toaster oven and fly strips? Lowe's has it all, but I hate going into those "home improvement" monstrositoriums. Not a DIY-er, moi, and these joints bring on instant headaches. Too many types of caulking.
By later afternoon, nirvanaland returned. Made a basic yeasted white bread Italian dough, added lots of sauted chopped garlic and some onion, rosemary and oregano, slathered the pan with olive oil and more herbs, coated both sides of the dough wads, let them rise, then baked them at 425 for a while. It produced what tasted like focaccia but was not so greasy. Perked up the leftover grilled salmon.
After dark walk around Green Lake with spouse and son, much discussion of deep issues. The path was fairly busy with runners and other walkers, savoring the perfect night air.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Miraculous morning

So heavenly outside that even if you just walk around the block, you're experiencing such blissful temperatures and burgeoning blooms you hardly need think of being anywhere else. St. Tropez? Maui? Who needs 'em? (Well, maybe that coolish ocean water, warm air and trade winds in the latter spot could tempt me, if there weren't so many hideous people lolling around on the beach, spilling out of their swimsuits, mostly not in a good way...) Even the chickens are levitating for sheer joy, or at least one of them is.
On my mom's second walk this afternoon, someone down the block was having a little lawn party, complete with champagne and cushions upon which to sit. Just five friends, toasting the intoxicatingly beautiful day.
Late evening walk with the beloved spouse, into the delightful air, the fragrant rose garden, and the bar at the Santa Fe Cafe, where we indulged in a dessert margarita and lively conversation.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Big chocolate cake

The delectable brown edifice is completed. Three layers tower above a humble blue and white dinner plate, their moist dark secrets enrobed in a deep brown velvet coating. It does not need garnishes. It casts an impressive shadow.
Went out for a walk, up through Woodland Park, past the rabbit rocks, above and along the rose garden, and stopped in the Phinney Market for a small bottle of water. This little operation is opening an outpost in our neighborhood which they have named the Meridian Market, and the guy working up at the Phinney store said they were aiming for a Labor Day opening. It's a great place, with a deli, all kinds of tempting stock, even some produce. We used to have a fantastic produce store called M & R, which sadly folded after many years because of a fat-assed landlord who raised the rent on them. This guy has held himself out as a neighborhood advocate, but he drove out an institution. There's a vegan doughnut store there these days, which I could live without, but I suppose it's better than a lot of other things. It will be good to have a market within in few blocks.
Coming back home, I passed a hilly little meadow next to Green Lake. In the lengthening afternoon shadows, rabbits were gathering, occasionally detaching as a bunny-shaped shadow to forage elsewhere. Along the shady edges of the lake, duck-shaped shadows drifted.
The day is lovely beyond description.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Inner chill

A couple of days ago, there was news in the Seattle P-I about two local women who had been found dead up on a trail to Pinnacle Lake in the North Cascades; no names given, but they were thought to be a mother and daughter out on a hike together. This morning the paper identified them. I saw the headline first, and before I opened the front page to read the piece and see their photo, felt a ripple of cold on my spine. We have been here for over thirty years, and it is always a possibility that the people who are affected, particularly in outdoor activities like kayaking, biking, hiking or climbing, will be someone we know. Horribly it was so in this case. The woman was a fellow preschool parent decades ago, and I had her youngest daughter, who was not the one killed, in a second grade class in the early '90's. Her husband was our son's soccer coach for a couple of seasons. The case is being handled as a murder, with not much of anything to go on for the public. My thought was they ran into some meth producers. There was some mention of drug and people smugglers as possible suspects. It's being reported as a very rare crime in the Northwest woods, but I have to wonder if it's a harbinger. As the "wilderness", where even now it is difficult to find any place unmolested by humans, is stripped away, more than black bears will be on the prowl.
A day spent toiling, mowing, pruning, lugging, and enjoying the paradisical weather. Tomorrow morning I will bake a chocolate cake for my friend's birthday. Tonight, I shall refresh myself.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cucumber cool

Shades of gray all day, and occasional drops. Once again I went up to walk my friends' dogs, and once again they ran out enthusiastically only to balk at a spattering of moisture. I am a cat owner, and not a dog person, and dog behavior is so strange to me. Every splotch of birdshit and who knows what in the grass at the edge of the street act as magnets for dog noses and tongues and mouths. Even the wet spots left in the wake of a garbage truck draw them irresistibly. I found myself being uncharacteristically imperious and yanking the little darlings away from various nasty items. The chihuahuas dragged me back to their abode, and I unhitched them and gave them their vegan treats.
It's 5:30, and it's been raining gently for about a half hour. I wish it would whup up a storm down in California, where a lightning-engendered blaze has consumed about 40,000 acres near Joshua Tree National Park. Our son told me they have had fires there before, but I find myself hoping it heads towards the golf courses around Palm Springs, and leaves the park alone...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Shadow of rain

Wonderfully cool and threatening to rain, yet it never does. The Ferrari brothers started their walk enthusiastically, but grew increasingly resistant as about three rain drops fell. We about-faced, and they ran like wild things the few blocks back to their house. We had a spot of indoor "playtime", during which I mostly prevented them from eviscerating one another. I've never seen them draw blood, but the younger one is going into, uh, adolescence, and willfully challenges his older brother, resulting in hair-raising sounds. Astounding that such small creatures can produce such a terrifying volume of snarls and blood-curdling barks.
Late-breaking climbing gym session, a fine diversion on a chill day. When my friend and I got there, a couple of other women we knew had arrived, so we sort of paired off according to size. The woman I was with is even shorter than my 5'3 1/2", and claimed to be thrilled at having a climbing companion she could actually watch to figure out routes, but even a couple of inches gives one a completely different range of possibilities. Short climbers benefit by being strong and resourceful, since we can't always reach the holds like taller people can. My hands are very strong from crimping on small things to work myself up a route.
We climbed until we were noodle-armed, and headed out under clearing skies. Beloved spouse and I walked out for a bite of sushi and a stroll in the evening air, which felt more like fall than mid-July. Beautiful and strange clouds, and a crystalline clarity to the atmosphere.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

How cool I am

From the cloudy days lately, during which the skies appear to strain in vain to rain. Shades of Cyrano, picking his rhyme scheme...
We resumed our attendance at our local Drinking Liberally outpost this evening. Talked with several local writers, which is always fruitful for me, as I hear explication about various topics, such as why newspapers are fading away as a source of information, and get a view into their workings from people who used to write for them. There was discussion about news media going completely electronic, but after reading about former Italian PM Berlusconi's uxorious take-over of almost the entire media network in that country, and thinking about how we're headed that way in this country, I think it is important to have some Gutenberg presses around in garages to make sure we still have options...
New folks show up at Drinking liberally. Last night a young guy only six days in residence after moving here from Boston came over and intrduced himself. He and the beloved spouse had a satisfying exchange over sports, and it turned out he's a formally trained musician who's interested in arts education. You never know who will be there, but we always have great conversations with the people that we meet.

Monday, July 10, 2006

"I am amazed, and know not what to say."

That line is, according to a long-time actor for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the most useful one for a Shakepearian trouper. When one of your fellow actors forgets a line, you say those words, and it puts the burden back on the other one to get going again. That's the way I felt all day, only I was truly amazed and outraged at the endless flotsam and jetsam out on those internets, the bottomless upwelling of spew from our so-called US leaders and their rafts of minions. Not just feigning amazement, or waiting for someone to do the right thing by carrying on productively, I was sickened unto horror.
This is starting to sound like an Edgar Allen Poe passage.
I shall now go dip into a cask of amontillado...

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Pleasant family day, people getting on track. Out in the world and our poor ruined country, too many outrages before me and at the periphary to choose; kind of like being at some function where the buffet table is loaded with pork rinds, fried pies, buckets of KFC, jello molds, lard-laced pastries, crappy soft white bread, casserole dishes full of canned vegetables smothered in melted Velveeta, with Hawaiian Punch and Bud to warsh it all down. Sickening, nothing to eat.
Going running to get the hell away from the news today.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Real life again

Back with the laundry, the cooking, the re-stablization of my mom. She gets kind of off-course if we're away more than a weekend, so I, her life coach, have been working on tuning her up again. Good walks, plenty of our magic electrolytic solution - sort of a chemical fairy dust - jollying and joking, and she's back to what is normal for her these days. It was good to have everybody around the dinner table this evening, and to chuckle over a few goofy British comedy series later on.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Our delightful week in Ashland, Oregon is over. Our last play Thursday night was "Cyrano de Bergerac", and a rousing and lovely performance it was. There were thirty or so actors playing multiple roles on the outdoor Elizabethan stage, in gorgeous costumes and fine fettle. The guy who played Cyrano was magnificent. We learned at the backstage tour Friday morning that he goes through prosthetic noses at the rate of one about every eight performances, so they had to have a box of noses ready for him during this play's run. ("It bleeds - the Red Sea!") I read Cyrano in high school French class, and had both French and English versions to work on my understanding. The translation the Oregon Shakespeare Festival used was excellent, and gave a good sense of the poetic quality of Rostand's work. The character of Cyrano struck me as not just outrageously comic, but as a standard for personal integrity. He wouldn't stand a chance in today's social cesspit.
Beloved spouse and I got a bit of a hike in the early afternoon before the play. We drove up to Mount Ashland and headed out four miles along the Pacific Crest Trail where it goes onto Mt. Ashland's flank. As we drove up the mountain road, we were in heavy clouds, which disappeared as we got higher. The trail went through spruce woods, alpine meadows, over little creeks and rivulets which created tiny seep gardens full of orchid-like flowers, shooting stars, as well as several I couldn't identify. At the midpoint of our hike, we were on an alpine rise high enough to catch a band of passing clouds. Shreds of mist drifted over and around us, creating alternating warm and cool air and varying visibility, an intensely stimulating sensation.
We got back to an equally lovely climate in Seattle, with more perfect days ahead.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Misting up

We awoke to gray skies here in Ashland, Oregon, unprecedented cool air for all the 12 years we've come down for plays and recreation. Mists obscured the quilted hills to the east, and the higher summits of the Siskiyous to the west. Refreshing breezes wafted about all day, halting the transformation of my skin into jerky, at least briefly. We moved our quarters to another little domicile belonging to the rental outfit we've used for the last two years, and dashed off to an afternoon play, which was an unexpected delight: "Intimate Apparel", by Lynn Nottage. It was set in the early 20th century, and had mostly black characters struggling to make a living in NYC: A seamstress who made fancy undergarments for mostly an affluent clientele, her landlady, her friend who was a "burlesque performer" ( and prostitute), the seamstress's correspondent cum husbnad from the Carribean who wanted to escape working on the Panama Canal, and an Orthodox Jewish merchant from whom the seamstress obtained her fabrics. Perhaps this doesn't sound astounding, but Nottage's storytelling, language and deft touch moved me.
Tonight my beloved spouse and his mom went to the outdoor theater to see "The Merry Wives of Windsor", which I have seen before and didn't want to see again. They are in the front row, the "spit zone", as it is called, and I'm sure are having a great time. We go to "Cyrano" tomorrow night, our last play.
I am recovering from a very late night, poor sleep, and am lying low in the new digs. There's a train going by in the distance, but it's been very quiet and relaxing. This town has cicadas during the day, and crickets at night; minnows in the creek, and turtles in the duck pond. It also has denizens spouting rafts of alternative weirdness, but also demonstrating a fair amount of tolerance for diversity. A fragile ecosystem indeed.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Forth with the Fourth

Ashland, Oregon has a parade on this holiday, like many small towns. Theirs, according to a young woman I spoke with at a bakery yesterday, reflects their political feistiness. I took a peek at their parade this morning while on my way to the Ashland Co-op, a wondeful source of great food...and they also stock maple butter. All at lower prices than the co-op in Seattle. I happened to stop between grandstands set up for senior citizens, and stood next to a seated woman who told me she was in her 90's, and had lived in Ashland for about 50 years. "Every kid who ever lived here has been in this parade," she said. Her last participation was marching with a group representing the local library; she said they marched along, clapping books together.
There were a couple of fighter jets swooping over to signal the start, and a little squad of motorcycle cops from Medford, making tight circles and running their sirens and lights. Then came some town dignitaries, including the president of their chamber of commerce, who literally had a pom pom in one hand which he brandished as he exhorted the crowds to cheer. Perfect embodiment of booster mentality. Not too far behind him was the governor of Oregon, on foot. Ted Kulongowski, I think is his name. I wondered why he chose Ashland for his photo op. The Ashland city band marched by, playing Sousa, and some kids' groups. It was so hot, the mood palled, so I left without seeing any political statements.
On our way up behind Lithia Park for a hike, we saw the city band playing again, nice wholesome family fare. On our way back from the hike, we heard very different strains coming from the park bandshell. A metal band from Medford called Hind End was working hard and really rather well. We stopped again, and appreciated their energy. Unexpected in that setting, definitely.
Tonight's play was King John, and it was excellent. Every character had good lines, and there was bitch slapping and weaselry galore. King John had some fine death scene lines.
Ah, to bed, perchance to dream.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Thus far, we've seen Shakespeare's "Winter Tale", "The Diary of Anne Frank", "Bus Stop", and Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest." T'was my third viewing of Winter's Tale, and I was surprised to find myself appreciating most of it. Bus Stop was good, Earnest was all right, but the biggest gut check was Anne Frank. I read it long ago, when I was the same age Anne was when she first had to go into hiding, 14. Saw a movie version of it. Was not prepared for its emotional impact, seeing it now at age 55. Felt I would dissolve with weeping. The Oregon Shakespeare company is so talented, and the productions so excellent, that almost anything would be worth seeing, unless it's Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet for the umpteenth time.
Tomorrow night we see Cyrano de Bergerac, then King John, a rarely performed work of Shakespeare's. My last play will be Intimate Apparel, a new work by a playwright named Lynn Nottage. A dreamland of drama.
Exit stage left, chased by visions.