Monday, January 26, 2009

Grace in Small Things: eight

1. Tealights burning inside large vases.
2. The hollow echo that the heels of my brand-new thrift store shoes made as I passed an open garage on my walk at lunchtime today.
3. A wild romp outside on the hill with Chloe the codependent German Shepherd as the sun set on this cold day.
4. The hearty scent of cooked garlic and onions and spices that was drifting out of a neighbor's house as Chloe and I walked home from our romp.
5. Stovetop stuffing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Grace in Small Things: seven

1. Sasha Obama's playful thumbs-up to Barack Obama after he was sworn in as the President of the United States yesterday.*
2. The Q-size crochet hook that is allowing me to crochet a blanket within a week's time, using yarn I've had on hand for about 5 years.
3. The sensation of flying while looking out from the I-5 bridge over the thick fog that blanketed Seattle on Sunday.
4. Tiny grey-green crabs scattering for cover on a rocky beach when their sheltering boulder was turned over.
5. A productive trip to Value Village on Saturday which resulted in new shoes, a beautiful handbag, small decorative shelves, and ten brand-new picture frames.

*I wanted to list "President Barack Obama," but let's be honest: that's no small thing. It's the most incredible moment of grace in politics in my adult life, if not my lifetime. Let all those who do justice and love mercy say "Amen!"

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

If those two can do it...

Oh, this is adorable. I am shamelessly going to post it here for my own future reference.

2008 Books

I seem to have fallen dismayingly short of reading 50 books in 2008, although I have the nagging feeling that I read a book or two during the summer that I forgot to document. (This always seems to happen...ah well.) Plus, not everything that I re-read is on this list--just Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, because it took me so long to get through it again. Still, I read (and re-read) some excellent books last year.

Favorites: Neverwhere, Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders series, Whipping Girl, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Un Lun Dun (which I loved utterly, and which made me want to get back into good young adult fiction--and then the excellent The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian redoubled that desire), and Empire Falls, which technically bridged the gap into 2009. The Other Boleyn Girl was on my grandma's bookshelf; I read it over a couple of days while I was staying with her before Christmas, and liked it more than I expected to, enough that I would check out Philippa Gregory's other books too.

1. Neverwhere
2. The Subtle Knife [re-read]
3. The Ladies of Grace Adieu
4. Shade's Children
5. Harpy's Flight
6. Shaman's Crossing
7. Forest Mage
8. Pride and Prejudice
9. Ship of Magic
10. Solstice Wood
11. Onion Girl
12. Mad Ship
13. Ship of Destiny
14. Renegade's Magic
15. The Dragonbone Chair
16. The Stone of Farewell
17. To Green Angel Tower
18. The Gypsy
19. Shapechangers
20. The Song of Homana
21. Shadowmarch
22. A Game of Thrones
23. Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
24. Sophie's World
25. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
26. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell [re-read]
27. Un Lun Dun
28. What is the What
29. She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders
30. Small Wonder
31. Magic Hour
32. The Other Boleyn Girl
33. Empire Falls
34. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Grace in small and big things

Last Tuesday morning was a bummer. I had something that needed to be sent overnight to Olympia. After some minor adventures getting the thing prepared in the first place, I went up to the postal shop near work. Their sign said they open at 9, but their door was still locked at 9:10, so I gave up and drove to the post office.

Halfway through my wait in line, it occurred to me that I needed a copy of the document before I sent it. I crossed my fingers that the post office would make a copy for me, and stayed in line. When after a long wait I reached the counter, I asked hopefully. Would the post office make a copy for me? No, most certainly not.

I trekked out and retraced my drive back to the postal shop. No parking, though. I drove in an ever-wider circle around nearby blocks, finally finding an open spot several blocks away. The slush still frozen on the sidewalks made for a tedious struggle back to the postal shop.

Now open (and with a copy machine too), the shop took care of my petty mailing needs at last, an hour after I'd set out on what I supposed would be a quick errand.

Photocopy in hand, I tucked my wallet into the pocket of my jacket and headed back toward the car. About halfway back, I stuck my hand in my coat pocket to get my keys. There were the keys, but wait--where was the wallet?

I swore in a whisper for some reason and turned to retrace my steps at a run, scanning the ground for my wallet. It had just been in my hand mere moments before; it must have fallen out of my pocket when I shoved it in. Surely there hadn't been time for anyone to snatch it--

"Wait!" a woman's voice jerked my attention up. She stooped over at the intersection half a block ahead of me, where I had just been. "You dropped this!" Straightening up, she held up her coffee cup in one hand, my wallet in the other.

I thanked her with passionate relief. "I saw you through the window of the coffee shop," she said, "and I thought, 'What's that she just dropped?' So I just came running out after you."

After thanking her again, I started back for the car, wallet securely in hand. When I got there, while I was I unlocked the door a car horn beeped nearby. "Ma'am! Ma'am!" a woman passenger called from a passing vehicle, the driver slowing to a stop just behind me. "Did you get the thing you dropped back there?" she asked with great concern. I assured her that I had, and thanked her for checking.

She waved, satisfied, and her car pulled away.

I can be a little cynical about people. To have two separate folks running after me to reunite me with my dropped wallet, on a day otherwise full of frustration, was a nice bit of evidence for the way it's also possible for us to all look out for each other.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Grace in small things: six

1. The sleek cleanliness of a wooden floor in the ten minutes between the time it's cleaned and the time someone tracks in a new smattering of fir needles.

2. The single snowflake that fell on my cheek last night, which made me catch my breath and hold very still as if it might flit away like a butterfly.

3. The Mae Ploy yellow curry paste I used for the first time last night to make a perfect, delicious meal of vegetables in yellow curry coconut sauce over rice.

4. The seemingly everlasting nature of the enormous tin of cocoa I bought at Costco last year.

5. The silkiness of the cowl (my first) I finished knitting on Saturday. I am still unconvinced of the utility of a cowl / neckwarmer, but this particular garment is certainly delicious against my skin.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


This is weird: for two years in a row, now, I have both put up Christmas decorations and taken them back down again on snowy days. I've only lived here for a dozen years, but I feel like this is unusual. OR! Maybe it's like I always suspected, and Ballard's geography was cheating me out of snow all those winters.

This evening I packed away the ornaments and the lights as the snow began to fall again. This snowfall isn't expected to last like the last one--it's supposed to turn to rain by midnight or so--but we have a solid 2 inches on the ground now at 10:00. I'm just happy to see it, however short-lived it may be. I love watching the layer of white slowly sift in over the mud. The three of us took a little family walk down the block, Chloe snorfling about at the end of her leash. Then I took her alone up Chief Sealth Trail a ways, enjoying the way the snow-covered fields reflect so much light that the whole trail is visible, dusk-like.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Welcome 2009

I have a good feeling about this year. There's nothing concrete to substantiate this optimism, really (aside from the enormous relief and excitement I feel about the new President taking office on January 20th). In fact I'll be celebrating my thirtieth birthday this spring, and that's stereotypically one of those somewhat dreaded benchmarks--crossing over from the footloose and carefree twenties, right?

But everyone I know who is older than 30, without exception, has assured me that they enjoy their 30's more than their 20's. And those that are older than 40 are adamant that their 40's are better than either. And those above 50 say something similar about that decade, so...well. Apparently my friends and loved ones are all either sunny optimists, or chronic liars.

Anyway, I'm not dreading it. And I'm looking forward to 2009. I kicked it off by celebrating with some folks who were once new acquaintances, and are more and more becoming old friends. 2009 rang in with dancing and hugging, fireworks and champagne in the rain. May new old friends, and old new friends, never be forgotten; may the good cheer that began 2009 seep down through all the months ahead.

Really, I have a good feeling about this year.