Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hiking ahoy

Tomorrow we plan to get up before dawn to head to the Cascades for hiking and climbing: The hike is the Pacific Crest Trail to Kendall Catwalk and beyond, the climb is Mount Thompson, a moderate peak along the way. We shall see what transpires.

Monday, July 30, 2007


The guys got back from their weekend mountaineeering safely, some time in the early hours of this morning. They had a good approach and climb, and the pictures of the Colchuck Balance Rock looked very good.
We got out on another swell evening walk, in a cool breeze and perfect sunset.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Perfect as usual

Weather, dinner, walking afterwards; Daniel Deronda's getting a bit on the "deep" side, but still engaging.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Comings and goings

The beloved son went off into the mountains with a friend who prefers to do mountaineering as opposed to rock climbing. They are safe climbers, and good route finders, so I am hopeful they'll return safely and unharmed. He said they wanted to do two peaks in the area, which is over on the eastern side of the Cascades. It's always interesting to hear about their exploits upon their return.
Off for a salmon dinner with friends, and always good conversation.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Piper paying

There's been overwhelming growth in the yard, and it needed to be whacked into order, or at least a semblance of it; or at least passable if you squint hard or look at it in the dark. Untethered grape vines sought blindly for footholds all over the deck, and their clippings filled up our yard waste container; the grass about killed the mower, but it got its trimming. They say you should let it get longer in hot weather, although "They" probably don't mean hayfield length. No matter, it's tidier now. It stayed green throughout the hideously hot week sans extra watering, so that was worth it.
Eliot's Daniel Deronda is quite captivating; somehow she was able to present a completely viable version of the workings of a twenty five year old man's mind. The struggles and thought processes Daniel undergoes are universally valid.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


The day rolled away from its chilly foggy start, one of the marine push events we experience as penance from Poseidon for enjoying too many nice days in a row; it cleared up around noon, and inspired several walks and a little driving tour. By the time the sun was geting near the yardarm, I needed to head up to some friends' place for a quick pre-concert dinner. They had gotten tickets for Pink Martini, a wonderful group which has the personnel of a big band and a chanteuse with a terrific voice. The concert was on a big meadow at the Woodland Park Zoo, and people had been camping out for a couple of hours to get seats close to the stage. An advance member of our party staked out a good spot on an elevated portion of the meadow, so except for a bit on the encore when the red-garbed and large-derriered woman in front of us jumped up and treated us to her physical interpretation of "Brazil", we had a good view, albeit distant. There were lots of families, but the kids were pretty good overall; one little group near us quietly played cards while their moms listened to the show, and there were groups of little ones dancing, as well as some lone ones doing their arhythmic best. It was a perfect evening for an outdoor performance.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Higher and higher

We're wafting about on cool breezes in the sun. Even pulling weeds and whacking back overgrowth - and some undergrowth - well, mainly just - growth - seems enjoyable. Even on little sleep; I woke up after about four hours' worth, was lying there wondering why, and heard noises off at around 2:30 A.M. I crept downstairs to find two of our son's good friends preparing to crash on the couches. They really weren't making much noise, but any sounds at that still time of morning are noticable. They were still here snoozing in the later morning, when life rolls on like a little Swiss train. The three of them had been out solving the world's problems, and it was fun to pour coffee into them and have a lively breakfast scene.
Out on a warm down walk in the afternoon, we ran into a neighbor who's reknowned for his gigantic tomato plants; some years they produce more green fruit than red, but they'e always impressive. They 're now taller than any of us. He said hello, then dashed into his house, returning with a paper towel-wrapped bundle. He presented it to me and told us he wanted us to have his second tomato of the summer; it is gorgeous, huge, and looks like twins unseparated at birth. It is resting on a celadon green plate in the middle of our dining table, gleaming and ripening even more. I reciprocated by digging up some of our lovely red new potatoes and taking them down to him. We'd likely not be able to survive any situation requiring bartering, but we at least make things a bit nicer around here.
A trip to our weekly nearby farmers' market yielded new potatoes which were a light yellow, as well as blue ones; new Fuji apples; somebody's Oma's handmade pretzels; and a small bag of organic hazelnuts. I resisted the very expensive organic Roma beans and huge blueberries, and regretted not getting some fresh goat cheese, but I got distracted by running into people I knew. Lovely evening walk, to wrap it up.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

And back to El Paradiso!

Oh, so glad to see the warm rainy days recede; out on the evening walk, down by Lake Union, throngs of people were seemingly delirious with sun and cool breezes. A large bagpipe and drum corps was rehearsing unfamiliar music, not the wheezy cliche tunes one associates with this odd instrument; it was lovely. Kites were flying, people were embracing, dogs were fetching and madly dashing about with kids; there was a group of beginners learning conga drumming. As I went up the hill past an intriguing little restaurant that serves popcorn with truffle oil and a glass of wine to those waiting for a table, strains from a sharp jazz combo floated out from the courtyard. I just learned this evening that truffles exude an aroma similar to human sexual pheremones. One either responds to it, or not.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Another lap

On our daily walking route, which is shrinking gradually, with occasional bursts of energy; along the lake and down to the gym and back; and on to another week. Eliot's Daniel Deronda is holding me fast, and I managed to zip out and find yet another novel of hers, Romola, about which she wrote:"There is no book of mine about which I more thoroughly feel that I swear by every sentence as having been written with my best blood." The jacket blurb describes it as "...amongst her most colourful, fluent and persuasive works. In it she recreates the upheavals of fifteenth-century Florence: the time of the expulsion of the Medici, the invasion by Charles VIII of France and the ascendency and fall of Savonarola. Living in the city-state at the time is the noble and courageous Romola, who finds herself increasingly disillusioned by Savonarola's career and repelled by her unscrupulous and self-indulgent husband, Tito Melma."
Geeze, those "Sopranos" types have quite a long history...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dazy day

Yet another invitation for a gym workout, with a good friend I haven't seen for a while, owing to her surgery and family vacationing. Their daughter won a spot on the US climbing team, and they are headed to Ecuador for the World Competition. Odd to think of indoor climbing gyms down there, but evidently it's gaining popularity as a sport.
This warm utterly humid atmosphere is getting tiresome. It's like living inside a huge wet sponge.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Skipping around

Yesterday was another gray, warm rainy one, but we cheered it up via a fantastic dinner of fresh white king salmon and green beans from this week's local farmers' market, home grown spuds, and a nice rioja rose. Our beloved son had baked a raspberry/blueberry pie, from which we carved a couple of modest slices and topped them with some locally made vanilla bean ice cream. All this delectation drowned out the nearly audible growth of the grass and weeds in the rain.
I've marched on from Middlemarch to Eliot's last novel, Daniel Deronda. George Eliot was a master - mistress - of setting up arrogant characters for a whole load of come uppance and payback. One reads along, in awe of the coming adjustments.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dental delights?

One of my teeth needed a bit of a filling, which was fine except for the aftereffects of the novocaine. It seemed to make my eyes extra sensitive to the sunlight, and gave me a weird headache as it wore off. No pain, however, during the drilling and filling, as our dentist is a wonderful technician.
Extremely pleasant evening at a friend's, a barbeque in honor of another friend's birthday; much discussion of the state of everything, with no relief in sight for this poor beleaguered globe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

And more relief

More catching up with friends made while climbing; we all get great comfort from a couple of days of cooler weather.
And out for a spot of sushi with the beloved spouse.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Wonderful cooling off around here; during the afternoon constitutional, the big white fluffball of a cat who often joins us down on the corner was more animated than he's been due to the heat. When I teased him with a large crow feather we'd found on the sidewalk, he grabbed it away from me, sniffed it with great excitement, then picked it up in his mouth and dashed off up into the banked part of his owners' yard, looking like a bird dog with a duck. We didn't see him again.
Good climbing gym sesssion with a friend I don't see much. She apprised me of the existence of an outdoor crag which has been under development kind of on the QT, since access to it is over private property. Maybe when it's cooler we'll get out there.
I finished George Eliot's novel Middlemarch; it was excellent. Just started her last novel, Daniel Deronda, which has a very good introduction by Edmund White. In the beginning of the introduction, White writes: "There is not a page of 'Daniel Deronda' that is not marked with intelligence, and a few are as queer and perceptive as any I've read. If I use such words as 'queer' and 'strange' it is because I'm convinced tha almost all masterpieces in the English language are characterized by something preposterous, homemade, and all seem too long or too far-fetched or too narrow or too bizarre (I'm thinking of everything from 'The Faerie Queen' to 'Gravity's Rainbow', from 'Moby Dick' to 'Our Mutual Friend')."
That describes my thoughts very nicely. I esteem all those works he mentioned, and more; White is able to put into words my reactions over the years to books I've found outstanding. I would add 'Don Quixote', 'Anna Karenina', 'Independent People', and some more modern works, even if others might not deem them masterpieces.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The plays were the thing

The eight plays we saw in Ashland, Oregon: The Cherry Orchard; an adaptation of a William Saroyan novella called Tracy's Tiger, cast as a musical; an August Wilson work, Gem of the Ocean; As You Like It; a new play called Distracted; The Tempest; The Taming of the Shrew; and a translation of an old Austrian farce called On the Razzle, by Tom Stoppard. Having immersed myself for a bit in Chekov earlier this summer, I really appreciated The Cherry Orchard. It enriched my viewing a good deal to have a feeling for his voice, and his time. We were lucky to catch the final performance of this play for the season. The Saroyan work was odd, but ultimately I did like it. Gem of the Ocean was excellent, and kept a little patch of mystery even after it had ended, not all things explained and laid out to dry for literal-minded folks; I prefer to be able to think about a work afterwards, rather than declare it as being utterly realistic or "true to life." We have far too much of real life to have to put up with it in fiction. Distracted was better than I had thought it would be after reading the introductory information about it, set in modern times and about a family enduring the trials of having a possibly ADD son. Sounds potentially awful, but it was funny and a bit painful now and then.
The Tempest is one of my favorite Shakespeare works, and of course the Oregon Shakespeare Co. did a bang up job on it. Several of my favorite company members were in it, and the evening swirled away on Prospero's magic. Taming of the Shrew, well, I don't care if I see it again. Yes, yes, I realize one needs to keep the chauvinistic abuse and palavering in context, but it's difficult to completely throw off my 21st century sensibilities while we listen to how women need to obey their husbands, kiss their feet, etc. I think I'll put it in the shredder with The Merchant of Venice, which is a lousier play, chock full of antisemitism. Fine, it was the times, but there are still too many of those old time notions floating around. I suppose they're useful as cautionary tales, to show us how far we could slip backwards. The Stoppard play was the only one I could have missed and not felt bad. It struck me as creaky and corny, despite the fine actors' endeavors.
We took a couple of nice day hikes, and walked a fair amount. On the trail up on Mt. Ashland, as we tramped along part of the Pacific Crest Trail, I had one of those universal moments of feeling it was full on summer, like I used to as a kid, deep enough into the season that the start of school wasn't too close, no sinking of the stomach at the prospect of the end of long sunny days; we could have been a couple of kids on the lam.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Educational and pleasurable hookey

We got back from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this afternoon, having attended eight plays in a week. Normally this much indoor sitting around would make me pretty antsy, but it grew hotter and hotter as the days passed, with a midweek rip-roaring thunderstorm providing drama but not a good deal of relief, so the air conditioned environments were pleasant. We were sitting in a restaurant with my beloved spouse's mom when the storm descended, knocking out the power. Our server, a woman we were acquainted with from another bistro where she had conducted herself with great aplomb after a co-worker walked out during the peak of the dinner hour, was no less calm and self-possessed as she went about determining what foods might be possible to obtain in case the power didn't come back. It did, and we didn't starve. All was well at home upon our return.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Day before we leave for Ashland; time to squeeze in a climbing workout, have a spot of socializing before we're off for instruction and delight. Perfectly lovely day.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ladies day

The moms are both "in the house," and I took them off for hairdos. It appeared to be immeasurably restorative for them. Lots of walking and chatting, and we're off to dinner this evening. It's been very pleasant.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Fabulous days; these are what we suffer through dark winter days for. Family visiting from out of town, lots of walking and talking, and we're having a swell time. The cat seems to be coming out of his fireworks-induced terrors, and all's well. Catching up with friends, exercising our rights to be fit.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Not so festive

People keep wishing me a Happy Fourth of July. Considering what it's supposed to commemorate, I don't see how anyone can feel happy about it. Nice to have a day off, but this country has been dragged - well, I have been dragged, among others who don't support the GOP criminals - into harm's way, and has put much of the world in harm's way as well. "Never forget" should now be used to prod people's memories regarding who has been responsible for the pillaging of the USA.
The fireworks are pretty and diverting, but they do not stand for anything good these days.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Forth to the Fourth

A friend from climbing who's been in California for grad school called unexpectedly, wanting to hang out; I abandoned my housecleaning chores to go walk around a nice park - Volunteer Park - in part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. We strolled around the paths, visited the conservatory, whose heat and humidity made the outside weather seem even more divine. She caught me up on her life, part of which has been spent in Mexico visiting a friend teaching there. She's another positive energetic thirty-something who makes me feel more energized, rather than more aged. Our mutual friend whose reconstructive surgery went awry had called to say she'd gotten emergency treatment for a bad infection, was feeling better after massive amounts of antibiotics. We breathed great sighs of relief. This world cannot afford to lose any good people.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Dropped out

Our four day weekend of camping, kayaking and engaging with younger families with children aged two-plus to about age seven turned out to be enjoyable, once I got accustomed to sleeping in the tent. Despite the high number of big and little people involved, twenty grown ups and sixteen young'n's, no one fell off a cliff or got swept away by the currents in the strait. The kids were up early, but they all conked out nicely at night after hours of vigorous play and the nightly "some mores run off." They were less disruptive than the dogs brought in by a different group, which pets barked very loudly at random late night hours. They at least kept the dogs under control physically.
The weather started out with wide swings, from overcast, then pouring rain, a dramatic sunset clearing, and proceeded to increasingly lovely calm days perfect for beach idling or kayaking up and down along the coast. At least a couple of the three local resident pods of orcas presented themselves to us, some people being out in their kayaks by good luck as several orcas passed by, including a mother and baby. There were porpoises, seals, and an assortment of birds. When I was lying in the tent in the early morning, it was entertaining to differentiate among the bird calls that started around dawn. The oystercatchers out on a little preserve island had the most distinctive vocalizations.
The people in our group were fun to talk to, and their kids were a great little bunch. This doesn't mean I'm ready to be a grandmother, however. And of course one would be tidier and have more peace in fancier lodgings, but it was good to be in the mix with these folks. They seemed to possess so much hope and positive energy, which I need a dose of now and then.