Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Catching up with a couple of friends; one is recovering from reconstructive surgery, the other from a lack of climbing for a while here. We fixed that right up, wearing ourselves out on difficult routes.
Out of touch with any newsworthy horrors today; quite a nice break.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Such a day; we're so overwhelmed with bliss we can barely speak. Hurling weeds about was diverting, and a late evening walk most pleasant.
Marching on into Middlemarch, one delightful chunk at a time.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Whacking at the week

We are wobbly and weird, but out we go, and are fortunate enough to run into a friend who regularly cheers us. On my errands round, I see that more nice older homes have been demolished and turned into crackerbox "townhomes" down on the southwest slope of our hill. This scourge is creeping up the hill, and reminds me of the Ohio farmers selling their good land at prices they couldn't afford to pass up, or perhaps refuse; now all that rich farmland is covered in housing developments and malls. Around here, any breathing space there is between houses will be gone, crammed full of crappy multi -unit projects. Why, we ourselves could fit three or four of these ugly things on our property. Not a pleasant thought.
This will be clear as a huge mistake some day, but for now, the profit is too tempting for people.
Evening walk, let's get out of here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mixed with hail?

The day went awry, veering into intense rain heralded by a barrage of hail. I'll have to concede that this is a bad start to the summer, but the plant life appears to be benefiting from it.
Off to a friend's for dinner and a documentary.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

All's well

The king of the castle is home, and we feted the occasion with a spot of sushi. The sushi joint's house music greeted us with some '80's-sounding tracks. I could have sworn Cher was resounding when we arrived, but fortunately, for my taste, they turned it down and changed genres. A young Asian couple came in with a boy who looked to be about five or six. He got up at one point and started doing an intriguing interpretation of a song, combining dance moves with what looked like aikido maneuvers. He just danced away, in the entrance, looking absorbed and blissful.
Lovely evening.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Despite lowering morning clouds and sprinkles, we seized the afternoon and got our blood moving. My friend who's pretty much healed from her surgery picked me up for a bit of gym climbing. A good session always makes me feel as if I've had everything adjusted, stretched, and nicely pummeled; taller, too.
We left the front door open briefly to let in some breezes, and our pal Petie the big fluffy boy cat who looks like a girl breezed in like he owned the joint. Our own cat looked horrified, having watched this illicit entry from the side of the porch. Petie was ejected gently, and our cat zipped in, smelling things to make sure nothing had been violated.
Another incisive delight from Middlemarch: " Strangers, whether wrecked and clinging to a raft, or duly escorted and accompanied by portmanteaus, have always had a circumstantial fascination for the virgin mind, against which native merit has urged itself in vain."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summery day

Our chicken-loving friend had her young birds out for an airing; they're reaching pullet size, and are still pretty adorable. They stay practically glued to one another as they explore the world outside their enclosure. They're still not big enough to defend themselves against the slings and pecks of the bigger hens, so must be supervised and kept separate from them. We continued on our usual rounds, and appreciated a sunny first day of summer, sometimes a rarity around these parts.
I noticed several references to a "girls' night out" in different parts of town, associated with - what else - shopping. Discounts for the ladies; like, all girlfriends do is shop together. Tomorrow I have to go "shop" for a club device for my poor little beleaguered car. They're like, not glittery or anything.
Too gorgeous to sit around after dinner, off for a personal airing; people seem intoxicated with the warm evening accompanied by a cool breeze. Everyone who can has dragged him/herself down to the lake for all kinds of activities.
A tidbit from Eliot's Middlemarch: " We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time! keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, 'Oh, nothing!' Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts - not to hurt others."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Of a Wednesday

Our little eden needed some weeding, and we needed exercise. It could not have been a much more perfect day and evening. On the way back from an after dinner walk, I came upon a little girl pulling a clunky plastic wagon; there seemed to be something loaded into a pile of blankets in the wagon car. It was a chicken, which she introduce to me as "Mrs. Grumbles."
"We have a rooster," she informed me. " And we're going to have thousands of baby chicks, which will be a lot of work." As if on cue, there was a rooster crow from a nearby yard. Good luck to their neighbors.
Eliot's Middlemarch is drawing me in more with every chapter.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Our family members left this morning after a farewell breakfast. We were sad to see them leave, and wished they lived closer. For some time into the day, my mother was actually sad. She's rarely anything but cheerful, so this was a different twist. We went about the normal routine, and fortunately had a warm bright day in which to move about and get distracted.
Just delved into George Eliot's honking novel Middlemarch; I've liked the other works of hers I read long ago, and I prefer her to Jane Austin.

Monday, June 18, 2007

More action

Our family members returned from Spudland, where they'd had a good visit with another branch of the folks. We went out for a seafood dinner, and a couple of us needed a leg stretching walk before sunset. It's hard to catch up on stretches of time apart in such brief periods of togetherness, but we manage.
Reading one of Margaret Atwood's older novels, Lady Oracle. I didn't think I'd seen this one, but it seems so familiar; maybe I'm just familiar with her themes. She's working the novel within a novel bit, in a fairly amusing way.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Here we are

"Mr. Paganini, don't you be a meany..." We just watched part of a public TV fundraising special which was a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. Missed k d lang, but got to see Stevie Wonder perform a tune he wrote which Ella made her own, "Too Close for Comfort." And Nancy Wilson singing "Someone to Watch Over Me", as well as someone named Ledisi doing quite a hot version of "Blues in the Night": "When I was in knee pants, my momma done told me..." and "A man is a two-face, a worrisome thing, who'll leave you to sing, the blues, in the night." Quincy Jones hosted, and the orchestra pit group was from the USC music school. (ooh, sorry, kathyr) Lots of talent on stage.

Sweet ending to a kind of colorless day, although we soldiered through it bravely.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

An advance on Dad's day

The menfolk went out for a good dayhike, managing to do it before the rain hit the foothills. We aimed for a couple of cloud breaks and got the old ticker pumping. Made some wats to accompany the injera we got the other day. My sister had give me some of the berbere spice that goes in the red lentil wat, called miserwat, and only a teaspoonful gave it a good bite. The "yellow wat", made with yellow split peas, just had some mild Indian curry powder in it, and was a nice contrast to the red miserwat. Some day we'll have to go to an actual Ethiopian restaurant and try their foods.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Cool day

Got out to the climbing gym with my friend who had a mastectomy about three weeks ago; she's already back to climbing some moderate lead routes, and feeling fine. Quite amazing.
Out this evening with one of our usual groups of suspects.
The Carter novel I'm reading, entitled Love, is clever but annoying.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

And on tap today...

Were errands of mercy, obtaining mass quantities of Ethiopian foodstuffs for my brother to deliver to my sister and her crew over in Spudland; we also made a fun trip to Top Ten Toys to pick out gifts for her brood. And picked up some kosher stuff for them elsewhere, along with plenty of fresh fish to grill for us. No errant attacks by critters, unless you count the cat down the street nailing one of us during a wildly playful moment.
Great fish dinner had by all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Everybody out in the rain!

Only it never did, and we managed an afternoon chock full of touristy goodness, from a pricy but delicious lunch up in the Space Needle revolving restaurant, a trip to the Seattle Aquarium, to a walk back to the car through the Pike Place Market. Youngest niece had a close encounter with a starfish at the touching pool, where one is permitted to extend an index finger to gently prod the denizens. Somehow a starfish attached itself to her hand, and personnel had to be summoned to detach it humanely. No damage to any creature, other than a nicely chilled hand.
The Giant Pacific Octopi were stunning. The female was a passionate red color, and very active. A guide told me something had "gotten her attention", perhaps her mate who was locked away in another part of the big tank. He was squashed way up in a corner, completely camouflaged, and we decided he was keeping out of her sightline. He looked like a guy trying to catch a nap back in the TV room. Great time had by all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blood ties

We got the gang out for sushi , good fun. Our mother had her chopstick technique refreshed, and did a fine job on a little plate of chicken teriyaki. Some of the party walked home via the old playfield from elementary school days, where old cement-based play structures and swings deemed too dangerous have been replaced with what our son termed "pseudo Art Deco trash." We examined the structures, tried to use them, and concurred that they were pretty much useless, and in some cases, riskier to fool around on than the old stuff. So often designers and architects go for the appearance, and not enough on the usable forms of structures. Whoever did this playground failed to consider how kids could actually play on it. Well, it looks kind And at sunset, it seemed to be attracting the usual bunch of suspects, we noted as we left.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tonic activity

A more recently acquired climbing friend was able to spring free early in the afternoon, so we had a good workout at the gym. She's adamant about at least doing that much, which seems to prod my wilting motivation. It's been so long since I've gotten out on real rocks, I can barely remember what it was like. My own fault, need to figure out a way to balance life better.
Family members coming across country tomorrow to visit, which will be wonderful for us all.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Up again

June 10 marks my dad's birthday; he would have been 92 today. My mother remembered the date and its significance, as well as his favorite cake. So I baked one, and we hoisted our frosting-coated forks in honor of Dad.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Girls in the mist

Cold, wet and low visibility; the day was not a notable span of time, and was spent in choring around.
Carter's Heroes and Villains is fabulous, a dystopic story from the 1960's; she must have been in her mid-twenties when she wrote it. She brings wit, intelligence and wonder to a tale set in a violent and hopeless little world, a UK destroyed by "umbrellas of fire" in the skies. It's one of those works I try not to read too quickly, and am wistful at being nearly finished.
Now that I think about Carter's collection of nonfiction work which I read, I recall that she was very much alarmed and in high dudgeon over the nuclear arms situation in the world. Her imagined nuclear holocaust afterworld is astonishing, and stands up well to any other dystopic novel I've ever read, including those by Russell Hoban, Margaret Atwood or David Mitchell.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Whirling away

I do love these full on spring days. Wildly blue and white skies, rising temperatures, insects humming and scents wafting; we expect to be rained back into winter tomorrow.
Excellent anniversary meal, a present from my mother-in-law; we wisely passed on dessert. Summer's coming, with fewer layers of clothing required.
Angela Carter's The Magic Toy Shop was a bizarre novel, full of evil fairytale references I was not quite getting, but ultimately satisfying due to her wonderful writing. Next up is a post apocalyptic one titled Heroes and Villains, published in 1969.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Back on the bus

Off to the International District - used to be called Chinatown - to visit my dear dentist, an intelligent and competent woman I've been going to for more than twenty years. Saw a regal-looking African American woman dressed in denim and a red bandana riding a long skate board down the street. I did a little shopping at Uwagimaya's for some gifts, then hopped on a bus to head home. Only incident this time was a filthy scrawny guy who was harrassing a young Asian woman, for who knows what. I was close to going across the aisle and throttling him when he got off the bus.
Picked up a lovely piece of sockeye salmon for our anniversary dinner, marking our thoidy-thoid.
Into the night with The Magic Toy Shop.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Nothing weird up our sleeves

No bus rides, no unusual denizens doing their thangs; just a quick visit to the nearest farmers' market, which is still pretty small, mostly featuring fresh greens and asparagus.
Onward with one of the three Angela Carter novels I've found recently...The Magic Toyshop, described as "gothic."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Smashing day

Started out poorly, as I went out to get in my car to drive up to our health clinic for a mammogram; some idiots had tried to steal the car, but wound up ripping the steering wheel off. Either they're still in training and haven't learned that certain cars can be stolen in under thirty seconds, or someone vandalized the poor little old thing. I cadged a ride from my beloved son, endured the procedure, and took a bus home. Whilst on the bus, a youngish fellow dressed in army camo in a seat in front of me intermittently emitted chicken noises. Just loud enough that those of us near him could hear. I briefly wondered why he was doing it, then looked out the window. As we got in to the U-District, this same fellow pulled the cord to get off the bus. As he exited, he emitted a loud "Ba -GAWK!" Hmm, thought I, sounds like our friends' chickens after they've successfully laid an egg. Guess the guy spent some time around chickens. Another much older and crazier-looking fellow dressed festively in Easter colors took over the other guy's seat, and as he got ready to sit down, exclaimed in wonder at something he found on the seat.
"I don't understand!" he said to another crazy person sitting in front of him, a younger woman. He handed her an object, which was... a large white egg.
"Oh, well, I'll keep it," said she, as she put it in a pocket.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Cool damp morning, and a nice training session at the climbing joint with a friend; the day cleared and warmed up enough for my mother's exercise. My friend recovering from surgery had a birthday, so I delivered her a little something and visited. She's already been out hiking on a gentle trail, and regaining her range of motion rapidly. We figure we'll be able to get out on some easy to moderate climbing well before summer's end.
Kind of in between books, perusing a lot of reviews for now. Not much of the new books looks appealing. I do not want to read, for example, "A novel in stories and a story collection [that] trace the troubles of middle-aged women," or somebody's "new novel [that] centers on a book club in the Hamptons that transforms the lives of three women." Sounds like fiction manufactured to chase a perceived market.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Where are we, Ohio? So humid, sticky, burgeoning with moisture and heat; makes running painless, though molasses-y. We decided to walk up to a party given in honor of a young Lebanese exchange student, about a four mile trek. We could see a weather system approaching slowly; thunderstorms were predicted. The hosts of the party, childless, bravely took in a teenager for an entire school year. He came literally from a war zone, southern Lebanon, into the comfort and peace of a Seattle neighborhood. His year here was great, he said, and he feels as if he's been given a good start on his life. The exchange experience was terrific for all concerned.
We got a ride home right as the storms broke, and the night cooled down delightfully.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Higher highs

An evening walk became a kind of funny event. We wound up down by Lake Union around sunset, and were admiring the view when we heard some loud discussion about Michigan. Beloved spouse offered an answer to something a small group was pondering, and we were invited to join them. These young ones had been celebrating the end of the work week for a few hours. We supervised them for a while, these ever so young-looking PhD students and friends, until they needed to leave to get to some meeting of first year PhD students at a pub not far away; not what they really needed at that point, but even smart kids need to learn the hard way, I guess. Odd how midwesterners seem to find one another out here.

Friday, June 01, 2007

High and lows

Yesterday began with a celebratory event, a former child of the neighborhood's graduation from culinary training. He had to create a menu for a huge final project, which involved supervising a kitchen full of classmates putting out this meal to a dining room full of people. As we got into our friend's car, there was some mention of a threat having been delivered to the educational institution where we heading, as in,"I'm going to kill everyone at ____ on May 31st." We didn't discuss it on the way up there, but there was a notice on the front door of the main entrance detailing this threat, and informing us that there was increased security. Nobody else seemed to have noticed this posting, nothing was said, and we all went inside. As I walked down the hall, I looked around at our group, pondering the thoughts one might have at such a time, and decided to put them out of my head. The menu was small tastings of breakfast, lunch and dinner items, and very good. As we left the building, we passed several armed security guys. I read later that more than half the students stayed away from the campus. I was divided between thinking we had been careless going up there, and being glad we'd decided it wasn't such a huge risk. Nothing did ever occur.
We ended the day by watching a sweet little independent film,"The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill." A full moon punctuated the night.