Friday, November 30, 2007

Near miss

During our walk, a truck with a flat bed and a good-sized forklift on the stern pulled up to deliver some stone pavers to a house down the block. My mom enjoys watching such events, so we waited to see what would happen. The driver greeted us cheerfully, and told us it was "pretty cool" to see the forklift detached, and proceeded to hop aboard. He whisked the forklift around to the side of the truck, caught part of the lift on the truck wheel, and started to flip over. He would have landed on a fairly new Honda coupe parked right in front of us, and perhaps continued to roll onto us, but somehow managed to right the lift. Breath-taking, but not cool; I hustled us away up the street towards the safety of home. I shall be relating this experience for some days, since my mom has already forgotten it, memorable as it seemed to me.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Moving towards winter

It's been decreed, and the local dumb ass TV stations are practically drooling over the panic possibilities of snow falling around the city. We walked, had a hairdo event, and an early dinner.
Nice musical sample on a public TV station, the Eric Clapton Guitar Festival held in Chicago this summer as a fundraiser for something or other; many amazing guitar slingers featured, including Stevie Winwood at the end. Jeff Beck was also astounding to watch, and he had this really young female bass player who cut quite a figure and played her little digits off. She looked about fourteen, and made wonderful "bad ass" faces while she performed. There's a DVD set out there of this event, which in reality lasted 11 hours; the TV show was a small taste. Bill Murray emceed, and was kind of funny, in his peculiar way. My mother liked B.B. King and Jeff Beck the best.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wet blanket of a day

We got out for my mother's constitutional just before the skies began to ooze cold water. If I hadn't needed to walk out to get some necessities for the household, I would have curled up somewhere with Persepolis, which is turning out to be quite good. I was a bit skeptical about reading a graphic memoir - cartoon-illustrated family drama - but it's engaging.
Polenta for dinner was a great idea.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The cat was acting even more oddly than usual, not wanting to come in out of the cold the other night. When we were all nestled in bed, reading, I was about to turn off the light when the bed felt as if it had been jerked once, rather firmly. It felt like a small earthquake, and finally, late in the afternoon, I found a report of a 4.0 quake out on the Olympic Peninsula. As the person reporting it observed, I hope it was just an easing up, since it was the latest in a flurry of smaller ones. The cats always know, however.
We luck out and have a gorgeous day, which we attempt to inhale.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Good book hunting

Many good works acquired today, mostly at used bookstores; several Iris Murdoch novels, a collection of Margaret Laurence's short stories, her first published works, and a new copy of a Doris Lessing novel I read ages ago, but will be re-reading soon. I also got a paperback copy of the very new graphic work Persepolis, a memoir of a young woman who grew up after the Iranian "cultural" revolution in 1979. It's done in black and white, and thus far is very engaging, although chock full of the horrors and injustices you know occurred. This work was made into a movie recently.
It was a wet and very cold horse blanket of a day, miserable enough to send people to bed early.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Good times

Another good climbing session with my healing friend; it was wonderful to be in her company again, as we are a non-drama-infused duo. Her usually high levels of optimism and hope buoy me.
When will this turkey end? The dear sweet spirits with whom I live claim they enjoy it, but something creative must be done with it on the morrow.
Laurence's novel The Diviners is really pretty terrific; I'll need to find more of her work. In other tome-related news, I wonder if the Oxford World Atlas is a good one...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Some people need stuff

So sometimes one actually has to go out in search of said stuff; we had the nicest late fall urban hike down to a new and used sporting goods place, and managed to find a few nice little items for certain people. We hiked back up to our neighborhood, hit a happy hour at a local spot, and chatted with an acquaintance while we ate an early dinner and glanced at the Apple Cup, the big deal football game between Univ. of Wash. and Wash. State Univ. Nice evening at home.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Yeah, leftover items; we cheerfully consume them. Enough cranberries and wine, and we're good.
No shopping for me on this so-called Black Friday. Just like in the old Steely Dan tune, I can easily dig myself a hole and ignore the consumption frenzies. Feeling increasingly disconnected from people who MUST shop, need to shop, for stuff beyond necessities. It's a disease.
Fortunately found a novel I'd bought in a used book store up on Capital Hill, written by an author recommended by an old book group buddy in Montreal: The Diviners, by Margaret Laurence. I read another of her works, The Stone Angel, lent to me by a local friend, and appreciated this Canadian artist very much. The Diviners is panning out well thus far.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


The bird rolled out nicely, and the stuffing on the side, with the doctored-up Brusseled sprouts, roasted yellow spuds and garnet yam, homemade whole cranberry relish, herbed rolls and plenty of wine made for a more than ample repast. My beloved family courageously devoured the weird pumpkin thing, and claimed they thought it tasted fine; beloved son could not resist remarking that I was cooking for a captive audience, but I know he was just tweaking me. The snarky humor comes down the male line around here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Boil and bubble...

Had a nice intense bouldering session today, to get the kinks out. Self chiropractry.
The uh, "pumpkin-themed" dessert looks kind of strange, but I figure if I put enough frosting on it, it won't matter; my maternal grandmother told me that, years before I saw Julia Child do the same thing on one of her cooking shows. Not cooking that bacon until tomorrow, it's far too tempting to slam a few rashers once it's out in the open. I can't imagine people eating bacon every single day, or many days of their lives; Woody Hayes, the venerable Ohio State University football coach of yore, reportedly did just that. I don't remember much about sports, but I do remember reading that his wife cooked him bacon every morning. I wondered if he would just pop during one of his infamous sideline rages.
Onward, to dream of cookery.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Here it comes

"The tsunami of fat." (from one of our local morning newpaper's food page) The eating holidays; well, I'll make a concerted effort to cut down on extraneous fat, but I hardly ever eat bacon, and there's this package of super duper organic yummy bacon in the fridge that I was planning to cook up nice and crisp and use on the braised cut up Brusseled sprouts. My dear old Dad believed in all things in moderation - and he really lived that way, one of the few who lived by his word. So we will have a moderate amount of delicious bacon interspersed amongst the Brusseled sprouts, along with shallots and toasted hazelnuts. The sprouts currently exist upon an impressive stalk, looking like a little holiday tree. I'm also ruminating upon a pumpkin-themed dessert that isn't a pie, and shall have to act upon my fulminations on Wednesday. Corn bread shall be produced to make stuffing outside the bird, as I'm increasingly fretful over possible bacterial incursions. Heathy and tasty - the ganlet is thrown for the T-Day gauntlet of cookery.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Into the walk-in

We waited, and waited a bit more, but it never really warmed up, so off we went on our usual rounds. Strange trends at a book group site; newish members are turning it into a bible-beatin' bookclub. It feels as if we're being dragged back into the mid-twentieth century or even earlier.
It didn't help that the current "historical" novel - from the sounds of it, "hysterical" would be more accurate - centers on birthin' babies a while ago, and religious baloney keeps surfacing. People use the theme to go off on their childbirth experiences and their religious beliefs. It's about as fun as being dragooned into some evangelical church basement, tied to a chair, and being forced to listen to people testify. People whined about political threads, but at least those could be based on actual facts and events. A very odd part of this is, the author of the novel is part of the group, at least for now. I have a hunch she joined to sell the book, and will be gone after it's off the table. We'll see.
Almost done with the G.H. Lewes biography, and have formed some not utterly positive impressions of Eliot and her consort. Sometimes it's better not to know too much about one's favorite artists.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Scorpio round up

Lovely evening, attended a sort of group birthday fete for several of us with November birthdays. Good company and conversation; one unusual phenomenon was the gradual increase of little dogs in outfits who kept arriving with guests. We decided it reminded us of that old Star Trek episode, "The Trouble with Tribbles", where alien furballs proliferated exponentially on the good ship Enterprise. These dogs, several of them wire-haired dachshunds, which I'd never heard of, were quiet and sweet, but the host muttered through gritted teeth that he knew they were relieving themselves somewhere in the house, since that type of dog hates to go outside in the cold - there's one living in his house - and they'd only find out later where the waste was hidden. Good time for all, including costumed lapdogs.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

All for love

Right as breakfast ended, The Big Game needed to be on; my mom said she's always rooted for Michigan, since my brother got his undergrad engineering degree there. She enjoyed watching, although it wasn't spectacular football, and her team lost. The cat, as always, awoke when he heard the football stadium sounds emanating from the television, took one long look at the screen, and fled for the remainder of the game.
Pleasant day, and promise of a fun evening.

Friday, November 16, 2007

What now?

Ah, Hair Do Day, which once it is underway, is much appreciated. We haven't seen the other LOL for awhile at the salon, but I did see her at the co op, with a not quite as elderly man whom I guess was her son. She asked if my mom had died, and I said no, she would be turning 90 in not too long; she proudly informed me she had turned 90 in September. I wonder if she's still driving; the last time I saw her rolling along in a big old car, her head was barely visible above the bottom edge of the window. Sometimes these glimpses of ripening mortality chill me; sometimes all you can do is laugh.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Murdered sleep

One of those crazy broken sleep nights; then we got into the wet and wild day, eventually finding a mild spot for an old woman to walk and get her circulatory system flexed. Wonder if some day nanotechnology will provide tiny physical trainers to get inside the human body and urge it to pump itself up; leetle teensy Dana Carvers and Ahnolds dressed in lederhosen and exhorting the vascular bits to action. Else all will be gray goo...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Freezing fog

By the time my mother was up, had eaten breakfast and perused the morning paper thoroughly and repeatedly, all was thawed and somewhat brighter. No big walk until later, our usual routine in this slide towards winter. Watching a nature program about Diane McTurk, who works on saving giant river otters in Guyana, we marvel at her spryness at age 74, as she clambers over wooden range fences and swims fluidly with some of the otters she has rescued. "She's just a kid," says my nearly 90 year old mom, who often manages to shock me back into perspective on aging and mortality.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Such a fabulous day, got my mom out for more than six blocks worth of walking. Last night I walked over to my good friend's house to see how her recuperation was going, and to pick up a most interesting birthday gift she had for me: A brussel sprout "tree". The last thing I gave her in honor of her new chest was a big butternut squash. We are evidently in some kind of vegetable exchange, but her gift to me is very impressive visually. Also this household enjoys the sprouts, which will enhance our Thanksgiving feast.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Swirling away

Way too windy for my mother's taste to go outside for a while today, so we did some chores. She marched up and down the stairs, and inspected my vacuuming results. Some time after her lunch we rallied and braved the elements for a pretty good walk for her. She's decided it's time for her old winter coat to come out. I have thought she could use some kind of new fleece outdoor wear, but she resists the idea, saying it isn't necessary. She persists with her old maroon quilted coat.
Stranger and stranger grows the tale about George Henry Lewes and George Eliot; Mr. Lewes, according to the English law in the 1840's, blew his opportunity to divorce his polyandrous wife because early on in her production of kids fathered by a man other than her husband, Lewes accepted the first couple of bastards as his own. Supposedly that negated any claim to get rid of her. And he wound up supporting her and the whole bunch of children for the rest of his life.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Heinz year

And I'm not talking about catsup; 57 years ago, my dear mother brought me into this world. Fortunately, she's still right here to thank for my existence, which of course I did. Now as for the significance of this day:
11/11 used to be known as Armistice Day, to mark the end of all wars. Of course military veterans should be acknowledged, but lately, Veterans' Day seems to me to be a huge marketing and propaganda tool. I can't even stand to recall the images I saw briefly of Shrub and Cheney on the tube today blowing hard about sacrifices; sacrifices that are totally unnecessary, unless one is hauling in the big money as a result. They've co-opted the day for their own uses.
The beloved spouse's favorite birthday cake came out grandly, and we had some for dessert. Plenty left for breakfast...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hangin' five or so

Big big fun this afternoon, what with getting to go for a climbing workout with my good friend's teenaged daughter; she's training for a big boulder competition that's next Saturday. Finally got through the upsidedown lead route I've been working on, and hope they'll leave it up so I can try to do it without a fall.
Sunday is cake baking day, to suffice for the two of us who've had birthdays in the past few weeks. It shall be another Spanish Spice Cake, loaded with seafoam icing, and it will be scrumptious.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The wind that shakes everything

So windy, the gigantic cowbell-like windchime behind us was clonging like a herd heading down from the Swiss Alps for the winter. I doubt, and indeed hope, it doesn't get windy enough to blow it down completely, as that would do some damage around these parts. Not the most melodious form of this strange decoration; I've never understood the reason for windchimes. There was a strange scene in that oldish movie, "Body Heat", which was a remake of "Double Indemnity." Kathleen Turner was working on William Hurt to soften him to get rid of her husband, and they were on her lanai, or veranda or whatever, which was hung with innumerable windchimes, all tinkling and ringing and clanging like crazy in a strong breeze; it was a psychotic background to her insane plans. Very effective.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Dense and saturated

But so good for one's complexion; that's how we looked at it. Quiet evening, good reading. Today'sa mbitious go-getters have nothing on George Herbert Lewes, who was George Eliot's lover and companion for 25 years. He worked like a dog, wrote beautifully and intelligently, and managed to make money selling his work, mostly acclaimed critical pieces. Not so great early marriage, but he got shed of his randy wife and found a soul mate.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Chubby fog

Was it normal fog, or...? Just enough moisture was deposited to start weighing down the maple leaves I've raked onto the parking strip; now we can sit on the stoop and watch the humous develop...
Just a routine maintenance sort of day, with some bread dough production thrown in; our reminescing on walks involved recalling all my mother's friends from Ohio, and where they went to college. That was a tough one for me, but she seemed to be on top of it.
Learning a lot of unexpected things about George Eliot's lover's life. The woman he married came from a family in which marital infidelity was common, not considerd a big deal, and this young woman got Lewes involved in a communal situation; swingers of the 1830's-40's. They also had four sons along the way, with the wifey getting ardent fan mail from male swains even as she lay upon her birthing bed. That old phrase about the mating habits of minks comes to mind...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

One's civic etc.

There was an election today, and I went over to vote at our polling place; these sites are going to disappear eventually, so it's kind of a quaint act to walk over there and fill out a paper ballot. The people working there get stranger every year, and sound suspiciously conservative in their conversations with one another. I like to see my ballot all the way into the collection machine myself, as I don't trust this lot. A series of little old people manned the polling place over the years, and I'm sure they're long gone. The old dears were very slow and shaky, and you had to help them find your name, convince them you were in that precinct; it was always an adventure for them. My mother told me recently that when her mother was older, she always worked at the polling place, and liked to see who came in from around their neighborhood. It was a social event for my grandmother.
Very enjoyable late afternoon workout at the climbing gym where our son works; he took mercy upon his mom and we had a really good session. I'm getting farther on the lead route that heads out onto the roof and downclimbs. It's the point where I have to commit to the downward direction that throws me. I'm exhorted to just go for it, so I do, a bit more each attempt.
Son's made some very nice friends lately, all female. They all seem to be energetic and positive, fun to talk to.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Blanketing but quickly dissipating

Another layer of fog, another layer of maple leaves; we walked, raked, talked, slaked our thirsts. I've finished Murdoch's The Good Apprentice, and after all, found it to be quite good, in its rambing loquacious way. Picking up some of what seem to be Murdoch's pet themes, such as the effects of a character who is reported to be charismatic by others in the novel, yet from which veils are lifted and normal mortality is revealed, more or less; the strange quandaries of characters who think themselves just about to death; fringe-ish happenings and behaviors. She's a funny one, this writer, she often irritates the hell out of me for a while, then wins me over. I may need to go find more. Next up is a volume called Mr. George Eliot, by a British historian. I aim to find out more about Eliot's "coach."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What extra hour?

Somehow I didn't get to appreciate the "extra" time we gained. We forgot to reset my mom's watch, so she was up and at 'em too early. The dogs around us don't seem to have reset their inner clocks, either.
The day was saved by a most enjoyable rope climbing workout with my good friend's teenage daughter, a high school senior. She offered to go, so wangled her mom's car and off we went. She is a beautiful climber, and it was fun to have a "rope gun" to lead routes I'd not be able to finish. There were a couple of kind of obnoxious guys who were trying to jump in front of us on the lead wall, and one of them struggled on a route while we waited for them. After he gave up on it, my young friend coolly whisked up the same route the macho guy had bailed on. Sweet and wordless check.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A gift

My good friend who's recovering from a huge surgery wanted to walk around the lake, a bit over three miles. She appears to be healing about twice as fast as the average lumpen person. Quite amazing, and heartening to observe.
There was a two pound Dungeness crab beckoning to me from its ice bed at the store, so guess what's coming to dinner?

Friday, November 02, 2007


Teasing, advancing and retreating finally, lifting a veil from another wonderful fall day. We're sleepy round here, restless night, but the sunlight seems to rectify everything.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It's all around

We just wait it out, and it cleared off nicely today. Good walks, great feline accompaniment, chickens grousing, all seems fairly well around here.
The crazy, closeted hypocritical GOPers are stacking up like cordwood. It's like some kind of medieval fanaticism gone insane. They'd have been better off marching around in hordes as flagellants; that would have provided some sick entertainment value for their own base.
Off for a visit with some old friends.