Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Strange behavior

Full moon waxing must be part of it; I saw things last night on a little errand to a local convenience store that seemed inexplicable. One involved an angry man, who looked as if he were trying to break into a van. He started yelling,"Open the lock! OPEN THE LOCK!" As I passed, I saw a grim-faced woman sitting in the front passenger seat, staring stonily ahead. When I reached the store - affectionately referred to as "the ghetto mart" by some waggish people in the neighborhood - the owner was engaged in some odd and potentially dangerous behavior, which he called "the penny game." A certain beloved spouse of mine will have more to say about this at his joint, Perils of Caffeine in the Evening. Let me just say it involved a golf club.
On my way home, the van was still sitting there, with the stony-faced woman also still in her spot, staring motionlessly. The angry man was nowhere in sight. A cat yowled in the distance.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Frosting on the street

Our street always stays frozen in wintry weather, and our side of it even longer. The moss at the edge of the sidewalks was treacherous morning and night. Pretty sweet days and nights, thanks to this chilly clear-looking air. (It's actually pretty lousy with pollution.) Dragging our cozy butts out for a night time walk; if'n we don't, springtime-aimed fitness recovery will not be pretty. All one wants is real frosting, on everything edible.
The backyard is still too hard to dig up.

Monday, January 29, 2007

My baby's baby

The cappucino-soaked laptop has returned, shiny and functioning. The DHL guy said he has had to pry laptops out of grieving owners' hands in order to get them to the laptop emergency room. Maybe those white blood cell-sized memory storage devices I just read about can't be marketed soon enough.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Good times

Last night we met up with several friends and acquaintances for some wine tasting and conversation. One man who was visiting from California told us he was a researcher in Antarctica, collecting data on seals and penguins which in the long run provides information on the environment. He spends three plus months there at a time. Fascinating to talk to him about the land down there, the animals, and the human interactions. Antarctica is becoming more popular as a tourist destination, although fortunately for the animals, the tourists stay mostly on the tour ships. Maybe it's one of those tourist tick list experiences. Spending tens of thousands for that doesn't appeal to me, but if hot flashes never subside, I could see heading to the South Pole for relief, rather than some place tropical.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Grasshoppers on the march

So the fricking sun has been showing its face, and off we go, walking about rather than doing our chores. Ach, I am so weary of even contemplating the chores, and am trying to figure out a way to motivate our offspring to do them...
We had a lovely walk and stopped at a favorite coffee shop for a beverage and a shared pastry, a bear claw filled with a kind of baclava filling and drizzled with...gasp...a maple icing. Fired us up for the big hill to home.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Beauty and the beauty shop

We've visited the new location enough that it's starting to stay in my mother's memory. Having the fellow from the old shop come up and say "ciao" to her in his unidentifiable accent - I think he is Swiss, and speaks a few languages - and ask after her in his courtly manner helps. It's a quiter place, which I appreciate if I sit and wait. No extremely loud ladies of a certain age blaring on about brain tumors and such.
Kiran Desai's novel The Inheritance of Loss is quite good. It garnered a decent review in the recent New York Review of Books. I was a bit concerned it would be one of those "international fiction" exercises that are sometimes awful, but it was original and intelligent. E.B. White is reported to have answered, when questioned about his stories' sources, "Oh, I never look under the hood." I got a sense of that from Desai's book. Now I'm reading a collection of Carol Shields' short stories. She was born and reared in Chicago, but lived most of her life in Canada. Died a few years ago of cancer. I'm liking the short stories better than the novel of hers I read, The Stone Diaries.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Run around

Working on the fitness thing, despite the lousy weather. Fat never sleeps.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A tale of two kitties

A few weeks ago, a very perky yellow tiger cat with white patches came zipping up to us on one of our walks. His name tag bore the moniker of a cat of ours that died last summer. We don't buy into reincarnation, but it was kind of odd to have him join us and our surviving cat on a several blocks long walk. His name tag included his owner's address, so when we got back to our house, I returned him to his residence a little over a block away. He immediately ran back to our house with me, so I just went inside and ignored him. Our cat was incensed, and tried to run him off. This episode has been repeated a few times.
The other day I ran into the tiger cat's owner, a woman I'm acquainted with, and told her about her cat. She said it didn't worry her that he walked with us; in fact, he has waited at a very busy cross town street near her house to cross, and shown up at a hardware store about seven blocks away, where they now keep treats for his visits. She's also had some calls on weekend nights, from people drinking at a tavern several blocks in the opposite direction. They have told her that her cat is at the tavern, having a good time, and that if she isn't worried, they'll drop him home later.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cures for blues

Yesterday was the most depressing day of the year, according to a psychology feller over in the UK. Today is National Pie Day, during which we are urged to consume pies. How about using pies, in order to combat the blues left over from yesterday? And what better way to USE pies than at a screening of the SOTU blather this evening? Wiping that wide screen TV off after every salvo will get messy, but it would be kind of amusing and liberating to whack that POTUS and his grimacing puppet master with a mushy one.

Monday, January 22, 2007

What choice?

Do we have to fight, YET again, to protect it, regarding women's healthcare? We battled in the late 1960's for safe legal abortions, if they were necessary, as well as confidential birth control options and public women's clinics. This sliding backwards into 1950's morality over the issue is terrible, and yet another bit of evidence pointing to our degeneration as a country, let alone as a species.
May Madame Pelosi lead the charge against this onslaught of imbecility.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Whatever it is, it's difficult to pin down; may as well take a walk. So off we went, and stopped for pizza on the way back.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What can be done?

Overcoming winter inertia is challenging. It's tempting to hunker down. Firing up the oven for baking bread and roasting is a therapeutic version of necessity.
And more reading.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Is it morning?

Dim, dark, dismal, dreary; but it's hairdo day for someone, so we'll brave the moors. There's always hot chocolate to be had.
Had a swell evening with several friends over wine and conversation. This particular mix of people is alert to the world, and most enjoyable to meet with. No pretentiousness or need to one up others, making for great company.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

No mucho

What to do with a huge butternut squash? Roasting with potatoes and herbs was good; grating with yellow spuds and onions, mixing with an egg, milk and semolina flour and baking for a while to produce a gigantic pancake was even better. There might be enough left of the squash to make soup. We should try to grow them this year.
Snow's gone, but a damp deep chill remains.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cold mush

Walking is frustrating, the surfaces are covered with half-frozen mush. No fun any more in the shopworn snow.
Interesting that anyone suspected of being "liberal" is under attack from not just the rightward jerks, but from people claiming they are true leftists, antiwar, etc. All these people want "action." Like what? Big peace marches? What does that do besides make the participants feel as if they've done something? No one in power pays any attention to people's protests these days, and the "MSM" abets this willful blindness. The marches of MLK Jr.'s time were supported by the people they were in aid of, blacks, here in the USA. A march protesting US occupation and destruction of Iraq is not going to have everybody in support of it, especially not from the military sector. The upper echelon military people are profiting from the Iraq debacle, along with Bush and Cheney's cronies, the lowly soldiers are making the sacrifices, or "investment", a la Condi Rice. All claim they must obey their Commander-in-Chief. I'm appalled at how few people don't seem to think about or care much about the people of color in Iraq, the Iraqi civilians, and their losses. So easy to dismiss them as terrorists. And they're not here, in the US of A. Would that we could bring the many displaced Iraqis, many middle-classed just like us, and put them into the homes of people who smugly sit and feel safe about "fighting them over there." Would that faces could be put to the suffering.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A taste

We shared a flavorful and unusual dessert the other evening at a nearby sushi joint. It consisted of what could be called sweet potato-filled spring rolls, arranged with some very good vanilla ice cream, some red bean paste, sliced strawberries, and a garnish of mint and a honey-like syrup drizzle on the plate. I've had red bean paste-filled cookies and buns before from a Chinese bakery in the International District here, but it was not a memorable experience. This particular array of flavors was wonderful, though you can't really eat ice cream with chopsticks.
Walking along the lake, you could see ice forming on the water next to the shoreline; calm icy air.

Monday, January 15, 2007

And then -

Once again, spent part of the day catching up with friends at the climbing gym. Teachers, parents and students are among them, who've been on a string of snow days lately, pushing their end of school closer to July 4th than ever before. More snow coming tonight. We don't mind, the cold dim mornings are great for snoozing.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Still in the icebox

Treacherous to run; wherever there has been shade all day, the ground is icy. Many people circling the lake in late afternoon sunshine, making the run like a video game of dodge 'em. New year's resolutions in action, and I applaud them; just don't want to get knocked down.
New book begun, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. Thus far, it's very promising.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Weekend freeze

Sliding along on the ice and snow; kind of miserable. Late evening call from friends, so we skidded down to meet them for conversation and a bite of something. They are hosting a teenager from Lebanon for the year, and have thrown themselves into rearing a kid at what can be a difficult age. It sounds as if he's not rebellious, though, and they enjoy his presence. Just a little thing about homework now and then. I applaud them for sacrificing their personal serenity via this act.

Friday, January 12, 2007

ice ice baby

We pick our way around treacherous patches of ice on the sidewalks; the blue blue sky and calm air make up for the risk and the cold. The day flits away from us, we attend to correspondence and housekeeping details.
Ali Smith's Hotel World was all right, not wonderful. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is all right, not mindblowing. Not sure how these two little novels will generate much thought-provoking discussion; maybe their social issues will. Both are UK authors, the first from Scotland, the second, a Japanese-Brit who wrote the very good Remains of the Day. Guess I'm in the mood for something meatier.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Classic words

Some of those choice ones I mentioned coming across in Edith Wharton's collection of four novellas called Old New York; these are from a story called "The Spark", in which the narrator is comparing a character he admires for having been fully aware of certain experiences in his life, to the way "...some famous figures, puppets of fate, have been tossed from heights to depths of human experience without once knowing what was happening to them - forfeiting a crown by the insistence on some prescribed ceremonial, or by carrying on their flight a certain monumental dressing-case." Love that last bit, certainly applies to our criminally bad POTUS.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bugs to the right of me

Just need to burn them out, via exercise.
Shan't be listening to/watching the Liar-in-Chief this evening, or I will have a relapse or incidence of extremely violent nausea. Aghh, just heard his inimitably awful voice! Our TV needs a Shrub governor to avoid these occasions.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bugs to the left of me

Too many to battle, so one resides in me. Like the old Ogden Nash poem, "The Germ":

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Oh dear

The bowl game did not go well. Even the sweet little old lady who lives here was calling for mayhem some time in the first half; alas, it never materialized where it was needed. I dug up yet one more Edith Wharton work, Stories of Old New York, four novellas published in 1929. Plenty of toothsome vigor on every page.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

No, not more high wind...

Another blowing day, and more in the offing, along with what is called an "Arctic push." A surge of very cold air from the North Pole. It was a good day to take refuge in the indoor climbing gym, which was packed with people, many of whom my climbing partner and I had not seen for months. Several young ones are still in graduate school, others have kids growing speedily. Swell to see them.
The Buccaneers is done, as is The Black Book. For once I am short on reading material, so it is time to head bookstoreward.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I see blue skies

Or was it but a fleeting illusion? Fleeing was more like it. We had a little family sushi feed at a new-to-us place within walking distance. They had some items I'd never seen before, although I'm not an expert. One particulary delectable plate had king crab wrapped in sockeye salmon, with a lime-chile sauce that was slighty sweet and sour, and nicely hot thanks to fresh jalepeno bits. We decided that was dessert.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Will my hairdo blow away?

My mom braved gale force gusts to get to the hair salon today. We parked almost a block away, and when we blew in the door, her stylist scolded me in her quiet way for not parking right out in front. That would have entailed a perfect parallel parking job into the one tight spot available, right on 45th Street, which is one of the insufficient number of cross town routes in this part of Seattle, and is always busy. I'm good, but not that good. Under pressure I tend to get klutzy while parallel parking. My mother remarked that she thought the wind was invigorating, and off they went to the sink. The wind was at our backs on the way home.
Someone made off with a plasticized kidney from a bizarre touring exhibit featuring preserved Chinese cadavers in various poses, purportedly celebrating the human body. This kidney, a child's, was in the "hands-on" part of the show. There has been controversy about the origins of the bodies, and there is mounting evidence that the Chinese government used executed citizens and such to come up with enough for what looks to me like a somewhat grander version of a freak show tent in a traveling carnival. At 25 bucks a pop, it's proving quite lucrative for the people running it. That kidney is still out there, and the exhibit operators are claiming it's worth $1,000. There's a $10,000 reward! The operators are being noncomittal about where the bodies actually came from. My spidey cynic sense is tingling, and I think these guys are shady. But hey, that's the 'free market" for ya. And those cadavers are the perfect workers, earning 0 bucks per hour.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Old contacts

A friend from years past has been in contact, and we managed to meet at the climbing gym for a little afternoon workout; had a good time catching up. She's getting involved in canyoneering, an outdoor activity which at its most challenging, requires knowledge and use of all kinds of techniques, from swimming to rappelling. After a couple of adventures with a friend, she said she realized that if something happened while they were way out in some slot canyon, there would be no one around to treat any injuries, so she's going to take a wilderness first aid course pretty soon in order to be better prepared. I asked her if she'd ever read any of Edward Abbey's desert writings - now there was a feller who'd canyoneer buck naked with a bottle of hooch and write about the landscape evocatively - but she'd never heard of him or the Monkey Wrench Gang. I hestitated to enthusiastically recommend Abbey, since he had some obnoxious views on various issues, such as illegal Mexican immigration that he was hollering about back in the 1970's; my friend is young and would likely be offended by Abbey's sexist and biased outbursts, as I was, and I'm not young. But he's worth reading for his passionate descriptions of vanished areas, such as Glen Canyon in Arizona, now drowned under Lake Powell, and his strong stance on preserving wilderness. We ain't got much left.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Everyone seemed to benefit from a respite from the wet. We actually got ecstatic for about two minutes when we felt sun on our faces on a noontime ramble.
We watched most of a public TV special on Annie Leibowitz; intriguing to look at her old photographs from the early Rolling Stone Magazine days. The rock musicians were so young I couldn't always identify them, and I have no idea what was going through my mom's mind as she gazed upon Fleetwood Mac tangled up in satin sheets on a California King. Leibowitz started out after high school planning to be an art teacher, but after going to art school as a painting major, she switched to photography and her life's trajectory took off. Interesting that every one of her subjects, from Mick Jagger to Yoko Ono, commented on her ability to become unobtrusive, thoroughly unnoticed as she clicked away at their lives. "Annie Lou," as her mother called her, remarked during a session with Mikhail Barishnikov that the camera wasn't "the truth." Something to ponder.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Spankin' New

While up in B.C., a friend and I tried what is benignly termed "skate skiing." THEY say, if you can ice skate, you can skate ski. I say, hogwash. It was far more difficult than regular cross country skiing, and in very little way resembled ice skating, which I learned to do shortly after I began to walk. We tried, heaven knows, we tried, for three hours, to emulate the lean lycra-clad beings who zipped by us, skate skiing. We couldn't obtain a lesson, as the instructor, Savio, was fully booked on New Year's Eve day. I waggishly enquired if Fabio was available, but alas... So we were on our own. Ah, well, we earned our delightful dinner that night, a boulliabaise chockful of all manner of delectable items, as well as a host of wonderful side dishes and sufficient amounts of champagne. The youngsters who had spent all day at Whistler/Blackcomb struggled to stay awake until midnight, but we elders were bright-eyed and cheery as we ushered in '007.
We spent a couple of hours on New Year's Day swimming, hot-tubbing, and some went into the sauna at the Squamish public pool; I messed around on the "Sky Ladder", a contraption the lifeguards lower over the deep end upon request, which involves climbing hand-over-hand up a knotted rope out of the water to a double wooden monkeybar/ladder set-up, which I went through and around a couple times until reason argued that if I did it one more time, I might dislocate something; great fun.
We decided we wanted to conquer skate skiing somehow, but we'll see if we get out again this winter. Brute strength I can still do to some extent, but I'm wondering if acquiring more technique is too much to expect.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Outta town!

We spent the weekend up in Squamish, British Columbia, at friends' vacation home there; had a great time! Happy New year to one and all.