The Center For Wooden Boats (CWB) held their annual "Frostbite Regatta" at South Lake Union this afternoon, although the weather didn't come anywhere near approaching the conditions for which the Regatta was named. My team, The Jolly Rogers came close to winning, but due to a sudden slack wind, some poor handicapping, and flagrant violations by the "winning" team we ended up being relegated to a 3rd place finish. Actually, it's all in good fun and who wins isn't really the point, although everyone tries their darndest anyway. I and my team partner (we had a total of 10 team members, with each pair racing relay-style for 5 circuits of the course) were on the first leg and acquited ourselves spectacularly, going from a third position start into a solid lead after one course. We were actually in the lead up until the fifth and final leg, when the wind just up and died, giving the advantage to the team (I believe it was the Greyhounds) with the smallest boat, since it was able to continue to manouever under the light wind conditions. Of course, the fact that they got a very generous (and blatantly illegal) tow from the Committee Boat certainly had some influence on the outcome as well.
Part of the tradition is that people are supposed to dress up like their team namesakes, so being The Jolly Rogers, of course pirate attire was the order of the day for us, although only two of us actually made the effort. The South Lake Union Beauties got more into the spirit with a good costume turnout, but considering that half their team consisted of men in drag, I guess it should go without saying. Boaters are a lot like actors in that respect; they never let slip an opportunity to dress as silly as the occasion warrants.
Now the long holiday weekend is over, and it's back to work tomorrow, although only for a day with another two days off to follow, then two days of work, then the weekend. Hard to believe yet another year has passed; seems like they go by much more quickly now than even a few years ago. I know it's just subjective, but I think the more years you live, the shorter each successive year seems to be.
So, evidently there is an annual beach burn during Xmas week held by some of the Annex Theatre folk, which occurred last night at Golden Gardens. I got there a little late, having just come from dinner with Dawn after seeing her show at Kirkland Performance Center, so the bonfire was flaming mightily by the time I arrived.
There's something very soothing about staring into bright flames surrounded by the pitch black of night sky, I can stare at it for hours -- it's better than television and always puts me in a very good place, so was a fitting way to (almost) end one very hectic week. Although I must admit, waking up the next morning with a racking cough brought about by inhaling too much smoke, trace metals from melted soda cans and aluminum foil, and whatever chemicals they treat pallets with does make the experience somewhat less-than-ideal. Still, it was fun and well worth a few hours of respiratory discomfort.
Friday was WINDSTORM 2002! (tm) the sort-of annual meteorlogical event that sends TV newsheads into a veritable slathering apoplexy at the mere thought of spending hours in endless speculation over HOW BAD IT WILL (MAY) BE:
"Biff, I'm standing out here by the water and -- OHMYGAWD! There are WAVES crashing against the shore! Billy, get tight on that ferry -- you can see it moving UP AND DOWN! My hair! My God, my hair is actually MOVING! More on this breaking story as it develops! Now, back to you Biff!"
And I SWEAR, that is only a slight exageration from the truth. You'd think these people had never experienced weather before, sheesh!
Still, it WAS pretty gusty I will admit, but also kind of fun -- sort of like being on a low-budget rollercoaster rider for about three hours. At the height of the storm, around 1:30 in the afternoon, the sun came out, and I stood with my head sticking out of the cockpit hatch, just bouncing along and getting masses of spray blown in my face. I tried to get some photos, but I'll have to wait until I get to work on Monday to upload them.
Thank (Insert Name Of Preferred Diety Here) It's Boxing Day:
Once again have survived the annual Visiting With The Relatives. This year's revalations included: A.) My paternal Grandfather, aged 92 has developed Parkinson's Disease and may have only a few months to live; B.) According to my First-Youngest Brother (FYB), my Next-Youngest Brother (NYB), the proverbial black sheep who lives somewhere in the deserts of Arizona, appeared at one of the local firestations around Thanksgiving looking for FYB, who hasn't worked there in at least 10 years, and in a drunken state insulted said firemen, who called the cops, who arrested NYB, who promptly slugged one of said arresting constabulary and was promptly thrown in the pokey. Mother, in a supreme act of self-delusion, claims this never happened; C.) FYB and I almost come to blows over his refusal to accept my extremely modest tokens of the holiday, because HE IS THE PROVIDOR and no one else may provide for his family, even at Christmas. We avoid the pugilistic exchange, and instead spend the evening wathing "Spiderman". I envision FYB for most of the evening wearing a Green Goblin costume; D.) Learn that Last Youngest Brother (LYB), Also Known As the 37 year-old never-left-home Brother (37YONLHB), disappeared for two weeks last month during an apparant meth-amphetamine binge. Mother, in her roll as Impossible Missions Force Coordinator (IMF-C), as per protocol, disavowed any knowledge of his actions.
And people ask me why I've never settled down and raised a family...
On the plus side, I DID have some damn fine prime rib for dinner last night, and got lots of gift certificates, with which I purchased some new boots, jeans, work slacks, socks, underwear, cat food and a birthday present for The Gavinator.
Gee, and there are only 363 more days until I have to do it all over again...
First thing, my watch alarm failed to go off at 6:30 this morning as planned. Instead, I woke up about 7:40. Managed to shower, shave & dress in about 15 minutes and by 8:00 a.m. I was out the door. Unfortunately, my car wouldn't start. It does this when it gets really cold out -- hey, it's a 27 year-old Volkswagon bus, so what do you expect? After 2 hours of intermittent attempts to get it started, I finally gave up and walked the 8 or so blocks to the Bellevue Transit Center and caught a 550 into downtown, finally arriving at work at a little after 11:00 -- a full 3 hours late. I can only hope that by the time I get home this evening, it'll still be warm enough to restart, otherwise I may be in a major pickle trying to get to my Mom's tomorrow morning. This might be one of those times when I actually hope it rains -- at least it'll be warm enough outside to get Mr. Icey Bus started.
On the plus side, I got into the office and found my desk stacked with Holiday goodies; a bottle of wine and some fine ceegars! So, even if I don't get home for the holidays, I'll still have something to celebrate with!
Okay, so by now you know I'm housesitting over in Bellevue through the holidays. For somebody who lives in a space the size of a small bathroom, having an entire house to oneself feels like the height of extravagance. There is a dark side, however, and that is the fact that I am being exposed to the hideousness that is Cable Television. Even in the past few houses I've lived in, we never had full-blown cable service, so suddenly I'm confronted with 70 or so channels of viewing choices. Some of them are obvious passes of course; the four channels of religious broadcasting, the various ESPN and other all sports channels (with one notable exception), the six shopping channels, but that still leaves an awful lot of channels left to pick from. However, in the past couple of days, I've found I slip into the pattern of simply spending hours channel-surfing, rarely spending more than two or three minutes watching any one thing before moving on.
There have been a couple of notable exceptions; I got to watch the first two semifinals of the Louis Vitton Cup races, which are the qualifying matches for the America's Cup yacht challenge. Oracle is kicking our own hometown One World Challenge 2-0 in a best of seven series. One World's chances look pretty dismal, as they've lost most of their previous races against Oracle, and because of a penalty exacted in an earlier round, they actually have to win 5 races to move on to the finals. So, don't expect to be able to wander down the SYC anytime soon to take a gander at the Big Cup.
It was also a toss-up last night between "Laurence Of Arabia" on AMC and "Mars Attacks!" on Comedy Central; I went with the latter, since "LOA" just isn't as appealing in scan-and-pan format -- you'd think they could have sprung for the wide-screen version at least. And today I watched "The Green Room" for the first time. For those of you not in the know, this is a locally-produced Community Access program focusing on the Seattle Theatre Scene. I didn't expect much in the way of production values, but could somebody please buy these people a nice little throw-rug to lay over the poorly joined platform sections? Please? My friend Bobbi Kotula was the guest, and frankly there are worse ways one could spend 28 minutes. Still, I was sort of hoping the program would be a little more "newsy", but I realize that's tough to do in a once-a-month format.
But, the thing is -- there are 70+ channels on this cable system, and except for some news and the shows I've mentioned above (and an interesting program about side-shows, and the one about medeival weaponry, and MST3K, and "The French Connection", and - oh Hell, I'm hooked!), there really isn't all that much to hold one's interest, hence the constant flip, flip, flip through the system. Is this how normal people spend their precious leisure time? If so, I guess I'm glad I don't have cable, or worse a satellite, which would just compound the problem four or five-fold.
Well, let me tell you. Actually, it was pretty fun. We've only been doing them for four years (so, I've actually been to all of them), and this year (like last) it was at Salty's on Alki. So, you get a great view from across Elliott Bay, and a jumbo seafood buffet that is a protein-lover's Nirvana. This was of great solace to me, as I've been desperately trying to minimize my carbohydrate intake in the face of the tempting onslaught of Holiday treats roaming through the office like a pack of rabid hyena's on the Savannah. Having all the yummy fishy things to eat made me not even tempted to heap piles of rissotto, bread and pasta salad on my already overloaded plate, although I did indulge in a couple of very small chocolaty desert-type thingies later. And given my previous evening's debauch, even the offer of free alcohol (okay, beer & wine, but still) wasn't as tempting as gorging on little fishies.
The only disappointment was that once again, I was left completely out of the running for the fabulous door prizes. So, no Bose Waveform (tm) mini stereo, no mini-flatscreen TV, no pair of round-trip tickets to anywhere in the Continental U.S. But, on the plus side, at least I didn't win any of the Waterford Crystal either, 'cause I would have just had to keep it in it's foam padding box in my storage closet, since I am NOT going to have something that breakable lying around on the boat.
I'm also housesitting for some friends over in Bellevue for the Holidays, so after the party I had to run over and let the cat in. It's a big cat. So big in fact that the cat's name is "Big". Now, you just know that's one BIG CAT! Unfortunately, by the time I got settled in it was after 7:00 p.m., so regrettably I missed the Bret Fetzer reading. Hope it went well and that he sold lots and lots of his latest edition of fairy tales.
I was a bad boy last night, at least more of a bad boy than I realized, or so my achy head tells me this morning. Wasn't even any major event of note -- just evidentally had a couple too many last night and now my brain box feels like it's been stuffed with damp cottonballs, my tongue tastes like an ashtray (and this after brushing - twice!), and my throat is raw from smoking 5 CIGARETTES!! (I am such a lightweight when it comes to smoking).
Fortunately, I'm only working a half-day today, as our annual company Holiday Party is this afternoon at Salty's. So, I will suffer until noon, then drive to West Seattle and consume large quantities of shrimp and whatever other non-carbohydrate goodies are available. Think I'll skip the wine, however.
And then I have a three-day weekend, come back to work Monday, then have six more days off -- it'll almost be like having a vacation.
I've been doing really, really well with this diet I've been on for the past couple of months. It's one of those low-carb, high-protein things, where you're not supposed to eat all the yummy things like bread, pasta, rice, corn, beans, etc., but you do get to eat all the red meat you want. I'm definitely making progress, but at a very slow rate, which is fine since I figure the longer it takes me to lose the fat (which is much more of a concern than what the scale says), the longer it should take for it to come back. Hopefully by then, I'll have changed my eating habits to the point that this won't occur, however, it's weeks like this one that make me question my commitment.
To put it in a nutshell: THERE'S JUST TOO DAMNED MUCH SUGAR AROUND! Cookies, brownies, fudge, divinity, big slabs of dark chocolate the size of a laptop, lemon bars, tea cakes -- GAAHH! How am I supposed to be disciplined when there is SO MUCH temptation sitting literally at my fingertips?
It's a quandry, to be sure. Do I for instance just say, "Oh, the Hell with it!" and dig right in, feeling that endorphin rush as the sucrose hits my system, while simultaneiously causing my little Islands of Laggerhaans to accelerate to warp-speed insulin production, and hope that by skipping dinner I'll balance everything out? Do I instead exercise a steely determination and forego the pleasure of holiday treats in a paean to the nearly defunct American predeliction toward Puritan self-denial? Or can I dredge up enough self-confidence to choose the middle path and, like the Buddist Sage allow myself to engage in "moderation in all things, and all things in moderation?"
Right now, I feel like I'm slowly creeping toward full-tilt-boogie, no-holds-barred, rampant and indiscriminate carb-binging, so I guess it's going to take a spate of hairsuit wearing to get the pendulum to swing back to a point of equilibrium. Good thing I've got a lot of vacation time left to burn, and I can get away from the office for a few days. That should give me enough time to prepare myself for the inevitable onslaught of sugary treats that will confront me on the annual home visit. I'm going to need all the help I can get by then...
- People who think their time is more valuable than mine
- Cheap pens that smear ink on my white shirt cuffs
- Running out of coffee!
- Papers left on my desk when I'm away without accompanying instructions
- A tin full of Holiday cookies sitting within arm's reach (Really!)
- The guy who makes coffee you could stand a spoon up in, then complains about the stains on the pot
- Getting handed a report "that needs to be done ASAP" at 4:30 in the afternoon
- Having to address someone else's Company Christmas cards
- That jerk who steals the last creamer out of my fridge
- Not getting business cards
- The stupid copy machine that freaks out when you put more than six sheets of paper in the autofeed
It's 9:30 a.m. and I have absolutely NOTHING to do at work. It's one of those days when I wish I were on some sort of flex-time program and I could just say, "I'm wasting my time and your money; see you later!" and just jet. I could be home reading a book & drinking hot chocolate or wandering through SAM or driving up to Goldbar for a rainy hike to Wallace Falls -- in short, ANYTHING but sitting here feeling utterly useless.
I suppose I shouldn't complain, as there are probably lots of people out there who would be grateful to have a well-paying job which demands so little in return. And of course, it does allow me to almost live in a manner suited to my preferred lifestyle (not to mention paying off the slowly mounting credit card debt). But really, that's not the point. They compensate me very well to essentially be at my boss' beck-and-call, but there are days when I KNOW even he's as bored as I am. I can always tell because he either yells out of his office every half hour or so, asking if I've seen what the "market" is doing, or else there are long periods of dead silence, indicating that miraculously he has not lost yet another in a seemingly endless series of small skirmishes with his computer, which he is convinced is a machine designed with the specific objective of raising his blood pressure and generally making his life a living hell -- and that's just the email browser.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about. Just now my boss asked me, "What's the highest mountain in the Continental U.S.?" This is THE MOST PRESSING ISSUE on his mind! And it's my job to play "Jeeves" and look up the answer, because he can't do something as simple as run a Google search! Can you say, "computer illiterate?" I knew you could.
Oh well, at least now I've got a blog to play with, which at least gives the people in the cubicles around me the impression that I'm actually working, rather than just goofing off, which of course is what I'm really doing.
Hm, tomorrow my boss will be out of the office. Sounds like a good opportunity to get my Christmas cards sent out. At least I'll be doing something productive...
Okay, now a bad thing about where I live. Most people aren't awakened at 4:00 in the morning by the sound of a length of triple-corded nylon sail rigging being slapped against a mast by 30 mph gusts of wind. Most people don't have to crawl out of a warm berth at 4:10 in the morning to slip on sweats, boots and a black nylon watch cap, then clambor out onto a lurching deck in an attempt to secure said slapping rope, so that they can have some possibility of going back to sleep before their alarm clock starts spewing "Morning Edition" at 6:30 a.m.
Last night my friend Kerry held her annual birthday bash, and has been the tradition the past few years it was a "White Trash" theme party -- everybody dresses up as their favorite trailor-park denizen, mullet-haired metal-head or (in my case), lower-middle-class southwest Washington unskilled laborer. At last year's party, I overindulged in jello shooters, and ended up spending two hours wandering around in the fog, as I had gone outside for a bit of air to clear my head, and ended up getting lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Needless to say, jello shots were off my consumption list this time around.
So, after watching the Christmas ships (again! Hah!) I dressed up and headed out around 9:00 p.m. Just as I was approaching the 1st Avenue S. bridge, my bus ejaculated (yes, that's the correct word) a rather sizeable "burp", then the engine died. A quick restart attempt proved futile, and I had just enough momentum to pull off into the parking lot of a nearby construction company. Subsequent restarts proved similarly ineffective, and a cursory visual inspection did not reveal the cause.
Not wanting to completely miss out on the fun, I called Kerry and spoke with her husband Rob, who offered to come down and give me a lift up to their place. While waiting, I found the number for the construction company and left a message saying I would be by first thing Sunday morning to have the bus towed, then left a note on their front door to the same effect, just in case.
About 10 minutes later, Rob and another friend showed up and gave me a lift. I commented as I got in their truck that "this was really the perfect way to start an evening devoted to "white trash", having your car break down on the way to the party!" Little did I know this would only be a prelude to my evening's adventure.
The party itself was quite lovely, in a degenerated sort of way; I mean we WERE all pretty much making fun of an entire class of people, who I know from personal experience can't be quite as off-handedly dismissed or generalized as we were doing. Admittedly, many folks went to a bit of an extreme, however, my "costume" would have fit right in at any typical family function; I joked at one point that the entire evening would just get me back in sync with dealing with my own family during Christmas.
One of the high points of the evening, besides the BBQ-beef-on-Wonderbread sandwiches (among other equally yummy and perfectly disgusting foodstuffs) was the garage sing-along. Rob has built a little rehearsal studio into the back of his garage, and at one point in the evening I think there must have been about 15 people crowded into it. At various points up to three people were playing guitar, along with at least one harmonica-player (I never knew I knew so many people who could play the harmonica!), with the rest of us plowing through a catalogue of late '70's & '80's powerhouse rock numbers, singing at the tops of our lungs and generally commiting musical mayhem.
This is the kind of episode that reveals true hidden talents, and which never ceases to instill a sense of respect, and even a small amount of reverence for all the people I know who exhibit musical aptitude, something I've never had the pleasure of exploring on my own. It has always been one of my regrets in life that I've never learned to play a musical instrument, so I tend to feel a bit in awe of those who can.
At around 2:00 p.m. the party was in the process of winding down, although most of the remaining guests seemed to be equally determined to party until the sun came up (although with all the fog, I don't know how they would have been able to tell the difference), and I was just drunk enough at that point to get the idiotic notion in my head that I could walk back to my bus and call AAA, instead of hitching a ride back into town, then having to deal with it later in the morning. So, off I went out into the fog, just like last year, although this time with a decidedly different mission in mind.
Now on the one hand, this might not seem so crazy, but when one considers that a.) the only way I knew to get back was via the freeway and b.) I was completely unfamiliar with my surroundings, everything points to a disaster-in-waiting. Suffice to say however, the fact that I've lived to tell the tale belies these initial concerns.
So, off into the foggy night I went, generally retracing my route. I did have enough presence of mind to realize that walking along the shoulder of highway 509 would have been the epitome of stupid, and so figured I could find a parallel frontage-road that would lead me in the same general direction. Luckily, I seem to have a pretty good innate sense of direction (not to mention an eletronic compass on my watch -- hurray for gadgets!), and within 10 minutes stumbled across a 7-Eleven with an ATM. So, now at least I had cash, which opened the possibility of chucking the whole sceme down the can and calling a cab. Still, that would have been the easy way out, and in my state I was up for doing things less-than-easy.
Amazingly, it took me only about an hour and fifteen minutes to wend my way back to the bus, utilizing the aforementioned side streets, and only being forced onto the side of 509 for about a third of a mile. Along the way, I was reintroduced to the concept that there is an entire nocturnal world of which most daylight dwellers are seldom aware. At one point I passed a large warehouse where literally scores of people were pouring out into a full parking lot. As I approached closer, I realized they were all toting large bundles of what turned out to be Sunday newspapers. Some of the cars were literally stacked to the roof with hundreds of plastic bags all ready to be thrown onto front lawns and porches throughout the region. It was the assembly of morning paper-route people, and unlike the kids on a bicycle most of us probably remember from our youths, these were fully grown-up, licensed drivers, mostly of indeterminate Asian background, who most likely derived some modest income from the activity. Still, I'd stumbled onto the heart, the start and the locus of activity, which answered a very mystifying question; where DOES the daily newspaper delivery come from?
Now, I knew the answer.
But, this was to be only one of several similar encounters with the inhabitants of the graveyard shift (not counting the 7-Eleven, which technically was the first, and ironically now that I recall, also included a spotting of a newspaper delivery person). After that, I also ran across an all-night gas station, a 24-hour fast-food drive-through, some vague industrial activity which I was unable to identfy, and what appeared to be a wine bottling facility. Sometimes, we forget about the parallel universes of activity that occur only when the rest of us are safely asleep and dreaming, and if I got nothing else out of my experience, it was a reminder of the necessity for some of us to do this kind of necessary and usually unheralded work.
To wind things up: got to the bus at around 3:30 a.m., called AAA and amazingly (or not given the hour) the tow truck arrived within 15 minutes -- naturally, just about the time I was nodding off what would have been an uncomfortable nap sitting in the driver's seat. After doing his own inspection, the driver concluded that my coil was not sending juice to the distributor, and that this was most likely the source of my problem -- great since this is a relatively cheap part and very easy to replace. Then it was simply a matter of hooking up the rig and hauling it off to the Goodyear shop two blocks from my office. The driver even gave me a lift to within about three blocks of the marina, and by 4:20 I was in my warm, dry berth snuggling up to a couple of comatose cats.
Sometimes I have to kick myself that I have such a great place to live! Oh sure, some naysayers might quip, "But, it's a tiny little boat Comte! It's tight, cramped, you have to walk 300 feet to take a shower -- what's so great about it?" Well, for one thing, I only have to walk 50 paces to have a dock-side view of the Christmas ships! Dozens of power and sailboats decked out with holiday lights, parading past me like it's part of a Royal Command Performance, that's what!
It actually was pretty neat, just to stand there and watch boat after boat pass by at a distance not much more than what I just walked from my boat to the end of the dock itself. It's also pretty amazing to realize all these lights (and some boats had quite a lot!) were being powered basically by a couple of batteries, with a motor keeping the charge up!
Also did the monthly Annex Spin-The-Bottle, which was quite a bit of fun. Every first Friday of the month, a bunch of Annex regulars put on a cabaret-style latenight show, with "acts" ranging from straightforward music to not-so-straightforward music, the theatre, to film, to whatever it is that describes what PG does.
A bunch of us met for dinner beforehand, which was a nice way to start the evening off on a good social note. That's one of the things I've always loved about Annex, and probably one of the reasons I've always maintained a relationship with the theatre -- it really is sort of like a family. The only thing that troubles me on occasion is that I don't feel quite as connected to people on a personal level; I wonder sometimes if I project something that keeps people at a distance, because everyone else seems to be a lot closer to each other than I am to them. Maybe I'm just imagining things, but I do feel like a bit of an outsider at times, and I wish that wasn't the case, but at the same time I recognize that it's something inside myself, and not necessarily what others might think or feel.
On the other hand, I DID manage to make Alicia's butt vibrate for a good part of the evening, thanks to a well-timed cellphone call. So that must count for something!
Hadn't done this in at least 2 years (if not more) so decided to do the First Thursday Art Walk through Pioneer Square last night. I always used to feel a bit intimidated carousing with the hoi-poloi, I suppose from an inherent fear that a.) I would either be asked to TALK about some piece of art about which I would know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! or b.) hit up as a possible purchaser, which for the most part is so far out of the question as to be ludicrous. When I used to do the Walk, I'd always try to find an fine-arts cognoscent friend to go with, just so they could held educate me, as well as field the tough questions that might come up like, "What do you think of ___'s use of dry-brushing technique in this piece?"
Well, I haven't had an art-knowledgeable friend in quite some time (at least not that I'm aware of! -- and Jo if you EVER read this, I REALLY miss doing First Thursdays with you!), but for once I decided to wrestle my insecurities to the ground and just DO IT.
And you know what? It was actually FUN! One new thing (or at least new to me) is that there are a lot of "indie" artists selling work in the Square outside Davidson Gallery, which was great because they actually have stuff I can afford! Bought some cards from my friend Sable, and a nice little ceramic sand-dollar trinket box for another friend. There were paintings, photos, pottery, glassware, all sorts of things, with most items going for less than $20. I noticed a few people I've seen at the Fremont Sunday Market, but also lots of others that I haven't seen before. Wish I'd remembered to bring the plastic, as I could have gotten a few more Christmas presents taken care of.
The main galleries were much less intimidating to walk into that I remembered. You just go in mingle and look around -- no pressure, no hassle, & there's free wine-and-cheese! And to my even greater surprise, I actually saw several pieces that I both liked AND could even possibly afford to purchase! I mean $200 isn't all that much for original artwork, even though I don't have that burning a whole in my pocket right now, but I COULD afford that with a little advance planning. And that was at the top end of my price range. Stonington Gallery actually had a lot of really nice Native American inspired jewelry that fell into the comfortable $40 - $75 range that even I can handle! So, I made some notes, looked at a lot of good art (and some pretty bad art too in my not-terribly-informed opinion), and before I knew it had spent three hours having a perfectly enjoyable evening.
I love the rain. Maybe it's something about being a native Northwesterner, but the moss on my back just gets all dry and itchy without regular infusions of soft, gentle rain massaging it into a state lush verdancy. Rain is something we've been sorely lacking around here lately, as you can tell by looking at all the bald mountains in the vicinity. Muchas gracias, El Nino.
Early this morning, I was awakened by the soft tapping of the first solid raindrops on the deck above my head. They wanted to come in and say hello, like an old friend you haven't seen in quite a while, who just randomly shows up on your doorstep unannounced, but knowing they're always welcome. "Hi there" they whisper in the air above my left ear, "we've been away for awhile, but we're back now. Wazhappenin'?"
Now normally I loathe having my slumber-time interrupted before my pre-desgnated wake up call from Bob Edwards & Susan Stamberg, but just hearing those first few "spat, spat, spats" above me gave me such a feeling of being at ease with the world --"Hey, it's raining sleepyhead" my Id announced in the wavering moment between dreaming and consciousness, using that same six year-old tone-of-voice it usually reserves for impending snowflakes or solar eclipses, then added a celebratory "Hurray!" just in case I wasn't alert enough to gauge the full impact of this momentus occasion.
I indulged in the luxury of listening to the pit-pat of the drops as they accelerated into full-fledged tommy-gun staccato, then with a smile of Bhuddific contentment, I fell back asleep. If only I'd been able to tell Bob and Susan to hold that wake up call...
I'm still trying to get the hang of this blog thingie -- not the blogging itself so much, but trying to intuit my way around the HTML coding that makes the whole enchilada work. One of these days it'll probably just be as natural as typing, but for the moment, I'm doing what I've done with every piece of hard/software I've ever been exposed to -- just keep playing around with it until it makes sense to me.
Well, I have to say the N30 Rally downtown on Saturday was a bit of a letdown. Only a few hundred (possibly as many as 1,000 but not much more from my estimate) showed up at around noon to listen to the usual panoply of speakers voicing opposition to everything from the impending War On Iraq to general rants against neoliberal corporate globalization, to cuts in local social services spendings. The crowd seemed decidedly on the youngish side, unlike other recent protests, and although very vocal, everyone was well-behaved in the extreme -- so much so that not a single arrest was made this year, so far as I could tell. The constabulary was of course out in full force, with the bike and equestrian units taking prominent positions amongst the crowd.
At around 1:00 p.m. everyone started off to the intersection of 4th & Pike, which was barely occupied by the full contingent, then down Pike to 2nd turning right and heading down to the Federal Building, where the Westlake group joined up with another decidedly smaller crowd that had assembled at a different location.
When I say it was a letdown, I really mean only in the sense that many of the issues expressed by the various signs and speakers were in-and-of-themselves quite worthy causes or sentiments, but given the fact that only the day before more than 30,000 citizens had occupied roughly the same space in what has now become the annual ritual paean to rampant consumerism (I stayed away from that one, although I actually could see the evening fireworks display from the boat).
Now, don't get me wrong, I certainly buy enough useless consumer-stuff to make some of the "Buy Nothing" crowd cringe in disgust, but it IS just a tad disconcerting that 30 times the number of people will come out to show their support for spending money on (mostly) useless trinkets than will show up to exercise what is supposed to be one of the fundamental rights of a citizen in a democratic society.
Still recovering from the Thanksgiving carb-binging. Lisa and her roommate Mark, along with his girlfriend Sara, Mark’s mom, Shirley and a couple other mutual friends (Shay, Jennifer, et al) put together a magnificent spread. All the usuals: Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato cakes, Shay’s amazing corn pudding, pumpkin pie, empanadas (not a traditional Thanksgiving offering, but nobody was complaining), while I contributed a meat-and-cheese platter for appetizer and a pear tort for desert. We probably had easily enough food for 20 people, so even after thirds, there was still plenty left for take-home boxes. Then it was time for post-prandial movie-watching in the big overstuffed chair. MIB II (what WERE they thinking!), and “Reign Of Fire”(not bad, but the cinematography was so dark, you couldn’t see a good portion of the film). Finally, waddled home around 11:00 p.m., at which point, I drank a large glass of seltzer, took a TUMS, and went to bed. The leftovers were polished off last night while watching “A Muppet Christmas Special”.
Spent most of the afternoon Wednesday shopping at the Pike Place Market, which is always a real treat, since I don’t get down there nearly as much as I used to when I worked downtown. Was deeply disappointed to see that my favorite produce stand, Mario & Luigi’s (NOT named after the video game brothers), has disappeared completely, leaving a gaping hole in the north-end stalls. No doubt, it’ll be soon replaced by t-shirt or art photo vendors, most of whom all seem to be selling the same items nowadays – at least it’ll give me the chance to comparison shop for Christmas presents.
Speaking of Christmas, I’m going to try to make an actual effort this year, after last year’s dismal showing. There’s nothing quite like a gift certificate to say, “I haven’t got a clue what to buy you”, and except for my brother’s kids, I’m really going to attempt actual presents with some modicum of thought put into them.
Today it’s off to the N30 rally at Westlake 12:00 noon, then (assuming I don’t get pepper-sprayed or arrested!), maybe take in a show.