Sunday, August 31, 2008

More like it

We're quite happy when the morning gloom burns off; by three P.M. we were warm again. Out we marched.
We saw some footage of coral reef denizens; one in particular may be a newly discovered species. They are tiny shrimp, about the size of grains of rice, who live in colonies inside sponges. They have differentiated anatomies for various tasks - the guard shrimp have huge pincers, etc. When a comparatively huge sort of sea worm slithered into their sponge dwelling, opening its maw like that creature in the sand pit in Star Wars, the little guard shrimp rushed to pinch the hell out of it, driving it away. First time they have ever found shrimp living in a group, cooperating.
Onward into the strangeness of the LeGuin fiction...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

In store

Some strange whirlwind put a spell of warmth and sunshine over us for the afternoon, making it fine for walking. A neighbor had her second boy, and is now completely outnumbered by the male gender in their household. She seems to be the sort who will be able to handle it.
Intriguing book by Ursula LeGuin is underway: Always Coming Home. It's set in a far distant future, the blurb says Northern California, but maps she created seem to indicate it's the Bay Area, after all kinds of terrible manmade and seismological disasters have created an inland sea and collapsed the coastline. It takes a while to figure this out, as she develops the lore and stories of the Kesh people slowly. They are winemakers from the Na River - Napa, perhaps? - and there are many folk tales, legends and personal stories woven into the text. Evidently Ms. LeGuin thought back in 1985 that humans would survive and actually be improved some long day ahead. The only factual name she has mentioned thus far is Crater Lake, in the context of it being far away from the Na Valley. The pace might be frustrating for some, but I find myself involved.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Windblown and warm

This might have been summer's last big gasp; it was sweetly warm, but crazily windy, and by evening, very chilly. There are one or two big pears hanging on one of our ancient fruit trees, which didn't get pollenated very well this past spring since it was wintry and wet when they flowered.
Hoping for at least an indoor climbing session this weekend. The bones don't predict much of anything good for outside.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Never really one for fantasy fiction, I nevertheless have appreciated Ursula Le Guin's writing. So I took a break from the grim Austrian prizewinning author sent to us by a highly literate friend to dive into some of LeGuin's stories; not Nobel Prize-worthy, I suppose, but full of delight and thought-provoking notions. It brightens up a very gloomy day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


We needed some fresh fodder around here for our reading. A couple of visits to bookstores not far away produced a pile of fine fiction. The local farmers' market was piled high with bargain-priced tomatoes, salad greens, carrots and Romano beans. The farm from Eastern Washington that brings all the peppers and eggplants was there, so I got a dark one, a white one, and one called a neon variety. The young woman behind the stand informed me that the general wisdom about eggplants was the lighter in color they are, the sweeter they taste. The guy with all the potato varieties and the organic beef and lamb was in attendance, along with the home-cured organic items such as beef jerky and summer sausage.
We ate a Japanese eggplant, lightly oiled and briefly broiled, along with some big shrimp and Romano beans. Just like downtown, as my dad used to say.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Brief respite of meteorological horrors; it's not quite time to break out the foulweather gear and hipwaders. We have a rare span of time with our offspring by himself, and whisk him off for some carb-loading after his long bike ride during the afternoon. The rains began again.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thither summer

Lightning and thunder, "cold" funnels snaking down over Lake Washington, "wall" clouds; and it's cold outside. It's pouring. And the novel I'm trying to read is getting increasingly nightmarish. Oh woe.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

And then we were shivering again

By early afternoon, the gray wall of clouds was closer and the wind was picking up. We squeezed in a walk before they dropped a fine rain. Later on, we try to watch a bit of the end of the Olympics; what a waste of energy, time and money to "save face" or better the face of the country before the world. The herds will think otherwise, I'm certain.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Get it while it's hot

And back up again with the steaminess; we head over to friends for a group contribution dinner, where one of our party seems to have acquired a fairly new boyfriend. I think it may mellow her down a bit, and am glad for her.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dreamy day

We perambulate, we enjoy this warm snap, as a friend termed this welcome return to decency on our climate's part.
The Piano Teacher, a novel by an Austrian writer, is bizarrely grim, at least in its starting pages.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Got teeth

Better to do so than not, but getting crown work is a bit of an ordeal. Not phobic, but do worry about that cutting bit edging closer to tender parts of the mouth. And novocaine leaves me with a bizarre headache/mouth ache.
Finished Rikki Ducornet's story collection, and now am trying to work on that novel set up in the Arctic; it's not pulling me onward. Too many dire books piled bedside, too. A friend sent me a novel titled The Piano Teacher, which looks kind of interesting. Otherwise I might see if I can find the climbing guide to the North Cascades, to get into some quiet landscapes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What has happened to summer?

Such downpourings and winds blowing; I've heard more than one tale of abandoned plans for hikes and camping. One of our housemates has a friend visiting from out of town, and their hopes for climbing action have been severely dampened.
The farmers' market is forging on, under tarps and tents. Umbrellas jostle as we wait to pick out our vegetables. One farm has an amazing array of eggplants, from tiny egg-sized white ones, to lavender and white striped, to huge white, Japanese and regular dark ones. The bean varieties are still lagging.
It's cool enough for a hot chocolate beverage; certain So Cal people may think that is enviable, but we've been skunked...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Moving along

Brief respite from the deluges, which are due to resume tonight. Hairdoing perks up the nonegenarian, as does a scenic drive. And truffle therapy. Reading a short story collection by Rikki Ducornet, I came upon a wonderful use of the word truffle. The narrator is a small black dog belonging to a woman named Josephine, who is in the process of seducing a man identified as "Boney":
"So Egypt became something of an obsession with me and caused me to fantasize during those lost hours in the morning when my mistress prepared herself for the day, trying on her 'creoleries' for best effect and posing lasciviously before her mirror - for at this time she was seducing Boney, who, from what I gathered, was truffling after wealth, good connections, exoticism, and glory, too." Can't you imagine what the creoleries looked like?

Monday, August 18, 2008


More T-storms, and pleasant cooling off; by late afternoon, you wouldn't know it had rained. Great session at the climbing gym; my friend whose daughter's heading to Sydney, Australia Thursday morning for the world climbing competition and I had a swell workout. We got to see her kid training, which is always inspirational. Climbing is a great sport, much better than rhythmic gymnastics; we think it would be a fine addition to any Olympic games. And if there were a super masters category, say, over 55, I'm so there.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blinding flashes

Three ayem, awake, and notice intermittent bright flashes beaming in through the blinds; no thunder audible, so the system is pretty far south. Supposed to be a big weather shift a-coming.
Very muggy, we walk yet kind of falter. Early evening we are gazing at scenes in Beijing; there's a women's triathalon which has some interesting elements. The Canadian announcer is popular here for his dry humor.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Weekend melting

Very hot for our local nonegenarian, who usually doesn't mind heat; we cut short a walk to get back for a cooling sip of electromix. The household enjoys the evening Olympics coverage, mostly on the Canadian station. We have a marathon runner here, so we all watched in amazement as the 38 year-old Romanian woman flew off the front of the pack and held her lead.
We figured it was probably her last shot at competition of this magnitude. Maybe next time around for our other favorite, the 31 year-old British woman.
We walked a lovely route down to a lake, along with hordes of others. The police boats took off, sirens wailing and blue lights flashing, for the east side of the lake, interrupting a balmy peaceful scene; hard to leave the cooler air for the warmer heights of our hill.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Higher and higher

We head out after dark, just for some air. It was a breathless afternoon. Family members elsewhere have work conflicts, trips have been cancelled. Time and money as usual intrude.
Oates's novel Wonderland draws me on, despite so much of what seems to me deliberate grossout attempts. Must have been a trend in the 1970's. She's developing a very good male protagonist, and some good side characters as well.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hetting up

Climbing into the high 80's, perhaps will reach 90F; we do what we can to keep everyone comfortable and relatively cool. Walking in the evening is the nuts, since it's breezy, so the lake acts like a big air conditioner. We run into a little neighborhood festivity, with a little rock band performing olden oldies, to which we know all the lyrics and harmonies. We have a cool beverage to end the exercise.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bon voyaging

Good friend off to the UK with her family; we had a good session at the gym. Off to the farmers' market, where I had a heartbreaking experience: I ran into a former fellow co-op preschool parent, who asked after our son. He and her daughter had been playmates and buddies long ago. She looked at me with a painful expression, and told me their daughter had died of a brain tumor in 2001. I gasped and started to cry, at which point she apologized for telling me so abruptly. Good grief, as if she had caused me pain; I got it together and hugged her, trying to say appropriate things. We had been rather formal acquaintances years ago, but she seemed utterly open and so sad. I don't think anyone could get over such a death, of a too young and only child, just getting out into the world.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Keeping up

On the going up; met with a good friend over the weekend for a workout at the climbing joint, and have another session tomorrow with another friend. They're both still in their forties and going strong; I am no longer in that decade, and am trying to keep pace. That would be a reason for some kind of miraculous rejuvenation process, to hang on to the hanging on skills.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rolling on

Into the warm evening, and after some edible rolls; one of the choices turned out to be in honor of the proprietors' recent marriage. It was full of Dungeness crab and other delectables. We gave them a little wedding present, spur of the moment, and the woman gave me a big hug, saying she was happier than she'd ever been in her life. I wish the sushi chefs a long and happy union.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fun in the rain

There were some mini downpours, right as a friend was preparing for a backyard barbeque. It went off as planned, though, and was pleasant, albeit almost cold outside. Some of her guests were young women training to be naturopaths, who were very jolly after finishing their exams recently. Naturopathic medicine emphasizes, among other things, following a healthy diet. They had brought dessert: Two pans of marshmallow krispy treats, one slathered with melted peanutbutter chips. Evidently the relief of the end of all the studying required high octane goodies. Good time had by all.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Restless night; probably not enough exercise. Harder to get when one must not run, and pretty much must resort to walking. If I thought there were any value to the myriad "cleansing" procedures out there, such as fasting whilst drinking abominable concoctions, I'd try one, but it strikes me as trying to drive a car on fumes. Pleasant family home evening.

Friday, August 08, 2008


The days tend to fly by, and we follow the routines that seem to stabilize the best. Correspondence is dwindling, but there's not much to be done about that; the correspondents themselves are continuing to vanish. Occasionally a flash from long ago will appear, as with the copious geneological material a cousin of my dad's recently sent us. There were letters from my dad to her, around the time I was going to "present" them with a grandchild, as he put it. We read them, but they didn't seem to have much effect. Not sure it's such a good idea to delve sometimes.
Rounded up another Oates' novel, Wonderland. Inching along her ouevre, which is amazingly large.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Huntin' agin

There were Washington cherry tomatoes, corn on the cob a bit cheaper than last week, salad greens, and handmade spinach/ricotta ravioli at the farmers' market. Summer sausage made with organically grown beef, and several colors of string beans filled my back pack. The farmers' market seems to be attracting what may be called a routine number of eccentrics, but they seem to be peaceful ones, brandishing tracts or just muttering.
Very hot evening, and we needed air, which wasn't moving any more outside than inside.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Not the mojito-related kinds, just the ones we manage day-to-day; hoping for better ones to come. Many of the households on our block showed up for a block watch gathering, with just cool foods to sample and each to his own beverage. It was good to connect, some people hadn't even met before.
Oates's novel continues to gain momentum, and I will miss the hapless female protagonist when she comes to her sad decline.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Speeding away

When it hits August, we sometimes think summer's dwindling; it really has only been pleasant for a little over a month, so I say, we have until into October for the rest of it. Ignore arbitrary markings such as Labor Day.
A neighborhood friend told me his 99 year old aunt and his 94 year old mother died earlier this summer. Supposedly they went quickly and were made comfortable. There are so many such scenarios out there it can easily consume one's thoughts if it hits close to home. I see no reason to ask people to tough anything out at the end; they may die and thus lose the pain, but you will remember it for as long as you are able to, if you were a witness. Many people have told me awful endings to family stories, and I know of a dear soul I wouldn't want to have one.
Okay, J.C. Oates is growing on me; I'll be searching out the few more volumes that supposedly go with the one I'm reading.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Flip flop

Our hearts did so, as we were subjected to the "sound of freedom", the roar of the Blue Angels; the nonegenarian loved it, and was thrilled nearly speechless when the six jets made a huge sweep overhead in formation. All out for a seafood feast, and a look at sunset over Puget Sound; wonderful end to the day.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

In luck

One of my climbing friends didn't cancel on me this time, and we had a great little session at our local fake rock emporium. Hanging from the roof cleared up my sinuses, and energized the day.
Nearest and dearests were all out on various recreational forays, and the nonegenarian and I had a pleasant afternoon walking, talking, stretching and eating chocolate, the best anti-aging substance there is.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Fresh day

Windy, so the new hairdo needed to be protected; our circumnavigation of the lake was fun and diverting, with white caps on the little body of water and lots of people doing their own revolutions in every manner of locomotion. Out to meet with a friend and her friend for a bite in the Capital Hill neighborhood; it used to be a funky freaky area, but the prices have gone up and the denizens look more to me as if they're paying dearly to appear wild and bohemian.