Sunday, December 31, 2006

Adios, 2006

Time for the obligatory post looking back at the year. What did I do this year? What will I remember about 2006?

I spent a few days in Florida in March, visiting both coasts of a state I hadn't seen yet. First time at the Gulf of Mexico, too. Saw manatees and several dolphins. Enjoyed the warm break from another Pacific Northwest winter.

We got Chloe in December 2005 but I'll look back on 2006 as our first year with her. The first few months were hard--getting used to her, training her, trying to understand and be understood. It got easier, though, and it's hard to remember life without her now.

I went up to see the eagles in February and saw orcas for the first time in March.

The most vacation Mr. Thel and I got to have together was our Fourth-of-July long weekend in Darrington. A little fishing, a little wandering around in the mountains.

I took a girls-only camping trip in August for the first time. And lit a one-match fire without Mr. Thel's supervision for the first time, too.

The same month, I took a bit of the Empire Builder Amtrak route for the first time, just to Shelby, MT and back. I also resolved, on the return trip, never to spend that long on the train without either some kind of neck support, or a berth in a sleeping car. I reached that decision after spending most of the night in a train bathroom vomiting because of a migraine that seemed to start after I tried to sleep in my seat.

My dad had a stroke on Halloween night. He came out okay, but that's certainly something I'll remember.

And, of course, 2006 became the year my forlorn wishes to buy a house turned into action. But, you know, we aren't allowed to talk about that for two more days. Not until I have the key, friends. Then I'm sure I'll say more about it than you ever wanted to hear.

I came within 4 books of my goal of reading 50 books in 2006--and I read parts of at least 4 more books that I didn't finish. So that goes at the top of my list of resolutions for 2007:

List of resolutions for 2007

1. Read 50 books and keep track of them.
Hmmm, now what else should go on the list? I need to visit at least one new state this year, man, if not a new country. I bought new luggage today, at a 70% discount, for the first time in my life, and I'm committed to using it. I'm hoping to visit New Mexico this spring, but we'll see how the budget does under the house payment. But let's put that on the list anyway:
2. Visit one new state or country.
Exercise is a pretty typical resolution, so let's just make sure to get this one little exercise-istic goal on the list so it doesn't get lost in all the work on the house:
3. Take five day hikes.
That sounds miserably low, but I guess that's ten percent of Saturdays (or Sundays) in the year, so let's aim for something I can actually achieve and even surpass and leave it at that.

I want to make sure I don't let my mad knitting skillz lapse this year, so let's make that number 4. I don't feel a need to quantify the number of hours I spend knitting, nor the number of things I produce, so let's go with this:
4. Knit one new garment.
That leaves room for plenty of non-garment knitting, but I'd like to get another sweater out of the deal, anyway.

And the resolution I feel most tentative about is the one about writing, but it should be up there to keep me thinking about it. Most of my writing goals are too vague, and most of these resolutions are somewhat easily achieved, so let's make this one something to actually work at:
5. Write daily.
There, that's the list. That should keep me busy in the coming year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Frozen Leaves

I took this a month ago during the week-long freeze we had at the end of November. I present it in lieu of words for today.


Today as we were leaving work three of us lingered to chat about our weekend plans, or lack thereof. One young woman, who moved to Seattle from Ukraine when she was sixteen, asked if I had plans with Mr. Thel.

"Oh, not really," I said.

"Don't you spend New Year's together usually?" she asked.

I had to think about it for a minute. "Well, we have a few times...but not last, not always." I shrugged, thinking nothing of it, but she was amazed. Maybe "scandalized" more than amazed, actually.

"Oh, my gosh," she said. "I am always thinking being married means you are doing everything together, you know, like going places and holidays and everything. But maybe this is because I am not married yet!"

She was on her way out the door, so I didn't make her stay to listen to my speech about how Mr. Thel and I, committed as we are to each other, do not always agree on what "a good time" means. I love spending time with him, and we have a great time together (mostly...honestly, people, nobody has a great time together at all moments). Last Friday we ended up driving all the way to Oregon that night in large part because our conversation made the miles fly by. We spend three evenings out of four together, whether sitting at home or out somewhere. But sometimes my friends invite me out, or his friends invite him out, and that's okay too. Even if it ends up being on New Year's Eve.

I feel lucky to be with someone who understands that spending a few hours apart does not spell doom for our love, even if it seems quirky or weird to the rest of the world. And I realized this afternoon that I really, truly do not care if it seems quirky or weird to anyone else.

I am living this aspect of my life in the way it works for me, and I am unconcerned with the reaction of outside parties. This exact mental freedom is a goal I have been working toward for my entire life and I didn't even notice I'd achieved it until this afternoon. True, I've only achieved it in this one small part of my life. But now that I've proved it can be done, maybe it won't be so hard in the future.

It's a good, hopeful thought to hold as another year winds down.

P.S. The loan paperwork is all done. I just have to sign papers next week. Tuesday, supposedly. Sssssshhhh, don't tell anyone, but...I think I'm going to be a homeowner by Wednesday. Eeeeee!

Friday, December 29, 2006


My cousin tells me she had the following encounter with my four-and-a-half years old niece on Christmas Eve.

Niece: (Comes up behind Cousin, chattering happily) And then the mermaid was angry at her father!
C: Oh really? (turning to face niece)
N: (Stares, silent)
C: You thought I was someone else, didn't you.
N: Yes, I thought you were Thel.
C: No, she's over there.
N: (Turns without another word and runs across the room to me.)

While I have a sympathy cringe for my poor cousin, who after all only gets to see the nieces once a year, I have to admit it was fun to find that she was my buddy last weekend. She'll realize I'm an old fuddy-duddy soon enough. In the meantime, I will cheerfully join in her princess fantasies and her mermaid tales, and hold her hand when she crosses the street, and swing her up for piggy-back rides. And she can always feel free to save me a seat next to her at dinner.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


"Feds apologize for woman's strip search":

The Homeland Security Department sent a letter apologizing to a Muslim woman who was detained at the Tampa airport and strip searched at a county jail.

Safana Jawad, 45, a Spanish citizen who was born in Iraq, was detained on April 11 because of a suspected tie to a suspicious person, authorities said. She was held for two days before being deported to England.
Wow, I had to fly out of the Tampa airport just a month before that. She was detained because of a suspected tie to a "suspicious" person? Like, they thought she might be connected to someone they thought might be suspicious? Jesus, dude, who doesn't fit that description?

I'm also curious about why they deported her to England if she was a Spanish citizen. Maybe that's just the origin of her flight into Tampa, I guess.

For awhile I kind of avoided flying because that one especially turbulent flight from Boston freaked me out. Now I'm more freaked out by the possibility that someone I might or might not have taken a college class with might be a "suspect" by Homeland Security, which might be reason enough to keep me from vacationing in Tampa or Albuquerque or wherethefuckever, by way of a strip search and a two-day stay in some county jail somewhere. Or it might be reason enough to do a whole lot worse to me--after all, I've publicly admitted Democratic tendencies and unashamedly protested the invasion of Iraq, for starters. That's like treason these days, right?

Book Resolution 2006: Comprehensive List

Well, with a scant four days left in the year, odds are I'm just barely going to fall short of my goal of reading 50 books this year. Actually, if I'd count the five children's books I read last week I would meet the goal, but that seems a little cheaterly to me.

Since I stopped writing summaries of the books after #12, I'm just going to list them all here for future reference. Maybe I'll go back later and make links for 13-44, but I doubt it.

1. The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman
2. The Dog Listener, by Jan Fennell
3. Shards of Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold
4. Four Ways to Forgiveness, by Ursula Le Guin
5. Ten Little Indians, by Sherman Alexie
6. Indian Killer, by Sherman Alexie
7. The World According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore
8. Life As We Know It: A Father, a Family, and an Exceptional Child, by Michael Berube
9. The Boy Who Loved Windows, by Patricia Stacey
10. Barrayar, by Lois McMaster Bujold
11. Teckla, by Steven Brust
12. Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson
13. The Harvest, by Robert Charles Wilson
14. The Time Traveller's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (This one joined Spin at the top of the list of "favorites" from this year.)
15. Darwinia, by Robert Charles Wilson
16. Marley & Me, by John Grogan
17. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
18. The King's Peace, by Jo Walton
19. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, by Ann Lamott
20. Communicating with Orcas, by Mary Getten (I bought this one after taking an orca-watching boat trip in April after the captain mentioned the book.)
21. The Weather Makers, by Tim Flannery (Another favorite)
22. The Mermaid Chair, by Sue Monk Kidd
23. Broken for You, by Stephanie Kallos
24. The Hallowed Hunt, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Gods, I wish she could write a book a week for me to devour. Yes, another favorite.)
25. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
26. The Dark Room, by Minette Walters (A mystery novel makes an appearance! A nice change of pace.)
27. The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michael Faber
28. The Will of the Empress, by Tamora Pierce
29. A Princess of Romania, by Paul Park
30. The Ghost Brigades, by John Scalzi
31. The Dispossessed, by Ursula Le Guin (When I bought The Ghost Brigades the bookstore clerk who rang up my sale struck up a conversation about Scalzi, having read Old Man's War but not yet its sequel, which led into a conversation about science fiction in general. When I mentioned being a total newcomer to the genre, and asked if he had any recommendations, he listed The Dispossessed as his favorite book, period. So I bought it the next week. Wow, indeed. Definitely one of the best books I read this year, or any year.)
32. Confessions of a Teenage Sleuth, by Chelsea Cain (Having read ever so many Nancy Drew books as a child, this was enormous fun.)
33. Tales from Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin
34. Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer (Creepy and educational.)
35. The Sharing Knife, by Lois McMaster Bujold (I didn't even know this was coming out until I saw it on display at the bookstore. I'd waited to buy The Hallowed Hunt, number 24 above, until it was out in paperback, but, I bought it instantly and read it immediately. A whole new universe from Bujold--I was delighted.)
36. The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien (I generally re-read the whole of Lord of the Rings every year or two, but I hadn't re-read this one for many years. It was high time.)
37. War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull
38. Wings to the Kingdom, by Cherie Priest (The first chapter of this was offered online free, and I liked it so much I had to see what happened.)
39. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susannah Clarke (Best book I read this year, without a doubt. I loaned it to a friend or else I'd probably be re-reading it again already. I didn't read it when it came out, when everyone was raving about it, because I have this problem where I assume I'm not smart enough to "get" the books that all the smart people love. And yet I adored this book. Lesson: get over yourself and read the books being raved about by people whose opinions you respect. You'll likely enjoy them, too.)
40. The Anvil of the World, by Kage Baker
41. Year's Best Fantasy 5, edited by David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer (Obviously I adore Bujold and Le Guin; who else will I adore? I bought an anthology to help me out.)
42. 40 Signs of Rain, by Kim Stanley Robinson
43. Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey (Because I'd never read anything by her.)
44. Embraced by the Light, by Betty Eadie
45. Ethan of Athos, by Lois McMaster Bujold
46. Arrow in Flight, by Mercedes Lackey

Any additional books that I finish before the end of the year, I'll add them to this list.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Because I didn't notice that Christmas Eve's post was number 200 on this blog, we will celebrate the 201st!


Alas, the unavailability of internet connectivity in Roseburg foiled my attempt to post daily for a month, and December 25 and 26 remain sadly blank. I thought about cheating with Blogger's handy little "backdating" feature, but no, I won't cheat. I'll try to post twice on a couple of days before the end of the year, just so I have 31 posts this month, but it just won't be the same.

Still, this Holidailies experience has been good for me. I haven't improved much at planning my posts ahead of time, but I have instead improved my ability to quell the frenzied protestations of my inner critic, to let myself just write something and post it without agonizing about what my friend's friends might think if they ever saw my blog. That doesn't come naturally to me, so any bit of practice is good.


We're back home in Seattle now. I was so relieved that our drive down was on a dry evening last week, and then it rained almost nonstop while we were there. There was a low spot in the road to my grandparents' house that was underwater most of the time...we began wondering whether we'd get stranded in Roseburg, if the rain kept up. But then our luck held! --today's drive home was almost totally dry, too. Score!


My mother cooked a 15-pound prime rib roast for Christmas dinner this year. Fifteen pounds is, what, the size of two babies? Or more? I mean, sorry to make such a macabre comparison, but in grasping for a comparison that was the first one that came to mind--"My niece hardly weighs more than that!"

Even stranger, she used three pounds of salt in the cooking of the enormous slab of meat. Fortunately for all of us, the salt is used as a paste that covers the meat entirely, making the final product incredibly soft and juicy and not salty at all, as the salt forms a crust around the roast. Impressive when it's cracked off and discarded in two enormous pieces, too.

Happy post-holidays! I hope you have something new that's as nifty as my new socks made of alpaca wool. Mmmmm, alpaca wool. Glaghlaghlaghlaghlaghl.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Eve of the Mass of the Christ

I have eaten all day and I may explode.

Before I collapse into a food coma, allow me to present some highlights of the day:

* One niece received as a gift the Alphabet Pal caterpillar toy. It has a setting that allows you to "sound out" words--press the c, a, and t and you will have a jerky approximation of the word "cat," for example. Several mischievous adults, playing with the toy, discovered much to our delight that the toy will not allow you to sound out certain words. Pressing "f" and "k" in succession will only make the caterpillar giggle merrily. Same with "a" and "s." Our experimentation stopped there, with much laughter.

* Grandma has a fancy-schmancy walker which has a seat so she always has a place to sit and rest. The walker was in the living room being used as an extra seat, and the smaller niece clambered up and sat in it. Grandma came by and started pushing her around the living room. Smaller niece sat quietly and grinned with joy as Grandma wheeled her slowly in laps around the room.

* Traditionally on Christmas Eve one side of my family exchanges silly gag gifts--dollar store stuff, things from Archie McPhee, and other random oddments. This year we scaled it back a bit and did a white elephant exchange; each person brought one gift, which could be a real gift or a silly gift but had a ten dollar limit, and then we drew numbers. Person #1 opened any gift. Each successive person then opened a gift, and then decided whether they wanted to keep their gift or trade for a previous gift.

The gifts included the following assortment: a stuffed frog that sings "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog;" a monkey slingshot kind of toy, which is meant to be launched across the room and shrieks a high-pitched yell of terror as it flies through the air; a set of John Wayne DVD's; a Whitman's chocolate sampler; a personal DVD player; a game called "Junkyard Jalopy," which is played exactly like "Operation;" and an enema kit.

I'm telling you, it's not every Christmas that I've been able to say, "Yes, I got an enema for Christmas. From my brother." Although to clarify, the thing itself was not actually "given", you understand. I want to be very clear about that.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Last night Mr. Thel, Codependent Dog Chloe, and I drove the 400 miles to Roseburg for the holidays. The weather was dry, and traffic was surprisingly light, so it was a fairly easy seven-hour trip.

We stayed the night at a motel in town and spent the day travelling around to visit various outposts of the family. My grandparents are kindly letting us stay in their guest cottage next to their riverfront house, so we spent an hour or two with them, and a few hours at my parents' house (where I finally wrapped all our presents, procrastinator that I am), and a couple of hours at my other Grandma's, and finally Abby's Legendary Pizza for dinner with my siblings. The others had arrived at Abby's before Mr. Thel and me, and when we walked in I was greeted by the high-pitched sound of my older niece, age 4 and half, calling my name over and over so she could tell me that she saved me a seat next to her. Aww.

This weekend is going to be sparse posts most likely, as my only internet connection is a very slow wi-fi or a cellular card access. I don't have any stories yet anyway. I promise if anything exciting happens, this blog will be sure to milk it.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Flying South

A quick post to make sure I get my 50 words in for the day. We had planned to drive to Oregon tomorrow but the weather forecast is for rain, rain, rain all the way down I-5 tomorrow. It's been dry today, naturally. So we're going to drive down as far as we can get tonight, while the weather is not atrocious, because I'd rather drive in the dark and dry than in the wet daylight.

Time with the two nieces and the cousin, grandparents and assorted other relatives, will be fun. We do a "gag gifts" exchange for Christmas Eve with one side of my family, which has become my favorite part of the celebrations. Chloe is coming with us for the second year. I think at this point, her third visit, seeing my family again will be a familiar experience for her and not so anxiety-inducing.

OK! Off we go! Happy weekend, happy holidays, happy times to all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Stream of

His hair is covered with a black stocking cap with a red stripe around the bottom. He has carefully lurched over to our table and stands, beer glass in hand, staring uncertainly at us. His eyes are glassy, his frame slouched over beneath his black windbreaker. He mumbles something; the Charlie Brown Christmas Special music is playing incongruously on the bar's sound system, playing too loudly, and I can't hear him.

He manages, with many unnecessary gestures and shrugs, to communicate his desire to sit down and finish his beer at our table. "I was...over there. And he kept staring at me..." he grimaces. "Giving me a look...I just...sorry to interrupt. I was bored over there.'s okay?"

He takes the open stool and Julie asks his name. "Pee Eff See Jones," he says, shaking her hand earnestly for several long seconds.

He doesn't want to bother us and he doesn't want to talk about Yemen, from whence he returned in October. Nevertheless, he launches into a story about his time in the Reserves. I can only hear about half of what he says. He worked on Black Hawks, doing maintenance. Someone was ambushed on patrol...a vehicle flipped, two men crushed. "One of them, he was crushed right away, went fast." He tries to remember where the guy was from, without success. A shrug. "The other one, he was crushed too, but...he died later."

"I bought a gun, you know, a Ruger 9mm. My wife, she freaked out when I got it, but..." Another shrug, a curled lip. He needed to have it under the bed, he said, case.

We listen to him ramble drunkenly. Every so often he will stop himself and announce, "I don't want to talk about it." Then he will go on.

I fear he will tell us too much. Then I fear he won't tell us enough.

He says he's out, but he's going back in. "Eight thousand dollars," he says, his eyes lighting up for the first time.

He talks, we listen. We shake hands several times, try unsuccessfully to talk him into getting a cab ride home. "Support the troops," he urges me during one handshake. I bite my tongue and tell him to take care of himself.

It isn't enough. "I got a debriefing, you know, when I got hour and a half, I guess it was."

He can only take care of himself so much. Why is he the only one tasked with taking care of himself? An hour and a half, and he's supposed to step out of one world and into another, without a glitch? He drinks a lot and keeps a 9mm under his bed. If he's lucky, he'll never combine the two. Why should the quality of the rest of his life, which we collectively paid to irrevocably alter, be left only up to luck?

And if he is less lucky, and ends up on a street, will someone in Woodinville who keeps a yellow ribbon magnet on their truck be someday bellowing in anger at the thought of "his kind" sullying the suburbs?



This darkest night, this longest dark, we wait in despair for the light to return. We wait, a candle lit in poor imitation, for the return of the illumination that will drive out the shadows.

Be well, Pee Eff See.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I just caught the tail end of a news item about residents of Woodinville who are "demanding change" after being without electricity for five days.

I guess they don't like having to live in the cold. Gee, I wonder how much they'd enjoy having to live without electricity and be forced to move every three months.

Last year I saw some news clips of bellowing, red-faced men ranting at a city council meeting somewhere on the Eastside about the terrible danger of letting a camp of homeless folks into their neighborhood. The arrogant fury on those faces made me feel sick to my stomach.

Alas, in all likelihood those who were most hostile are probably living large on generators now, if their power is still out. But if not, well, I wish I could say--enjoy your cold shower. Maybe hospitality won't seem like such a chore next time.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


None other than the fabulous Jette herself, from Holidailies, corrected my slanderous insinuations about the "Best of" posts there:

I assure you, we don't split up the Holidailies portal participants and make sure everyone gets a "Best Of" listing. The readers panel picks the entries they think are the best. So you should be excited!
So I must apologize for my low expectations, and give one more tiny "woot!"

See, being a straight-A student in high school, no matter how long ago it was, has made me incredibly neurotic about the rest of my life, and I had made it my unofficial goal to write something good enough for the "Best of Holidailies" page during this month. Even as I am embarrassed by my ridiculous need for external validation that I am good at things, I am *still* delighted to be on the Best Of page.

Thanks for correcting me, Jette! And thanks for all your hard work on Holidailies.

Monday, December 18, 2006

2007: Year of the Shawl

I had mentioned to Mr. Thel, in response to his questioning me about Christmas presents, that one skein of Sea Silk would be a luxurious gift. It's a laceweight blend of silk and seacell, a fiber made from seaweed. I have seen it at the yarn store and fondled it lovingly, sniffing its faintly salty aroma, but have never been able to justify buying it for myself.

Well, Christmas was early at my house, as Mr. Thel handed me six skeins of it yesterday.

I have six skeins of this now. Two in a lovely pale mossy green, two in a light amethyst, and two in ivory. Six! Can you see how it shimmers? I couldn't stop caressing it. Something deep in my brain told me to unwind the skeins, toss the yarn in scribbled loops over the bed and just roll in it.

Fortunately I resisted that particular impulse. Now I just need to match this gorgeous stuff up with the right patterns. What fun! (Anyone have any good sources for patterns using this? I find remarkably few references to it online.)

Mr. Thel knows I get weird and awkward about accepting generosity, even from him. But this...this is one of the coolest gifts ever. For me it is, anyway. Thanks for loving me so extravagantly.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

As Her Head Begins To Swell

As seen in the creepy commercial I saw today for cold medicine, a swelling head is just plain unattractive. Mine is swelling in that good, half-embarrassed way. An aw-shucks kind of swelling. Here, let me pause to look down bashfully and kick in the dirt with my toe.

OK, all done! My head started swelling when I realized the other night that someone excerpted part of my Blood Diamond post on December 9th. Granted that they didn't mention what they thought of it, I assume they linked approvingly without comment. I, I'm sure that's never happened before.

Then Holidailies picked my Deadly Trees post as one of the "Best of" entries. I got alll excited before realizing that it's probably the kind of deal where every participant gets to have an entry on the "best of" they split up the 150 or so participants among the 30 days, to have 5 different blogs on the "best of" every day. But! I still got hits from it. And! There was my name under a "Best Of" sign!

Finally, I sent a picture to the newspaper and they used it in their online gallery of reader-submitted pictures of the storm's aftermath. My name! On a photo credit! In the newspaper!

And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say
That Thel's swelling head grew three sizes that day!

I'm losing my life to the weffriddles, by the way. And that's the whole of my excuse for this anemic little post.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

After the Windstorm

What are they calling this one, anyway? Nowhere near an inauguration or Columbus Day. Perhaps, as I saw someone suggest elsewhere, the Hannukkah Eve Storm?

In any case. There's a fairly major four-lane arterial that runs east-west near here. I tried to take it yesterday morning when I needed to go buy Chloe some food.

Alas, this is what I found across all four lanes of the road:

Here's a closer look:

And that's as close as those killer trees got to me and mine, apparently, for which I am much relieved.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Friday!

We survived the windstorm.

I'd say that more flippantly but I'm kind of freaked out by the fact that several people actually didn't survive it. All of their deaths unexpected and unavoidable--a woman in her basement, trapped by a river of water pouring in; a man in bed; two people in their cars.

Meanwhile, here on the cusp of Shoreline, our power flickered repeatedly but never went off for more than a minute or two. I lit a bunch of candles in preparation, but never really needed them.

I woke up this morning and got ready for work. Having seen on the news that Seattle Public Schools were closed, I tried to call work to see if we (who closely follow the school district's schedule in times like this) were supposed to come in. The phone rang repeatedly but never went to voicemail. I was about to call my supervisor at home to check in, when he called me to say not to come to work today. (Brief cheer.) (Karma wins!)

Then he said it was because several areas at work had flooded. Not so good. Still, having offered my help and been told it was kind but unnecessary, I was guilt-free about enjoying my day off. I spent a few hours of it doing this puzzle, though. Oy. I made it as far as level 18 before I had to head to the party. But I still have two whole weekend days ahead of me to forge ahead in puzzle world!

I saw a tree down across a main arterial not far from home, but no trees came down in our immediate few-blocks neighborhood.

Mr. Thel's workplace holiday party was tonight at a fabulous mansion on Capitol Hill undergoing renovations to make it even more glorious. I'm told it's about ten thousand square feet; it has three stories plus a basement, two decks with views of Lake Washington and the Cascades, and lovely detailing inside. It was fun to wander around in.

And then I got home, posted babblingly to Holidailies, and went to bed, the end.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Candles: Lit. Cellphones: Powered. Power: Still on!

The wind is starting to make noise outside. I made a run to K-Mart earlier to buy candles, since all of ours are in storage...somewhere... I thought I'd be forced to buy a supply of scented candles for a few minutes, to my dismay. I mean, I don't mind a nice scented candle, but I was looking for a supply of votives to light several areas and that many scented candles in a tiny house seemed a recipe for a migraine, for Mr. Thel and me both. I'd rather just go straight to bed, frankly.

To my relief, I found a display of utilitarian unscented white votives near the froofy ones. I bought a few tealights too, and currently have a china plate covered with tealights burning in the kitchen. It seems only a matter of time before the lights go out for the night, and it will be nice to have a bit of light by which to grab the flashlights and light more candles.

Update, 10:37 p.m.: The power just blipped off for about three seconds and came back on. I'm sure it will be out soon. You know, having the power go out is more of a pain now that I'm an adult--but I can't help feeling the vestigial glee at the situation--candles, flashlights--that I felt as a child.

See you later!

Weather Woes

Whoa, I just turned on the Weather Channel and Jim Cantore is in Cannon Beach, OR! I knew it was a big storm, but I didn't realize it was big enough to send out Jim Cantore. Heh--they're calling it "The Pacific Pounding." *Rolls eyes* Goodness knows it isn't a true event until the Weather Channel gives it a catchy name.

I left work just after 4:00 and made it across the Montlake Bridge just in time to drive into the monsoon. I was talking about reality seeming liquid earlier--I didn't intend it so literally! The water was coming down so hard that my windshield wipers on the highest setting were completely unable to keep my windshield clear while I was at a standstill. So much standing water already covered the streets; I saw at least one stalled vehicle.

I was sitting on 15th Ave NE at N 145th, waiting in the left turn lane for the red arrow to turn green, when there was a flash and a blip and all the lights in the area went out. Everyone sat, stunned, at the intersection for several seconds before we switched gears and started taking our turns.

Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day

From NOAA, why this may be my only post of the day:






The power went out at our house between 4am and 5am yesterday morning, during Wednesday's windstorm. This one's supposed to be even stronger.

Debris hazard? Falling trees? Yikes. There are several of those deadly fir trees in the front yard of the house we're living in. Gulp.

I love it, though, secretly. When I was about six years old I used to get so happy on windy days. I remember pacing around the playground during blustery recesses, my hair whipping in the wind, keeping the wind on my face and trying to find the most exhilarating spot--at the top of the slide, or out away from the buildings on the soccer field, or huddled inside the large cross-section of concrete pipe that lay on its side near the tire swing, if the wind was howling down its length just right.

As anyone who's ever seen Wizard of Oz knows, the world feels less reliable on a windy day. Reality has a hard time coagulating; at any moment a hearty gust might send the world smearing sideways, drops of it spattering your shoes as you peer through the now rapidly-flowing sheet of liquid ho-hum to see what new universe awaits you.

Every time a big wind kicks up, I still look around hopefully, eager to see if this will be the day. Batten down the hatches, friends, and keep your eyes open. If all goes well, I'll see you on the other side of normal in the morning.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Breaking News

SEATTLE - Western Washington residents this morning experienced an unprecedented assault on their homes, businesses, and modes of transportation by a fiercely determined band of fir trees.

Typical of the attacks was the invasion launched at a house in Sammamish through whose roof a 70-foot fir came crashing this morning. One person in the house required five stitches as a result of the attack; an infant in the house was "buried in ceiling insulation and had to be dug out."

Several other homes also reported direct hits from individual trees. At least one Bellevue office had a tree break through the roof and into a walll.

Many firs made their attacks on the power grid, bringing down lines around the area and leaving many residents without power for several hours on Wednesday morning.

One local school bus ride took a terrifying turn this morning as a 50-foot tree crashed down on top of the bus, crushing the roof only a few inches from the driver and several children on their way to school. "It was like a bomb going off," says the driver, aptly identifying the unprovoked smashing of her bus for the act of aggression that it was.

Astonishingly, the trees managed to hit another school bus in the same wave of attacks. Another school bus in Tukwila was ambushed by a tree whose falling sent the driver to the hospital with minor injuries.

Meteorologists warn that the high winds arriving in western Washington and Oregon on Thursday will probably trigger another wave of falling trees. Local mills encouraged residents to take preemptive action by clear-cutting all remaining stands of fir trees in the area, noting their own willingness to process the remains at no cost to the brave volunteer forces destroying them. "We shouldn't stand for this kind of audacious attack on our homes, our schools, and our workplaces," said a spokesman who prefers to remain anonymous. "We must take down the trees before they take us down."

Authorities note that appropriately-sized tree remains may be put to use as holiday decorations. "I hear they need some more decorated trees at Sea-Tac," said one police officer in north Seattle. Others suggested sending a tougher message to trees still standing by cutting up the remains of fallen trees and using them as firewood.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Evening Soundtrack

Chloe's toenails tick slowly across the kitchen linoleum. She pads quietly across the living room carpet and flops down against the couch with a groaning sigh. Seconds later she jolts upright, leans to her left and begins frantically trying to scratch her ear with her hind foot. Alas, the enormous blue Elizabethan collar I've given her to prevent her chewing at a hot spot on her backside blocks her foot from making contact. Her toenails scratch futilely across the transparent plastic ringing her head, her tags jingling a desperate rhythm to her thumping leg. She gives up in a few seconds and stares balefully at me awhile before stalking back into the kitchen and lying down mournfully with her head under a dining chair.

Rain sluices down the gutters and patters onto the sidewalk next to the house. The single-pane windows do little to block the sound, and the resulting high volume of the incessant downpour keeps convincing me that there's a leak in the house.

Mr. Thel explores XM stations on his laptop across the living room. He plays air drums with a Rush song, and busts out a falsetto to sing along with Peter Gabriel a minute later.

Chloe has managed to get ahold of her tail and fiercely nibbles on it, an obnoxious repetitive chewing sound. "No, boo-boo," I warn her softly. Chew chew chew chew chew. "Chloe, no," I say sternly. Chew chew chew chew chew chew chew. "Hey! Stop it!" I command her. She stops her tail-gnawing and turns her collared head to glare at me in silence.

"Oh my," Mr. Thel marvels. When I make an encouraging, "Mmm?" he says softly, "It's a 1962 Stratocaster!" He holds up his laptop to show me the picture. Chloe perks up at the voice of her beloved, and starts across the room to be near him. Her plastic collar sticks agains the arm of the couch--she scrapes along it anyway, only to collide with the coffee table with a thunk. She backs up, tries again, and smacks the edge of the collar against the leg of the piano. Panting with frustration, she backs up, tosses her head, scrapes loudly down the coffee table, and finally sidles through the gap to press herself against his leg.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Okay, it's the eleventh (I almost typed "elventh"--what would an elven day would be like...) day of Holidailies and I'm burnt out. Done with talking. Blah blah blah.

So. More miscellany to round out this day.

The Devotchka show was excellent. Both of the openers (neither of whose names are floating to the surface right now) were good, and Devotchka was a blast. Unfortunately the show started at 9:00 on a Sunday night, so by the time Devotchka even took the stage my friend and I were already fulfilling our self-deprecating prophecies of "little old lady" behavior and getting sleepy. We stayed for probably half the Devotchka set before deciding to catch the last bus home instead of wait and get a cab--probably a wise decision. I've never caught a cab in downtown Seattle before, and while it might be an easy breeze of a thing to do, we did only see one taxi cruise past while we waited at the bus stop.

I stay overnight at the overflow shelter tonight. (On Monday nights from October through April, six to ten middle-aged men for whom there is no room at a shelter downtown are driven up to the church I sporadically attend and sleep there for the night. I believe other churches fill in the gaps for the other nights, although I'm not entirely up to speed on the program's details.) So once a month I stay, together with another woman whose husband cooks breakfast in the morning. I've only been able to stay for breakfast once, on a random day off last year; usually I have to scoot out first thing in the morning so I can go home and get ready for work.

I can't talk about the house because it's stressing me out. This process could only be more arduous if they actually made you lay open an artery and sign all the paperwork in blood. Then again, they probably stopped short of that only because the amount of blood necessary to sign that many documents would bleed a person dry.

Chloe won't stop biting and scratching herself, so I need to carve out some time to take her to the vet tomorrow. I've been cutting out early so often to take care of home-buying stuff that I'm falling slightly behind at work, in fact, though at least it's a relatively slow time of year there.

Oooh, there's a free staff luncheon tomorrow. I forgot all about it. Sweet, free lunch. That's a luxury. Okay, a small luxury, but still. Free lunch!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Today we took a drive around the (potential) new neighborhood where our (possible) new house is.

I have this ridiculous hope that if I am just cool and noncommital about this whole process, I'll avert the attention of the Evil Eye and maybe things will work out after all for us. So don't expect any long gushing posts about the setup of the house until after we actually close and have a key in hand.

It's going to be a long three weeks, waiting on tenterhooks.

Anyway, we explored the neighborhood a bit by car. There's a P-Patch, a neighborhood gardening area, just a block or so away. We saw several little restaurants we wanted to go back and try out--some barbecue places, some Vietnamese places. There's a bike path up one main arterial--and I'm contemplating the use of Lake Washington Boulevard as a nice flat shot up to work by bike.

Maybe. Possibly. We'll see. I guess.

I'm going downtown to see Devotchka with a friend here in a bit, so I'll actually make this post before 11:00 p.m. for a change. Devotchka played most of the soundtrack for Little Miss Sunshine, which I adored--both the movie and the soundtrack. I'm not a big fan of staying up late on a Sunday night, but whatever--I get out so seldom, I may as well take advantage of the opportunities I do get.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


I read a review of Blood Diamond that criticizedthes director's decision to make a white man the protagonist, telling the story of the war in Sierra Leone, the bloody truth about diamonds, and the chaos across so much of Africa from the point of view of a white guy. I understand the objection to making a movie "more accessible" to its consumers, pandering to them by giving them a character they might "relate to" more easily.

On the other hand, don't we all do that anyway, imagine ourselves in the role of the protagonist, come at the story from our own set of experiences?

Last week my friend asked me, "Hey, did you hear about the family that's missing, who was last seen in Roseburg?"

Their story has nothing to do with me. But--the Denny's where they stopped the last night before their ordeal began? That's the Denny's down the street from Roseburg High School. Half of the times I went home during college, I ended up at that Denny's for no other reason than it was open later than anywhere else in town.

Then I found out the Kim family meant to take Highway 42 over to the coast; it was missing their exit for that highway that caused them to pick a different route off the map. The missed exit 119, to be precise: the Winston/Dillard exit. I grew up just off of Highway 42, not far from Winston.

I grew up surrounded by a maze of back roads similar to the one that caused such a tragic outcome for the Kims.* A few were gated, but I remember my dad driving us up behind my grandma's house to look down at Camas Valley from atop one of the hills. Winding up the labyrinth of gravelled roads, we only had to pass a few unmarked junctions before I had no idea which way would take us back down to Grandma's and which would take us deeper into the woods. (Or the clearcuts, more likely.) A few years later we would drive up there to halfheartedly go hunting, or at least wander around looking for deer, and I felt the same disorientation. I knew basically which direction the coast was, and which direction Roseburg was--but if I'd been separated from my family and lost, I would have been shit outta luck trying to figure out exactly how to get back, even if I'd stayed on the roads.

My heart would go out to the Kim family no matter what. It's even more wrenched by the fact that their ordeal took place in a setting so familiar to me. I am so sorry that an area that holds such nostalgia and beauty for me will be the location of their deepest grief forever.

The Kim family's story has little to do with me; I am not even a bit player. But their proximity to my familiar places makes me feel more personally wrenched by it than I might have otherwise. Maybe that makes me a truly selfish person. Or maybe it doesn't--I'm probably not the best person to make that decision.

Likewise, maybe Leonardo DiCaprio's starring role in Blood Diamonds will make the rest of the story a bit more real for some audiences than it would have otherwise been. Even if that is self-centered of them, maybe it will be offset by the additional "oomph" to their gut as they become more aware of the tragic reality of conflict diamonds, or child soldiers, or African turmoil--especially if that oomph leads to an action that would have been absent without it.

Personally, I plan to put together basic survival car kits for a few people's gifts this year. Something along the lines of what's listed here at Jim Macdonald's page. It won't bring back James Kim, and it won't help his family in their terrible loss. But it might prevent someone I love from having a similar experience.

*Recent news articles have made much of the fact that "vandals" cut the lock on the gate that should have been blocking the road the Kims ended up on. It's been ten years since I lived there, but I'll bet you a twenty that the "vandalism" was done by hunters a couple of months ago.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Blood Diamond

Mr. Thel and I went to see Blood Diamond this evening. I'd felt a cold coming on all day, so I was half-hearted about going, but I figured I could just sort of doze through the movie if I wasn't up to paying attention.

Yeah. Right.

Leonardo DiCaprio's character is a diamond smuggler. He smuggles conflict diamonds out of Sierra Leone into Liberia, where they can be falsely certified as "conflict-free" diamonds. (I suppose that's meant to reassure consumers that the purchase of their diamond didn't help finance weapons in a war-torn nation, but it doesn't seem to mean anything about how well mine workers are treated in a so-called "conflict-free" area.)

But leave that for a moment. The smuggler is caught, he owes someone money, he hears about a diamond and spends the movie trying to find it so he can finance his escape from Africa. The movie goes to great lengths to show the brutality in the diamond mines, and to demonstrate the corruption inherent in the business of mining and selling rough diamonds.

Then at the very end of the movie, the summary sentences that cross the screen very sternly warn the audience that although the 2003 Kimberley Agreement aims to prevent the trade of conflict diamonds, it is "up to consumers to insist on conflict-free diamonds."

OK, that's great. Good for consumers who "insist on conflict-free diamonds." But the whole damn movie was predicated on the fact that conflict diamonds get smuggled around and passed off as being "conflict-free." The only guaranteed way to ensure that you don't have a conflict diamond? Don't buy a motherfucking diamond.

I've never understood the obsession with them anyway, so it's easy for me to talk. When I was planning my wedding and people would ask about a ring, I remember trying to breezily wave off questions with a comment about how I wasn't a big "diamond girl." Nobody really pushed me on it--I got a lot of blank smiles and, "Oh, okay," kinds of comments, though, because what a freak, right? I mean, everyone gets an engagement ring with a diamond on it. That's just the way it is. So for me to buy a simple silver braided band as a token of my love and affection...well, it was freakish in the eyes of most people. Or possibly pitiable, to some of them--like, oh, the poor thing, she can't even afford a proper wedding ring. I didn't care much what anybody thought about it by then, having already proved myself freakish in all kinds of other ways, but I was aware that it was still a certain level of flouting the expectations of my peers.

Frankly, the point of the wedding was the man at the front with me, so who cares about the rest of it. But I've always been fond of my plain little band. And I've never been happier that I don't own any diamonds than I am tonight.

Also, Leonardo DiCaprio? Is awesome in this movie. I quailed before some of the chilling glares he gave. I've never been a fan, but his character blew me away. Muddled accent or no, I thought the part was well-acted, and a departure from what I expect when I hear "Leonardo 'Titanic' DiCaprio."

Overall I'd give Blood Diamond a hearty two thumbs up. Aside from the clunky love interest that really should have been edited out (I involuntarily rolled my eyes Every. Single. Time. the female journalist delivered another clunky line, which unfortunately for her was most of her eyes are still recovering from all the rolling), there were several strong performances in addition to Leo's. It's a gut-wrenching glimpse into the chaos of life in a country being raped for its resources, and I'm all in favor of having more people pale at the idea of buying a chunk of compressed carbon. The article linked above concludes, "As no one knows better than the diamond industry itself, diamonds’ only value comes from sentimental associations in consumers’ minds. If those associations are replaced with images of war, rape, and death, the diamond’s beauty will not be forever." Hear, hear.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Knit 4

I have fog in my head tonight, internet, so this will be a rambly post full of sound and no fury, signifying nothing, to satisfy my daily requirement.

Have you met your RDA of Blog today?

My brain is starting to short out from the stress of uncertainty about the house-buying situation. I feel like everything is out of my hands now, and I hate it, the waiting. I mean, there are still little tasks to accomplish, but the big things are rolling, in motion, making the behind-the-scenes secret movements and decisions that determine my fate in this situation.

So I sit and knit, trying to keep my brain occupied on other problems. Trying to maintain the pattern of knit 4, purl 1, knit 4, purl 1, knit 4....

It works really well, actually. I told Mr. Thel last night --"You know what I realized? Knitting is smoking for me. That little habit, that hit, that calms you down and makes you feel more relaxed." I'd cast on a new little project and sat down, and I wasn't more than two rows into it before I felt the difference in my brain. Calm, focus, attention to detail--which keeps me from spinning my gears worrying about things I can't control.

I can control the tension of my yarn, the evenness of my stitches. Knit 4, purl 1. Cable 4, purl 1. I can control which way the cables twist. The sweet softness of the yarn slides through my fingers. Simple project, so I don't have to fiddle with a pattern or get frustrated with mistakes--I completely lose myself in the knitting, give my mind and my fingers to the process.

I'm in charge of these pink fingerless gloves even if I'm in charge of nothing else. I belong to the project as I guide it, letting it guide me out of my pent-up stress and fretfulness into a mindspace of focused precision and control, into a place where I can lay aside my knitting and (I hope) fall into sleep without first lying awake for an hour worrying.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tetris on steroids

I mentioned we made an offer on a house the other day. The sellers accepted our offer; it's just a matter of ironing out the final details of the financing, and we might own a house.

I can't let myself think about it with too much optimism, because there is one particular detail that might not be able to be ironed in time. The hurdles aren't all leapt yet. Still, I have cautious optimism. Very, very cautious optimism.

A steep little backyard. Over the kitchen sink, windows with a peekaboo view of the snowy Cascade Mountains. Two bedrooms upstairs with slanted ceilings tucking them in. A tiny back deck overlooking the valley and the light rail line under construction a few blocks away...


In the meantime, in order to iron out some of the aforementioned details I had to go to our storage unit today to retrieve some paperwork. The storage unit we rented is just exactly big enough to hold the possessions we put in storage. I did most of the packing and Mr. Thel did most of the storing, so when I opened up the unit this evening I had no idea where to find the small boxes I needed.

I maneuvered my way around the storage unit, frequently tunneling like a mole by taking a stack of boxes from in front of me and moving them behind me, hemming myself in as I searched. I climbed up on things to which I should not have trusted my weight, I grunted and nudged an armoire a few inches to the left so I could move another set of boxes, I moved things out into the corridor to make room for my search. I swore an awful lot.

Then after I did find my boxes, I had to re-stack everything around them to accommodate their absence in the careful Jenga puzzle Mr. Thel had created. It really was the biggest game of Tetris ever. And kind of a treasure hunt, but with the most boring prize in the world--boxes of old documents!

Anyway, I got my papers, and hopefully they will help me take one more step on the way to home ownership!


Tomorrow evening a gaggle of co-workers are getting together at the home of one of them to have "craft night." It's an annual gathering; last year was the first time I attended, and it was great fun. I knitted on a pair of wristwarmers that I never wear. Well, it was good practice anyway. I may just work on a new pair this year--but using double-pointed needles, a new skill I developed this fall. How impressive I will be!

Granted, I won't be as impressive as those who knit one sock inside the other. Someday, perhaps.


I just looked out the window to see a man and a woman straining to push an enormous old truck down the side street into a parking space. I put on my hat and told myself to go out and see if I could help; as I was standing up, I heard someone in the next office exclaim in irritation. "What are they doing? No, no, no, don't you get close to my car!" Her SUV was parked on the same street where they were maneuvering the truck....but they weren't anywhere near it. They were still 20 feet away from it, probably.

I went out to help, but they'd already successfully parked the truck. I offered them the phone, but they didn't need it, so I trudged back inside. The coworker who had been irritated said, "Ah, you are such a good person. God sees that!"

"Well, I didn't go out there until they were almost done," I pointed out wryly.

"God sees that, too!" she cackled. "God can see it!"

Well, if that's the case, then...Lord? Sorry for all the nose-picking earlier. I just--there was something in there, okay? All this dust from the packing and the moving...I just needed clearer nasal passages. I'm sorry You had to see it.


I cleared everything off the bulletin board at my desk at work last week in a fit of frustration at a particularly insulting memo from administration. I wasn't planning on quitting over it--not right away, at least--but I was going to be out for a few days anyway, for moving, and I wanted to clean up my desk in any case, so...down came everything. When I was done it looked like any old generic workstation, no sign of an occupant but for a few files in an organizer next to the monitor.

Now I keep looking over for the calendar that isn't on the bulletin board anymore, and feeling a little silly for being so dramatic. On the other hand, it's nice and uncluttered. I can keep tabbing to my Outlook for a calendar, right? Oh, the solipsistic battle 'twixt "making a statement" that nobody can interpret but me, and "giving in" for my habits of convenience!


Another coworker gave me a festive jingly bracelet yesterday. I put it on for friendship's sake, and now I can't stop jingling it. I walk down the hallways twitching my wrist as if I have a severe (but strangely limited in scope) palsy.

Ho ho ho!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


So with all the moving, I'd called Comcast last week to see about transferring my cable and internet to the new place. "No problem," I was told, "since there's already service at that location we can just transfer service without interruption."

Sweet, I thought. Then Friday evening I turned on the tv--nothing.

I called Comcast and was told by an insufferably snippy woman, "Well, the previous tenant cancelled their service, so it's been disconnected. We'll have to send someone out to reconnect it."

"Wait a minute," I said. "Every time someone moves you send someone out to disconnect their service, even if you know you'll just be sending someone else out to reconnect it? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."

"The soonest we can have someone there is Tuesday afternoon," she snapped.

"That's riiiiight," I chortled, "I remember this--you can't make an appointment, can you? I have to stay here all day waiting for the cable guy, don't I? Oh, that's precious."

"No, you do not have to wait all day," the huffy customer "service" rep snarled.

"Ooooh, did you all cut down the time necessary? Do I only have to set aside five hours now instead of eight?"

"No," she said, as if it were ridiculous, "You do not have to wait five hours."

"Really??" I said with astonishment.

"It's only a four hour window," she continued.

I laughed and laughed. "Oooh, great! Only four hours!"

She got snippier. "Ma'am, I understand you're upset, but that's no reason to be sarcastic."

"Actually," I said, "If I weren't being sarcastic I'd probably be yelling at you. I think you probably prefer it this way."

So I took this afternoon off and waited at home for the cable guy. Waited, waited, waited. Noon to four was my "appointment window." At 4:15 I called Comcast. The cable technician had been delayed at his previous appointment; he should arrive by 5:15.

Wow, sweet. Only an hour and fifteen minutes past the window I'd been told to set aside. Why was I even surprised?

Then the cable guy showed up, at 5:15 as promised. He gave me a hooded smirk and said, "Yeah, wow, it's getting pretty dark, huh? You wanna reschedule for another day? It's a pretty complicated job since there wasn't service here before."

Annoyed at the idea of wasting yet another afternoon sitting at home, I informed him that there was in fact service at this location until last Thursday when Comcast turned it off. "I just need it turned back on," I explained again.

"Oh, well..." he stared at his papers. "Well, I gotta tell you, I just came from another job down the street that I had to reschedule, because I left my tools at the jobsite before that one. So I'll have to go, either way...I mean, I can get my tools and come back...should be about 45 minutes."

"See you then!" I smiled.

He came back at 6:00. The cables were connected by 6:15, so I guess it wasn't such a complicated job after all.

I got a $20 credit toward my bill since he wasn't there during the allotted window. Of course, they charged me a $10 fee each for turning on the cable and the internet, so it's really a wash. Stupid gits. I'm not as irritated with the guy himself (he seemed nice enough when he returned, and he petted Chloe quite fondly) as with the ridiculous monopoly Comcast enjoys that allows them to jerk their customers around like this. I mean, really. A six-hour period where I'm just supposed to sit home and wait for the cable guy to appear and grace me with his cheerful smile? Argh.

Anyway, I've been reconnected to the outside world, and the tubes of the internets should be humming along soon--they aren't yet, because after all that, our cable modem is in Mr. Thel's car right now. So I came up to the bookstore to post this riveting account of my irritation with Comcast, because the flame of my devotion to Holidailies cannot be quenched by such feeble obstacles. Nay, though all the forces of Comcast are arrayed against me, I will post daily!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hello, Holidailies

I guess it would have made more sense to make an introductory post on the first day of the month instead of four days into it. Well, that's thing one to learn about me--I don't always do things the easy or sensible way. Yes, I count it a character flaw.

I'm a 27-year-old woman who still has a hard time feeling responsible and grown-up enough to identify with the label "woman" as opposed to "girl." You can call me Thel. I live in Seattle with Mr. Thel and a large black dog named Chloe. I work in the office of a nonprofit agency, where I do a lot of filing, entering data, and answering the phone. And date-stamping--don't forget the date-stamping. Critical duty, date-stamping.

I read a lot of books and sometimes I write about that. My 2006 New Year Resolution was to read 50 books this year, and I'm up to 40. I don't think I'll make my goal, but I did move into a different house last week and that process sucked up a lot of valuable reading time. I've been knitting for about a year and a half, another activity that took away time from reading; sometimes I write about the knitting, too.

I'm hoping to buy a house in the next few months, but I'm perpetually pessimistic about the likelihood that some stupid detail will prevent me. I've been abysmal at keeping personal records and paperwork in order in the past, and although I'm getting better at it, well, some of those past errors may come back to haunt me.

In the meantime, having been unceremoniously booted from our mother-in-law apartment situation by a landlady claiming to need the space for a relative, Mr. Thel and Chloe and I are subletting a little cottage with a big back yard until the middle of March. We're hoping this will give us time to work out the details on purchasing a house as mentioned above. It's nice to have that option, but it's depressing as hell to live in a house full of unfamiliar things. I'm trying to diminish my sense of alienation by making up stories about the strangers whose pictures adorn the walls (that one on the bottom must be Gram and Grampa, Myrtle and Fred. Fred was in the Navy in WWII and became a preacher after; Myrtle met him at one of the traveling revivals he led, and it wasn't but a month later that she up and moved to Montana to be his wife.).

Stories are fun but it still feels like we're living in a motel.

Did I mention that I don't deal well with change? That's another true thing. Here are two more: I'm afraid of spiders, and the thing that keeps me up most consistently at night is my simultaneous terror of existing forever and of permanently ceasing to exist. I also don't like my hands feeling sticky. I'm told that at my "Happy First Birthday!" party when a cake was placed upon my high chair tray for me to gluttonously demolish, I delicately dipped one finger into the frosting. Then I held aloft my frosting-smeared finger and whimpered until someone wiped it clean. I may not be as whiny about it anymore but my sentiment remains the same.

That's a lot of distaste, Thel. What are some other things you actually like? I like puppies and rainbows and lollipops, naturally. I like hiking and bicycling, knitting and crocheting, writing and drawing, and I like to read whatever's handy. I've been known to flip through a dictionary for fun; yesterday I started reading Mr. Thel's cryptography book and ended up spending two hours playing with substitution codes. Actually, that was more calming than anything else I did yesterday. I think I'm going to go read some more of that.

It's nice to meet you, Holidailies. Questions? Quibbles? Do my petty concerns pale beside yours? The comments are open!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Face of Oppression

Thel [reading in bed]: Haha, there's a line in my book you'll enjoy.
Mr. Thel: Hmm?
Thel: Well this one character is trying to calm down some others and he says, "'Remember the First Principle of Nonviolence in the Face of Oppresson!'" And then someone mutters something about taking a Trowel to the Face of Oppression.
Mr. Thel: (chuckles)
Mr. Thel: I'd prefer a Shotgun Blast to the Face of Oppression.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Casa casa casa

Soon this blog will stop being all about moving all the time. Soon, but not today.

Did I mention that we're subletting a house right now? It's true. It used to be a lakefront cottage--like, fifty years ago. Then apparently they moved it up the hill to its current location, which is not on a lake. The fact that it was moved means it's a little...crooked. And the fact that it was a cottage, probably for vacation use, means it's a little...small. Granted, it's probably ever so slightly larger than the apartment we used to live in. And the yard is a goodly size. But--did I mention we're subletting it furnished? And the bookshelves in the living room currently block the front door? So you have to walk around to the back door to enter, which means you go through the utility room, the bedroom, and the kitchen just to get to the living room?

I don't know how many people I'm going to have over for a visit if I have to make sure every room in the house is presentable before they come. I mean, I'm not filthy but I'm pretty messy, especially in rooms that are usually private.

Anyway, Chloe was kind of freaking out yesterday in the final stages of the move. I guess she got nervous being left upstairs with no furniture remaining except her bed...probably afraid we were just leaving the place for her to live in alone. This is a dog who won't even play outside by herself: if I leave her in the yard for a few minutes, she will either sit by the door and wait to be let in, or pace along the side of the house until she's let in.

Then we came over to the sublet, where all the furniture is strange and different. It didn't help her mood at all; she's been all but attached to my heel all day. Forget going to the bathroom alone--Chloe's having none of it.

She finally settled down enough to eat some food for the first time in two days.

Wow, that was an exciting post all about the habits and neuroses of my German Shepherd Dog! Tune in tomorrow for a meticulous account of exactly which belongings I packed in each box, or something equally exciting.

Or maybe I'll tell you how we made a (tentative, caveat-packed, but nonetheless real) offer on a house in Rainier Beach!

Friday, December 01, 2006

As my faithful two Seattle readers already know, it's been a little wintry here lately. This morning was the first time in my entire life, I do believe, that I woke up to see snow on the ground for the sixth day in a row. Snow that hung around for almost an entire week! In Seattle! Far-fetched, dude!

The clouds had deposited the faintest skiff of snow in our neighborhood on Sunday morning. Really, only enough to cause a slight nubbly coat on cold cars--nothing stuck to the ground. I took Chloe for a walk early that morning; down the block we spied a child who had a handful of snow, diligently scraping more from a car.

"Whoa, you found enough for a snowball!" I said.

He looked at me earnestly. "We're building a snowman!" he announced optimistically.

I was astonished, and was about to offer the meager snow layer from my car's windshield for the task when he added, with a very stern look, "Believe me, it is NOT EASY."

Oh, I believed him. Then later that evening it snowed for hours while my friend and I enjoyed free tickets to the Nutcracker ballet. And then the next evening it snowed like mad right as evening traffic was heaviest. (I'm saving my story for later in this month of daily posts. Hey, a girl's gotta ration her tidings. Ooh, that would be a good blog name--"Rationed Tidings." And Google tells me I'm the first to come up with that phrase!) So I'm hoping he got to make a much bigger snowman than he'd planned.

In unrelated news, this is my last post from this house, since our landlady is booting us out. We'll be subletting a nearby house until March 21--and I'm hoping to buy a house before we have to move again, so that we can forever bid farewell to capriciously incompetent landlords. Cross your fingers for me, internet! Meanwhile, back I go to cleaning windowsills. In a few more hours I'll say adieu to this crappily managed but nevertheless lovely little quasi-house and the crime-plagued alley behind it.