Tuesday, March 31, 2009


One for dragging around, doing stuff like making the car street legal and getting nonegenarian tresses groomed; we tried a drive around, looking for blooming trees, but after about twenty minutes it started raining and blowing again. The weather fools are telling us we shall probably see snow tomorrow.
I don't like either book I have queued up, the George Meredith - too dense, misogynistic, and it smells weird - nor the Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day - too light, despite its girth. Measures must be taken.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Offday canceled

It was to have been a day off from climbing training, but fortunately I got an unexpected call from a friend I hadn't seen for a while. She is a teacher, this week is spring break, and she was eager to go to the gym during the early afternoon, as it's not crowded like the evenings. We had a fine time, and she and her paramour are flying to Denver tomorrow, then driving to southwestern Utah for a few days of hiking and camping; or maybe they're staying at a dude ranch. I'm hoping for a full report upon her return. She's ecstatic to have found a kindred soul to be with in this decade of our lives, and it's wonderful to see her so happy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Brief evening outing, over to a friend's whom I haven't seen for a while; she had family and friends up from Eugene, and it was fun to meet and talk with them.
Strangely nice for most of the day, but cold enough to make us want to hibernate.
Nearly finished with the Ducornet novel, The Fountains of Neptune, and it has been a wild and intriguing ride.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Getting in a last effort

One very good pal is heading off to The South to visit her folks, and wanted to store up a bit of vertical exercise. We headed over to our usual venue for a bit. It may be kind of flat where she's going, but it'll be warmer that this place. A week will suffice for her.

Friday, March 27, 2009


By the treachery of the climate; hard to wheedle the nonegenarian outside, but once underway, all hands perk up. The eldest chicken at our friends' place laid another egg; she's been sort of due to "retire", but seems to be rallying.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More onwardness

Lucked out with a day that reached almost 60 degrees, causing incredulous coat removal; it was one of those on which I had a few hours of coverage for my mother, so could hike around catching up on some stuff I'd been needing to do. Seattle is a very walkable place, particularly from our neighborhood. If you have enough time, you can fan out on any direction to the tune of a few miles, get your errands run and exercise at the same time. That's barring obtaining any huge items you can't carry in a backpack. During my journey I found a Frecnh-ish bakery which had the most delectable coconut macaroons I've had in ages, fresh and chewy, with a golden crust. I only got one, not knowing how amazing they were, but it was enough to fuel my hiking along.
Certain neighborhoods, especially near Ballard, may be modest, but they seem to get more sun and warmth, so their cherry and plum trees were already flowering. It's terrible the way the huge condo building boom around that area has invaded the little houses like massive tumor growth; and from what you read, no one is buying into these behemoths. They're hideous, and forming sterile canyons along the streets.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Logging our miles

Vertical ones, of course; some days turn out to be uninspired, but still worthwhile. Lots of easy lead routes, a handful of harder problems, and one that spit me off, letting me know it wasn't a good time to try a challenge. It's the blasted cold wet atmosphere, gumming things up. Heavy air. Winter storm warnings in the Cascade Mountains, and one pass was closed. The fawn lilies are nowhere near opening, and daffodils seem to be making a desperate statement.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cold cold cold

We thought this was over. More pep talks all day long, to get us through the gray.
Evening walk with beloved spouse, grabbed a spicy bite to eat; fortification for the longish way home.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Long time friend and I managed a bit of a session at the climbing gym. While we were going about our business, the owner showed up and seemed to be trying to get some climbing in with a couple of friends who had three and four year old kids along. The kids soon got out of control, running around and getting underfoot, so he took them under his management. He corraled them in the bouldering area, and bombarded them with giant soft plastic balls, causing gleeful shrieking and laughter. At one point, he mopped his brow and commented on how he'd forgotten about the demands of watching over the little people, claiming his son was easy by comparison; a touch of amnesia, perhaps?
Finishing up Ducornet's Entering Fire. A relief, as the ending section is too horrible to scrutinize.
Next up is her third novel, The Fountains of Neptune, which looks promising.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Observing some rest

After the required weights session, the rest of our day was quiet. Early dinner, early to bed with a re-read of Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, the first work of hers I read, long ago. Two of the main characters end up making an 800 mile sledge and ski trek across a huge ice age glacier on a planet far away. The contrast with our far less miserable climate wasn't comforting; it's just a story.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Our climbing session had to be conducted efficiently, as it was a limited time. We warmed up as well as we could, then began the assault on some harder problems. This particular friend is about ten years younger than I am, and still climbing pretty hard. It seems to be very important right now for her to solve the tougher routes. I used to feel similarly, but now am satisfied if I can get most of one. It's not worth the sore joints to batter away at the wall.
Still reading away in Ducornet's Entering Fire. The chapters featuring the demented male offspring character are so horrific I have to skim rapidly through them. I dislike it when an author is obviously trying to gross out the reader via monstrous imagery; or at least that's how it is striking me.

Friday, March 20, 2009


First day of spring, and we had everything but a tornado, blizzard, and cyclone thrown at us. Hair Do Day was nearly snatched bald day. The guy at the wine store sort of mocked me for buying a bottle of rose - a Sangiovese version, which was delicious - but I told him it didn't have to be a balmy summer night, an elusive condition out here at the best of times, for us to savor the chilled rose. We took it, along with an Oregon tempranillo, over to some friends celebrating a belated birthday. Good fun, plenty of energetic political/economic dissection.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Was that a hint of spring?

Almost shed my coat, in my walkabout of errand running; got several miles in and found almost everything we needed for the nonce.
Reading another Ducornet novel, Entering Fire; it was published in 1986, and is pretty over the top in many ways. she tried too hard to be what they call transgressive, I think, or what many would call just plain dirty. However, I do like the developing themes, and I can see that she continued to chase after them in subsequent work: Nature being attacked by humans, families in bizarre distress, among the bigger ones.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


We train and train, practice and practice, do what we can to guarantee good results, but it seems as if good climbing days come out of nowhere. Maybe the so-called sweet spots are fewer and farther between after one reaches a certain decade or so. My two best climbing buddies are both turning fifty this year, and we delicately dance around that notion as we choose the routes on which we throw our hopes. That decade has been flying away for me. Maybe ignoring it is the best strategy...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tapped out

Tired, but still walking upright; the computer's been fritzing, but seems to be back in line. The dates are screwy on the posts the past couple of days, but that's not exactly a seismic event.
Walked past the local Irish-themed pub, Murphy's, on the way to some errands; not even four on a Tuesday afternoon - oh, yeah, St. Paddy's, I know - and the place was throbbing and overflowing. Any excuse, these hardbitten days, to drink and forget; self-medication has been rising nationally.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

short and sweet

Not, me, rather the little bit of a climbing session our beloved offspring treated me to after a wearing time at the dentist for our nonegenarian; we squoze in a little over an hour's worth, just to get out the kinks.
Bit of a walk in the evening, for a bite with the beloved spouse. After blowing up and down the hills of Chinatown, I had no desire to spend any more time outside.
Swell bit from Rikki Ducornet's novel Phosphor in Dreamland: "...words are the vehicles of meaning and intention, not things to be sent buzzing in the void in order to fill it with a digressive, numbing hum, but particles of meaning, interactive and necessary."

Small craft

A friend and her spouse crewed on a forty foot sailboat in a regatta; she said it was the "heaviest" weather she'd ever sailed in. Boats were losing sails, and going aground, but their boat managed to finish and came in fourth in its class. She's worn out from the experience, and this is one tough mama.
No sailing in those conditions for me...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tropical holidays

Some people at the climbing gym had been to Hawaii in December, and the wife suffered a shoulder injury while surfing. There have been a few people in their late thirties, early forties who've decided to start surfing, which is pleasant in warm places but a chilling prospect in the Pacific Northwest; you need a wet suit all year long. This woman hasn't been able to do any climbing for weeks; that would be enough for me to forget about any action on the surfboard.
It got colder as the day wore on, but we needed to make a provisions trek. The wind ate my umbrella; we stayed warm enough hiking back up the hill with full packs. The Co op had wild caught prawns, for a price, but a handful in pasta was enough to satisfy our appetites.
They're threatening snow for tomorrow...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Before the deluge

Yanked back and forth, up and down by the fickle fingers of late winter; we get sun and warmth, sort of, on a trip to the salon for our nonegenarian. What crocuses that weren't frozen to a pulp last week blared their little trumpet faces to the sky. It's warm enough to eat Dungeness crab for dinner and not chicken soup.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Catching up

The hair was out of control, kind of like grass fields gone wild, so I settled in for a couple hours of brush management. The stylist I've been going to for several years said they're experiencing a dramatic downturn in business; people are telling them they want to "go natural" rather than pay for color, or let their tresses grow longer. Clients are generally more down and outright depressed, and my stylist friend is tired of hearing about the economy. The seepage from the damage of the last eight years of looting and plunder is a rising tide that will not float any boats. It's more like a sewer backing up into flood conditions.
Traveled over to pay a call to my friend with the broken leg. Their four year old daughter has been announcing to all who come within hearing range that "My mom broke her FE-mur!" The afflicted person has no cast, rather a long rod down the middle of the bone, and several screws and pins, described in knee-buckling detail by her doctor partner. What a brush back, for an active person; six weeks on crutches, with only "toe pressure" on the leg. She remarked that she hoped to be back in some kind of action before winter came again. The fall she took was actually more like twenty feet, as it turns out, and as she observed, she's fucking fortunate not to be paralysed or dead. Their humor seems to be good, but I hope the coming weeks of tedious healing don't drag them down.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Moderate investment

Of time and effort, as we toured around the gym doing a number of not very hard lead routes; the aggregate of exertion did finally get us, but we weren't damaged in any way.
Off for sushi with the beloved offspring.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Next up

Another routine day in the cold snap, but we soldiered on. I'm near the end of the collected Oscar Wilde, into an essay titled "The Soul of Man Under Socialism." It is not quite what it sounds. His thoughts strike me as a perverse sort of libertarianism. He was against amassing personal wealth, yet for developing individualism. It needs more perusal...

Monday, March 09, 2009

Monday coming down

It was disappointing at first, as a friend had to cancel due to unfitness, but another friend miraculously had time off and wanted to get in some rope climbing time. She's training for a short triathalon, and the swimming is boring. We headed over to the other gym in town to try their new routes, set for a competition last weekend.
We had a fine time, but on the way home she mentioned that she'd heard another friend of ours had broken a femur in a freaky tumble which she suffered on a hike on her birthday, with her new dog in tow. I called her, and one of the things she repeated was feeling silly about it, as she's been climbing for thirty years and never incurred any major trauma. I told her it was more that you realize how short a distance it takes to damage you, and it could have happened to anyone in any situation where they could fall less than five feet, climbing or not. It could have happened to one of the coyote hunters who heard her cries for help. (And are only getting a pass from me for their hideous hobby because they saved her life). Her partner said life has been like playing a country music song backwards:"...and we all know what you get when you play country music backwards... you get your truck, girl, job, health, and bottle of whiskey back."
I'm heading over there with a care package for the family.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Do wopping

We ran across a special on Do Wop music late in the evening. So many groups from New Jersey; and the tunes found echos in the folds of my brain, harking back to the radio music our babysitters listened to in the 1950's. Adorable old dudes, harmonizing as sweetly as ever; the equally aging audience still knew all the words. Lenny Welch's version of "Since I Fell for You" was the highlight.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Up, up, and...

On to another problem; we've managed nicely this week in trying to maintain our climbing fitness. It isn't always pretty, but it's still fine.
Nice walk in the afternoon, beneath a convergence zone of bruised skies, half blue, half swirling black and gray; a little bit of snow falls as we head to an errand.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Chill and fair

Swung back to blue skies and cold air, but good for exercising; we reminesce about tropical vacations as we bundle up and head around the loop. We see the big systems swirling down upon us on the weather maps, and resign ourselves to more snow.
There is a wonderful introduction to the collected Oscar Wilde, written by one Angus Fletcher, whose own bibliography is enticing. Impatient to get to the work, I hadn't read the intro first, and that actually worked out well. Having covered almost all the pieces, going back to Professor Fletcher's thoughts was valuable. I want to find a couple of his critical books and take a peek at them.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Black and white and cold all over

Skies full of broken clouds, mixed ran and snow fell in the morning. By afternoon, the skies were brighter, but the air was cold. Hairdo day was a relief.
A bit o' the old Oscar to savor; he was talking about journalism, a trade at which he worked a good deal in his life until he got sick of it.

"...and the first condition of criticism is that the critic should be able to recognize that the sphere of Art and the sphere of Ethics are absolutely distinct and separate. When they are confused, Chaos has come again. They are too often confused in England now, and though our modern Puritans cannot destroy a beautiful thing, yet, by means of their extraordinary prurience, they can almost taint beauty for a moment. It is chiefly, I regret to say, through journalism that such people find expression. I regret it because there is much to be said in favor of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community. By carefully chronicling the current events of contemporary life, it shows us of what very little importance such events are."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Another little bit of a climbing session with my newly kind of single friend; I wonder how long it will take for her to be busy with personal stuff that takes her away from climbing with a female buddy. It's happened with others, and it's completely understandable, but it leaves one bereft.
Far too many riches of thought from O. Wilde, one cannot begin to enumerate.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Lion or lamb?

Maybe a lamb riding on a lion's back, increasingly nervous for its very existence; we speculate about the old weather saw with regards to the month of March.
As I wound up a spate of errands, I happened to be walking along part of Green Lake. There is a dead tree partially submerged, not too far from shore, where turtles congregate in summer. There were already several out on the limbs, including a small one perched at the very tip of one branch. The others tend to align themselves according to size: The biggest get the easiest places to haul out, and the smaller ones graduate in size farther out. As I watched, a huge one managed to get itself up on the biggest flattest section, while another smaller one circled slowly, looking for his spot. A fellow passed by wearing the local team's baseball logo on his hat, talk radio blaring from his ear phones; he smirked, looking at the turtles, and said snidely, "Oh, they're out early! Must be that GLOBAL warming!" I replied,"Yeah, it could be." Another Dittohead for non-science.

Monday, March 02, 2009

More upwardness

Just a wee quick run for a climbing workout, and then we got walks in before the weather went to hell again. Much foment being stirred by the Wilde material, even though it seems his voice is ironic, sarcastic, satirical, or often a wicked blend.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Soggier and soggier

Quiet nice Sunday morning, mild day changing to downpours; it was a good one for making a batch of bread. Oscar Wilde leads on through elaborate musings about Art, art criticism, and a host of fascinating topics which I slowly decode. There are a couple of essays set up as dialogues between two characters, one set in a library in a country house, the other in a library in a house in the city. All voices are Wilde's.