Monday, March 31, 2008

Arty videos

A swallowing evaluation involves getting up pretty early for a 90 year-old, heading to the clinic, and being filmed while swallowing variously textured food items. The resulting images were short videos of the substances going down the throat of a skeleton. She passed.
On the way through the basement labyrinth, we had gotten turned around and wound up in the oncology/radiation area. On our way back out, we met a tall elderly woman who was looking at the signs and appeared to be confused, as we had been. She was all alone, and couldn't quite remember what it was that was to be viewed on her anatomy. She seemed hesitant to ask for directions, so I asked her, and got her on her way. The speech pathologist we had just seen told me that often elderly people come in alone, sometimes from nursing homes, with no one to help them answer any questions.
Later in the day I was at a seafood store, getting fish for dinner, when an elderly couple came in, carrying cardboard boxes. The counterman asked what they wanted, and the man told him he was returning some things. (What would one return to a fish store?) The counterman asked again, and the man replied,"I want to keep my wife available." Then he gave the box to the guy behind the counter, who started looking even more perplexed as he brought out brown paper wrapped objects. As I left, the owner of the shop had come out from his office, and was trying to convince the elderly fellow that he was in the wrong store. The old man was protesting vigorously, as his wife wandered confusedly about, looking at the lobsters. I felt as if I'd been in another dimension a few times today.
The skies were mixed, partly blue, partly bruised. The walk felt like a release.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Things will get brighter

We're holding down the fort, as people go off climbing and kayaking. Big day manana for the elder stateswoman in the house, who must get up an hour earlier than usual for a medical event. We hope to learn something from it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Into the whirlwind

Dear ones we know are off on a road trip for a bit; smart to be escaping this freezer-burned neck of the woods. Not quite freezer-burned, it's too wet; more like having been caught in an icy stream.
I tried using some white whole wheat flour for pasta dough; it gives it a pleasant nutty taste, but seems to make the consistency short, so you have to be careful about overcooking the noodles.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Brain food

Having mowed down the entire Maupin collection, I have returned to Borges's labyrinths. There are occasional pearls, which even a philosophy nonappreciator can admire.
It's surreal to be watching snow fall.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Brain congealing, due to unseasonably cold weather; the icy cold rain we went walking in last night turned to snow briefly while we were inside eating spicy delicious food. Nice walk after a good climbing session with a friend whose parents live in Auburn, Alabama, and have a beach house on the coast; she's taking her husband and son there for spring break, and says it looks like Hawaii this time of year, with azaleas and other flowers blooming, lovely temperatures in the 70's.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Good one

Got the privilege of a climbing session with our kid yesterday; it's always amazing to see an elite athlete in action. We treated him and his girlfriend to a sushi dinner, as they are going on a climbing trip pretty soon. They're escaping the wintry misery here and heading for 70+ degree J-Tree, the lucky things. Cactus blooming and everything.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rained out egg hunts

Except for the very hardy young Seattleites, about whom I heard from a friend who has a young son; and we runners had to buck up to get our sessions in before the gym closed for Easter. It cleared up later, so the matriarch could exercise without getting soaked.
Nice big organic chicken for dinner, roasted to perfection, bread not long out of the oven; no clove-studded and unbearably salty ham, nor green bean casserole, or candied yams. The home made bread we broke together was better than any basket of candy.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

HIgh noon on a full moon

Things seem off today; never good when a big hunk of chocolate cake preceeds one's repose. Good walk for the mum, with a sufficient stop to admire the magnolia buds popping out down the street. Off for a little workout at the indoor gym, with my very good climbing friend. Evening walk with beloved spouse, and all is well.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nudging the mercury

Out of the wind and in the sun, we and the chickens were happy old birds. All the Easter candy in the stores looks like drek, and reading the ingredients on their packaging confirms this. Just as well, we - or mainly, our teeth - are far too mature for eating such stuff any more. Except for the member of the household who still loves Peeps; there was a contest run by one of the daily newspapers which involved creative use of Peeps candies. One of the winners was a fake movie poster which read, "No Country for Old Peeps."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vernally yours

The wonderful lilies are popping in increasing numbers, along with gorgeous blue glory-of-the-snow blossoms in my favorite gothic yard. A friend of our offspring's who has a gardening service came by for several hours to help me with the yard, which needs tidying and some planning. She wound up her work session just before another round of rain and wind swept in.
The soda bread was finally produced, with some whole wheat flour and an egg for enrichment; it's delicious.
The march through Maupin's stories continues.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In almost spring

The day came in like a lamb, and left like a kraken; our evening walk was rainy, then rainier, and cold, colder. Technically spring was to arrive at 10:46 P.M. I won't be awake to fete it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Escape to wimp eden

Suddenly I couldn't read another word of Borges, wimped out, and picked up the first collection of the old Armistead Maupin Tales of the City stories; three volumes later, I think I need a break from them, although they've been pleasant as fresh popcorn. They make the San Francisco of the late 1970's, early '80's, very appealing, at least until a volume or two later, when all hell comes down on Babylon by the Bay.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Go what?

When I went to the supermarket, I passed a local pub which is purportedly Irish; it was about three thirty in the afternoon, and the line was already out the door. People were decked out in various green clothes, and draped with strings of green beads, a la Mardi Gras. Made me feel hung over just by observation. Loud music and a man yelling out what must have been drawing numbers, followed by yowls and hollers, blasted out onto the sidewalk. Somehow it didn't seem like much fun, but as a Monday diversion from mounting economic woes, I guess it'll do.
No soda bread yet, but I finally found raisins, which our nearby corner market was out of; we'll have a version of Irish repasts, with sauted cabbage and sweet onion, garlic mashed praties, and un-corned beef tenderloin, just a wee one. Wonder if our bank will go down...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hibernian delights

We saw a food show about Ireland, which made us yearn for soda bread, among other items. I don't think I've ever made it, but all we need are some raisins or currants. That will be our homage to the day, not green beer. There was a recipe somewhere which substituted soy milk and margarine for lactose intolerant folks, Irish Soy-da Bread. Not sure it will make that much difference in the flavor, although buttermilk is distinctive.
Modified exercise routine today, to allow a bit of a rest day for the nonegenerian.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Out to munch

Grabbed the offspring and walked out for some sushi; very diferent offerings on the chef's choice sashimi, including monkfish liver. It looked pleasantly pastel, and some of us liked the flavor, but the texture was too pate-y for me. Spanish mackerel was new, including tempura-ed sections of the fileted bones; sounds odd, but it was delicately crunchy and flavorful. Our son boldly ate the tempura-ed prawn head. No one arm-wrestled him for it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chilled out

Despite feeling as if the stuffing had been knocked out of my core, I met our offspring for a brief climbing session. Not the best ever, but still cheering, as it was warm and congenial in the gym. Lowcost therapy for the blues.
Evening planned with friends, pizza, and a bottle of wine.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Motivation for walking was good this afternoon, despite setbacks to the climate; the dull gray skies and chilly air were a fine contrast to the burgeoning magnolia buds and full-blown daffodil
Epigraph for a Borges' short fiction:

"So the Platonic year
Whirls out new right and wrong,
Whirls in the old instead;
All men are dancers and their tread
Goes to the barbarous clangour of a gong."
W.B. Yeats: The Tower

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The track to wellsville

Still not feeling quite lousy enough to crash, so I went for a climbing session. The friend I was with suggested good old Greek egg lemon soup as a curative; made some, and it tasted just right.
Supposed to have a young woman come tomorrow who does gardening, but the weather outlook is poor. Ides o' March leading us back a few paces.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Get behind me, virus

It did, and tried to throw me down as I ran slowly down to the workout joint, where I felt so crummy I DNF'd. Just wasn't feeling poorly enough to crawl into or under the bed, but now it's clear. We must fight it with sustenance.
Jorge Borges is starting to spin my brain; I guess I ain't intellectual enough for his material. Or maybe it's simply that my thoughts are clogged due to illness, but every other story in this collection seems incomprehensible.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Back to Chinatown

We turned yet another trip to the dentist's chair into a fairly pleasant exercise event. We had to park further away, up a hill, so we used the trek to and fro as a workout. I pointed out to my mom that plenty of people drive to health clubs, where they get on machines to simulate what she was doing in real life, climbing hills and stairs. And her session was free, unless the dentist bill counts.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Oh noes

The Midwestern plague brought home is starting to settle in, I am afraid. We'll be one big science project regarding immunity...
Finished the Cortazar, onward with Borges's Labyrinth; this stuff is perfect for a feverish brain.
Strangely soothing.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Lizard-on-a-rock moments today, as we sauntered along; the cat got it right, rolling on a warm patch of sidewalk.
Sickroom atmosphere, with one of our household felled by some kind of upper respiratory bug or other; this person needs to hunker down when this rare event occurs, and be left undisturbed.
Off for a briefish climbing workout, which wasn't as wonderful as past times, but at least cheering.
Almost finished with the Cortazar short stories, and they are about as "experimental" as I can tolerate. Guess I haven't been surfeited by reading too mcuh traditional literature yet.

Friday, March 07, 2008


More aging issues, this time dental; so back we go for address. Often when I'm down at our dentist's office, I walk around the neighborhood, look at swinging barbequed chickens and pig parts in the windows, peer into the gloom of the Chinese pharmacies, the oldest of which is closing after ninety some years of existence, and visit Uwajimaya's Asian supermarket. Groups of kids wandered around with teachers and parents, on what looked like a scavenger hunt for various foods. I looked at the case of chef's knives, wondering which kind I should get to replace the rag tag assortment of lousy blades I've been using for years.
Back to retrieve my mom, who always acts as if she's been beaten with a bag of oranges after sitting in our sweet, gentle dentist's chair; as we walk back to the car, she says all the people look alike to her.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mini spa

And around we go again, off for hair and toe doing; my mom's always so relaxed afterwards I must guide her back to the car. Routines as usual, catching a warm spot for walks and running; we witness territorial skirmishes between cats as we amble along. Nothing exotic to be seen, other than more hosts of daffodils.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A spot of fun

Managed to get in a too short workout at the climbing joint with a friend who's been out of commission for a while due to a bad back. Another friend of hers showed up, so we three tooled around looking for suitable routes. At one point we had a book discussion going on as we clambered; her friend had some interesting observations about Moby Dick, which all three of us appreciate enough to re-read again eventually. Not as often as someone else I know, who claimed to read it annually; that I don't feel compelled to do. Too many other works still around to consume.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Was privileged to be taken to our son's climbing gym, and had a humbling but satisfying workout on increasingly difficult problems. could be age, or decreased practice, but I didn't end up climbing too well. Came home to feebleness and assorted ills, for which the best treatment is early to bed.
Am well along in a collection of short fiction by Julio Cortazar titled Blow Up. The title story was made into a film in 1966; it was Michelangelo Antiononi's first British film, according to IMDB. I bet I saw it with the friend and her mother who introduced me to Doris Lessing and other fine writers. There was an "art film" house in Toledo, Ohio, which the mother would take us to occasionally for serious film viewing. These stories are good, with a surrealistic twist in every one. Cortazar was brought up in Argentina but moved to Paris when he was 38, and lived there for the rest of his life, another 32 years. I wonder if he wrote in French, have to look it up.
I may hop into Borges' Labyrinth next.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Spring image

Down an alley not far from here, there's a Gothic-looking home on a good-sized patch of land for this part of the city. The yard is crammed with huge trees, European beeches and Sequoias, large rhodedendron bushes, and its lawn is covered with a swath of fading snowdrops. Nestled in a far corner, right next to the sagging chain link fence bordering the alley, the fawn lilies have sent out their spotted leaves and are starting to bud. They have to be monitored frequently, or you can miss the first bloom; one good warm patch and they all appear, fading quickly in the sun.
They are the most beautiful wild flowers in this area. Every year their appearance brings hope.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


People were more energetic here; we managed a couple of walks for the elder stateswoman in the house, and plenty of conversation. The flood of good wishes on her big zero birthday continues to stimulate questions, not all of which I can answer. We were reminescing about one of her particularly awful male students, who was so disruptive that she actually tied him to a chair to protect the other kids in the class before summoning the principal, who wasn't very helpful or pleased. (He was in charge when I went to school there, the insufferable, strutting little shit.) The bad acting kid came up to her years later in the grocery store and apologized for his horrible behavior; he had become a doctor.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Change in the weather

Aliens must have abducted me during what little sleep I had and stuck a barometer in my brain; as the cold front moved in, my sinus cavities felt like they were being zotted by little tiny tasers. Must be one of those feeling it in your bones kinds of moments.
Onward, toward the finish of the Lessing novel; ever onward in the bizarre encounters with fellow readers.