Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bluebird skies

Only got to see them during walks and running; not like I was up in alpine country skiing or hiking, but it was a novelty.
Not buying the benignity of Gerald Ford. He just looked harmless and dopey. Underneath was the mean spirit and cold heart of your average GOP thug.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Free beans

The cafe near us roasts its own coffee beans, and if you are a loyal customer, they give you a free pound after each ten pounds you buy; also a free cup of coffee with every pound. You have to make it past their tempting pastry case, but it's worth the ordeal.
On a round of errands, I decided to go into Whole Foods - also known everywhere as Whole Paycheck - for a couple of skincare items. Sure. That's all. I consider myself impervious to that whole foodie bit, but things were on sale, things like organic cauliflower and vegetarian cheddar cheese from California. Then there was this loaf of wonderful bread I never see sold any place else, and butternut squash ravioli, and gnocchi. Sure, I could make all of those, but they were just lying there, looking alluring. Well, at least I resisted all the really caloric items which help make a cold damp winter more tolerable, and since I was on foot, there was only so much I could shlep home. No regrets.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

All that stuff in the fridge

It came into the house and ensconced itself, and threatens fat deposits upon thighs and bellies; it must be disappeared. I didn't make any of it!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Relative peace

In our little sphere; the morning seemed to confuse my mom somewhat, but a good walk after lunch in unexpected partial sun cleared her head. We wished the neighbors' chickens a good holiday, and decided they were fortunate not to be slated as the main course. I'm not so much a pet bird fan, but these two chickens have somehow endeared themselves to us.
Had a delightful evening with friends, and a good night.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dark day

The cat hates sports crowd sounds from the television; when the sports fan in the house exclaims or yells, the cat is out of here, no matter how miserable it is outside. This has been a day of checking on football and basketball games, and there is a soggy disconsolate feline moping on the front porch, watching the rain. He's getting more sensitive in his middle age.
Relentless rain drove me out of the house for one last run to the store. No crowds, really, and plenty of bubbly available. Time to get the tree up.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cat warming up

Our cat seems to have been sneaking looks at Jack London short stories; he siezes every opportunity to meld his form against ours for maximum heat. Best we can do in terms of love from cats, I suppose.
Late evening hot chocolate run, probably foolhardy. We pass a passle of young guys bopping around to the strains of hip hop blaring from a car. This is atypical of our neighborhood, but then there aren't so many teenagers near us.
Later in the evening, odd strains of Christmas music seem to be blowing up from Lake Union, a mile plus south of us, as well as honking and hooting of...boat horns? Maybe the Christmas Boats were giving a light display down by Gasworks Park.
A noisy night.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Stocking up and taking stock

As is common on holiday weekends, people in the stores, even at our mostly mellow food co-op, are dashing about like possessed weasels. I made a foray there to put food on our table over the next few days, and there were some rude women swerving their carts around, looking tense and cross, yakking on cell phones, bumping into me. If it is such a bloody ordeal to be involved in this holiday, I wonder why they persist? What if more people would decide it really isn't absolutely required that we max ourselves out, decorating, dashing around, acting like angry addicts? Delicious food is a nice thing to be able to have, but this anal insistence on everything being perfect is repellent. Maybe I'm just so grateful our heat's back on after last week that this consumption madness appears obscene; I do think some where down the line, fat-ass America will face shocking consequences for its greedy ways.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Washed away day

Yesterday proved cold, wet and miserable, not much relief for it other than forced errand marching and an excuse to hit up the hot chocolate joint. They have some interesting dipsticks for their beverages which one can buy, such as chocolate-dipped marshmallows on bamboo skewers, and colored rock candy formations for one's tea, I presume.
Today we bagged an unexpectedly sunny late morning, which didn't spill over into my afternoon run and workout; rainy window. Wonder how the kids are doing down in Joshua Tree...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Made for walking

Relatively lovely day, long walk for an old babe,as my mom refers to herself, and good levels of alertness in same; it's probably the little batches of organic semisweet chocolate chips I've been doling out on these wintry afternoons.
Still reading Kawabata's The Sound of the Mountain; he also wrote a novel called A Thousand Cranes, which I vaguely recall from college days. He has created a male protagonist who is one of those universal aging men with problems, could be any race or color. This one's named Shingo, his milieu is post WWII Japan, and he has access to relief from his troubles that American men of a similar age would not have had, such as the comfort of geishas. He's an interesting piece of work, but not one I feel much connection to. I keep thinking of the older Rabbit, John Updike's character in his Rabbit series of novels; men of a certain age, squirming at the parts of their lives that they feel encumber them. It's the opposite of "chick lit", but often more serious.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sparrow swarms

There seem to be huge groups of sparrows constantly thronging our backyard and one of our neighbor's. They like the holly tree bulging over from her side, and if there were any berries on it, have probably stripped them. They are a cheery lot, but they leave their tiny little droppings all over. Every so often, they will fall utterly silent; if you look out to see what happened, there is usually a cat skulking by.
The windstorm provided one good thing: A multitude of downed greenery in a wide variety, which I've been picking up and sticking in my old grapevine wreath form. Wound a bit of stiff wide cranberry and gold-colored ribbon in there, and it looks just like downtown, as someone in the family used to say. A dear friend brought over some cookies she'd made with her teenaged daughter, so I could get a fix and didn't have the temptation of piles of things I'd made lying around. They're very good for breakfast.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Calm after the storm

The endless rounds of trite holiday music blaring everywhere are annoying, so I was truly surprised and pleased to hear and see something new to me performed. It wasn't live, it was a recorded performance from a Jewish temple in Oakland, California, an a capella vocal group and a small instrumental group singing and playing Chanukah music. The instrumentation was violin, cello, hand drum, and a bassoon. The songs weren't the children's favorites such as the dreidel song, or the one about the nights of Chanukah; they were old, very Middle Eastern sounding, in minor keys, lots of quarter tones. It was in the wheelhouse of "world music" that has been most enjoyable to hear lately, exotic to my ear and eye. The bassoon player was excellent, using the horn in more pleasing ways than as some old wag described it, " a burping bed post."

Saturday, December 16, 2006


The power was out at our house for about 15 hours yesterday. We were swaddled in blankets, drinking hot mint tea, starting to get kind of depressed, when it came on late in the afternoon. People on the block were talking about getting hotel rooms for the night, and finding themselves not as prepared as they should have been. The Seattle City Light employee I spoke with said there were so many trees that had taken down power lines, they were going to be working around the clock to repair the damage. He told me there was power downtown, since there weren't trees to knock it out, and we could go somewhere downtown to get warm. My mother told me I should have asked him if we could come sit in his office until our power came back on. She kept her spirits up pretty well.
Terrible tales of damage and death, the worst being a woman who did books on tape for a living drowning in her basement when a four foot wall of water swept down an embankment and collapsed her foundation; it was in a cool little neighborhood near a school at which I used to work. They sent scuba divers in to try to find her, but it was too late.
We just had to stay warm all day, and were jubilant when the furnace kicked back on.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

High waters

The streets are running with rainwater again, into streams, ponds, lakes; the rain's seeping down the backs of our necks. More and stronger winds are forecast, which hardly seems fair.
Errands were diverting, although winding up in the grocery store around lunch time brought on increasingly hard to control sensory responses, mouth watering and near fainting.
The natives at our house are growing restless...
Running was a cold sluicy misery; as I headed uphill to home, it rained harder and harder, until my shoes had about half an inch of water in them. The weather is to turn to hell badly later this evening.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Faith-based fuck-ups

So here in the Seattle area, we have had the ultra-conservative Jewish rabbi threatening a federal lawsuit over "holiday trees" at Seatac Airport, and a later meeting of what's passing for minds which restored the tree decorations and paved the way for a giant menorah to go up next year as well. Dave Horsey's editorial cartoon in this morning's Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper was quite humorous and to the point: It depicted a list of gates, and which religious symbol could be viewed at each one. Frankly, I think these religious reactions are like a bunch of kids arguing over some petty thing, and all involved should get time outs. It even does really go on among children, which is chilling: My sister's youngest, in second grade, was hassled by a little bible-beating classmate who told him that since he was Jewish, he didn't know anything, and that anyone who wasn't "Christian" was going to hell. Oh, and Santa is really Satan - (Well, we've known that for years, thanks to Saturday Night Live's "Church Lady!") He also asked my nephew if his parents were dead - the biological ones are - and when my nephew said yes, the little brainwashed shit told him they were "feasting," by which he meant with the worms. The little future preacher of America then told his little pals they could be saved by praying with him, and took them up to a cubicle to be used for reading. My nephew said nuts to that, and good for him.
The teacher has been informed to keep her eyes open for more of this crap.
One can only imagine how that little "Christian" is bombarded at home with the hypocritical misinformation from his parents.
Merry holy fricking whatever.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Airborne windchimes

Astoundingly and noisily windy last night; I wondered what blew away while we slept. Fortunately nothing, and we didn't lose power.
The big book about the Middle East has been sent to its intended recipient; the man who runs the mailing store is originally from Iraq, and when I told him what it was, he became very interested. One of his kids is pursuing a PhD in Middle Eastern studies, and he thought the tome would make a good Christmas gift for her. Personally, if I were her, anything that smacked of my studies as a gift would be as bad as getting appliances under the tree, but every family is different. I had a friend and neighbor who had a very strict policy about gifts, particularly from her spouse: NO APPLIANCES, as in vacuum cleaners, carpet shampooers, or other sundry cleaning apparati. I still think that's a solid policy to maintain. A little rocket launcher might come in handy, though.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday morning, so dark no one knew when to arise

All by my lonesome with some fabulous cinnamon apple rolls, and everyone else still abed; dangerous situation. At long last people wandered downstairs, and the espresso machine got to roaring.
Later afternoon, when walks were done, got to go for a climbing workout with our son. So much fun, watching a fantastic athlete in action. All eyes are upon him when he's moving up the route;
inspirational for us duffers.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thus far

Dodging rain to get my mother's walks accomplished. As always, she's cheerful and fairly motivated, barring cruel winds.
The only thing I really like about this time of year is finding a few things I know people will really enjoy eating, drinking, reading, or wearing. Found several today for loved ones, and avoided locations where full-on consumeritis might be exhibited. How anyone can actually enjoy shopping, particularly at this time of year, is unfathomable. The music and decorations are mostly cliche and obnoxious, and the sweaty tired greedy faces belong to people who have no excuse for their behavior. They do not really need to be shopping, the whole thing is a house of credit cards. Stop whining about it, don't shop. It isn't necessary.
So easy to solve this stupid mess!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Soggy Saturday

Yet we carry on; hairdos must be done, cats exercised, and necessities procured. We're having visions of gingerbread cookies dance in our heads. Must -resist-urge-to-bake. Maybe a spoonful of molasses will take off the edge.
My mom has been reading the recent Edith Grossman translation of Don Quixote. It has been a bit arduous, mainly because it's a Big Fat Book in hardback. She's not only exercising her mind but also getting a workout for her arms. She just passed the episode in Part Two where Don Q., while watching a puppet show, is enraged by the abduction of a lady puppet by a bad guy puppet, leaps onto the stage with his sword and slashes the puppets to pieces. Despite its length, it's been a good one for her to read, due to its episodic quality which makes it like a huge collection of short stories. She shakes her head over Don Q.'s over the top tantrums.

Friday, December 08, 2006

In the bloody sands

So I took a peek into that Robert Fisk book about the Middle East; so I had to wait around all day today quietly for a repair dude to tell me our ancient dryer has no replacement parts anywhere in this dimension, and read a bunch more of the book. It's terrific. We just decided we'd keep it, and get another one for the family member. The author, Robert Fisk, has this to say about certain warriors in the Middle East: "For 'terrorists,' read 'guerrillas' or - as President Ronald Reagan would call them in the years to come - 'freedom fighters.' Terrorists, terrorists, terrorists. In the Middle East, in the entire Muslim world, this word would become a plague, a meaningless punctuation mark in all our lives, a full stop erected to finish all discussion of injustice, constructed as a wall by Russians, Americans, Israelis, British, Pakistanis, Saudis, Turks, to shut us up. Who would ever say a word in favour of terrorists? What cause could justify terror? So our enemies are always 'terrorists.' In the seventeenth century, governments used 'heretic' in much the same way, to end all dialogue, to prescribe obedience. Karmal's (Babrak Karmal, installed as the President of Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion) policy was simple: you are either with us or against us. For decades, I have listened to this dangerous equation, uttered by capitalist and communist, presidents and prime ministers, generals and intelligence officers and, of course, newspaper editors."
He has hit upon a cold hard point of truth about the repeated blunders which are leading the world into real terror.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dental day

We have a pretty good bus system here, at least serving our neighborhood, but today it betrayed me. It was late, and didn't take me close enough to my dentist's office at the south end of downtown,which made it necessary for me to run, broken field dodging of downtown workers and scoffing of red lights, in order to arrive ten minutes late. Getting home was easier, as I came via the University District, so I could hit the University Book Store. Found that fabulous tome by Robert Fisk, entitled The Great War for Civilisation - The Conquest of the Middle East, which I intend to send off as a holiday gift. Sure wish it weren't 1100 pages long, or that I had purchased it sooner, since I badly want to delve into it...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Just a blur

Another day flew by. On our first walk, my mother and I were ambling along the closest arterial street, when a woman approached us. "I know," said my mom. "You're going to tell me we've never seen her before." Well, yeah, because we haven't. My mother has this strange deja vu syndrome where anyone she sees who smiles and says hello is someone we've seen regularly.
"Well, no, we haven't," I replied. The woman reached us, and was immediately very friendly and funny. She described herself as having a "macabre sense of humor." I liked her for that. She moved here at her daughter's insistence, and lives nearby. She's close to my mom's age. We may have found a friend, if we ever see her again.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Longer nights

Darker walks; lovely last evening, calm water on Lake Union, silvery and reflecting city and boat lights. The shrinking moon soared along, illuminating quilted clouds; so pleasant not to fight against wind and rain as we headed uphill.
My mom and I have decided Al Gore should be immediately awarded the leadership position he was cheated out of, and the criminals in power should be sent to Gitmo to be rendered. Renditioned. Whatever works.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Chalked off

Twas a nip and tuck kind of day, with near fainting and general oddness from the get-go. Fortunately there were distractions and pleasantness, or we'd have sunk into a sloughish sadness.
Everything about the ruling group of this country disgusts me. They gorge on piles of rich fatty foods while mouthing words about wartime necessities. I'd like to see them standing around a burn barrel, heating up a can of soup.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Whacked out night. Will drag self out for climbing workout regardless.
Am glad I did, had a good time over a little sushi repast with my family.
Can't wait to delve into the Pamuk novel once again.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Saturday flew by, with a maternal walk managed in mid afternoon, when it was about as warm as it would ever get. Latish evening pasta repast, at a place where the owner told us amiably that they did make their own pasta, just as the menu declared, and we were welcome to come watch them do it any afternoon. The piano player was enthusiastically doing renditions of what I call "washed up music": Tunes from the past several decades which we've heard covered in places from Yachats, Oregon, to Maui. Sometimes they're sung, more often they're performed instrumentally. There is a vast repository of these songs nestled amongst the walnut wrinkles of brains of a certain age; makes for diverting naming of the tunes.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Small things

Getting over a bug is good; walking out in air smelling fresh from melted snow is nice; and stopping for a house blend hot chocolate after grocery shopping is revivifying and just plain swell. This joint's baristas have the best taste in music of just about any place in town, or any local radio station. The guy working today was playing really hot Latin music, and told me his band covered the particular tune. His band is called Fusion Syndicate, and they are about to cut their first record, or CD, or whatever they call it in these modern times. All of us waiting in line were drawn irresistibly to nod heads, tap feet, sway hips as we listened. I told him he could give salsa lessons.