Friday, August 31, 2007

Into the weekend

We got caught in some light rain while on a walk; it was a wonderful novelty. It's pleasant to stay around on this holiday weekend; it sounds as if the border traffic going into Canada is hideous, coming and going, which was one option. Good to just hang out and get some reading done.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dying summer

Frenzy of climbing workouts this week; twice today, as a friend I hadn't seen in ages called me. She recently returned from Ecuador, and no more of the kids on the climbing team, including her daughter, came down with the hanta virus. The US older teenaged girls did very well in the world competition, finishing second, third and twelfth. My friend and her family were pretty adventurous in eating, trying street foods and beverages, and felt no ill effects until they got home. (One meat they were curious about but never tried was alpaca. Those are an animal with lovely big eyes and eyelashes, and terribly cute babies.) They didn't get around the country as much as they'd wanted to, but driving was problematic; in Quito it was insane, and out in the countryside, not much better, with worse roads. They saw lots of street kids, from very young on up, rushing out into traffic when it was snarled, and hustling for money, via juggling, smearing black gooey "polish" on people's shoes if they could get at them, and other assorted enterprises. My friend's eighth grade son evidently had his eyes opened to the relative cushiness of his existence. Maybe services like the Peace Corps should offer programs for middle schoolers...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

To market to market

Today was a gorgeous sunny afternoon, and the fragrances of all the fruits displayed at our little bitty weekly market floated through the air. There were freshly shelled cannellini beans, which I brought home and cooked with onion and garlic; tender and flavorful. Also got some Romano green beans, which look like regular ones on steroids. The recipes I've found for them claim they cook faster than regular green beans, which seems odd, but maybe it's because they're flat, despite being so much wider and longer than regular string beans.
Romola ended with a dreamlike series of events, and left me feeling nostalgic, almost, for times when people may have actually believed that religion could improve human behavior; not that it really did so much, but people were able to try to believe it could. That's the only use I can see for it, and it hasn't achieved that much for centuries. As little regard as I have for religion, I could tolerate its existence if it improved this planet.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Maybe it was just knowing the lunar eclipse was going to happen that woke me up as it started; drifting off, I woke as it was ending. Not as dramatic in a big urban area with much light pollution, but still pretty clear. Wonder what hellish sort of omen it was.
Nearing the end of Romola, and it's been a strange journey.

Monday, August 27, 2007

If there's a bustle in the hedge row,

DO be alarmed now...this ain't no spring clean for the May Queen. As I was running back up the hill towards home this afternoon, I passed a house with a fairly high retaining wall, and a fair amount of shrubbery. I heard a loud rustling, glanced to my right, into the face of a large, mostly white pitbull. I just kept running, and suddenly heard a loud,"Sit your ass DOWN!" When I looked back to see who it was, I saw a skinny young black guy, with his hand on the pitbull's collar. It had been offleash, and fortunately, he had been close enough to drag it back away from its trajectory towards my neck. I just kept running, thinking I wanted to tear this kid a new one for having the pitbull out unleashed, but decided I may as well get home. The incident happened so quickly it stuck with me as a waking nightmare.
Pleasant evening as an antidote.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


There's a cat who was abandoned by a former resident of the block, and some of us have been trying to find a permanent home for him. Got one good prospect, maybe another; he needs to be somewhere without a competing cat. He's learned a thing or two about chickens during his "foster" care, always handy for a cat to remember.
The political maneuverings in Eliot's novel Romola are becoming so complicated I have to reread some passages to be sure I've gotten it right. It's based on actual historical events, but the male protagonist she's got juggling the intrigues of several different factions seems to have unusually keen abilities, particularly in regards to his personal survival. Uncanny how echos of this sort of activity roll down the corridors of time.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday not in the park

A hanging around kind of day, catching up on little things; made sure to get people out for maintenance. Lovely albeit brief rain showers as we settled down for the night. Things are getting pretty dicey in old Florence...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Striking quote

There is much political machinating in the George Eliot novel Romola, particularly at the point I've reached, where the French king Charles VIII has left Florence with his invading army, and a bunch of rich fellers, friends of the Medicis, not a good position to be in, are sitting around after a sumptuous supper - they thought, back then, that fine dining led to fine thoughts - trying to figure out how to save their sumptuous asses. One of them says, talking about Savanarola, the charismatic priest who's inflaming the populace: "This theory of the Frate's, that we are to have a popular government, in which every man is to strive only for the general good, and know no party names, is a theory that may do for some isle of Cristiforo Columbo's finding, but will never do for our fine old quarrelsome Florence." He goes on to say they, the rich guys, should feign support of the Frate, but work things always to their own favor. George Eliot was writing this in the mid 1800's, based on research she'd done about Florence in the 1400's. I can't quite make out if she's just setting up an historical situation in that comment, or poking at the America that by her time was already embroiled in a civil war. I'm kind of thinking she's taking a swipe at the USA's drift away from the Founding Fathers' ideals.
But working for the general good, knowing no party names - have we EVER experienced such government? Has anyone anywhere in the world? Is there even a little ideal isle in existence?

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Our little farmers' market, though modest in comparison to ones elsewhere, has been putting out some fine offerings. One stand had cranberry shelling beans, and three different colors of string beans; another had a dozen different kinds of potatoes. The guy running it said they were aiming to have twenty two varieties of potatoes eventually, which will be amazing to see. They had all blue ones, Viking purple, yellow fingerlings, Yukon gold, German butterball, regular red-skinned new potatoes, red potatoes with yellow flesh, baking potatoes, and several more I can't recall at the moment. They cost the same per pound, so you could mix them in order to sample them all. This farmer had organically raised pork and beef, too, and made his own sausages. I found the fish guy, and got a little piece of freshly caught wild king salmon.
Eggs seem to be the hottest and rarest commodity, and I've heard from friends that they've seen the eggs disappear before opening time at the markets, since the vendors want them, too, and buy them before the customers are let in.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Summer's fleeing

The evening walk's illumination is fading faster; by the time we got to the lake, the sun was nearly down. Just a handful of people catching the end of a rare warm evening, and a breeze for a kite. As usual, not many others are out on the streets, but the cold blue TV flickering in windows is plentiful. We made a big circuit, coming back along a wooded path in the dark.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Beneath the surface

Things roil. Presence of mind would aid action.
A good friend is in Ecuador with her family, observing their daughter's participation in a climbing competition. I hope all went well, particularly since the kid was on a trip a few weeks before with some others, one of whom came down with the hanta virus, contracted in Colorado. That boy survived, and no one else has shown symptoms. Horribly ironic that they had to go through a bunch of inoculations for the South American trip, and the real danger lay in some rodent-infested granola in the US of A.
Reading about plague-threatened Italy in the late 1400's does not lighten my dreams.

Monday, August 20, 2007


There have been a few teasing mentions of a movie version of ye olde legende of Beowulf coming out this fall. Evidently it is one of the computer graphics/live action mixtures, and features Angelina Jolie as Grendel's Dam. Now that is a scary proposition; look around, you'll find the trailer out there, showing Jolie slinking along in murky water in a cave, with a hint of reptilian tail dragging along behind. Well, as a kid, I used to like reading those comic book versions of the classics; I bet I would have been agog at a film version like this. No, probably I would have been hiding behind the couch, or running out of the room when the gore began to fly. Probably would do so today.
More my speed to meander through the back streets of 15th century Florence, observing a male protagonist rescue a vulnerable little contadina from the literal clutches of a conjurerer or a fake priest with a fake altar boy and a manic monkey. Those old time Florentines evidently liked pretty clunky practical jokes.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Global dimming

Applies to the earth's atmosphere, as well as to its inhabitants' diminishing symptoms of intelligence; around here it refers to the curtains of rain muffling the skies. Perfect for indoor climbing, the only relief for restlessness, so I went with our son to at least get above sea level by part of a rope's length.
Forward into olden Florence and its strange entertainments, in Romola.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Good byes

School starts early in Idaho, especially the universities - as on Monday - so off our visitors had to go. As they drove away, it finally started to rain. We'd had fun at the playground nearby, and the rain had held off in a spectacular way. We had had a rough night, as the daughter of some neighbors had a bunch of swilling boys over on Friday night while her parents were gone, and they made plenty of noise until around three A.M. Next time I'm calling the police, and letting them know there are likely some underage drinkers whooping it up. Stupid little gits. And you can bet we'll never hear any apologies from these people. We're off now to get a little walk.

Friday, August 17, 2007

All's well

Fine family feast with everyone in attendance; wild king salmon and halibut, our own new potatoes, fresh green beans, and assorted accompaniments, including plenty of Ethiopian items.
Another great day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A quorum

Very busy round here; full house. Lots of action, with three boys aged about 7-13. Got in a couple of workouts, walks, and now all are consuming mass quantities.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why I adore George Eliot

The current novel of hers that is engaging me is Romola, and it's wonderful to get her 19th century take on 15th century Florence, Italy. She has set the stage beautifully, if somewhat potentially claustrophobically, in the walled city state, from architectural details to the population's habits and diversions. Certain characters have already behaved in ways that set up reverberations which will eventually knock them to the wall. I am glad I have developed the right frame of mind to be patient with a thought process and manner of expression which seem to leave many people cold, or out cold. Eliot is a treasure.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Big deal, Rove's removing his fat ass from the forefront; he'll still be machinating somewhere. And he's infected a whole bunch of young weasels with his nasty fervor. It doesn't help to lobby for impeachments and other sorts of removals, this lot sticks around like burrs on a tender part of an anatomy, or hangs on like a fungus infection. There's no getting rid of them, really.
Meanwhile, it pays to be distracted by useful and pleasant activities, as simple as helping someone feel confident as she approaches her tenth decade on this planet.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Ignoring all issues and frets; just keeping ourselves fit. Eliot's novel Romola is slowly winding itself up, with deft clues dropped along the way as to the true nature of "the shipwrecked stranger." He promises to be a hateful character, in the same league as Henleigh Mallinger Grandcourt in Daniel Deronda,or maybe worse, since he feigns such an attractive shell. As in Middlemarch, there is at least one character mired in incomprehensible, convoluted "scholarly" work which is spun entirely out of his ego; again I marvel at Eliot's ability to create these bizarre and maddening fellows. This is no bodice ripper, rather a meaty peculiar piece of work.
We were visited briefly by our son and one of his friends, who showed us a couple of glimpses into the Second Life phenomenon. I don't need to see any more.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


We have a young person bunking out with us for a few days while she explores Seattle, on her way to a year of being an exchange university student in the southeastern USA. She hails from Canberra, Australia, and has already dipped into some West Coast stuff, like LA, Orange County, a bus trip to Las Vegas that included one hour at the Grand Canyon, South Rim. We took her out for a bite of sushi, and managed to be in Gas Works Park when the fireworks for the big mysterious private party were launched; fantastic show, better than the ones for the Fourth. The solution to the people behind this do is anticlimatic: Some local fifty-something corporate guy celebrating his marriage to his second trophy bride. At least they invited the neighborhood to see the fireworks, and it was fun for our guest. I kept my ears covered.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hunkering down in paradise

We heard from family back in Ohio that it's like a sauna there, hot, humid; sounds more like a steam bath, but unpleasant regardless. Round here it's perfect for evening walks, beverages and talks.
Also heard from my brother, who just did a two week backpacking/fishing trip in the Wind Rivers Range in Wyoming; they had tons of rain, unheard of by his friend who's been doing this trip for decades. The surface water temperature in the upper Golden Lakes was unusually high, and they got no fish there, they thought because the fish had gone to deep water. Lower down they did catch good-sized fish, and had plenty of mushrooms to cook with due to the rain. The two of them had a fine time, including his 76 year old friend's anti Bush -Cheney-merganser rants. (He hates that particular kind of duck since it gobbles up fish. And he thinks even less of the aforementioned creatures.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

End of summer as we know it?

This is a prime month, with no more heat waves, I hope. The local farmers' market provided a fine array of vegetables, as well as a few goat cheeses, a chevre with herbes de Provence on it, another soft one, and a ripened one with the firmness of Havarti but not the blandness, it's tangy and delectable; made locally, not too far from here. I asked if they did blue cheeses, and the woman in the booth told me that once you start making blues, everything becomes blue cheese, the mold spreads all over everything. The two-colored corn from Eastern Washington is sweet, and the organic beefsteak tomatoes went well with fresh basil and some of the chevre. The three colors of potatoes, white from our backyard, yellow and purple from the market, were a nice match for the organic steak I broiled; just a little bit of red meat can't hurt us.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Watching the block

We are sort of the de facto sentinels, as we walk up and down and around every day; it's been peaceful, other than the chicken incident. Several of us met for a dessert block watch gathering, with a visitor from down the main street dropping by with his dog and a six pack of hard cider. It was very congenial, and one of the neighbors' kids put on a three act entertainment for us, with hula skirt, cowgirl hat and boots, sword, hobby horse, and finally, fairy wings. Indescribably wonderful.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I love the coolness

The marine push has been in full force lately, after perfect hot days last week. Makes for lovely sleeping weather, and easier labor out in the yard.
I finished Eliot's Daniel Deronda, which was a wonderful huge novel, albeit oddly larded with Eliot's delvings into Judaism. I say oddly, since she evidently took it upon herself to become informed about Judaism, and ridding herself of her prejudices and ignorance; at times, the characters she voiced her newfound respect for the religion through seemed kind of forced. But I admire her efforts, and she seems to have turned her abandoned obsession with Christian evangelicalism to improving herself personally by shedding her negative impressions of Jewish people. This is a difficult and humbling effort for humans, I think, but if we all did even a tiny bit of this kind of improvement in ourselves, I believe the world would be a better place. Well, at least for a while.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Onward into August

We march along, trying to stay relatively cogent; my mom saw a neighbor's sign signaling their support of impeachment, and said she liked George Bush, and didn't understand this sign. I tried to be patient as I reminded her of which particular George Bush this referred to, and she acknowledged that she must have been thinking of Bush, Senior, still a fucking jerk, but not the current one, not the kind of Republicans she and Dad used to be, ad nauseum. She finally said,"I guesss there are a lot of people as stupid as I am." I told her she had an excuse for being confused, since she's almost ninety years old and not really paying attention to all this crap, but that yes, there are many very stupid people out there. Ah. To hell we go.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

dreamy daze

This part of summer is prime: cool nights for sleeping, overcast mornings for waking up, and perfect days for doing anything. All seems peaceful on the block lately, especially since the blasted Blue Angels ahve finished with their practices and "shows." I have never seen the point of this expensive and polluting display, and the photos in the paper of people gaping up in slack-jawed wonder at them disgust me. For the amount of taxpayer money wasted on these jet jockeys showing off all over the country, I'll bet a fair amount of contribution towards education or just about anything productive could be made. Which brings up the thought that anyone who voted for the Shrub and/or supported the Iraq occupation needs to pony up to pay for it. I read somewhere that the fifty some million idiots who voted for this administration in 2004 could put a dent in the waste of the war by paying around $17,000 each.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ready to rumble

Well, I can finally sort of go downstairs with a normal gait; and I'm fixing to go running and weightlifting, so I've incurred no lasting damage from my last outdoor adventure. 'Twill serve me well on our journey for happy hour sushi.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Tempted to cartwheel

Almost back to normal; feeling humbled. Big drama in the hood: Our dear sweet friend across the street who has chickens suffered the loss of one of the two young ones she got a while ago. Some thoughtless idiots up the street left a window open on the ground floor of their house, and a large white dog got out and came down to our friends', somehow pushed the side door to their garage open, snatched up one of the young chickens, killed it and ate it. Its feathers were strewn all the way up the block, and a pile of grisly remains is in the side yard from whence the chicken thieving animal came. We told our friend that back in Ohio, if a dog got a taste for chickens, it was taken out and shot, but of course we don't have that option here in 21st century Seattle. More as it breaks...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Licking one's wounds

Today I feel I am in about the same condition as my nearly ninety-year-old mother; maybe worse, as I 'm so stiff I have to down the stairs sideways. Walking around the neighborhood was about as much as I wanted to do. A mile round trip walk to the grocery store seemed arduous; I almost sat down about three blocks from home. Beautiful weather and my mother's sympathetic yet humorous remarks buoyed us along.
I'm nearing the end of Eliot's "Daniel Deronda" - a strange but wonderful book.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dead tired woman walking

Such a day; we had a seven mile hike up to the climbers' trail to Mount Thompson, a strenuous clamber up a fallen rock field to the base of the climb, a fun climb and couple of rappels, and a tortuous decent down more talus. My friend, who led the climb, told me I was earning my merit badge points for "alpine groveling". I think I groveled enough getting down from the climb, then back up to the notch where we met the climbers' trail, and down that goat track to the main trail to earn a whole sash's worth of badges, but I must admit I don't do this on a regular enough basis to be better fit to do it, as she does. The return seven miles seemed long, and I was sore, with new sore areas cropping up to supercede the former ones. Plenty of bug bites, too, and I have so many lumps threatening to itch that it doesn't pay to start on any of them. I'm glad we did this, but I have no desire to return to that peak. The trail, yes. It was like a stroll down a garden path after that approach and descent.