Friday, November 30, 2007

winter wonderland

I've been thinking of Tucson. Or Maui. Or Greece. Somewhere a little warmer. Well, it's part cold, part wanderlust that has me thinking of other places. Topped by a bigger part that wishes to visit with friends. So, I'm torn between conspiring to travel- how 'bout a month in Alaska next summer? And really rooting here, where there's a new pea patch a block away and winter cupcakes are just up the hill.

Working parking for the Field Cup Tournament last weekend gave me plenty of time to consider the possibility of Mexico in February and also, I think, gave my cough and sore throat some staying power.

So I didn't ice skate. Ukiah and Aslin, who hadn't skated in years, held the wall for a few laps before finding balance and eventually speed. Ukiah lie down to make ice angles, Aslin learned to do turns and someone named the little walker Sherman.

I remember ice skating at recess in first grade. Mostly, I remember trying to tie my skates and being scared of the big kids who were so much faster than me. My elementary school, unlike the winter wonderland in the Center House, was not in a gravity-impaired alternate universe. Or maybe this teeter-totter is just frozen in the weighted, but up position. Waiting for the house to open for Peter Pan, we continued our I-Spy investigation of the Country Christmas Village. Aslin spotted the homeless men and the $10 horses. Ukiah saw a fallen skater, possibly with broken leg and the hot air balloon anchored by a single man. We all spotted a cat, lying in the snow- poisoned by the man with an outstretched hand hovering above him? Brad noted the gulch with a discarded wagon wheel and I spied a blacksmith with no goggles or protective gear, surely an OSHA violation.

Under tank-top, tee-shirt, long-sleeve, sweater-coat-and scarf, I'm cold. I sometimes feel cheated by the discomfort without benefit of romantic winter snow. A perceived climate betrayal that layered with hints of wanderlust finds me re-inventing our lives in other, warmer, colder or more charming places. But as the city's display master-story tellers make clear, under the idyllic presentation of life, it's the flaws that sustain our attention. And sometimes, like Peter Pan or the doll watching the miniature Victorian brass band, a person's head is disproportionate with the rest of their body, let alone the rest of their world.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Twenty-eight dollars cash or forty-two in credit? Decisions, decisions.
We said good-bye to a few juvenile readers, duplicate copies of Choke and Eargon and opted for credit.

Last week, craigslist introduced us to the new owners of the too-large chair, a couple from Renton. He liked the chime and the miniature tea set on the table behind.

I collected a lil'somthin from Gypsy Trader for clothes I don't remember. They're not a clothing store anymore, lost most their business when the Fremont bridge was closed. So now they do some home decor, but mostly, it's about the cafe.

We're considering separating ourselves from a too-small sleeping bag and have taken steps towards letting go of a couple dozen albums. Classics like TSOL's- Revenge, The Ventures'- Walk Don't Run, and No Nuclear War by Peter Tosh.

I really shouldn't talk about it, should not re sort the box headed for Goodwill.

I'm organizing, cleaning, possibly inventorying. Making sense of, plans for the next phase of Seattle life. The books aren't shelved alphabetically, but for now, there's a clear distinction between the short stories, medical science, and history.

And speaking of books and history, seems like a good time to post another well-intentioned yet incomplete booklist that's been kicking around the draft file for months.

Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi
New Buffalo: Journals from a Taos Commune, Arthur Kopecky;
Ironweed, William Kennedy
Case Histories, Kate Atkinson
13 Stories, Eudora Welty
Walden, Henry David Thoreau
Between, Georgia Joshilyn Jackson
Lies My Teacher Told Me, James Loewen
Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer

The Bear Comes Home, Rafi Zabor
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
All the Pretty Horses, Cormac Mccarthy
Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
Dreams of My Father: Stories of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama
Founding Brothers, the Revolutionary Generation, Joseph Ellis
Fledgling, Octavia E. Butler

The Black Stallion, Walter Farley
Ivy and Bean, Barrows & Blackwell;
A Dog Called Kitty, Bill Wallace
Sixth Grade Secrets, Louis Sacher
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'engle
Calvin and Hobbes;
School Rumble
Tithe, A Modern Fairytale, Holly Black

The Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze?
Stuck in Neutral, Terry Trueman
Shredderman, Wendelin Van Draanen
The Library Card, Jerry Spinelli
Eldest, Christopher Paolini
Greatest Mysteries of the Unexplained, Holland & Doncaster
Java for Dummies, Barry Burd
Megatokyo, Fred Gallagher

shared by multiple owlhouse residents
Appetite for Life, Julia Child
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
Fat Kid Rules the World, K.L. Going
Collected Stories of Carson McCullers
The King's Fifth, Scott O'Dell
Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney
Eragon, Christopher Paolini
Full Metal Alchemist
Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo, Greg Leitich Smith

In case you're looking for Holiday gift suggestions, we recommend most of the above.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

tip-toeing towards rats

A man in a dark wool trench coat and starched sky dress shirt hooked a leash to the cocker spaniel's coller. Past the outdoor doggie gym, away from the noise of 15th Avenue. No cell phone, no cigarette, just a young man in patent shoes walking a dog who looks and jumps and calls like Tawney. She's been neutered and it will be another week before she is cleared to fetch or climb through tires. The man's (cashmere?) checkered scarf compliments the dog's golden hair and both blow in the wind. All the dogs need walking, twice a day.

An older woman, close cropped silver hair highlighting her diamond studs, sits on the floor. Wrapped in a small pen, legs tucked at a not uncomfortable 45 degree angle, the socializer sits an inch or two away from the litter box. Jeffery Eugenides Middlesex lies open, upside down, across her thigh. She picks it up a half dozen times, likely rereading the same two paragraphs for an hour. A red-eyed, white rabbit sniffs, retreats, sniffs and paws his the bald spots along his back.

We came for the rats. The Rat Pack boys and girls keep separate apartments, a dwarf hamster centered between them. The girls, slightly smaller, nose over one another to reach us. Aslin's in, pinky finger from each hand offered for exploration. I follow with one shy knuckle, Ukiah eventually joins us. The trio of boys, interested initially, move on to climbing the walls before we've fulfilled our visiting need. Ukiah and I watch the little guy, the one with only 3 feet and half a tail while Aslin returns to the girls. Maybe we'll need two cages too.

We left the shelter with our adoption application and volunteer information. I'm not quite ready for pet rodents, and have some concerns about Cutie's relationship with our potential new pets, but am keeping the words of a stranger in mind.

"Don't worry about it too much," he looked me in the eye, and I think would have held the bus door open for us if it weren't automatic. Charmed and confused, I watched him climb the stairs and settle on the back seat of the 2. From the sidewalk, I gave a muted wave and rushed to join the kids in a 4-block fight with the wind. We bought mini-doughnuts to share with our new group, a treat to mark the end of the library scavenger hunt. I didn't worry about transfats or sugar and am trying not too be concerned with the lack of parental excitement over our group offering.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I hate ABC

It wasn't too much of a surprise when they didn't cover the Women's World Cup. But they didn't even pretend, didn't list games on their schedule and then opt to air ignorant blowhard Fred Thompson instead. But this morning, they made changes to their scheduling line-up, pushing the MLS championship to ESPN 2.

Who knew my disgust with corporate media could reach new heights?

Saturday, November 17, 2007


went on a little holiday. In past visits with preschoolers, he's backed himself into corners, gotten stuck behind book shelves, narrowly avoided tricycle wheels, peed on the floor and impressed everyone with his climbing and speed. This month, he ventured out with out us and has been complimented as a fantastic guest, which may have something to do with the extra care and attention of his hosts at King St. Thank you!

In his absence, a bookshelf took up residence. Great space for the nearly two boxes of book we mailed home from Cambria and Tucson; problematic as shell will have to relocate a little farther from the heat vent. As a fellow cold-blooded creature concerned with his health and comfort, I turned to the ever trusty Craigslist. In the free section, not far from home, a terrarium with lights and a heating pad was listed. The catch?

"No cracks, but haunted with mischievous and cruel ghosts."

So, I'm wondering...
Is the haunting of all the equipment, or just the terrarium?
Is the heating pad safe? Electrically sound? Could we smudge it?
Do ghosts inhabit objects, or just space?
Is it a human, reptile or amphibian ghost?
I didn't email my questions to the person who placed the ad.

Sure, we could go the pet store, spend money and get a new heating pad. But that is likely to end in hours of rodent "window shopping" holding and negotiation. Aslin's ready, pet rats are still a topic of debate for the rest of us.

Maybe we'll move the bookshelf.

In unrelated pet news, a predictable coup has ended with Cutie as master of Ukiah's new beanbag cushion.

Piper (cute, charming, well-behaved Piper!) and his type are considered thugs by some in Montlake.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I'm pretty sure that was not a dog running down my street at 6:30 this morning.
About a month ago, I saw a raccoon, lounging like the Cheshire cat in the one tree adjacent the Safeway parking lot.
Not too uncommon, but a coyote?!?

Monday, November 12, 2007


Before we ordered vegan Mongolian beef, before I dumped a cup of tea, before we noticed that our table cloth had doubled as a napkin for earlier patrons, the women across the room cracked their fortune cookies.

"You will soon follow your heart's desire."
The dark-haired woman crumpled her fate, pronouncing it "lame."

Four pots of tea later, Aslin arrived at the same fortune, finding it lame only for its lack of originality. She's inherited my tendency to collect the conversations of others and looks to the empty table where an hour earlier, her would-be destiny was discarded.

Fortune cookie superstition has us debating the proper procedure for the reading of fortunes. Split the cookie, eat half, read, finish cookie. No, read the fortune before eating any cookie. NO, don't even look at the fortune before finishing the cookie.

Ukiah- "You will meet someone famous."
Brad- "You will enjoy good health and financial independence."
Nora- "You will welcome many people with your smile."
Aslin- following you heart's desire? not lame.

I pocket the forecasts for an art project I would have finished years ago, except that I occassionally misplace my fortune reservoir and have to start over.

In the past month, we've been blessed by visits with butterflies. (A word of caution for the birds, the Heliconiidae of the long wing family, is brightly colored to warn you of their terrible, bitter taste.) Thanks to craigslist, we've got two new-used exercise balls ideal for video game seating. Plus, as a pirate and newspaper zombie/samurai/guy the kids picked up a ton'o candy trick-or-treating.

With the homeschool group, they helped NorthWest Harvest package a literal ton of chocolate and learned this bit of Seattle candy trivia-
FR edrick
A nd
N elson
G ift
O f
S weetness

And let's not forget the marvel that is pumpkin beer. Thanks to the brewers at Elysian for hosting us, and letting us take the empty pumpkin keg for pumpkin-cauliflower soup.