Wednesday, October 31, 2007


It crept in, it retreated, it returned; the evening was chilly, with but a dozen or so little celebrants. About the cutest thing I have ever seen was an almost two year old, angelic-faced little girl dressed up as a Great White Shark. She signed "thank you" as I put her treat in her tiny little pumpkin basket; her dad said she isn't talking a whole lot yet, but knows some ASL, which comes in handy for communication. Beloved spouse called her a Land Shark, which elicited a chuckle from her father. She was fascinated by the bedizened Spooky Tree I drag out of the far spookier basement every year; its cobwebs and bats get grayer and more weathered-looking with each passing Halloween. I applied another string of tiny lights this year, purple ones, to pep it up, and placed a skullish-looking white pumpkin with a face drawn on it at the base of the tree. The tiny Great White stood gazing at this assemblage, patting the pumpkin's face. I'm keeping it up for El Dia de los Muertos.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A certain transparent quality

Another way to consider fog; it seemed translucent, and definitely promised, and delivered, sun and warmth.
Further reconsideration of the Murdoch novel I'm reading: There is a wonderfully strange thread interspersed through the narrative which is a rejiggered kind of princess captive in a castle story, with a young male protagonist sort of marooned in a fascinatingly imagined landscape with three women, one of whom is his stepmother and two who are supposedly his half-sisters. Murdoch is expert, when on her game, at subtly twisting things so that the reader finds herself in doubt of just about every part of the story. Fabulous landscape description, which I relish; a soupcon too much of otherworldly bits, but I'll take it anyway.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Foggy fog

It was opaque and heavy, and condensed into sprinkling. There was no promise of sun or warmth, but no wind, thus acceptable for elderly exercising. I'm thinking we should find some kind of windproof fleecy burkha or Bedouin outfit in order to keep a certain someone snuggly and warm when there's a breath of air about.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rosy-fogged Dawn

This morning the foggy environment was tinted a rosy pink hue. Variation of red sun at morning? We heeded no warning and all got out for working of the circulatory systems. Many more carved pumpkins on display throughout the neighborhoods. Even people with no kids have had them out for a while. One notable variation was a very large orange one holding a horror-stricken tiny one in its jagged teeth; many were products of stencils, which aren't as much fun, although nice and tidy as Martha would like it. I admire the results of finding a deformed pumpkin and carving whatever suggests itself on the surface, but people prefer predictibility. One house had a tall pumpkin crammed onto a little barbeque; should be interesting to see what they do to its face. Meanwhile, our candy supply remains unmolested...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Golden foggy morning

What an amazing image, seeing the tail end of the sunrise as fog drifted in; meteorological special effects are beyond price. The football fans are ensconced today, with a cavalcade of games to view. I went over to accompany my good friend on a longer walk than she's had since her latest round of plastic surgery. She as always approaches such horrors with her plucky humor. She observed that she had the perfect Halloween costume right on her front, if she only had the nerve to go topless. What with the sutures and livid scars, she could be Boobs of the Bride of Frankenstein, no extra make up required. She was able to walk erectly, something she wasn't permitted to do for a few days after the operation. We took her sweet dog up into the dog park, where there was a whirl of butt sniffing and chasing, evidently necessary for dogs' socialization. I was relieved to be going as some young sullen dude brought a female pitbull into the area.
More football in the offing; this calls for pizza.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The screeching of the grass

More like the effect very long grass had on the mower, but it's scythed for the rest of the year. No gang of field workers around to do it, and I managed without the vodka. Now the neighboring cats can roam through the side yard without getting lost, although I bet they liked that jungly effect.
So I did delve into that Murdoch novel, and in an odd way I'm appreciating it. There's a slew of strange characters, including a fellow who is described as when a child, having seen his father killed by a camel when they were in Egypt on a long-planned trip. He also saw the aftermath, when they shot the camel. His wife says it's always on his mind, and everyone around him tries to be careful about referring to camels, but of course, it's difficult to avoid thinking of them. At a dinner party, another character asks for a drink, saying he feels as dry as a camel. The poor camelphobe breaks down and flees from the scene. Twisted humor.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Running out of reads

Not sure how this developed, but I seem to be without anything good to read. I did find another Iris Murdoch novel on our shelves - The Good Apprentice - but I don't think I'm in the mood for more of her elaborate psychological shenanigans. And I do not like Flaubert, who is on the menu for a book group. Sounds like a bookhunting trip is in order again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


My dad used to fume during stretches of crappy weather in NW Ohio about gigantic fans that the Russians had on the Kamchutka Peninsula which Dad half-jokingly claimed were sending the big weather fronts our way. As a very young credulous child, this scared me. Now, as a completely rational adult, I think back on his rantings and wonder if there ever could be a way to deflect horrendous amounts of precipitation to places that needed them. Of course they'd probably screw it up somehow, but it could be worth researching. We don't need all this rain, and it could just as well go down the coast to California.
Nought to do but get out of the house any way we can, unfurl the great golf umbrella, and slog along. Then off to the climbing joint.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Where are my scythers?

When I re-read Anna Karenina a little while ago, I came to it older and with a very different perspective than I had the first time through. I wasn't so focused on her tragic love affair, was more appreciative of the rich background and contextual details. For instance, those Russian landowners and their crews of people who cut the hay and grain with scythes; the descriptions of those scenes were wonderful. A group of those strong hearty fellows would get our side yard done in the blink of an eye, in the downing of a shot of vodka.
It's like early summer here, and we don't want to be scything, we want to be walking and drinking it in. We shall not see the likes of this for months.

Monday, October 22, 2007

On a roll

Managed another little cameo workout at the climbing gym, with a different friend. Afternoon brought chores which required walking, and in the mid-60's weather, it was a joy to get out. Lots of exercise for my mom, too, with a bonus chicken visit accompanied by a four year old neighbor girl, whose mother describes her as going on 13. She'd been to get her hair cut, and it sounded like a mini spa day, with shampooing, French braiding and glittering involved. The only glitter I recall from my early years was the heavy duty stuff we poured on glue to make holiday cards in first grade. It was more like metallic paint flakes, and probably was lead-laden and made in Taiwan. Our little friend was playing with an adding machine, and got big amusement out of me reading off the numbers in billions she was creating. Kids do the darnedest stuff.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fun in no sun

Another miserably wet morning; the young climbers have fled to the other side of the mountains, hoping for at least part of a dry day. Those of us not so free to go have to resort to the gym. It was packed, but still pleasant to get some exercise with a couple of friends. There were several young kids running a bit wild, which bugs one of my friends, but I guess these young families are trying to have some kind of outing on a lousy day. Every once in a while one of the youngsters gets clocked by a climber peeling off a boulder problem, and you have to shoo them off the rope piles, but they're awfully cute, as long as they're not throwing pea gravel.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Since beloved spouse wasn't going to be home on his birthday, we met up with friends to fete him a bit early. We just aren't counting the actual number of years either of us has racked up. Funny, the eldest among us frequently rounds up her age; I suppose that's because it's a pretty impressive sum. She's still a kick: The other day one of her elderly acquaintances was gone on Sunday afternoon. I joked that maybe the casinos had an after-church special. My mom quipped,"Come on in! We'll take whatever you didn't put in the collection plate!" Snap!

Friday, October 19, 2007

There's a cake in your future

Someone is soon to mark another birthday, someone we can't live without, not one of us. We'll see about that cake. It'll need to be especially tall and lusciously frosted...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Got my big can of vegetarian baked beans at the ready!

It was in fact very exciting to get out in the wild winds. The bigger trees were swaying crazily and making roaring sounds, since there are still so many leaves still on their branches. A nearby school seemed to be letting its students out a bit earlier than usual, and the old teachers' observation about how incoming heavy weather systems make kids go wild seemed to be playing out, as the children were careening around in front of the building like little dervishes while their parents stood around and chatted. Anyone out walking was playing arborial roulette.
Our cat sat out on one of the chairs on the front porch, maybe watching leaves blow by. He wasn't venturing beyond the shelter of the roof.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Disaster coming?

The local newsdroids are all aflutter: There may be another Big Windstorm tomorrow! They are exhorting one and all to go stock up on EVERYTHING, buy, buy, buy. Meanwhile, the actual weather pattern seems to indicate that this remnant of some tropical storm named Lingling - sounds like a panda's name - may just go north and into Canada, which the weatherdroid sort of mutters out of the side of his mouth as he grins inanely. What a pathetic spectacle.
Back to Iris Murdoch; this novel is getting a bit more engaging, The Message to the Planet. She was certainly into some strange psycho-philo-sexual something-or-others, was Ms. Murdoch.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Onward and upward

Unexpected pleasure today, as I got to spend a couple of hours at a local climbing gym, training with our son. I managed to get up some pitifully easy routes, while I belayed him on his training laps on the sixty foot long roof routes. The gym wasn't crowded, they had good world music playing, and we had a good session.
On a whim, I went running later in the evening with my beloved spouse, and went to bed well-exercised, too tired to really get much traction in the strange Iris Murdoch novel I've begun, Message to the Planet. This work was published in 1989, and is not, thus far, as interesting as some of her earlier novels.
My very last bit of Eliot was consumed recently, a weird little novella called The Lifted Veil; odd, in that I learned Eliot was interested in the occult at some point. I have to wonder why all those fine rational women writers, like Eliot, Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Bowen, would bother to write ghost stories and the like.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sunday slipped by

We savored the last lovely day of the weekend, taking a good urban hike around to some of our favorite spots. Gasworks Park was full of people dressed up like anime characters, we thought, as well as a contingent of sturdy folks pretending to be medieval warriors. A weather system was moving in, blowing away the smog accumulating around the area. Sometimes it looks as bad as L.A. Seattle, despite its kind of "green" vibes, is really as guilty of pollution from too many people driving cars as any other place except perhaps big cities in China. Seattle was labeled the Number 1 place to be in about fifty years in a recent edition of Rolling Stone, and perhaps it will be pleasant, though partially flooded, and damned expensive, if there isn't a nuclear event somewhere in the world. If that occurs, no place will be safe.
Hope away, those of you who can.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Another bit of fun

Last night's play turned out to be pretty good, better as it gained momentum in its second act. Hearing Reagan's voice as part of the play's "texture" was nauseating, but did add to the overall effect. It was eerie to see the Beirut terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks/Granada invasion to "Get America back in the saddle!" as a miniature dry run for the 9/11 /Iraq debacle.
And appalling to see the start of the GOP/neocons' spin cycle.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Off to see a play this evening at a nearby theater. Just getting out for a bit seems to be good for all of us. It's a play by Steven Dietz called "Halcyon Days", set during the invasion of Granada back in the early 1980's, and described briefly as a political satire. Not sure I'm ready for high hilarity about the Gipper.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


While running down by a nearby lake, I kept noticing clumps of fungi appearing, especially under the many white birches that have been growing along the lake for years. Under a particularly large and bowery birch, there are a good number of amanita muscaria popping up, those picturesque but toxic red-capped ones with white bumps all over the tops. They're the kind pictured in cute little garden statuary arrangements with elves and gnomes and fairies. Years ago a friend who was an amateur expert on psychedelic substances told us these fungi could bring on colorful hallucinations. There were several crows among the mushrooms, picking at them; could bring on some interesting avian behaviors.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Total adjustment

The local health problems seem to have stabilized, so I could scoot away for some climbing, albeit fake. Don't need a chiropractor with a climbing gym available. Several acquaintances were there, and all seem to have elderly relatives who are ailing and failing about now. It's a shock to these younger folks, dealing with the diminishment of their loved ones capabilities, but there isn't much we can do about the process, except adjust. It is some help to have people to compare notes with about it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Science project

My mother and I joke about her being an ongoing science experiment. After all the monkeying around we've had to do with electrolytes, we could probably do a paper on it, start a PhD.
We watched Part One of a very good adaptation of Jane Eyre on Masterpiece Theater the other night. Mr. Rochester is played by such an attractive actor, his own personal hotness must have ignited the bed. Fortunately I recall enough about the novel, which I really don't like very much, to keep my mother abreast of plot developments. It's difficult for her to follow anything for very long without a guide.
Out with the offspring for some sushi.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Rooting for the squids

We saw part of a strange show on Animal Planet the other night which depicted "what scientists think Earth will be like in 200,000,000 years!" There were gigantic animals which looked like a cross between tortoises and apatosauri, huge Lurkfishes which, well, lurked about in swampy areas, waiting to give other creatures paralyzing electric shocks and then gulping them down. It attacked a Swampus, which looked a bit like an octopus with a carapace, leaving a passle of baby Swumpuses motherless. Out in the great wide ocean, there were Sharkopaths - who made up the dopey names? - which communicated with other pack members via bioluminescent flashings on their sides. They tracked down a 100 foot long Rainbow Squid, which was putting on a light show for potential mates and - of course, it was calamari time for the Sharkopaths. Nearly every creature was electrified or bioluminescent or both, and the narration was on the idiotic side. I think I'd rather re-read Robert Silverberg's sci fi novella in his collection Sailing to Byzantium which concerned a man who traveled two hundred million years into the future, and wound up in the body of a lobster. Much better diversion.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Choice of celebrations

Tomorrow is either Columbus Day, or National Cephalopod Awareness Day. Based on the relative prevalence of the animals involved, I think the underdogs - or would that be undersquids? - need support.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


From unconsciousness in the morning to watching football in the afternoon; it's getting harder. It's difficult to know quite how to proceed, with a malady that's unexplained and unpredictable. One would like all medical mysteries explained and solved, but that is not to be, at least not right now. Back in George Eliot's time, this sort of thing was vaguely called something like "the spasms", "vapors", or "spells." Back in the mid 1800's, they used leeches, blistering, bleeding, and an assortment of powders, pills, and liquid medicaments. There's no better treatment today, although there's a crisp term for it: Syncope. And a battery of tests to determine it, but - no treatment. Just watching and waiting, and chocolate truffles.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Book hunting

Who knew Bukowski would be so hard to find. In one used bookstore, they keep the Beats, when they have any,behind the front desk; owing to their great value? There was a collection of Willa Cather's short stories, which my mom will enjoy. We have a growing selection of short story collections, and she likes to re-read some of them. The humorist Douglas Welch has been a favorite lately.
Odd to be in the University District around lunch time; so many kids milling around, including sorority girls who look like caricatures of themselves, make up piled on faces, sagging sweat pants, Greek logos rampant. They clog the drugstore, yacking on cell phones. One young dude saunters along, bragging on his cell phone about the amount of alcohol he soaked up last night.
The skies are split, half blue, half bruised.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dental expedition

You would have thought I was taking her to some kind of torture chamber; for some people, a trip to the dentist is that, if only due to the build-up of anxiety beforehand. "I thought at almost age 90, I wouldn't have to go any more," said my mother. Would that there were some way to guarantee that, but teeth don't endure without help.
There was a small volume of Eliot left as yet unread on the bedside table, Scenes of Clerical Life, her first published fiction. In the first piece, titled "The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton", here's some of that swell stuff I've enjoyed all summer: "Mr. Pilgrim generally spoke with an intermittent kind of splutter; indeed, one of his patients had observed that it was a pity such a clever man had a 'pediment' in his speech. But when he came to what he conceived the pith of his argument or the point of his joke, he mouthed out his words with slow emphasis; as a hen, when advertising her accouchement, passes at irregular intervals from pianissimo semi-quavers to fortissimo crotchets."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Darkness at dawn

We traveled from gray gloom to patches of brilliance by afternoon; ordinary, unnotable hours, other than a trip for beautification. My mother informed the stylist, as always, that she felt old. This engendered a cheery pep talk, of which she seems to need more lately. One must be coach and cheerleader.
Wound up Atwood's nonfiction collection, which was ultimately all right. Not blindingly stellar, but it did provide some views of works I'd read which were thought provoking. A few others were simply provoking.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lost days

One of those weird ones, in which a household member has a spell, and I spend the rest of the day fretting; fortunately, I got out, worked out, and tried to put all out of mind, from home health issues to Burmese monks floating face down in filthy water.
Fortunate to be able to connect with very old friends for wine and a light dinner; so good to get outside the usual sphere, however briefly.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Saturn in the triangle, eightball in the side pocket

If there were visibility at night, evidently we would be seeing all kinds of interesting and dramatic stellar line-ups...
Glad to have some very good female friends who keep in touch, and get my derrierre out to at least the climbing gym. I think I'd get too isolated otherwise. Companionship helps in keeping to a fitness habit.