Saturday, July 31, 2010

Darkness at morn

The delightful but late summerish weather pattern persists; we thought it would rain, but it never did. Walks all good, and a swell early repast with the beloved spouse, at a little cafe. Sort of Northwest Italian. Excellent leftovers for tomorrow night.
Finished the slender Egyptian novel; all the horrors I had figured were coming arrived, and then some; oddly happy ending.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Moving along well

According to my teacher; still having trouble finding those upper reaches, so a more detailed fingering chart will help. Beloved offspring came over and did some work, and it was good to see him.
Hairdoing, walking, onward marched the day; harvested enough shelling peas for a couple of good-sized helpings, which enhanced the evening meal.
Delightful late evening walk, along with many other denizens of the area.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cooling heals

Loving the late summerlike weather; wonder what late summer will be like. Long walk around the region, looking for things that did not exist; manana is the clarinet lesson, so I practiced feverishly to try to be prepared. Feels like the time should be increased, if the embouchure would hold up.
I can see where the book I'm reading is going, and it decreases my motivation; why fundamental religious obsessions grip people is not the least bit interesting to me, and it brings only disaster in actual life.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Misty morning

One of those marine push events occurred over night, providing free air conditioning for the area; I relish these, as it makes for a delicious contrast from the dessicating heat. Hard on folks up in the mountains, as it can bring on thunderstorms; there was a bad one last week in the Tetons, with numerous lightning strikes upon several people in large climbing parties. Turns out, of course, that they all went ahead despite worsening weather, and it was inevitable that something would happen. One young guy was knocked clean off the Owens/Spaulding Route and fell to his death, despite being tied into a rope; they think the lightning severed it. It brought on the largest and most complicated rescue effort ever done in the area. When my friend and I did the Grand Teton several years ago, our guide was adamant about planning escape routes in case of approaching storms, but it didn't sounds like these folks had any such plans.
Fine farmers' market as always; I run into people who complain about the market being "pricy." I repsond that you don't go there to feed a large family, rather to get small quantities of very fresh and wonderful food. Like those tomatoes from the other side of the mountains...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Approaching perfection

Absolutely unbeatable day for walking about, veering into the shade as necessary; the gelato joints were jammed when I passed by, fate informing me not to go in and indulge. It was swell to get away for a few hours, and just soak up the summer air.
The clarinet proceeds, not apace, but it proceeds.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Drifting along

Kind of a dreamy day, early errands and later dining; the full moon continues, in its crystalline fashion.
Uncovered another book sent to us by a friend, titled The Yacoubian Building, set in Cairo, the cast of characters denizens of the title's building; funny and literate, translated from Egyptian.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


By the heavenly atmosphere, by the astounding fresh crab for dinner obtained at a nearby grocery store; we got in a swell walk down to Lake Union, where a wedding kept people off the top of Kite Hill. There was a plastic flower draped tandem waiting for the newlyweds at the bottom of the hill. Wonder where they rode it, it seemed pretty heavy...
Some duet playing in the evening, in the cool of the basement.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


A few rough ones during the day, but eventually all was smoothed out. Off to a play in the evening, with friends we knew would appreciate the themes and issues in this new work, "Ruined", by Lynn Nottage. We saw it down in Ashland, and it happened to be on the schedule for a theater we patronize up here. I was a bit concerned it wouldn't be as good the second time around, but it was, with a different cast and a little different style. Still a moving story, and charged by its contemporary setting, war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo; even so, the basic horror of handing machine guns to teenaged boys is unfortunately wide spread in this world.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summery daze

It's ramping up for another hot set of days; we relished the perfect balance of sun and heat and low humidity as we trekked to and fro on our hairdo quest. Saluted a neighbor and friend on her birthday, which she spent just the way she wanted to. Beloved spouse managed to escape the storm-torn midwestern city where he was in danger of being marooned, and sighs of relief ensued. The kids are off for a climbing weekend in Squamish, on The Chief. It'll be a bit cooler up there, and beautiful.
Found a slight volume by a French writer, Sebastien Japrisot, The Sleeping-Car Murders; it was an all right diversion, but not much more. He also wrote A Very Long Engagement, from which a movie was made.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer comp

One of my friends and I managed to get over to our climbing gym's informal competition and barbeque in the evening. We met the manager's three month old daughter, who appeared baffled by the whole affair. The routes varied wildly, and we ended up doing more boulder problems than usual, but we tired ourselves out nicely.
Casting about for something which looks interesting and delightful to read; may have to do some exhuming.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Unexpected connection

Managed to meet with a friend I see rarely, as she lives in Southern California; she's been on a road trip with a boyfriend, and I got to met him. They are so happy, climbing in fun places, thinking about buying land in the Sierras not far from the Yosemite gate, living in a yurt. It was wonderful to catch up with her, and they invited us to go down there for hiking and moderate climbing. Since I've never been in the Sierras, I think it's a great idea.
Fun final family dinner and hanging out; they're back to Idaho tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Walking about

Rare afternoon spent with my sister, walking and talking and gathering a few items; we had perfection to do it in as well, sun and breezes.
Found I had not finished some of Oscar Wilde's writing; it is odd and unsettling.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Next day

Finally got back climbing, at least at the gym; my friend's college-aged daughter was our rope gun, which is always fun. She whizzed up a route and made it look so appealing; I got up to a certain point and found I was utterly outclassed. That's all right, it's good to get one's derriere kicked. Kicked around the block and then some.
Fabulously wonderful weather; cool nights and mornings, melting into warm sunny afternoons, which could not be better, unless we were somewhere like the Tetons.
I hide away from the visiting family and continue the humbling by clarinet.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Matters of family

My dear sister and her husband and a son and a friend of the son are visiting from western Idaho; it's great to have them here. We're just kind of hanging out and enjoying the HEAVENLY weather, the boys camping in the yard.
Reading a kind of fluffy novel called The Fall, written by a fellow who supposedly is Oxford-educated. It's kind of soap opera-y, but has very good descriptive passages about climbing. I feel guilty reading material that is predictable and corny. What's next?

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Friday started with a terrific clarinet lesson. The teacher is a young woman originally from South Carolina whose specialty is clarinet education at all levels. She's energetic, great at figuring out visually-oriented explanations for teaching. She's had lots of experience working with young students, and I figured she'd be patient enough to deal with my particular situation; I was right. We even got to the point of playing some duets nearing the end of the lesson, and we were actually in tune. There may be hope for my belated return to the band.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

soaking up the sun

Despite a few errands, the afternoon provided good walking exercise in sun and breezy heat. A coffee place up in Greenwood obligingly made me an iced chocolate milk, the perfect fuel for hot summer days. Green Lake was mobbed, as it always is if the clouds part for more than a few minutes.
Rory Stewart is still slogging on across Afghanistan, with his rescued 140 pound dog in tow. How he and the animal survived this trek is beyond me, or what he plans to do with the experience.
Tomorrow I have a clarinet lesson, about which I am a bit anxious. Worried that my techniques are in bad shape...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Short but effective climbing session at the gym; my friend and I always feel revivified afterwards. She was on a bicycle ride for three days, each day on a different San Juan Island; sounds like the participants varied from fit to mentally unfit. One woman tried to ride with a small dog in her front basket, but was so out of shape, she had to stop. Another was a compulsive souvenir shopper, and the others wondered how she'd manage to stuff all her loot in her panniers. There was rampant snoring and the dog ran around barking all night in one shared room. My friend had fun, though, and is encouraging me to get my road bike overhauled so we can do a bit of cycling.
Good clarinet practice, and duets with beloved spouse; eventually we will rock.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tell no one

How astoundingly lovely it has been here; but when people move out to Seattle based on a vacation's swell weather, they are shocked by the depths of misery this area can plumb. Even those of us who have been here for decades can be surprised. But I think I'm pretty well acclimatized, since it seems unbearable when it gets into the 90's.
Weird tired kind of day, but we manage; perfect evening stroll with the beloved spouse.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Throttling down

We and the weather, kind of cooling down and regrouping; our nonegenarian is perplexed by the temperatures, wonders why it feels more like May. I explain about the marine push, pointing out that we get free air conditioning and don't ahve to swelter like all the folks in many other parts of the country. Not sure she's buying it, but I appreciate the gray coolness for a bit.
Rory Stewart is well on his way across Afghanistan, 2002, in The Places in Between, and I am getting increasingly disgusted by the Afghani men. From top to bottom, they appear to be a violent, ignorant, bullying lot of jerks. The adult males abuse the male children in various ways, small wonder they grow up like their elders; there has been no sight of any female yet. There has been mention of obvious mineral deposits apparent in the passing scenery, which perhaps gives a clue to the purpose for any other country's presence there. Mr. Stewart is going to have to do some heavy lifting to convince me this place needs our help, and not just our removal.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stealing away

Beloved spouse had another parade to play in, so we went up to Bellingham the day before. We took the Mukilteo ferry to Whidbey Island, had a sweet hike at Ebey's Landing, a nice cup of chowder, and eventually found the motel up in B-Ham. We went back to the Fairhaven district and happened upon a fine little cafe in which to have a cool sandwich and beverage; bagel, cream cheese, smoked salmon with capers and tiny slices of sweet red onion, side garnish of tomato slices and sprouts filled me up. Sprouts are everywhere up there, it's kind of a neo-hippy kind of place. We walked by a restaurant that had a four man combo playing, and went in to hydrate and listen.
The parade on Sunday was very good, not too long, and another "band widow" and I played waterboys for the troops as they marched along. They sounded terrific. Perfect sunny day, cool breezes, and scenic drives to and from along Chuckanut Drive rounded out a delightful short weekend away.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Hotter than the seventh of July

The 8th was breathtaking. You needed a water bottle to walk a mile or so. I got back up the hill by picturing the iced chocolate I was going to talk the cafe into making for me. It was fabulous: nonfat milk, chocolate syrup, ice and a dollop of whipped cream on top, which coated the ice cubes in a murky but delicious way. Our nonegenarian was so hot she didn't know it, and her caretaker wisely used some cold wet compresses on her neck and forehead. We could think of nothing better for dinner than sushi, and that was delectable.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

back into it

Fortunately I had a call from a friend who needed a climbing fix before she heads back to the simmering southeastern states for a family visit. Getting up even on plastic holds is restorative.
It got to 90 yesterday, wilting just about everyone, and today promises more. We think the cat has found some kind of ditch-out place in which to lay low; he doesn't cotton to being wetted down, which would offer him relief.
Finished Fitzgerald's translation of Virgil's Aenead; while reading the pages of lines detailing the horror of battle, I wondered how the person singing it could put this violence into song. The narrator, in fact, beseeches the Muses to help him do so several times. The version of "Hamlet" which we saw had a troupe of "playas" who actually rapped some ancient lines to prove their mettle for performance. It was completely effective to my ears, and I linked it to the epic I was reading; hip hop or rap is a good fit for lines and lines of ancient poetry. The violence is universal and timeless.
New work underway: Rory Stewart's The Places in Between, about his walk across Afghanistan.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Whirl of a week

Where did it go? We spent several wonderful days with a family member at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, seeing excellent plays and enjoying real summer weather. Ashland is a nice little place, at least to visit. Highlights for me included a production of "Hamlet" with Dan Donahue in the eponymous role; this version made me feel as if I never want to see another any time soon. Dan was wonderful, as he has been in about every role we've observed over the years, from comic waiters to this Hamlet, about the most tragic figure in the canon. Oddly, another work I enjoyed thoroughly was a musical, "She Loves Me." The drama notes said it was an early form of "You've Got Mail", which I never saw but did read about, and didn't much like the sound of. The music was good, the actors sang very well, the story was sweet and engaging, and it broke my record of refusing to see old musicals. In stark contrast was "Ruined", set in the wartorn Democratic Republic of Congo. I found it intensely emotional, the story line about a woman running a whorehouse who takes in a girl who is "broken", or "ruined", which meant she had received terrible wounds from being repeatedly raped after being kidnapped by soldiers both rebel and "legitimate"; impossible to tell the difference in such times. This sounds ghastly, and the truth of it is, but the play was wonderful, full of music and life, although some of it is graphic and unsettling. I was skeptical about it being so topical, but it was a worthy experience.
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" was quite good, albeit requiring patience to get slowed down to the strange, nightmarish pace Tennessee Williams set. Having read his collected short fiction I thought I was prepared, but nothing can really set you up for a live performance. "Twelfth Night" was wonderful as well, and it was the third version I've seen. I had thought beforehand I wouldn't want to see it again, but the actors involved were irresistable. That didn't work for me in "Merchant of Venice" and "Henry IV Part One". Loved the players, they played well, but didn't engage me. I think "Merchant" is a poor play, and I found the history play dull. The kids who went down to the OSF said they liked the adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice", which we didn't see. Almost forgot about the debut performance of a newly commissioned work, "American Night." It was about the immigrant experience. Overall I liked its strange surrealistic aspects, but it was a bit on the light weight side.
We got a few nice hikes in, and the one on the Pacific Crest Trail up on Mount Ashland was a beaut. The wildflower season was late, due to cold weather and late snow, but flowers we don't usually get to see compensated for the lack of some of the standard ones. There was a lovely big patch of yellow lilies - avalanche, or maybe a kind of fawn lily - along a picturesque silvery stream, and some trillium just going pink; blooming myrtle, larkspur galore. Diligent competitors were clearing drifts off the upper reaches of the trail in preparation for next weekend's wilderness marathon, the "S.O.B.", Southern Oregon Outback run. 50K of steepness and altitude with fabulous views, if they bother to look at them.
It was amazing to be dropped into summer, and it appears to have followed us home.