Sunday, November 30, 2008


We had a lovely dinner last night with one of my climbing friends and her husband; we all decided we'd had enough Thanksgiving remains, and wanted some Italian grub. We went to a place we'd all been to in years past, tried to get into more recently, sans success. Very nice pasta dishes, and good conversation; they have a nine year old son, and we have weathered one. And he us, I suppose. All to the good.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ladies day

Off three of us went to the gym; we climbed, we talked, we more or less conquered. The other two are in the veterinary business, and discussed methods of anesthetizing cats for procedures. One friend described her colleague's excitement at treating her first "grass blade", wherein a cat has somehow gotten a dry piece of grass up into its sinus areas, and it often must be pulled out via its nose. Instant cure, satisfaction all round. The other mentioned "foreign body Friday", which signifies a dog which has ingested some kind of squeaky toy and needs emergency surgery; not so satisfactory, since it tends to happen just when they think things have slowed down a bit so they can catch up. I just wandered off to boulder when it got too graphic for me.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Not buying nuffin

We did get some books, all but one of them used. Hard to stomach the stories coming out of this shopping season thus far. They ultimately aren't much different than terrorist attacks; same self-centeredness and greed, different motives.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

And now you must enter the oven

So the little eleven pound turkey did, and got itself cooked to perfection. All the side dishes were delicious, including stuffing made from home made bread and cornbread; the gingerbread looked fine, but we were too full to even eat dessert, except for the nonegenarian, who always has room for a bit of ice cream after dinner. Just out litle family quorum, but pleasant and undramatic. After dinner walking to tamp things down was welcome. It looked like snow, but will be rain tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In dreams

There didn't seem to be many, since sleep was elusive. A good climbing session, albeit low key, was tonic for the system. Tomorrow we must get our ducks in a row to get the dinner fixed, simple as it is. I've read so many recipes online I feel full already.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Darkness at midday

We work overtime to keep our spirits buoyed on a very dreary day. Not sure how many more hunting and gathering trips I need to make to be sure I have enough ingredients for tomorrow's bird whacking. A trip to the weight gym yields an unpleasant surprise; all the people who have worked there, some almost as long as we've been going, like twenty some years, are gone or leaving this week. New young bucks have purchased the place, and we shall see how it changes. None of them was told until the deed was done, and were they ever knocked back. Lousy way to treat people one is supposedly "family friendly" with.
Off for sushi to brighten up the evening.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Our weather and our outlooks, thus far, are mellow. In search of a two burner stove top griddle for the new range, since the lying sack of....well, since it didn't come with one, as the salesman said it would. It's not so easy to find one, hard to tell about sizes since they aren't always listed. May have to go shopping in person, which is not one of my top choices. Some people seem to be obsessional shoppers, but not I. There are many better ways to spend time. (How unAmerican!)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A gift

Was fortunate to get out for a brisk walk with a good friend; the day was chilly, but sunny. Later on, brisk walking was in order for our nonegenarian. The rest of the household dribbled in, and it was good to have a quorum. Evening bit of a walk, in cold air.
There was a "redrawn" map of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the paper; the entire region of Baltistan, where Greg Mortenson has spent so many years building schools for Pakistani children, had vanished into Afghanistan. Here is a bizarre description of its origin: "That the map was first circulated as a theoretical exercise in some American neoconservative circles matters little here. (It accompanied an article by Ralph Peters titled 'Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would Look', originally published in Armed Forces Journal.)" I disagree, it matters a great deal that neocons think this is a better division in an area they have no business meddling with, as they didn't in Iraq. Send these all-knowing neocons over to help build the schools.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reading into things

After finishing Three Cups of Tea, I am much more informed about the Pakistan/Afghanistan border areas. There were two small maps in the paperback edition, to which I referred constantly, looking for every town and geographical feature mentioned in the text. There was some news bit on a site today about the concerns of Pakistani military people that the US might be working on breaking up Pakistan, to weaken them and wrest away their nuclear weapons. In the past, it seemed very dangerous to me for Pakistan to possess them, but now I am thinking it may be their only big chip to hang on to their land. There are huge forces at work in a relatively small area, whose main value seems to me to be its proximity to China, which has helped build the KKH - Karakoram Highway - a conduit right into China. So would India be helping to destroy Pakistan, to reabsorb it? There were Pakistani military guys which the school builder came to know and trust, who told him Bin Laden was a one time wonder, blowing up "the village of New York", then running away to hide. These men thought the US fuck up of Iraq had done far more to damage Western relationships with their area, setting things back a couple of hundred years. Yes, I have thought that all along, and when Rumsfield said there weren't good targets in Afghanistan, the feeling of cold doom was reinforced.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilight zone -y

One of those days when everything seems to be on a continuous loop; we get about fifteen minutes of sorta sun which breaks up the pattern briefly. Hairdoing helps, and walking the cat is amusing. Mental lists begin scrolling about next week's holiday dinner. The New York times online has pages of wonderful-sounding recipes, but I'm stuck on whole but small bird versus just the turkey breast. One of the possible guests cannot eat dairy products, but olive oil will do.
Now we must figure out how to hack open the huge Sweet Meat Squash which is sitting festively upon the dining room table. Its skin seems to be made from aerospace ceramic materials.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Storms came in small sets all day, with dramatic skies and bursts of wind. Not much interference for a big walking errand run; I went through areas I'd never seen before, as well as ones which have been turned into Soviet-era looking apartment or condo blocks, under the banner of "density". More like obscene profiteering by developers and contractors; may they go bankrupt and grass grow on their condos. Back home to the delightful odor of borscht production, by the offspring; the stove works fine for him.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yes, we can and will

We've made it up to trying out the oven on the new appliance, baking away its new stove smell. Tomorrow we'll try some bread, and transform the dough to loaves. It's bizarre that one must pay thousands more to have an all mechanically controlled range, as in none of the programmable stuff and all knobs. I saw an Italian model which would have set us back about three grand; ridiculous.
Reading a fascinating book called Three Cups of Tea, a co-written biography of a guy named Greg Mortenson, who turned a failed summit atempt on K2 into years of building schools for tiny villages in Pakistan. It was his way of giving back to people who helped him recover after his retreat from the mountain, and seems to have served as a grass roots way to fight terrorism: Give kids a real school and not limit them to brainwashing in a madrassa. It's an amazing story.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gray light special

During the course of an interview, a film maker observed that in one part of his movie, "Let the Right One In", he wanted a quality of light which he described as bottling the gray light of a gloomy day and spraying the interior of a room to illuminate it. We got your gray day right here, pal.
A bright spot in the evening occurred when I happened upon one of the most jarring cultural juxtapositions evah, Snoop Dog in a cooking session with Martha Stewart. What could be weirder? Osama Bin Laden and Queen Elizabeth discussing staffing woes? Well, DJ Martha and the Dogg connected over family life, his bling, and what color of pepper is best to use in mashed potatoes. She had white pepper at hand; he took one look at it and said,"I ain't never seen no WHITE pepper. Gotta use BLACK pepper." The Marthschizzle obliged. This two-part gem is available on You Tube.
Sweet evening walk in almost frosty air; stars were dimly visible beyond the city glare. Maybe we'll have some sun tomorrow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shall we gather by the gas range

By jingo, the outfit experienced in dealing with natural gas has hooked up the new range. The young feller who accomplished the task remarked that the Sears "installers" didn't have the licensing required to do the hook up, and basically just dropped off the appliances. If they did much more, they risked heavy fines. Sort of like "Joe the Plumber" in Toledo, Ohio, working wihtout proper licensing and training.
I'm taking it slowly, using the burners first to make spaghetti sauce and pasta. Yes, I realize I am very fortunate not to live in a third world country where people rarely have access to such conveniences, but when you're without a stove for several days, you start feeling pretty primitive.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Strike two with the Sears installation gang; next up, our plumber didn't work with gas, so a company which does has been scheduled. As a pithy metaphor from an Irish tale puts it, our loaf is still dough...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Workin it

One of my buddies and I had a mellow session at the climbing joint. Neither of us felt like exerting ourselves much, but it was still fun. Birthday party later on for another pal, who seemed gidily happy, and when we left her, was hula hooping like mad with a young friend. Very fun evening with the gang.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Three a days

The nonegenarian was full of vim and vigor, traipsing out for a few outings. As long as it isn't blowing sideways, she's game. We stood and admired the new range. One day perhaps we shall use it. I'm just hoping it's connected by Thanksgiving, or we'll have to order pizza.
The man of the house returns very late. We shall be glad of his company.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Maybe a bit TOO easy...

Seems there was an antiquated hook up fitting which prevented the timely installment of our lovely new range; the guys who came didn't ahve the right one along. They told us to call customer service and tell them we couldn't eat without the range, which is kind of a stretch, but they did promise free installation, and this evidently might speed things along. Well, at least we can go out and caress the range's shiny new surfaces. Note to others: The salesman at sears with whom we had dealings made a comment about how Sears's customer service has been going downhill since K-Mart bought them. It seemed like a very strange thing for him to say, but it has more resonance now. He's included in this slide, as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Range, range in the home

A young friend accompanied me to a Sears store, where we chose a gas range. It's to be delivered and hooked up tomorrow afternoon. Seemed as easy as pie. We drove home, proud of our decisiveness.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A day for cupcakes

Almost didn't get one, as the day vaporized into chorin' around, including busing out to pick up one of our vehicles after its geriatric service appointment; but after a beer and a bite with our son and his girlfriend, she brought me a nice big chocolate cupcake from the Co-op later. Gloomy fricking climate we got here, but one must rally on one's day of birth.
I found this passage in one of the Irish Ghost Stories I've been reading. It is by a Victorian era writer named Charlotte Riddell, and is from a story called "The Last of Squire Ennismore":
"It was getting to the end of April, and fine, warm weather for the time of year, when first one and then another, and then another still, began to take notice of a stranger who walked the shore alone at night. He was a dark man, the same color as the drowned crew lying in the chapel graveyard, and had rings in his ears, and wore a strange kind of hat, and cut wonderful antics as he walked, and had an ambling gait, curious to look at."
As I read it, the image that came to mind was Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. I won't reveal more, as you may want to read this some day. A standout was "The Canterville Ghost" by Oscar Wilde, which blends wonderfully sharp satire of Ugly Americans in the Gilded Age, so similar to their descendents today...

Monday, November 10, 2008

There are "0" birthdays, and "0" birthdays...

And we are creeping up to one rather larger than the others; oh, well. Just have to resist all those ads depicting the erasure of wrinkles and spots. I made it to a climbing gym for the third day in a row, and even denial of efforts exerted isn't fooling my aching muscles. Raking leaves was the coup de grace. When we were sitting at breakfast discussing a stupid newspaper headline declaring the "Fifty is the New Thirty!", I said I didn't feel as if I had as much energy as I did at thirty. (And yes, I know I'm well past fifty). The nonegenarian piped up,"I do!" I haven't inherited her astounding optimism, I guess.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Catching up

Will need to be done later; the young ones invited me to come with them to their climbing gym, where I did what I could after too little sleep. Must have been that gigantic piece of chocolate cake I had at the wedding feast. When twenty-somethings are "tired" it's a far different story from a person of a certain age being tired; they still flew elegantly up the routes, and I fell off.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Saturday whirl

It began calmly enough, but by late afternoon we had to hoof it smartly to get down to some friends' wedding, held in a Methodist church in the University District. We couldn't remember the last time we had witnessed such an event, complete with organist and praying minister. The only thing the minister didn't say was if anyone had any reason they shouldn't get married. Later we hustled downtown to their wedding feast, held in the Chinese Room in Smith Tower, built in 1914 and the tallest skyscraper west of the Mississippi until 1931. The Chinese Room was wonderful, with an ornately-carved wooden ceiling, and supposedly a Wishing Chair, in which single women who sit and make a wish for it will be married within the year. I missed that attraction, but there was an observation deck which went all the way around the building. It was an unusually mild evening for November, so everybody perambulated and exclaimed over the views. The bride's choice of dessert was fabulous: No lard-laced, iced white tower for her, but rather a panoply of cakes, all vegan, which may not sound promising, but oh boy. Such cakes. They came from Whole Foods, who were the most obliging of the sources she contacted.
There were toasts bordering on roasting from family members, a fine tradition in wedding parties, and dancing. Great party, and all four families involved seemed at peace.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Dodging downpours

Usual end of the week hairdo day; and a friend who's been living in Long Beach, California called to invite us to a dinner in her honor. Fun evening, spent at the home of a family comprised of two women and the four-year-old Chinese orphan they adopted about a year and a half ago. Naturally their reaction to Tuesday's election results was mixed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


It's raining like to fill up the world. No more joy in Mudville, but some of us march on to market. Wet enough to have to change clothes on a pass by the house to offload groceries. The woman who stayed with my mom was full of stories about her life, which passed the afternoon nicely. One involved a nursing mother cat who adopted a baby chick into her litter. Eyes were round while listening.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Perhaps imaginary, but there seemed to be a generally happy air about the town. There was indeed at the climbing gym, where we did a celebratory workout and compared notes on Tuesday night's events. The little ice cream store in the shopping district was advertising "free scoops of Baracky Obama!", but the line was long so I declined. In the hipper parts of Seattle, notably the Capitol Hill area, there was drinkification and dancing in the streets until the wee hours, according to photographic records. Looking at people who are supposedly being considered as possibilities for Obama's administration, I hope the hangovers aren't years-long. Gates? Powell? Rubin? Summers? WTF?? NO "reaching across the aisle", says I. That lot had their chance, and shoved us into near ruin. Queue up the old Who song...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Been there and done it

We walked over to our polling place, where we've voted most of the past 34 years, for the last time. The state is going to all mail voting next year. No more befuddled and/or cranky old people manning the tables, sometimes being cheery and helpful; no more watching the paper ballot being consumed by the machine; no more being sure it at least got collected. Got our stickers to prove we'd done our duty, which Starbuck's said it would redeem with a free cup of coffee if we asked. Didn't bother with that, spent the day not reacting to any election input. But just now, when my favorite DJ from KEXP, Darek Mazzone, started playing a mix which included some of Obama's speeches, and music appropriate to this momentous occasion, I began to feel a tightness in my throat. It's hard not to hope.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Power failure

Just before 9:00 this morning, the power went out. We have a gas range, so I could make coffee in the French press we use for camping, and toasted my bread in a saute pan. I had some drip ground coffee in the freezer, saved from a trip in June; odd, I had just been wondering aloud the other night about getting a hand-powered coffee grinder. Now I will indeed. We had hunkered down to endure the creeping cold when it came back on an hour later.
Now for the welcome power failure of an evil regime...

Sunday, November 02, 2008


A couple of Canadian fellers managed to highlight Palin's ignorance and hubris by calling her and pretending to be French Prez Sarkozy; let us keep hoping she doesn't prank our country in a couple of days.
Family home evening; the kid created a delectable borscht, and they dined after the rest of us had supped. Got a good taste of it, though, and it will be even better tomorrow.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

El dia

Day of the Not Dead Yet around here, with the nonegenarian getting a bit more resistant to getting out when skies look a bit threatening, but we managed. Beloved spouse was off all day on a paddling adventure, which when they finally got home indeed was kind of a weather-ridden epic. I know I would not have been able to plow onward through three to four foot waves; I had my calorie burn safely inside at the climbing joint. The intrepid boaters earned their dinner.