Thursday, November 30, 2006

Month's end

Extremely disgusted over a newspaper headline which declared that "We've" messed up in Iraq; no, not "we", White(house) boys. Stupid arrogant leaders of the USA. YOU are the ones who fucked up from the start, from pre 9/11. From pre 2000. If at least one of this lot isn't charged and tried for war crimes, justice will forever be sham. We could probably get at least one neocon pundit, for blaming us "hippies" for losing in Iraq. Unfuckingbelievable.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In da freezer

Such cold, it can make you feel miserable when you're fighting off a virus. We decided to go out to a play despite the threat of more snow, which was coming down in its most impressive fluffy-flaked Hollywood style when we got out of the theater. (It was a version of The Great Gatsby, and perhaps because of my foggy brain, it struck me as kind of peculiar, but had its interesting moments.) We took a friend home to her place downtown, then wended our way home on crunchily coated streets and roads; took a few minutes to appreciate the big clumpy flakes, knwoing it would probably be gone by late morning.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

To not sleep, for sure not to dream

One of the numerous viruses swarming us lately has ensconced itself in my head. It's one that makes it hard to breathe at night, which interferes with sleeping. So does worrying about one's offspring getting home from a late night at work, driving on icy snowy roads in this hilly city. I'm grateful for a good powerful espresso in the morning to go with my homemade toasted bread; surprising clear skies help buoy up low energies.
Walking with my mother was a bit nerve racking, since there were still plenty of slippery patches on the pavement, but she saw that sunshine and lack of wind, and was enthusiastic about getting out. She even scoffed some at the low temperature, saying she'd endured far colder ones in Saranac, NY, as a child, and in NW Ohio, where she spent most of her life. Brave words; as soon as there's the slightest hint of a breeze, even in midsummer, she shivers. Something to do with a very old thermostat.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fleeting flurries

Aw, we aren't getting the really serious stuff here in the city. Just wussy little pellets like miniature moth balls. Cold, though, especially when one contains a germ and cannot stay warm.
Very icy this evening, and Seattle's starting to look like Fargo.
Soup's on.
Alison Lurie has written a review piece on Alice Munro for the NYRB, and Margaret Atwood did Richard Powers' latest novel. Two women writers I appreciate doing the reviewing on two other writers I've liked; made for excellent reading.
It's snowing again in Pamuk's fictional Istanbul.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Snowy day

We've been getting blasted with snow since mid-afternoon. We walked a few blocks to a friends' house to help him honor the death of his ninety six year old mother in Nigeria. She had seven children, the eldest of whom is a 75 year old woman, and our friend is the oldest male child, so he's going over there next week to do his duty, which includes buying two cows and feeding a whole lot of people for a couple of weeks. He's a calm happy man, very philosophical about things, and says it's a honor to celebrate her life. He was our son's soccer coach for several years, and displayed great patience in dealing with preteen and teenage boys, a very good test of one's mettle.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The cat on my lap is back

Too much tryptophan, too cold outside, too warm inside; the cat's been trying to herd us into places where he can drape himself on us to keep himself comfortable.
Stopped by the chocolate cafe this afternoon. I think their form of hot chocolate may be my ticket to surviving this winter. No wonder the ancient Aztec higher ups used to drink so much of it, it's quite rejuvinating.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Drowsing on

Even if one is judicious about one's consumption of turkey, one tends to get stuffed with it. Being too full is an unpleasant feeling to me these days, no matter how fine the food. The condition compels me to work it off. Sushi is about all I can face this evening.
I'm reading steadily into Pamuk's novel The Black Book. It gives me a sense of dreamlike experience, as did his memoir, Istanbul, as did his novel Snow. It's surely partly due to his style, but after reading the Translator's Afterward I happened to espy at the back of The Black Book, I am convinced that the Turkish language, even in translated to English form, also plays an enormous part in the atmospheres of these works. Here's but a sample from the Translator's Afterward:
"There is no verb 'to be' in Turkish, nor is there a verb 'to have'. It's an agglutinative language, which means that root nouns in even the simplest sentences can carry five or six suffixes. ('Apparently, they were inside their houses' is a single word.) There are many more tenses - you use one mode for events you have witnessed with your own eyes, for example, and another for anything you know by hearsay. There is a special syllable you can add to a verb to emphasize the active role someone played in whatever you are describing. The passive voice is as graceful as the active voice and rather more popular, with the result that a fine Turkish sentence may choose to obscure exactly who did what. " And a later bit:"The poet Murat Nemet-Nejat has described Turkish as a language that can evoke a thought unfolding. How to do the same in English without the thought vanishing into thin air?"
I would say that you could ask the same question just in regards to writing in English, never mind any translating...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bird Baking Day

Somehow I wound up being in charge of the cherry pie, which I was trying to avoid. I can live without eating pies in general, really, and some horrible experiences with pie crusts make me even less disposed towards making them. They are useless calories, easily avoided. However, I used a vegan shortening called Earth Balance, and it produced a wonderful flaky and tasty crust. We had some cherries left from this summer's crop from the tree in our side yard, which I pitted all by myself, the helper still alseep after a late night. The rest of the feast was delicious as well, even the brussel sprouts, sauted in olive oil and garlic. Since I am a compassionate daughter and not a vengeful one, I didn't insist that my mother eat them, as she used to do with everything she ever served. The parents insisted on clean plates. My approach is, don't make stuff people hate to eat, and if there's something some do like but a few don't, let them know they don't have to partake out of politeness. More brussels sprouts for some of us.
We had a good after dinner walk, under partly cloudy and starry skies.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


They are proliferating, in my pockets, backpack, near the phone in the kitchen; ingredients, supplies, tasks, and they migrate to new lists as they are ticked off. Somehow, though, it's hard to tell what's been acquired or accomplished. The paramount objectives, I hope, are addressed.
Two big loaves of bread are baking, just about done. They are what a nearby French bakery calls "jokos." They are substantial, yet...velvety.
The turkey which supposedly is organic, lovingly raised, and only had one bad day in its existence rests in state on the bottom refrigerator shelf. All seems to be in readiness.
Pamuk's The Black Book is wending its strange way intriguingly, but teh book group's next pick, Moscow to the End of the Line has lost me in the first few pages. The Stranger was enough existentialism for me, this next one is more of it with what seems to be an attempt at humor, and it's not engaging at all.

Monday, November 20, 2006

T-minus three till T-Giving

Glancing at cooking shows hasn't provided any unique ways to deal with sweet potatoes, at least none that interests me. There was one Dutch oven procedure that required a good deal of sugar, but I'm thinking we need savory, not gloppy sweet. I did get real sweet potatoes, not the orange gag-me yams. The mini marshmallow fan may protest, but I'm thinking some kind of grated Italian cheese and stuff will be tastier.
More climbing workouts lately, most enjoyable. I heard a lovely travel tale from an acquaintance at the gym; he'd taken his wife to Italy for her birthday this summer, and they did some climbing in the Dolemites. On her birthday, they did an eight pitch route, had a glass of wine in a hut at the top, then took a cable car down. Rappeling under the influence would not have been wise, it's really the riskiest part of climbing, other than avalanches and rock fall. Sounded like a swell way to celebrate just about anything.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Diluvian times and even earlier ones

There's only so much rain I can tolerate, and November's pushing its luck. There's very little about reigning and its accoutrements that don't strike me as Pythonesquely ridiculous. We happened upon footage of Queen Elizabeth opening the House of Parliament. It isn't as simple as appearing, pounding a gavel or swooping a scepter around, it's a seemingly endless series of inexplicable, even with narration, events. There's the Queen, being barged sedately along to a throne, wearing her purple-velveted crown; there are pages, in outfits that would have driven Foley wild if the US Congress's little helpers had worn them, all gold braid, posh fabrics, fancy-like; there are incomprehensible mentions of the Cap of Something or Other and the Sword of State - a sorting hat and corrective weapon? We'll never know; and there was a wellfed, redfaced older man they kept referring to as Black Rod, who was trundling along carrying, well, some kind of fancy-looking black rod, who was approaching the door to the House of Peers, I think it was, and the narrator informed us in hushed tones more suitable to a golf tournament that the door would be slammed in his face, ceremonially, of course. And so it was! He then pounded on the door with his black rod, and they opened it and out streamed the Peers. I thought some wizened suspicious face would peer out of the little brass-caged peep and demeand a password, but the door simply swung open. A very funny bit was when Black Rod informed the head Peer that the Queen was waiting to open the House, and the Peer fellow quipped," Is Helen Mirren standing by?"
Then off they went to meet the Queen, who nodded with great dignity - well, how else can a queen do anything? - and said, in her fruity voice, something like "Carry on," at which point I could not bear any more of this high hilarity. Last night we watched the end of "Prime Suspect 7", starring Helen Mirren, who, some ways along in the episode, had this exchange with one of her underling detectives:
He: "Well, you're my governor, mum."
She: "All right. And don't call me 'mum', I'm not the Queen!"

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Game face

Rarer than blue moons is a reference to traditional sports here, but an exception is made today. Beloved spouse's home team of Ohio State played a lovely game against the U. of Michigan, and I even watched most of it. Bizarre and moronic, the weight laid on former U of M coach Bo Schembechler's death; it was used as a motivator before the game, and as an excuse afterwards. That's where superstition will take you. It's bad enough in the form of religion, although the argument could be made that football coaches actually accomplish something concrete and even worthwhile, as compared to popes and mullahs.

Friday, November 17, 2006


There have been many of them coming to mind these days: One gets the impression that not enough people really understand the dire straits this poor country has been forced into, the narrowing passages and deadends ahead. The huge price for this disastrous waste in Iraq - I refuse to call it a war, it is a Bush/Cheney-initiated bloody debacle - just seems to be arising as a topic; the gutting of the country's social contract; the erosion of any kind of international relations, pretty much symbolized by the Wiener-in-chief. It's enough to make anyone paying attention nauseated with anger and fear.
Or get out and walk.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Blinding light

From above, inspiring trophy-winning physical efforts by one and all; our cat impressed a friend a few blocks away by following us and rushing up into her yard to nose around. He sprawled in a patch of sunlight when we got home, exhausted from his hike. My mother got in close to seven blocks' worth of walking, and a spanking new hairdo; usual maintenance run and workout for me, under heartening blue skies. We drove around Green Lake, admiring the last few clinging golden leaves spangled against the dark blue water. She always remembers walking around its three plus miles circumference with Dad, the last time being ten years ago. They would walk down there from our house, briskly circle it, and come back with observations about all the intriguing people they'd seen. It was more scenic than their daily walks on the flat streets of our home town back in Ohio, and one of the experiences they savored during their visits here every summer. They'd seen the Space Needle, the Pike Place Market, the zoo and aquarium, ridden ferries over the Sound, but the hikes we took, in Discovery Park, or just down and around Green Lake, seemed to be especially memorable for them. We reminesce about them regularly, during whatever number of blocks that is manageable.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Blowing away

Such weather. My umbrella eviscerated itself as I returned from a hunting and gathering foray.
We walked laps around and up and down the inside of the house, and listened to the gusts attacking the house's southwestern flanks. Made bread, chored around. The stormy day made us feel like a ship caught out on the sea in the dark. The ship's cat showed signs of madness, as he scrambled fore and aft abusing his catnip mouse, tumbling downstairs like a rum-soaked deckhand. Even the nature shows were saturated: an episode of Blue Planet featuring coasts, and one depicting "swamp cats", lions that live in the Okavango swamp in Africa. And always with the imperiled baby animals; it's enough to wrench the coldest heart, maybe.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


For a few hours we had no rain, no wind, and were good to go. More misery is on the way, but for now, we may count the chickens where we find them, usually pecking on boards.
Our son's friend had another gig with a singer/songwriter, so we hied ourselves over there to provide a few more audience members. I was not so thrilled by the vocalist, but it was fun to listen to this young guy's backing riffs.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Outrage: Good source of warmth

So the Fuckwit-in-Chief of the USA declared we should be grateful to have had an election in a time of war; he isn't aware, evidently, that there always have been elections, even in cases of REAL wars. There hasn't been a tarring and feathering of the President and his cabinet yet in our country's history, but we could always rectify that.
Kind of a rough day for my mom, and staying around home was necessary. The weather was raw and wet, and indoor exercise was the best option.
I'm sick of Camus. That old-time existentialism can be nauseating. Almost done with Tim Winton's story collection, and Orhan Pamuk's Black Book is next.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Feting our days

The birthday cake appears to be calving, like those ice fields up in Alaska; large chunks have gone missing.
Our mutual friends' birthday gathering last night was great fun. Good to see several people whom we haven't talked to for a while. One birthday co-celebrant is heading to Ecuador soon with his wife to bag a few mountain peaks, a fine way to mark a half century.
Tonight's installment of the last Prime Suspect production was excellent. Helen Mirren is so wonderful, I think I'd even watch her latest movie about Queen Elizabeth. The UK royals are not fascinating to me, but I bet Helen could sell me.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

1st hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

It's the day of my birth, and always a federal holiday. There's a glacier of a cake waiting to be cut. There have been football games viewed, walks taken, dinner eaten, and there is a party to attend. The political sea change earlier this week was a surge of positive energy to lift me higher on the rocky shore, a swell birthday gift.
And there'll be cake for a few breakfast to come.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Only way to combat the present misery of the outdoors is to have fun indoors. A friend and I took her goddaughter to the gym for a spot of fake climbing. We hardly noticed the sluicing ice water outside, and the concomitant lousy traffic and driving around us.
Camus' - or would that be Camus's? - The Stranger is annoying me. I am dipping into Tim Winton's new collection of short stories for relief from too much existentialism. Winton has some of that, too, but his stories are more engaging. I keep wondering what Bush managed to get out of The Stranger. Perhaps he too is contemplating a period of incarceration. Or maybe he shares the protagonist's utter lack of connection to real life.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Guilty Age

Not enough of the people who've made money from the Iraq disaster, or Katrina's aftermath, from the highest elected officials to the lowliest repo man, will be nabbed, grabbed and made to pay back their loot to the US system. Yes, I realize people everywhere want and need to make money in order to exist, but I firmly believe it is unconscionable to be greedy, to want more than you really need, to literally buy into the insanity of consumption which is grinding away at this planet. Everywhere one looks are examples of unnecessary enterprises and waste, and very little reasonable moderation.
And the human efforts that give any grace to life are shortchanged, like art. If it can't be marketed and made to generate a profit, it's worthless. It's only to be admired if it was costly to acquire, if you can brag about its pricetag. So those moments this evening when my friend and I watched in spine-tingling pleasure as a dancer made her way through bittersweet song and quiet guitar , her feet beating out her story of love and betrayal on a wooden floor, have no market value. Those are the kind of ephemeral moments which add true value to living, not a house full of expensive kitsch.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wave of relief?

Okay, so a few things might work out. California got rid of that fat shit Richard Pombo, and maybe the Dems will show some guts. A big outrageous issue: The corporaterians robbed the country. They need to pay it back, and if they can't be hunted down, held by their ankles and shaken, not stirred, until the money's retrieved, then they shall be taxed until white and anemic. Edith Wharton shall be in the bag tonight.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"Noah...." "WHAT?"

I just heard on NPR that today is the birthdate of Albert Camus. And Joni Mitchell's, too. I share a birthday week with some creative souls.
Trotted over to vote this morning. Our state is probably going vote by mail next year, so this may have been the last trip to our longtime polling location, in the basement of the former Good Shepherd School for Wayward Girls, now a historical building. Although I've always considered this activity to be an honored tradition, in fact mail-in ballots may get more votes in, which pisses off local neocons and their ilk. So I'm perfectly agreable in making the change, unless they somehow figure out a way to mess with the mail. As I left the polling place, a man asked me if I'd just voted. Then he started a little rant about how no one checked for proof of citizenship or picture ID. I told him I'd showed mine; he claimed no one had asked him. I asked him who he voted for the US Senate, and he told me he picked Mike! McGavick, a sleazy Bush mouthpiece, to put it mildly. That exclamation point after the first name was a stupid ass bit of campaign bullshit by McGavick, by the way. I couldn't suppress a groan, and asked him why. He proceeded to tell me he was a small business owner, paid over $30,000 in property taxes, and didn't want to pay any more. Well, we had a civil but intense exchange, and I do see his point about state funding problems, but electing McGavick won't fix it.
And by cracky, the jerk wasn't elected!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Exotic dancing

Saw a poster advertising a performance by the flamenco group we saw a few members of last Friday night. There are several more people in the complete troupe, and it could be a very entertaining evening.
Also read where our lame-brained presdent declared that the results of Saddam's trial - his sentence of hanging - was a sign of an emerging democracy. Holy blazing camel dung. Yup, purdy soon Iraq'll be near as good as Texas.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Snorkeling along

Ah, we are washed by the refreshing waters of recycled melting ice caps again, for days on end. People are already succumbing to the despair of an atmosphere resembling the surface of Venus as depicted in that old science fiction movie, "The Illustrated Man,"wherein a character played by Rod Steiger goes mad when he goes out into the endless rain, suffering its percussive pounding on his skull. Surviving this temporary situation here depends on seizing any break in the weather you can, and getting outside; or if there are no breaks, getting out anyway. Or go inside for whatever aerobic activity flutters your heart.
The stories of Edith Wharton are dwindling. Next selection, via the book group's list, is Camus' "The Stranger." Sheesh. Even naming that title is polluted with political residue.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

So late

The benefit musical event was very good, I only wish there had been more people there for these folks' sakes. It was like having a private concert. At one point near the end of the evening, some friends of the young man in the accident came out on stage: A flamenco guitar player, a flamenco singer, and a flamenco dancer. The singer and guitar player started, into some wonderful song that echoed with Arabic influences. The dancer, a tall elegant and exotic young woman, stood for a moment in concentration, then began her sinuous and percussive performance. We were mesmerized, standing just below the stage in front of them. What I found appalling were some musicians behind the flamenco group who stood there and talked during the entire performance. Rude, and stupid to ignore a gorgeous slice of culture from a very different time and place. People out in the club's big room were talking, too, but that's to be expected in these kinds of venues; I realize they're not opera houses. But to be standing on stage with a group of fabulous artists and yakking - quite unbelievable.
Late night, but terrific music. We spoke briefly with the survivor of the accident, conveying our sympathy. He was so sad. A repeating selection of slides that showed during the evening on large screens told as much of the story as needed, and was confirmed by a young woman who was handing out drawing prizes:
"He was the love of her life."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Warmer, warmer...

And a brief span of cessation of rain, which gave us enough time for a good walk; sure beats indoor calisthenics.
Off to a fundraising musical show tonight to benefit a local musician who was in a car accident that resulted in the death of his girlfriend. Bills still to be paid for them both. He is a guitar player and vocalist whom we have seen perform with several different groups, his main one having been Maktub, the status of which I am not certain. He has done some fine guitar slinging, and I hope he'll be able to resume eventually.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"If your morning didn't start out with rain, you must be somewhere else."

The actual forecast for today, in our own dear Seattle Post-Intelligencer this morning; the rest of the week is a whirl of precipitational descriptors. One must be insanely optimistic to write this stuff, it's worse than making up paint colors.
This is good weather for making bread. Someone in the household has expressed an interest in making granola, too, so it's just gonna turn into a good ole-fashioned bake-a-thon round here. And there'll be another birthday cake in about a week...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Heading for a rainy abyss

Barbie the weather bimbo claims it's going to rain for half of November. We got our derrieres out and about in anticipation of this soggy stretch. Today's little weather snapshot described it as "seasonable." After that comes the thesaurical parade into a soggy autumn.
Deeper into Wharton's collected stories, with an occasional foray into the New York Review of Books; it had a good piece about the history of Australia, entited "Amnesia in Australia," written by Caroline Moorehead. She reviewed and discussed several books, some of them fiction, about the latter of which she observes,"...good, well-researched fiction can also be the most satisfying form of social history." She included a historical work by Robert Hughes which was published in 1986,"The Fatal Shore," which she describes as having "dazzling breadth and sweep"; it concerns the early population - it seems inaccurate to call the dumping of tens of thousands of British convicts upon Australia's shores as "settlement" - of the continent downuder, and the terrible ramifications that continue into this century. I remember reading excerpts of this book, and being afraid to read the whole thing. Now it's out in paperback, and maybe I have enough nerve to digest yet another horrific example of European empire building and its consequences.