Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hi-diddly-ho there, neighborinos

Wow, where'd the last week go? I am a bad, bad Nablopomoer.

I came down with a cold two weekends ago, which had me lolling about uselessly for a few days. When I get sick, which is rarely, I'm so unaccustomed to the state that I feel pathetically unable to deal with it. I whine and loll and sniffle and whine and make Mr. Thel fetch me soups and juices...a terrible patient.

We drove down to good old Roseburg (well, Winston) (well, Lookingglass) (well, further than that...up into the f'real sticks) for Thanksgiving weekend. Played with the nieces, lounged about with grandparents, and ate the requisite 4,000 calories or so. Less, actually, because there wasn't any damn stuffing! My mom said she was roasting a ham, and when I asked about stuffing everyone laughed at me. "Where would you stuff it?" my dad chortled. Please--as if you'd have stuffed it in the turkey, anyway! Thanksgiving without stuffing...and they wonder why I so infrequently coming home for the holiday.

I jest, of course. Mostly. The ham was nice, and the hollow caused by the absence of stuffing was filled by the delicious salmon we had on Friday night. Then a small person all hopped up on pie launched herself, howling gleefully and windmilling her arms, at Mr. Thel, and Chloe leapt to intercept the threat, and there was a collision, and some sobbing, and oh dear. Fortunately the small person is a hardy soul, and the next morning found her once again happily patting Chloe and tweaking her ears, and Chloe enduring such untender administrations with admirable equanimity.

Happy Thanksgiving, la la la.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I've been sick and missed a couple of days. But apparently this counts as a posting! So I don't have to miss three days!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Day 17 is a mini-vacation day

A rundown of the last 24 hours:

--Enjoying delicious Indian food at the restaurant across from our hotel
--Listening to good music until after midnight
--Sleeping in late
--Eating bananas, doughnut holes, orange juice, and coffee in our hotel room overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca
--Driving the half-hour out to Lake Crescent, beautifully draped in grey mists and rain
--Stopping at the easy-to-overlook "Granny's Cafe" on our way back to Port Angeles for a tasty cheeseburger, sitting at one of about eight tables in the cafe, and eavesdropping on the conversation among the three park rangers sitting nearby
--Lounging in the hotel room, watching the clouds slide past and indulging in a trashy magazine

Friday, November 16, 2007

Day 16

Made it to Port Angeles by 11:00 this morning, so we spent a few hours wandering around town.

We stopped at a music store so Mr. Thel could purchase spare drumsticks, and I found the piano instruction book I used to pore through, trying to teach myself to play, when I was a kid:

We had an old piano stool, all the upholstery worn off it to reveal the wooden seat lid. Under the lid lived a hodgepodge of music books. The John Thompson one was old and tattered, falling to bits around its edges and its cover faded to pale orange. For all I know it was an original first edition print from the book's 1938 origin.

When my parents moved into a smaller house they gave the piano away; I didn't ask, but I imagine the piano books went away as well. I still don't know anything about playing the piano past a first-grade level, but it was such an unexpected delight to flip through and hum all those old songs to myself. Maybe one of my nieces will find it useful someday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 15

My bus driver this evening drove as if she were trying to work the gas pedal and a yo-yo with the same foot, simultaneously. Lurch, brake, lurch, brake, lurch, brake. I disembarked and came reeling home like a drunkard after a six-month sea voyage.

Tomorrow Mr. Thel and I are heading over to Port Angeles for two nights; his band has shows there on Friday and Saturday. We have engaged our lovely neighbors to take care of Chloe while we are gone, and I'm nervous as a mother about it. I wanted to write out a detailed list of all the instructions and suggestions we'd already discussed with them, but Mr. Thel convinced me that as competent, dog-friendly adults they are unlikely to forget to feed her. (To be callous about it, she could stand to lose a few pounds anyway. When I took her to the vet two weeks ago the assistant noted approvingly that Chloe had lost about three pounds since her last visit. Then the vet came in and started to lecture me that Chloe is getting slightly chunky. Fortunately, the assistant leapt in to note that we're "heading in the right direction, actually." Mm-hmm!)

I'm not as worried about the neighbors neglecting her as I am about her getting into some kind of trouble between their visits, including but not limited to:
--having an attack of diarrhea and tracking it through the house
--chewing on an electrical cord
--chewing on something of ours in resentment at our prolonged absence
--knocking over a bookshelf, OR! --having a bookshelf fall on her in an earthquake!
--Or having the whole house fall in on her in an earthquake!
--Or having the whole house fall in on her in an earthquake, surviving the house's collapse and fleeing the scene in terror, ending up in the greenbelt on Beacon Hill where the coyotes are rumored to live and, believing herself abandoned by her people, insinuating herself into the coyote pack, until one day getting into a poisoned chunk of meat set out by a coyote-hater and dying a slow and terrible death.

This is why I don't do well at "thinking through the potential outcomes" of my choices. Too many appalling possibilities. Better to leave the vet's phone number, our cell numbers, and a new bag of dogfood on the counter and zip away before I talk myself out of it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Books and lists

I need to update the list of books I've read this year, languishing at midsummer's point there in the sidebar. I'm fairly sure I've surpassed my year's goal of 50 already, thanks in part to my belated discovery of Diana Wynne Jones. Though I'm past the age at which I should have read them, I have still fallen in love with her young adult novels.

A fun thing about the last year or two has been realizing and embracing the fact that I adore well-done fantasy writing. Aside from a handful of best-beloved series from my childhood (Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, Loyd Alexander, and Madeleine L'Engle spring to mind as the reigning quintumvirate of those years, although Robin McKinley and Patricia McKillip shouldnt' be left out), I'd somehow managed to miss most of the genre for the last decade or so. Thinking about it now, I can't imagine what kept me away...probably some sense that it was a childish interest best put away as I became an adult.

Well. You know. Fuck. That. Shit.

I think it was Lois McMaster Bujold's novel Paladin of Souls, plucked in idle curiosity from a shelf at Third Place Books about 3 years ago, which deftly reminded me of how much delight, satisfaction, and beauty there is in fantastical literature done well. Since then I've been bolder about picking up fantasy books I've never heard of, and trying them out. As with anything, I've had varying success with that approach; some extremely popular books just aren't my cup of tea. But then there's Neil Gaiman, and Diana Wynne Jones, and Bujold, and now Robin Hobb (whose Assassin's Apprentice just swept the evening away from me...), Philip Pullman, Susanna Clarke...

It's nice to stretch out more comfortably inside my skin. Openly relishing the fantastical is one way I'm getting more comfortable in here. It's jolly good fun, too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The view from my office, three weeks ago

It's barren now, but this tree turns such a determined yellow in the fall that I frequently mistake its brightness for sunshine even on the gloomiest of days.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I just spent about fifteen minutes squinting at this. For the life of me I could only see her spinning counterclockwise, and then I realized that if I focus on her feet I can trick my brain into seeing it both ways. Freaky.
clipped from www.news.com.au

Right Brain v Left Brain

THE Right Brain vs Left Brain test ... do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.

uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies

uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking

Spinning lady
 blog it

Into the grey

With the second Windpocalypse of the season behind us, we are well on our way into the heart of winter around here. Solstice is nearly six weeks away, and as always I find that facing three months of short days makes my spirits sink a bit.

I don't mind chilly, wet weather. In fact, I prefer it to hot, dry weather. You can always throw on another layer of clothes in the winter, but there are only so many garments you can remove in the summer (and sometimes removing them all leaves you wishing for still more layers to peel back). It's the brevity of the daylight hours, combined with the prospect of finding most of those daylight hours sodden and grey, that makes me quail.

But then I always shake myself sternly as I begin to wilt and whine, mid-November, and remind myself of three things:

1. Long, dark evening hours provide you the perfect cover to do the things you most enjoy--knit, read, journal, drink hot sweet beverages, squirrel around on the internet, etc. Indoor activities, you know. During these months nobody questions the notion of spending hours curled up in bed with a good book; the same practice in June gets you a scornful sigh.

2. 'Tis the season of three-day weekends and holidays aplenty, starting with today's federal holiday and lasting through February.

3. Even the dimmest days tend to have long enough dry spells for a brisk walk with Chloe, or around the block at work.

I had a lovely reminder of that last point today. A windstorm blew in, pelting the windows with rain while the winds banshee-wailed at the front door. Chloe had the world's fastest potty walk in the rain this morning, and then we hibernated in the living room with the aforementioned reading materials and tea (Chloe satisfied herself with a bone and a nap). I worked on my revised mitten, curling my toes inside my slippers, and began to feel those first pangs of the rainy-season blahs. But by midafternoon the wind had blown a hole in the cloud cover, the sun came blazing out dazzlingly on all the wet, and I spent the better part of an hour romping outside with Chloe and a tennis ball. My bright new rubber boots, as hoped, made running around in the tall, wet grass a satisfyingly dry-footed experience. So even on a stormy day, we were able to gallivant in the sun with the brisk winds no more than a nose-nipping nuisance.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The wheels on the bus go round and...wait. Hold on. OK, we're moving again...the wheels--wait, just a minute...

Someday I would like to take a journey to the Fantasy Land where dwell the writers of the bus schedules.

I took the bus up to Northgate tonight, so I had to make a transfer downtown. I managed to catch my connecting bus, but at that point reality branched sharply away from the lovely dream printed in the bus schedule. This particular bus only runs once per hour on Sundays, so there were approximately twenty people waiting at each of its downtown stops. Now, in Bus Schedule Land, each downtown stop is finished in under seven seconds for perfect timeliness. In Reality Land, unfortunately, most people require more than three tenths of a second to climb aboard the bus and find a seat. Thus before we had even left the downtown core we were running ten minutes behind. On a Sunday evening.

The difference in worlds was compounded by the Schedulers' apparent assumption that each bus travels in a wondrous warp along the surface streets, magically gliding through uniformly green lights and unclogged interesections at ten miles per hour faster than the posted limits. The real bus was constrained by the need to wait at stoplights, yield to pedestrians, and of course to stop at the bus stops where people waited to board or exit the bus.

And so a trip which in Schedule Land could be accomplished in about an hour, took in reality more than 50% longer.

The thing is, I wouldn't be as cranky if I knew ahead of time what I was getting in for. An hour and a half to Northgate? Okay, that's all right, I can deal. But don't tell me I can get there in an hour and then snicker in your sleeve when I, trustingly relying on the fantasy printed in the schedule, make plans accordingly.

My grand plans were just to see Ratatouille at the $3 theater in Shoreline, and we did sneak in just as it was starting...so I guess it worked out. However, this isn't the first time my ETA has been foiled by the bus schedule's pipe dreams. My Northgate friend was skeptical of my carlessness in the first place, and my recurring tardiness is doing nothing to convince her that buses are a useful transportation option for an adult with a driver's license. So really, the fluffy bunny fantasy travel times are helping to alienate potential riders. One wonders whether perhaps Kemper Freeman helps construct them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Day 10

Mr. Thel and I spent Friday evening at the Little Red Studio, which was even more fun than I had expected. There was painting and poetry and dance and ritual, and nobody was pretentious (quite the opposite). I think I can safely say that we'll be back there again.

I took Chloe for a nice long walk in the sunshine this afternoon. Poor thing, she pulled a muscle a couple of months ago and now she has a pronounced limp in the mornings. She walks it off within a few minutes, but the sight of her hobbling around first thing in the morning is still quite pathetic. Last week the vet said she might be developing arthritis in that leg and recommended glucosamine, so now we're grinding up these enormous pills and mixing them in with her food once a day.

I can't believe I am reduced to telling you about my dog's pills. This doesn't bode well for days 11-30, does it?

Friday, November 09, 2007


This, my friends, is the major reason why I'll be switching cell phone companies when my contract is up in the spring. Good riddance, AT&T.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Day 8

I fell asleep on the bus ride home this afternoon and missed my stop. Fortunately the sharp left turn two blocks past my stop was unexpected enough to penetrate into my sleeping brain and wake me up, so I didn't have to walk far. I blame Tuesday's failure of the light-rail package; I'm pretty sure these types of mistakes never happen on a train.

I'm planning to ride a 40-miler on Sunday accompanied by other people for the first time. I'm a little nervous about the likelihood of being the slowpoke of the group. It's just two other women my age from work, so it's not like going on a Cascade Bicycle Club ride or anything like that, but they are both slightly younger and definitely less heavy than me. And one of them just ran a half-marathon a couple of weeks ago, so that's a whole 'nother league of fitness right there. I figure I'll count it a successful ride just as long as I don't collapse in a shuddering heap at mile 32 and have to call a taxi to get me the rest of the way home.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I've been knittin' a mitten

Unfortunately it came out too small. I was too afraid to divert from the pattern, having never navigated the construction of a mitten, and so that's what I get...one too-small mitten. I think I know what to do to make its mate fit my hand more accurately.

I biked home from work last night at dusk (taking the direct route on 24th up Capitol Hill...a mistake I shall not repeat until my legs get quite a bit stronger) and immediately headed back out again so I could cast my provisional ballot in yesterday's election. I wasn't terribly informed, and left most bubbles empty; it was really just Proposition 1 that I was determined to vote for. I didn't think it would pass (and it didn't), but I still wanted to cast my vote in favor. It would have implemented a "regional rail and transit system between Lynnwood, Shoreline, Northgate, Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, SeaTac airport, Kent, Federal Way and Tacoma," as well as funded projects on various roads in the region, as I understand it. It was to be funded by a regressive sales tax, and various environmental groups made persuasive arguments against the roads portion of the package; despite those good arguments in opposition to the plan, it was nice to briefly imagine the idea of getting around the region without a car.

I grew up on the ass end of nowhere. We lived 20 miles from town. If you didn't have a car, you stayed home. There was no getting dropped off and picked up by the parents unless you could do whatever it was in a small enough time frame that the parents could run some other errands in town before picking you up again--no running in and running home when the round trip was almost an hour.

I'm sure that's a big part of why I get so drooly over public transit projects--even Metro, which already has its fair share of drool and other bodily fluids crusted in the crevices of its buses. My very first public transit memory is of taking the Max train on a visit to Portland when I was about 8, and zipping to the zoo or OMSI or somewhere grand and impressive. After that, I remember when I was about 15 I visited a friend who'd moved to Eugene. On Saturday night we decided to go see a movie. We walked down the street and caught a bus that took us right to the mall where the theater was, and it blew my mind, man. I was a little awestruck. How did she know where the bus would take us? How did she know where it would stop, and how could you make sure it stopped where you needed it to? Wasn't it all just a little too easy?

When I moved up here for school I had to get cozy with the bus system in order to go to work or ever get off campus on my own. One of the first days after moving in, my roommate and I decided to go explore Seattle. "Let's go to the Pike Place Market!" we decided, so we hopped on a bus and headed downtown. When we hopped off the bus we promptly lost all our bearings and strolled off in exactly the wrong direction. But we did find our way back to the bus stop and back to school, and from then on I was all about the bus system. To and from work every morning, up the hill for groceries, downtown or the U District on the weekends, and I got along without a car just fine for six years. I even tagged along with a friend when she wanted to go all the way to the SuperMall in Auburn one summer Saturday.

Then I spent a tiny bit of time in Boston, and in London, and realized almost for the first time that public transit could do more than merely get you around town. You could live just as far from London as I had lived from my hometown, or even farther, and still get on just fine without a car.

It's possible to live in Seattle--even way down at the southern edge of it--without a car. But honestly, it's not very easy (and I imagine it only gets harder the further you get from the city center). There are about 3 bus lines that run within easy walking distance, fortunately; two go downtown, and one goes north through the U District up to Loyal Heights. The one that goes to the U District only comes this far south until about 7:30 p.m. on weekdays, and not at all on Sundays. After that, you have to transfer on Rainier to one of the other buses coming south from downtown (which is going to kick my ass when I start evening classes in January, finishing class at 9:30 p.m. And, appallingly, it may just be quicker and easier to come home on the bus, pick up the truck, and drive all the way back to the U on those nights, ridiculous as it sounds.). But one of those two has a varying schedule, and only half of its runs come this far south. And sometimes the bus is just too jammed full to pick up any additional riders; I've seen them blaze past bus stops without slowing when that happens.

Well and all. No transit option can satisfy every possible route configuration for every person, of course. But for now it looks like I'll be stuck fantasizing about expansions to my carfree options.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

November ride!

I rode my bike to work this morning for the first time since early October. It turns out that riding 8 miles on a chilly, foggy morning is in some ways much more pleasant than making the same trip in warmer weather.

With both lanes open on MLK finally (for all but a couple of short segments), I made it to work in about 40 minutes. I think I improved my time by crossing over to 23rd at the top of the hill instead of continuing down MLK into the Madison Valley. The latter route takes me down too far, and I then have to climb back uphill just before work. It's not much uphill, but it's enough to get me all out of breath again. By sneaking over to 23rd via side streets atop the hill, and then whizzing down 23rd, I don't have to climb at all after Cherry. I do, however, have to clutch fervently at the brakes all the way down the other side of the hill.

Monday, November 05, 2007


I started knitting my first sock sometime back in...March, maybe? April? I found this very helpful online tutorial and knit away until I had produced one minimally screwed up ankle sock. Emboldened by my accomplishment, I immediately cast on its mate...and then that first half-inch of ribbing sat in my knitting basket for the next six months. Last week a few folks from work got together for a knitting night, so I pulled out the lonely second sock and returned my attentions to it again. Nine days later, I finally have a pair of socks!

Alas, this angle makes my ankles look enormous. Please don't judge me.

When I bought the yarn, I defiantly chose a colorway with all my favorite colors from about age 14. Teal! Purple! Blue! Why pretend I don't still love them; with these socks I reclaim my secret favorite colors once again. Next thing you know, I'll be carrying my dayplanner in a sparkly Trapper Keeper with a unicorn on the cover.

Alas, at knitting night last week I got a bit distracted, chatting and helping a coworker learn to knit. Can you see the sad wonky mistake I made, the first thing I notice when I see these socks?


It's okay, I'm still proud of them. I look forward to wearing them in the spring when ankle socks make sense again.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Satisfying the requirements of our possessions

Recently Mr. Thel bought a new computer. The old one frequently sent him into fits that involved a lot of roaring, twitching, and threatening to slam it against the nearest wall. I'm hoping this new one will merely compel him to rhapsodize fondly about its reliability, or to lovingly caress its sleek curves.

It's such a shiny new thing, though; we all seemed a little shabby by comparison. While Mr. Thel set it up in the office upstairs, humming cheerfully to himself, I felt it necessary to nervously sweep and vacuum and generally spruce up the place. I can only protest that those chores were on my list already...but yeah. You just know the next step is for the computer to begin outright ordering me to meet its demands.

Hopefully by that time I'll have collected enough of the clumps of hair Chloe sheds daily, wafting gently across the living room, that I can build myself a Clone Chloe army to defeat the computer.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Already out of things to say

I am halfway through the knitting of a second sock. The first sock was finished sometime around...March? April? Clearly I'll never be a super sock knitter. One pair a year...that's not even enough to let me build up a collection of beautiful, handknitted socks. A collection I could likely never bring myself to wear, being too aware of the enormous investment of time and energy in each sock to risk wearing them out. No, I'll frame each one and gaze proudly at them on the wall or something logical like that.

Chloe had a vet appointment this evening. We haven't yet made any effort to find a new vet closer to the south end, so we had to drive nearly up to Shoreline to get there. It was just a routine check-up and vaccination, but she ended up getting a blood test for heartworms too, so she had to endure four injections. As I helped pin her down in a corner so the vet could stab a needle in her shoulder, she looked utterly woeful. Her deep and grievous sense of betrayal was quickly left behind after a small handful of treats, though. Then we went back out to the front desk and I had to endure a painful siphoning myself when I paid the bill.

Oh, well, she's still cheaper than a kid, even if she's also far less useful. She is a total drain on society! She has no inherent value! She benefits nobody, and her living expenses are an indulgence which should induce fits of guilt in my soul!

My counterargument? Well, just wook at dat shmookum widdle boo boo face:

Also, if you should ever happen to misplace a small tidbit of, say, dried cow liver, Chloe will detect and home in on it like a meat-seeking missile. Case closed!

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Very Belated Happy November 1

Some people postpone their slacking until the end of NaBloPoMo, waiting until after they're completely sick of blogging once a day, until the thought of logging in and blathering on one more time is so repugnant they just can't bear to do it for a twenty-seventh day in a row. Me, I got my skipped day out of the way right up front! That's the earliest I've ever flaked out on a project like this before. I must be getting better at prioritizing.

And that's how I'm spinning that.

I went up to Weaving Works after work today and ended up spending about a third of my new raise on new yarn, because they're having a 20% off sale through Sunday. I bought a bunch of yarn for making various Christmas gifts, and a skein of Lamb's Pride Worsted so I can learn how to make myself a pair of mittens. That way not only my head and neck but also my hands will be snuggly warm in the morning when I wait for the bus.

As I walked home from the bus stop tonight, clutching my bag full of new yarn, I saw a contractor's truck parked in front of my neighbor's house. She and a man were standing out front amidst a stack of hoses and assorted toolboxes, and although it hasn't rained in a week her driveway was soaking wet.

"What happened?" I asked her, imagining broken lines or hoses or...something. (The details of plumbing disasters are still beyond my ken.)

She laughed and explained that he'd just finished powerwashing her house. Then she introduced me to the powerwasher, because he was the one who did all the fixing and remodeling on our house in the year and a half before we bought it. As it turns out, his mother was the original owner of the house! She had it built back in 1942 and it was in his family ever since. He said, "Every time I see her she asks if I've been by the house lately, and how it looks."

I asked him a couple of questions to satisfy my curiosity about the original configuration of the first floor (apparently what's now a 3 bedroom 2 bath house with a spacious laundry room used to have 4 bedrooms, 1 tiny bathroom, and no laundry room). I also told him about my frequent thought that the former owners must have had happy times in this house; it's never given me a creepy feeling or any unpleasantness. I guess that's a little more superstitious than the way I usually try to think--probably it's just that Mr. Thel and I have had such a lovely first year (ok, nine months) here.

It was a nice surprise to meet the man. I gave him a business card and told him that if his mother ever wants to come see the place, she can give me a call. I know how easy it is to get attached to a home that houses fond memories.