Monday, April 30, 2007

Vitamin D

Theories around our deficiency of it out here in the cloudy, chilly, drizzly Pacific Northwest: Connections are being made between lack of sunshine and resulting D deficiency contributing to several bad things, such as MS, cancer, depression, etc. So we roll up our sleeves and avoid sunscreen early in spring, at least for about ten or fifteeen minutes.
Carter's Wise children is wittily crazily fun.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Climb time

Had an energizing climbing workout with my dear friend who's going to see a surgeon this week. Fun to put cares away and throw ourselves into it.
Started Angela Carter's last novel, Wise Children; another wild ride lies ahead. If she were alive today, she would be bubbling over with fierce amusement at the latest sex scandal in D.C. What a bunch of wankers. Oh, we already knew that. Oddly, this may be what nails them, something that in the greater world is meaningless, unless you are a fundamentalist hypocrite.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hilariously nightmarish

That's our Angela Carter's novel, Nights at the Circus. In wakeful moments late at night, it's a bizarrely satisfying book to pick up. I've finished it, regretfully, wishing it had another hundred pages to go. The grand finale, which was set in Siberia and included the derailment of a circus train crossing the steppes, heroic elephants, and a bizarrely unclear happy ending, came too soon.
Next up: Carter's last novel, Wise Children.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Gloom boom

Socked in with chilly gray today, good time for a hairdo. We met another 89 year old woman there who was early for her appointment with the same stylist, so talked to her for a bit. She's still driving, she told me, and recently passed a driving test, so she's good until she's 94. This is kind of scary, considering the way people sometimes drive around here, but I've seen this woamn driving the back streets of our neighborhood, so if she sticks to those, she'll be all right. She also informed me that she walks about two miles a day; I've seen her moving along, very slowly, using her little four-footed cane. She seemed a cheerful sort, and my mother said she enjoyed meeting her and listening to her, the latter of which has always been my mom's wont. We get life stories all the time, even I, who doesn't smile as much as mom does, who will focus her big baby blues upon the speaker's face and smile and nod. Yet I still get the tales.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Good works

An urgent request came through the ether the other day, hoping that injera could be obtained and shipped to rural Idaho. My sister and her husband are celebrating the nearing end of his PhD quest, and are going to fete his advisory committee with an Ethiopian feast. The precious cargo is due to arrive sometime Friday afternoon. It's usually fun to go to the little Ethiopian store, and they offered me coffee, which they'd just made, but I needed to get the bread on its way and regretfully declined. The guy at the mailing store, who lived in northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon before moving here in the 1970's, was inspired by the sight of the injera to relate to me one of his highly-detailed vignettes, or linked vignettes, culminating in a poignant memory of his mother getting up early in the morning to knead bread dough and bake it fresh every morning, served with butter and honey. His employee, who said he was from Israel, remarked that after Christmas, they used to have a smaller version of this flatbread with honey and butter. I have listened to many interesting discourses and tales while mailing things.
One of my good friends has cancer, operable at least; hope, shock and anger mix in my thoughts. She's one of the truly good people.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Why diminished energies today? Must be the humidity.
Man, just started a novel by Angela Carter called Nights at the Circus, and it is fantastic, in just about every way. An erudite feller from the book group called her a "neo fabulist." Whatever she is considered to be by the literary communities, she is fabulous, even if she's dead and gone.
Here's a voice living on and bringing delight and admiration, at least from this little small potato fan. Opening paragraph of Carter's novel Nights at the Circus:
"'Lor' love you, sir!' Fevvers sang out in a voice that clanged like dustbin lids. 'As to my place of birth, why, I first saw light of day right here in smokey old London, didn't I! Not billed the "Cockney Venus", for nothing, sir, though they just as well 'ave called me "Helen of the High Wire", due to the unusual circumstances in which I come ashore - for I never docked via what you might call the normal channels, sir, on, dear me, no; but, just like Helen of Troy, was hatched.'"
It gets more and more marvelous as it goes on.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

In search of

Indoor recreation, but not at the mall, which is disliked; our quest included obtaining what is politely termed "ladies' foundations." We braved the windy bleak stretches of the Fred Meyer parking lot and wandered around inside, up and down, with much success on all fronts. On the way out through the garden center, we passed the tacky fountain department; my mother dissuaded me from getting a huge plastic made to look like weathered stone rooster statue as a joke for our friend and neighbor who keeps chickens. She thought kids might steal it, and besides, it might scare the chickens. It would have been kind of an expensive joke anyway, with dire repercussions on the friendship.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Spent the remains of the lovely day with a close friend who had to get some biopsy work done; it's quite possible it will be nothing, but the very thought of a friend suffering causes heart ache. This friend is about the most positive person I know, so is taking things calmly, from all appearances.
Got to talk briefly on the phone with our youngest nephew, who was surprised and pleased to hear that I've been trying out some Ethiopian recipes. "Where'd you learn to do that?" he asked pointedly. Told him the recipes were on the internet, and anybody could learn to use them. He declared that it was a good thing.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Gloom to bloom, overnight; puts us all in a feverish daze. Or maybe that's the pollen count. Such a lovely afternoon, but in the midst of it, I ran into a former neighbor and still a friend out in front of their house; she looked tired. I'd seen her husband with another former neighbor not long ago, and he looked terribly unwell. She told me he has a form of bone cancer, and though it had responded to a bone marrow transplant for a while, it returned aggressively. We talked as their adorable, not yet two year old grand daughter walked around nearby. Her husband has not been retired very long, they aren't too much older than we are; I felt so sad for her, and helpless, wishing I could give him vitality.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mowing it down

A family effort finally leveled the hayfield in our yard. It looks better, I suppose. I liked the intense green of the grass, but not everyone shares my vision. Great walking today, with the flower indentification tutorial I do daily as more plants bloom. There are a few nobody seems to remember the names of, and one in particular that looks like tiny broccoli flowers and smells like dirty socks. I don't mind not knowing its label, but since its flowers are a brilliant yellow, my mother's favorite hue, she keeps asking me about them. We watch in amazement as the chickens perform their vigorous dust bathing.
The night is cold and rainy, wintry almost.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Doing a do

Another week, another hairdo, to my mother's delight; she still doesn't have the "new" salon location embedded in her memory, but it really doesn't matter much.
Long walk down to a meeting with a couple of friends for a light dinner; we were offered a ride home, which I accepted gratefully.
Off to bed with Hadrian.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Making hay

Lots of walking today for my mom, whose energy levels rise with the increasing amount of sunshine; we have to monitor a few cat encounters along the way. Who needs vet bills.
My mother is reading another collection of Hemingway's short stories, and appreciates the relative simplicity of his style. Wallace Stegner is giving me the icy fits, what with a long story set in a wintry western landscape during a big cattle round up. This was long before Cormac McCarthy wrote, and makes me wonder if he got some inspiration from Stegner. Had to stop for a bit as the story was approaching frozen dying and horror; plunged into Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar, an unusual and intriguing fictional take on the Roman emperor's life. Despite his imperious persona, as depicted by Yourcenar, I'm drawn to his thoughts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Unexpected bounty

A friend called and offered a couple hours of climbing training, which I could break away for, and the day brightened and warmed for walking. Late evening walk with mi esposo, and a delectable bunch of snacks at a place recommended by one of my climbing buddies: A frise salad with tiny balls of herbed fresh mozarella, walnut bread croutons, sun-dried tomatoes, tiny pitted olives, pine nuts, and a nice light dressing; bruschetta with goat cheese, roasted garlic, and tomato/lavender chutney; and the strangest-sounding but very delicious, dates stuffed with blue cheese and bacon, with a tomato vinagrette. Swell light meal for a nice walk.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sucker holes, we got 'em

Nice big one floated over after lunch, giving my mom a perfect opportunity to exercise. It lasted long enough for me to get in my licks, and as a I ran up the hill after a workout, I beat the leading edge of another storm system. ( Not bragging, it wasn't moving very fast.)
Spent time steering the television into nature programs and away from the Virginia Tech tragedy. We much preferred watching the nature guys exploring various flora and fauna in the Galapagos Islands to seeing the vomit-inducing likes of Katy Couric milking the massacre for all it was worth to her ratings. There was a pretty interesting program on a public station about "The First Flower", how a passle of scientists have been competing for decades in the search for the oldest fossil record of flowers. They showed a good deal of footage of a mountain valley in, of all places, China, which seemed to have the forerunners of every flower you've ever seen, from lilies to rhodedendrons. At the rate China is destroying its environment, I wonder how long this idyllic place will last.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Slammed back into winter today, but at least we got our workouts in, mine inside at the climbing gym. Several of my climbing buddies are such positive women, which is a good influence for me these days.
Terrible news from Virginia, but it's still good old Amurkan-spawned mayhem. The perpetrator pretty much grew up here in the USA, despite having moved from South Korea at age eight. Access to weapons is part of the mix, and Virginia is the loosest of all the states in that regard. If he hadn't had the guns, he couldn't have done this massacre. The guns rights people are looking for any excuse, however, to draw attention away from this basic truth. Kid wasn't white, they're spewing. Must have been a terrorist. Nope, the young man grew up in Virginia, and absorbed many bad elements from the culture, arms possession being about the worst. It sounds as if he was dangerously alienated. That seems to be happening more these days, and it is a sign of a fraying society. My heart goes out to his family as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Warming trend

Sunday wanderings, waiting for the grass to dry out a bit before I make hay from it; not much in our heads today. I'm moving along in the Stegner short story collection, and some them are unsettling. He wrote, in his introduction, dated 1989, he hadn't written any short stories for some time. He states: "It seems to me a young writer's form, made for discoveries and nuances and epiphanies and superbly adapted for trial syntheses. Increasingly, in my own writing, the novel has tended to swallow and absorb potential stories. (Bernice Baumgarten, my first agent, who handled all my early stories, used to say that a short-story writer lives on his principal, using up beginnings and endings.) Whether because of a shortage of beginnings and endings or for other reasons, I found fairly early that even stories begun without the intention of being anything but independent tended to cluster, wanting to be part of something longer." Interesting, but I have read many short story collections which have spanned the writers' careers, and have long thought they were a great way to watch the growth of a writer. I read a review by Joyce Carol Oates of Roald Dahl's collected stories - speaking of a disturbing writer, with regards to his work for adults - in which she has this to say about collected stories: "Except for writers of major stature, in whose lesser work there may be some archival, extraliterary, or morbid interest, the indiscriminate all-inclusiveness of a 'collected stories' is not a good idea." She goes on a bit later with this: "Though the advantage of a purely chronological arrangement of work is that the reader may perceive the development of a writer's style, his growth, and the prevailing themes that make his work distinctive, the disadvantage is that the reader may perceive the deterioration of the writer's style, his decline, and his reliance upon predictable themes." This latter is an experience I've never had, but Ms. Oates has undoubtedly read many more works than I have. Anyway, though I don't care for her fiction, I completely respect her reviews. She's not terribly keen for this collection of Dahl's.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Late-breaking pleasures

As in food and music, and walking with my beloved spouse; we had some dinner at a place featuring New Mexican cuisine, including a scrumptious blue and yellow corn posole, then a chilly but gorgeous sunset walk around the lake to a place that had a Brazilian jazz group playing at some point in the evening. We snacked on warm almonds and mixed olives and enjoyed the band. A sweet date.

Friday, April 13, 2007


But a scant week ago, it was summer; today, about 52 degrees wet. Off on a longish ramble to the Ethiopian grocery, to return a container and get some injera for dinner; the young woman who has been there when my sister was here was making the flat bread, all by her lonesome. She told me she also works as a waitress at a retirement place not too far away, the Norse Home. So she works most of the day in the grocery deli, then caps off her days serving old folks.
It makes me tired to think about it, but she is a cheerful generous little person.
Had to stop off at the co-op for maple butter; dangerously low supplies at home.
I looked up some recipes for red lentil and yellow split pea "wats", or stews, to accompany the injera for dinner. They took a bit longer than described to cook down, and I tasted them so often that I lost my appetite. Berbere spice went into the lentils, and curry into the yellow wat. Not bad for the first try.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Nothing hard was ever easy

That's an example of a Vonnegut quote; the quotables were not what I ever appreciated about his writing. There were lots of these quotes out on the internet today, and they strike me as being fortune cookie-like. I always thought Slaughterhouse Five was the best of his that I ever read, in that vein of fiction with a message which works, along with Catch-22, Going After Cacciato, and some other war-is-hell novels. A humane-sounding fellow, Mr.V. We share a birthday, by happenstance.
Bye, Mr. Imus. Go home and take a nap.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Over da hump

Geeze, Don Imus is a skeevy, nasty male. I wonder how he'd like to be described in kind as he did so rudely to the Rutgers' women's basektball team, who are in fact contributing to this world in many ways, unlike Imus, who, as a whacky-haired sexist bigot, contributes mostly to himself. Time should be called for the declining males who call attention to themselves as he has.
On an infinitely more pleasant note, we were privileged to meet some blogging friends who were here in Seattle on errands. It was wonderful to talk to people you've come to know through their musings and observations. They are delightful in person as well.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mind meld

We were sitting at breakfast, and I had just started thinking about going over to feed my friend's cat. He's kind of shy, and we never see him on this side of the street. Our cat was lobbying to go out, so I obediently accompanied him to the front door. There on our front steps was my friend's cat, staring at me in what seemed to be a pointed fashion. He was as happy as a cat can seem to be when I followed him over to his place to give him his meal. He also mugged me this afternoon when I came back from a workout, and passed his front steps.
Late evening walk, with mixed skies trying to precipitate, and rainbows rampant.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Blowin away

Wildly windy night, which continued into the next day; hard to get mom out at first, but once we bundled up sufficiently, she soldiered on. We had our walks, with chickens and cats blown along with us.
Met up with some friends for climbing exercise; we all seem to be in a similar vessel, regarding aging parents with various health issues. Good to compare notes and get new thoughts about how to proceed. We find ourselves daydreaming about being somewhere on warm rock faces...
Delving into the Wallace Stegner short story collection; I've always admired his voice and style, and the short fiction is proving to be as good as the novels and nonfiction writings I've read.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sappy yeaster

It unexpectedly stayed nice for all our exercising, and there were cats and kids and friends all over the place. We don't have to hide Easter eggs any more, but people were out messing about in their yards doing just that. A little fellow next door was espied hiding his little female friend's basket of booty after she'd already hunted it down, then teasing her about it. Evidently four year olds can sometimes take a joke, or some of them can.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sleepy Saturday

Back into gray drizzle, but at least a bit warmer as we get out for the daily walk. Our neighbor down the street on the corner has a wonderful new cat, a very fluffy white neutered male who has adopted us, and walks all the way home with us these days. He's quite an attention hound, and throws himself at our feet as we stroll along. Our cat seems miffed, maybe a bit intimidated by this big kitten, but there hasn't been any bloodshed between them, just some nose touching and observation. Such strange beasts.

Friday, April 06, 2007

In which we are warmer still

Absolutely fabulous day, even if we really didn't go very far. Out for an evening walk later, down to Lake Union to watch the sun-maddened people twirl and skateboard and fly kites, with a crazy little French bulldog or Boston terrier trying to catch one the kites as it zipped around high above him. We stopped for a wonderful meal in Fremont, at a bistro transformed from its earlier incarnation as an earthy joint with great baked goods and soups. I miss that funky place, but this new form is a good place for a special dinner, say, one to celebrate a real day of spring.

Feverishly spring

While my mother was enduring her dentist appointment, I walked over to the big Asian supermarket a few blocks away. It's always diverting to check on the variety of live shellfish they display, such as abalone from Maui, enormous geoduck clams, and at least six kinds of oysters this time. While hunting for some strange yet tasty rice crackers we had at a friend's house, I started noticing the numerous elderly couple in which the men were Caucasian and the women were Asian-American. In every case the women led the way, with their partners managing the shopping cast, and in once instance, pushing the woman in a wheel chair and dragging along the cart. They seemed to confer a good deal in quiet tones as they hunted down the shopping list items.
Too warm for jackets...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sliding days

Wednesday was a day for athletic socializing at the climbing place, and homecoming for the climbers who've been out on real rock. We took them out for sushi and had a good time. They seemed a bit dazed at re-entry to the regular world, but I can't blame them; hard to slide back into the day-to-day, and sometimes it's hard to have been in it all along.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Full moon streaming through the blinds at three a.m., and it woke me up widely. When I turn to my trusty book, I find strange tales of wolves. Sleep eludes me.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Strange fictive fruits and other victuals

Having finished Angela Carter's collected writings entitled Shaking A Leg, some 640 pages of nonfiction pieces, I have embarked on her collected short stories, Burning Your Boats, with an introduction by Salman Rushdie. Thus far I have read work from 1962-1979, and it is getting curiouser and stranger. There are a couple of vaguely realistic yet surreal, and kind of straight narratives from her earliest years, but most of them are beyond fractured fairy tales. One of the stories from 1979 is the title tale of the collection The Bloody Chamber. I have heard that this story shows up in feminist literature surveys, but I wonder if Carter wrote it as an empowerment thing. There are several stories which are twists on old folk and fairy tales, but with events and vocabulary I never encountered in the Brothers Grimm. She evidently liked screwing around with old stories, and the results can be spicy and disconcerting. There's a humorous version of "Puss-in-Boots" that is worthy of The Canterbury Tales in its bawdiness.
Not like any bedtime stories I ever heard before...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

No foolin' around

No jokes today. We have the worst possible practical joke of all time sitting in the Oval Office, bar Josef Stalin; how could anything possibly follow?
So tired, running and working out was an arduous chore. Just wanted to hide away and eat a gooey cinnamon roll, or something.
Talked with our kid; he'll be home later next week.