Thursday, January 31, 2008

More big fun

Second day in a row, a wee climbing workout; unexpectedly my friend and longtime climbing partner called, having a day off since she has to work on the weekend. She has one more round of reconstructive surgery coming up, smaller this time, so wants to get in as much exercise as she can. She was also going to play soccer last night, in a co-rec game, something she'd sworn off owing to the stupidity of the male players. (She got a knee injured when a male player illegally and totally unnecessarily clipped her.) It was cold and crappy out. I do hope she reconsiders repeating this.
We watched another nature show about people rescuing and raising baby animals, this time rhinoceroses. (rhinoceri?) Dang, they are cute, at least until they reach several hundred pounds and their friskiness is potentially lethal. Nothing like a five hundred pound rampaging lump racing up to cuddle...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Measuring days

Just when I think we are under the worst of Nature's thumb, I get an adjustment: My sister is in western Idaho, and says the snow in their yard is now almost hip-deep after about a foot of fresh stuff. Half the people in her household are sick, so she has been shoveling in marathon stints; she appreciates the exercise, and fresh air, but sounds heartily tired of this winter dumping. Still, it's all relative; cold, windy and wet to a 90-year-old is as bad as being snowbound to others.
Brief desperate fling of climbing at the gym where our son works; bouldering seems harder and "sketchier" as the climber dudes put it, but at least the place has what are called "self-belay" devices with which one can haul one's self up and down some rope routes. The employees take turns selecting the music, I think, and there was quite a Dylan/Dead fest going on; beats smooth stuff any day, but tends to make me flash back...musically, of course.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A day in the life

Such wind today, whipping the cat across the street, where he then stared accusatorily at us as if we'd booted him out the front door rather than opening it at his insistence; he almost always wants to come with us on the walk, although there have been a few times, increasing lately as he ages, where he'll sit on the door mat assessing the temperature, then whisk right back in the house. Works up a guy's appetite for a few more dental crunchy treats.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mother Nature's white out

We awoke to about an inch thick layer of snow; more came down as the morning passed, first as a fine sifting, then some fat flakes, then what can only be described as "slow hail." It was warming up, however, so by the time we got out after lunch for the daily loop, there was just a little bit of crunchy granular stuff remaining to be walked upon and savored for its squeak. We may get more tonight or into the very early morning Tuesday.
A friend's child was ill, so we had to cancel our climbing session. She loaned me the Patrick White novel, and by the next time we meet, I may be finished with it and ready to discuss it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Icy cold days

Lovely mixed sky, frequent reveal of blue, but chill wind that will supposedly blow us snow over night. A night for leftovers and the book group chat, which is usually enjoyable.
White's novel Riders in the Chariot just negotiated what is one of the most heart-rending and intense depictions of the transport of Jewish people out of Germany that I have ever encountered. White didn't dwell on one horrific detail after another, or beat one over the head with the camp guards' brutality; more effectively, he initiated the chain of events from people crammed into trucks, then put on trains as the Germans in charge lied to them about sending them to Istanbul and eventually Palestine. Hope would rekindle in some, and persisted even into the "dressing rooms" of the gas chambers. Some remained unconvinced. People wondered aloud about why they had been put on the train, if it were not to a new life: "Until the father in the stiff hat could bear it no longer, and had to shout, 'The train - don't you see? - was all they had. The trucks were bombed. And so many Jews on their hands. There was no alternative.'
But solutions do not always console. Ah, if they could have opened something, and found the truth inside.
Like the two lovers, at least, whose faces were cupboards containing antidotes, but only efficacious on each other."

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Climbing workout + friends = pleasant, tired serenity. Tonight we're having a little Dungeness crab feed, with home made bread and a local bubbly. More serenity.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Good deeds may be rewarded

This afternoon I forewent a walk in order to help out the offspring, who needed a part for his car but had to work past the hours of the VW shop. Ended up out on Aurora Avenue, a beautifully-named, ugly, miles-long strip of Route 99. Or "the 99." The repair/parts place was down an alley-sized street off the 99. As I drove along, trying to find a place to park, I saw what looked like a couple of little houses nestled in among the light industries. Walking back the three or four blocks from where I put the car, I got a closer look at these abodes; not much larger than the foyer on a Bellevue, WA super mansion, yet clearly someone lived in them. They weren't in bad shape, but what an environment. One of the last rental bargains around. There was a silver Jaguar parked in front of one of them.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Russian roulette sushi

It's been all over the intertubin' news, dangerous levels of mercury have been found in some kinds of tuna used for sushi. The last round of panic was over people growing huge parasitic worms from eating sushi; I figure the fish supply is dwindling so rapidly I may as well enjoy a little bit of it now and then. It'll be gone before it's all poisonous.
Swell day of hair and feet being spa-treated, at least for our elder stateswoman.
A bit from the thoughts of a German character in Patrick White's novel Riders in the Chariot, as he contemplated the start of WWI: "War did not come as a surprise, to him, or anyone, that is, it did not erupt in the manner of volcanoes, it seeped over and into them. Some were appalled at the prospect of their becoming involved, but many sang, as if welcoming a lover, one who might certainly crack their ribs and bruise their flesh, but whose saliva intoxicated as it poisoned, and whose passion liberated their more inadmissable desires."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sun and blood volumes

Despite the chilly air, we managed a good number of blocks this afternoon. Our sweet aging cat accompanied us, as he frequently does, but at one point, a young feisty male from down the block came gallumphing up and at our old boy. He stood his ground for a bit, looking the young'un in the eye, then dashed across the street to the relative safety of our front porch. No dummy; he knows fighting wastes energy and leads to vet visits. Hummingbirds scolded and hovered all up and down the block, sunlight glinting off their tiny jeweled bodies.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The "free market" must be cloggin' up the intertubes...

Such cloggedness today; will everything go down with the market? A thought or two on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade: It's clear to me that the drive against women's right to choose, which might sometimes involve an abortion, is mostly manned by conservative men and their cohort womenfolk. The evaluation is, it's all about control, but what do these people get out of controlling women any more? It's a kind of mental illness, and one for which I can find no rational explanation. Anybody out there feel more powerful when they think they've got someone under their thumb? Why do you prevent poor women from getting birth control or in the most costly scenario, abortions, then refuse them support?
There is either silence or sputtering craziness.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Good one

Despite an unusual start to this day, which involved a mission of mercy for a near and dear one, and more freeway driving than I've had in a good long carbon footprint of a while, this was a pleasant span of being conscious. Ironically, the closest I came to disaster was not out on the 520 or the 405, but just down the hill a bit from our house, where there were good-sized patches of what they call out here "black ice." It's hard to see, as it just looks like a shadowy place on the road, but it's a coating of ice. Just in front of me some fool went speeding up the hill, hit one of these patches, spun out, bounced off the curb, slid; I was far enough back that I could stop to let them get the hell on their way at the speed limit.
Swell little workout at the climbing gym with some pals, nice walk in the barely thawed-out afternoon air for my mother.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Skipping along

Last night we did the environmentally beneficial thing and took a bus downtown to a "zero" birthday party for someone we've known through our son, who went to school with her son. She had the fete in a vacant condominium at the Pike Place Market, and it was enjoyable. Her son and a friend performed for part of the evening, on guitar, banjos, flute, harmonica and hand drum, and they sang, too. Very good; so was the food. The caterer is originally from Minnesota, and had made the most incredible Swedish meatballs I've ever tasted. They're not usually one of my choices. There were all kinds of appetizers, from seafood skewers to beef and chicken ones, pesto ravioli, cheeses, fruit plates, Novia Scotia lox, with capers, onions and sour cream, bruschetta, wonderful spiced mixed nuts, and a dessert table with a tartin of some kind, peach, or apricot, a layered cheesecake, and this almond cake which was the most delectable item I've ever seen, with whipped cream and lingonberry sauce; then they brought out a red velvet cake, not by the caterer, yet still very good. I don't think I even managed to taste everything. When I told the caterer I was trying to figure out how to smuggle some of the almond slices into my purse, she gave me a take out box. Said she'd made it for King Olaf of Sweden when he visited Minneapolis, but never heard if he'd tried it. Foolish king.
Then we took the bus home, a bit before midnight. Rowdies out roaming the streets downtown, but fortunately we were not noticed.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A bit off

Not so good a day for anything. At least the Patrick White novel is promising, albeit strange.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A tad more spice

We headed up to the place which features foods of New Mexico, as well as about the best margaritas in town. Small plates with hot green chile sauce on the main course, sides of posole and pinto beans, delectable salad, and always plenty left over for another meal or so; it made the cold walk cozy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The labyrinthes of an aging brain; the labyrinthes of any brain, I suppose. At least the brightly overcast calm afternoon was conducive to exercise. No sign of the offspring, who's been working quite a bit for some time now.
Evening walk with the beloved spouse; cold and calm night.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Decidedly done

The sidewalks on our side of the street don't melt off quickly; they were still covered in peanut brittle crunchy pockmarked ice when we got out for the daily walk in the afternoon. We stayed on the sunny side to get exercise, still maneuvering around slippery patches. Seems risky, but it's far worse to just remain indoors all day.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Socked in with grayness, rain, wind, sleet, and snow; a routine run turned into an epic cold shower on the uphill run back home. Around the first seating of dinner, hail or sleet or something frozen began pelting the house, making us worry about the commute for our other family members.
Murdoch's The Sacred and Profane Love Machine, a weird title but I guess it worked, wrapped up in an unexpected fashion. More slatherings of philosophy were lashed upon it, and I think I need a break from this writer. Queued up is a novel titled Riders in the Chariot by Patrick White, an Australian author, (1912-1990), who sounds as if he was a stand up guy. From the biographical note inside:"When he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1971, he did not attend the ceremony but, with his takings and some of his own money, created an award to help older writers who hadn't received their due: the first recipient was Christina Stead. Late in life, when asked for a list of his loves, White responded: 'Silence, the company of friends, unexpected honesty, reading, going to the pictures, dreams, uncluttered landscapes, city streets, faces, good food, cooking small meals, whisky, sex, pugs, the thought of an Australian republic, my ashes floating off at last.'"

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dulcit interlude

Record-breaking distance covered today by the nonagenarian hiker; everything seems to be healing, and a calm warmish sunny day inspired her. Strange day to be inside on a climbing wall, but a good friend needed a third to round out an outing with a godchild. Friend had gone snowboarding the day before, and regaled us with the wonders of the snow conditions. The snow here tends to be wet or icy, so she and another friend were soaked by the end of the day, and sore from their enthusiasm. It also costs a bundle, according to the other friend. I hear snowshoeing is free...

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Wild day of all kinds of weather, with exercising in between; one brave soul in the family spent most of the day paddling, with exhausting but satisfying results. Sushi was the reward.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Higher and higher

We were amazed to see what may have been a pair of bald eagles flying very low over our neighbors and friends' house across the street; of course they may have been scoping out the chickens, which were out in the yard. At the end of the walk, I heard a hummingbird going ballistic; spotted it hovering above a tree in the same friends' front yard. It was really scolding, so I looked down into the branches to see if something was setting it off; there was a raptor-looking bird perched there. When it flew out, it looked like a peregrine falcon; another potential chicken raider.
I felt fortunate to score an afternoon climbing workout with our son. We had a good session, although neither of us was feeling very energetic. I'd like to be at the level of his lack of energy...

Thursday, January 10, 2008


We fought off gloom with home made pizza; no semi-vegetarians home at the moment, so I could sneak on the Italian wine salami. Just a little bit, since it's probably not so hot for us. Sometimes I wonder, though, about all the foods doused in preservatives we grew up eating; when my mother took us to the local butcher shop, for example, we excitedly anticipated the treat he always gave us: Cold hot dogs. We loved bologna, summer sausage from Figi's in Wisconsin; we adored Wonder Bread. Maybe we became immune to the efffects of nitrites.
Hah! A motive revealed in the mind of Murdoch's "saintly" wife protagonist: She wants the illegitimate boy born to her husband by his mistress, although the poor kid appears to be kind of autistic. Bad juju setting up here, since she already has a 14 year old son, who is fiendishly perceptive about the adults' behavior. Murdoch can creat imminent horrors in the sunny confines of an English garden.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New again

Even kind of mature-ish bones and muscles can respond. A newer climbing friend had her freshman college nephew visiting, and we got him to the climbing gym for what was evidently a planned activity. He told us he'd gotten a merit badge in climbing during his stint in the Boy Scouts, but it wasn't clear to me he was relishing the session as much as we did. He certainly gets a badge for being a good sport.
Decided to trot down to Trader Joe's for a change in hunting and gathering. On a window ledge outside the neighboring storefront, just before the Trader Joe's entrance, lodged a hunched over male form, parka drawn down over his face; he wasn't panhandling, but just slumped there. He had no socks, and down one leg and into his shoe ran a stream of excrement. It was very cold, starting to rain, and there could not have been a much more vivid image of misery. On the walk home, I thought about the lack of social services even in supposedly progressive Seattle.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Potato chips

So gloomy I had to resort to desperate measures: sneaking potato chips. Kettle's Mediterranean Three Cheese; they claim it's a vacation in a bag. It's at least a spot of comfort, as long as I can keep them hidden... Kettle Foods even says they welcome ideas for new flavors.
I'd like them to keep a few of the old ones, like honey mustard.
So the Murdoch novel has taken a bizarre plot and character development turn. Mark you, this was published in 1974, but it still has some unique flavors. The British wife of a psychoanalyst just found out her hubby's had a secret second family, mistress and nine year old son, for about a decade. Instead of going nukular, she decides to remain calm, meet the mistress and her kid, and keep the husband. Ah, fiction.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tamp it down

And get the hell outside; we keep at it. Not sure what the big to do was about Hilary Clinton's "weepy" moment; I've watched the clip, and I thought she was being sincere. I just hate her track record as a Shrub cheerleader, making her not that much better than Lieberman, but keep wondering if she's masking more progressive tendencies. Obama makes me wonder the opposite, that he's a more conservative guy behind all the hope-hyping. Anything has to be better than what we've had, unless one is profiting from this disaster.
Okay, the Murdoch just got intriguing again...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Beans and rice

We needed some comfort food. Looking into my little fridgetop freezer, I found some black beans I'd bought at our nearby seasonal farmers' market last fall. They were perfect with some steamed jasmine rice, hot sauce, and a small amount of protein accompaniment.
Ah. Ms. Murdoch's novel is getting pretty horrific, in the domestic horror department that she creates so well. Must approach with thick skin. It's about as bad as watching aliens burst out of people's chests.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Blow me down

Blasts of wind slammed into the house, waking me just after three ayem. Swell time to read a bit more Murdoch. Other denizens of the house seemed restless too, so we'll see what later morning brings.
Good climbing session and attitude adjustment early afternoon; the horrible climate today paled for a while. Shave and a haircut for the grande dame of the place, and a bit of a walk in cold wind.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Fight against the dying of the light

And so we managed a little bit more in the walk department, with a minimum of exhortation. All I had to do was conjure up the specter of my dad's specter, urging my mother to get out and move. We had a good chuckle over that image. All our exercising was accomplished between rain and wind gusts for once.
We went out later for a light dinner, and had to travel a ways down the avenue to find a place with an open table. Good news for the neighborhood's previously spotty restaurant options.
Finished Murdoch's The Black Prince, and got a start in her 1974 novel, The Sacred and Profane Love Machine.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Let there be at least a faint glimmer

But there was none; we made do with a miserably cold and drizzly walk, somewhat truncated due to the lack of sunshine. All I know about the proceedings of the Iowa primary is from glances at little news entries, which I then skip. Will ultimately vote against whichever batshit Repub is propped up. The repair work on their damage to this country seems insurmountable.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New year grinding onwards

This dimly lit time of year can make it difficult to get traction. It's literally too soggy to do so, unless one is a snow sports enthusiast, which has a high price tag around here. Small increments will have to be willed. Less food, more walking.
Once again, from the thoughts of an Iris Murdoch character: "Human happiness is rarely in the best of circumstances without shadows, and an almost pure happiness can be a terror to itself."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Not a bleary one

Despite a late night socializing; the couch potatoes were soaking up bowl games, and an extended hunting and gathering effort seemed to be in order. Strange variety of establishments closed today, but not the Co Op, where necessary supplies (maple butter) were obtained. Our son dropped by, and we walked out for a bit of something spicy to eat on a windy cold night.