The writing of Cyteen II.

Date: 7/26/06. Wednesday. 91311. Well, the morning post came, and Jane got her billfold. This was a vast relief---missing all the money, but it had all the cards. We're going to check our accounts particularly closely for a while. And back to the rink. I just wasn't feeling well---particularly after last night. I'm too heavy, I feel awful, and I skated in jeans. This was a strange experience after skating in the gear for so long---it hampered my moves, was cold, and generally contributed to bad [read dangerous] posture. Next time I go to the effort of the full rig. The ice was crappy: they're doing what they can, but it's just too hot to get a good freeze without lumps. Reports from the fire say that a guesthouse burned, and a work shed. And that it was arson---we've got a crazy person running around Spokane: we've had fires where they shouldn't have happened. It doesn't show much from our vantage, not unless you know where to look, and most of what burned was meadow, which comes back much faster than forest, but I hope they get that guy.

Date: 7/27/06. Thursday. 91020. Rest again. Trying to clean up. Heat, heat, heat. It's just gross. There's a pall of smoke and my eyes and nose are just pouring. It's hard even to stay awake. But I've started trying to work. I'm not getting very far. We're still eating in bad places. Pretty soon it's on the straight and narrow.

Date: 7/28/06. Friday. 91129. I stayed home from skating to wait for the fish delivery, which got here in good order. They didn't ship me an urchin. They shipped me an elephant. I can't believe...a hairy pincushion urchin that's as large as a magnum-sized doorknob. At least he's avoiding the corals.

Date: 7/29/06. Saturday. 91402. Lazing about. Seeing to the tank. We got to see Sharon, did I mention, had a belated b'day. We'd picked up all these marvelous knicknacks on our trip, remembering that we had this event to see to. We've eaten out again, this time a rib dinner. Bad us!

Date: 7/30/06. Sunday. 91402. Just not being good at all. We're just exhausted. At least the heat is better, but not that much. I can't wait for snow. And we still have fires, and smoke, and allergy. I can't even think. I'm on the verge of being sick from this. I am so sick of being sick!

Date: 7/31/06. Monday. 91217. Back on the ice. And the ice was halfway decent, give or take. I'm trying to get my poor heat-swollen feet laced down into the unforgiving boots and it ain't pretty. But at least I was able to do a few moves, in between trying to keep my feet under me. If you wonder why the numbers have been bouncing around on the work, it's because I'm editing again, inputting all the changes I made while reading on the trip, and editing, editing, editing. This means I erase and write forward.

Date: 8/1/06. Tuesday. 91010. Lazy. I just want to sleep half the day. I've been on antibiotic again, and I've discovered it makes me sleepy, not to mention I'm not resting well at night due to the heat. I think no matter what it says I'm going to take this stuff later in the day and see if I can stay awake. I'm losing work time to this, and that's making me depressed.

Date: 8/2/06. Wednesday. 90284. The diet plan arrived---at least my half of it. Forty-two pounds of food in a big box. Plus the cell charger I'd left at my brother's place. We set to work trying to shift our pantry about to put the Nutrisystem stuff on the shelves, and it's arrived all in a jumble. We sorted it into Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, and Dessert. We really hope this stuff is edible, and that the weight plan isn't to disgust the subject so much you won't eat...We went off to the rink, skated as long as we could stand the crowd, and decided to have one last fling at Scotty's before starting The Diet. Jane's made a separate order, so we'll eat up mine, which pretty well jams the pantry, and when mine runs out, we'll open her box---when it arrives. They give you 15.00 off for recommending a friend, and give a friend 15.00 off for ordering, so in our household, that runs to 30.00. Jane's---obviously---my buddy. But her box, ordered as soon as we could get the discount through, won't arrive until later.

Date: 8/3/06. Thursday. 91682. Got up early, got dressed, all sorts of good plans for the day, since we have a chiropractic appointment which we really long to have---Jane's back is suffering from the drive. And it turned out Dr. Mike is on vacation and won't be back for a week. Sigh. Here we were planning on supper at Cougar Country as our final fling. So we started the diet instead. We were quite surprised to find that the food is actually edible. Even good. And I'm fussy. They want you having their cereal and your fruit and milk for breakfast, an omelet or cottage cheese at midmorning, their soup and a nice salad for lunch, [these are all examples: there are many other choices] an bowl of berries for tea, and an entree, salad, and veggies for supper, followed by a dessert and cup of milk or a no-sugar chai or the like.

Date: 8/4/06. Friday. 91707. I'm down 2 pounds. Jane's down a bit. This is promising. We went skating, and did sin slightly, me having my latte, and going to Tomato Street for drinks with Joan and Terry, but we held ourselves to one, and got home to our diet.

Date: 8/5/06. Saturday. 91876. Down two more pounds. I'm happy. Did some work with the tank, and mostly sat and worked. We were going to go see Pirates of the Caribbean, but the smoke is so bad outside [you can't see the hills that usually stand distinct and green] we opted to keep the doors and windows shut. The body is starting to feel much better, and being off the antibiotic and getting the weight off is a good thing. The diet isn't hard to manage: I just have to have my little check-booklet that tells me I have to have a dairy, a fruit, and an entree for breakfast, or I'd grow confused.

Date: 8/6/06. Sunday. 92142. Down a single pound this time, but now we're getting to the hardcore weight, and losing 7 pounds in 3 days is pushing a bit fast. Jane's weight loss is a bit more modest. I got the plan for women over 60 and so did Jane [though she's not, quite], because this was what they recommended, and I did warn them we skate. I don't think they quite appreciate that our skating is not a sedate turn about the rink. I think we are burning it off a little faster than may be good, but I don't want to cheat on the diet, more than my single latte---which really isn't a cheat: I'm allowed a cup of milk at midmorning...maybe I'll have to have two [poor me!]. We'll see. My weight loss has begun to slow down, and Jane's has never been at the catastrophically fast level. But once you build up the muscle a couple of years of skating have put on us, the muscle will have its own demands, and hopefully make losing the fat a little easier. Meanwhile I've got to get to the accounts. I'm starting that mental trap of procrastinating the accounts, and that only makes me depressed when I get to them. It's so bloody hot in that room I just hate going in there, and working in there is gruesome.

Date: 8/7/06. Monday. 92721. Still stuck on the joy. The heat continues. Trying to work. I hate summer, I hate summer, I hate summer. The ice is wretched and full of little surprises, and the condition of it I can only describe as 'soft', meaning it snows up easily...way easily when kids insist on scraping at it. When you hit that stuff, you slow down. When you hit a clear patch it's like skating on oil. The contrast is interesting. I'm trying to make headway on the book, and can't believe it's taken this long.

Date: 8/8/06. Tuesday. 92732. Not skating on alternate days is even grimmer than the ice quality—but the rink is down to one rink, and we have to share with the hockey camp people who chew up the ice something fierce. The rest of the time I spend feeding us [every 2 hours, it seems] and trying to get something done in this wretched heat. And I'm still not losing weight.
Date: 8/9/06. Wednesday. 92918. Back to the ice, but it's just pretty bad, and all the kids show up. Most are sweet. A few are idiots. You try to prevent them from killing themselves or from killing somebody else. We have a guy out there after hip replacement surgery: he's well over 70. And somebody's darlings are rushing about like lunatics, thinking it's just great fun to weave among the slower skaters. Where are the parents? Have they a clue?

Date: 8/10/06. Thursday. 93280.Another off day. We went down for chiropractic. I think we actually did some good this time—I talked to Dr. Mike about our lower back and hip problems and how we have to rotate a foot sideways to step off [or fall]. And he gave us an exercise which amounts to lying flat, doubling one knee up aimed at your shoulder, and having a friend lean on it, hard. When Dr. Mike does it, let me tell you, that smarts. But it also does wonders for straightening out the complex of tendons around the hip and [ahem!] rear that tend to get shorter and stiff. I was walking without pain afterward. Hurray! But don't talk to me about the diet. Not budging an inch.

Date: 8/11/06. Friday. 93877. Ended up not skating. We were warned. There was going to be a 64 person birthday party. We can take a hint. We hope everyone got out alive. All the adult skaters were getting the word. And this being the last day but one that we can skate this next week, we've taken the decision to go visit Jane's brother in Seattle—there's a rink near his place. I only have to get the taxes done—the quarterlies, and the annuals, since we've got to refile our personals due to an omission. Sigh. At least we caught it. And the weather's getting cooler. Down into the 80's. I may be able to stand to go in the office soon.

Date: 8/12/06. Saturday. 93281. Getting some progress on the book, regardless of the word count. I decided that we can do the taxes tomorrow. I've got to collect all this diet stuff to take with us. But at least we were here yesterday when Jane's half of the diet supplies showed up. I don't plan to take much for this next week, figuring I'm going to be writing and skating, period. Cool, smokeless air, and a relief from the heat---but the kicker is, the heat here is supposed to be less now.

Date: 8/13/06. Sunday. 93281. Well, at least it's ok to go into the office, the heat having abated, and I started in at the crack of dawn, just the slow, plodding detail of entering items and arranging and grouping papers...I am not a numbers person. I am so bad in math. I have to double-check everything. Any competent office person could be through this so fast, and I just am not. Thank goodness Jane does the actual bank balance, or we'd always be off. But I can do the finance part, and do the taxes, so that's what I do. And I had a moment of panic when I thought I'd found tax reports prepared that hadn't been mailed, but that was a false alarm: those were the copies. Just a matter of filing. And the Feds have finally refunded the check that I sent to them for the second time and the insurance company has done the same...can't blame them too much: I was late, and confused. But I did get through the paperwork. Hurrah for me. The cool air helps so much. If only we could get the fires out. The forest service may have this let-it-burn policy for certain fires, but it's really bad when the smoke goes over a city and people with respiratory problems are checking into hospitals.

Date: 8/14/06. Monday. 93678. Last skate, prior to rink being down for a week. Not too bad, but I declined a lesson. I just wasn't feeling well. The diet and I are not getting along totally, but I think I can figure out what to eat to keep my stomach happy. And I finally lost the pound. I did it! Outside of that triumph, we have to pack. We went out to eat with Sharon, but the local Outback is closed for lunch now, so we had to go to Shari's, not as nice, but good food. And I stayed by my diet.

Date: 8/15/06. Tuesday. 93678. Scramble to bank and PO. Off to Seattle, and I'd hoped to get my novel printed out to read, but it was just too hectic. Jane's doing the website for the Figure Skating Club, and they're having a major hassle, so the one computer that has a printer was tied up down to the wire. So we read some research on the trip. Had supper with Jane's brother, and settled in.

Date: 8/16/06. Wednesday. 93678. Well, up and about and onto the ice, which really shows the worth of the GPS unit. We found it. The only problem was—their Zamboni had been down. The ice was about half an inch under snow—in spots. And rough enough to jar your teeth out. It gave our legs a workout, for sure. But after a while of this, and practicing 3-turns, I let my feet hit a slick spot on a turn, and since I was braced for resistence from the ice, not glide, I fell behind my balance-point: worse, I was near the wall. If I'd just fallen, I wouldn't have gotten hurt, but I went down, hit the wall, bounced forward, hit on my right palm, skidded to my right elbow, and flipped, bouncing my helmet off the ice about three times. I still wasn't hurt, so much as annoyed, and immediately got up and redid the maneuver correctly, but I blew a bloodvessel in my wrist, and realized by the time I got home that ice was going to be a good thing. I left off icing to go out to dinner, but kept it wrapped, which kept it from swelling. Drat!

Date: 8/17/06. Thursday. 93678. Well, the wrist is purple up to half the palm. But it doesn't hurt half as much as the triceps of the same arm, which stood the strain and kept the arm safe. It hurts to raise that arm. And Seattle is smogged-in, with ozone that will fry the brain. We were hopeless. We opted to stay and try to work, which didn't work either. I just couldn't get anything done. A banged-up wrist yesterday and no brain today. Some working trip.

Date: 8/18/06. Friday. 93678. We took back to the ice. And they'd fixed the Zamboni, so it was only half wretched. This rink has no rules about letting people out with skating aids, which means kids playing the fool out across the ice with various props and buckets which become missiles. We decided we'd had enough fun, and I hadn't had the basic sense to wrap the wrist, so I didn't want to go down again. Got a little work done this afternoon, at least in outlining, which doesn't show in word count. And then we went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which we enormously enjoyed. There'd better be another movie, is all I can say.

Date: 8/19/06. Saturday. 93678. We're not about to go brave that rink when they have high traffic. Relying on the GPS, we took off with Jane's brother to go see the blooming of the Corpse Lily, which was in Volunteer Park: we arrived too late for the full bloom, but it was still impressive. And odorous as advertised: you could catch just a whiff of it. Jane's brother treated us to the Boeing Air Museum, at Boeing Field, which, let me tell you is an all-day proposition. They have a Blackbird, various space memorabilia, a Concorde [we didn't get to that one], and a WWII exhibit, including my favorite plane, the P-38; and a WWI exhibit, which has some absolutely unique items. Then we went out to eat, and got next to the restaurant's patented Bad Child. We got moved out onto the terrace with the flies and a barking dog, but it was much better, except my steak, which was tougher than shoe leather. They're lower down my list than they were...Sharon, if you want to go with us, we'll go again, no trouble at all!

Date: 8/20/06. Sunday. 93678. A breakfast—in which the waitress turned the syrup over on my sausage and eggs: they replaced that. But my score with restaurants continues overnight, apparently. Still, a good breakfast, and onto the road, after extracting Efanor from under the bed. And for the first time in over 70,000 miles of traveling, one of our kitties [mine] had a moment of sanitary...inconvenience. I was the lucky recipient. We had to stop and scrub the place. And me. Sigh. What a day. We reached home and decided to just finish frying the diet by going to Scotty's. Which we did.

Date: 8/21/06. Monday.94449. Back at work, and remember that pound I'd so laboriously lost? Gained it back, and 5 of its friends. But I'll get it off again. We're back on the straight and narrow again. And I think I've finally got a handle on this book. I'm surviving the heat and smoke better than Jane is. She's just falling asleep left and right...and skating? We went to our own rink, and it was absolutely a zoo: the owner was off premises for a day and the rink collected about ten kids in hockey gear who decided to race top to bottom of the rink as if they owned the whole surface, nearly hit me twice, nearly hit Jane, while going backward without looking, and when she told the kid to watch it, a mom in the stands started screaming at Jane, who left the ice to talk to this person. I was unaware of the fracas, having my MP3 going, but when I found out I went to the lobby, and when I heard the whole story, my adrenaline got up. It's got to be the smoke in the air: half the world is fuzzy-headed. We headed home and spent the evening watching "Laughing in the Wind," which is great for a lengthy evening.

Date: 8/22/06. Tuesday. 95162. We spent a tranquil day at home, no ice today. The weight is coming off quickly with the resumption of the diet [one of the nice things about Nutrisystem is that you don't alter your body chemistry to lose weight: you just eat measured portions often.] I'm down a pound. The copepods [live fish fleas] I ordered to feed the mandarin dragonet arrived, and Fedex just left it on the porch...without ringing the bell. Lucky they survived. Then our evening was disturbed by magazine salesmen trying "to win a trip to Hawaii" as a "youth program." Well, Jane didn't know better, and she said maybe, but come back: this of course brought the brigand leader to our door to try to clinch a sale. This time he got me and got packed off---this outfit is a known scam, the mags don't come, and they're long gone. In Oklahoma, there was a scandal as a van full of these kids they con into this dream [and don't pay] wrecked, with fatalities, and people began to realize what they're up to. Never buy from these people. They freight kids all about the country with only room and board, and collect the money and run. The latest twist is that you may not want a subscription for yourself, but you can buy one "for a children's hospital." Who will never see magazines, you'll never know it, and can you imagine how neck-deep in magazines a "children's hospital" would be if they really did as promised? We got shut of them, and then some guy started ringing the phone, over and over, and over. He was foreign, and seemed incapable of believing he had a wrong number. I finally [well, after about once] lost all patience and began just leaving the phone on so he could hear the Mariners' game, and then, after repeated more calls, just flicking Endit the moment it rang. Quel pest! It must be the pall of smoke that hangs thick over the sky, from the Tinpan Fire, the Tripod-Spur Fire, the Flick Creek Fire, 2 in-town fires, and now the Columbia Complex Fire. They've been fighting Tripod-Spur for nearly 2 months and hope to get it contained by October. October! We need rain in the worst way. We bought HEPA filters for the bedrooms and that helps, but this is gruesome. And the Forest Service has declared they're going to let Tinpan and Flick burn as a salutary measure, to take out underbrush. Isn't that lovely? We can't see where we're going and the idiot quotient in town has risen sharply as oxygen-deprived people go at each other's throats, and they're doing a salutary burn. Well, do it in a year that isn't a drought, why don't they? And now your Forest Service wants to do a logging operation [with professional loggers] inside California's Redwood National Park to 'thin out the trees'? First of all, we haven't had a civilization long enough to study how these trees support each other, they reproduce by fire, so there's no benefit to preventing that, and it smells to high heaven, this time not of smoke. FEMA gave us New Orleans crisis management, and right now somebody's political appointee in the Forest Service thinks we should cut down the redwoods and do "prevention" burns in a drought year? Lovely.

Date: 8/23/06. Wednesday. 96173. Well, when your day begins with a hairball on the hall carpet, you know it's going to be one of those. At least the smoke is less today: the wind must have shifted; but I'm sneezing non-stop and I'm not at my best. We're going skating this afternoon in high hopes the rink will be saner..../Considerably saner, as it turned out, and I got a bit of a lesson. I'm starting the 5-step Mohawk and trying not to confuse myself, but exercise and stretching has improved the turnout on my left foot. I'm also working on the start of the spin---got to do a 3 rev spin for one of the tests, and I'm still way too slow for a pull-in to accelerate much if at all. We gave up and went to Scotty's for R and R and a Scotch, and the ball game this evening was a mess.

 Date: 8/24/06. Thursday. 96572. I got up this morning with the headache I'd earned, and decided it was a good day to change out the return pump on the aquarium: it's been a little slower than I like. So up to my elbows in fishy water and hauling electrical cords, but I think the change was a good idea. We tested the cylinders in our fancy ro/di water filter yesterday---took it to the fish store for them to run the Total Dissolved Solids; those are ok. So I've now got to get a water change in order, and managed not to hear the fill alarm, thanks to all the fans we have going, and had the water tub run over...not badly, I sincerely hope. The people downstairs once got our overflow: there's not a real good seal in the utility cabinet between floors: what overflows in ours can run right down the wall in the apartment below. But I've got to do that water change weekly, and we also put dibs on a male mandarin dragonet, who's just too pretty for his own good. He's going to cost us having copepods shipped in, but he'll be a real beauty in the tank. Meanwhile the air is awful. The fires are multiplying across the state, and until the jet stream shifts and we get some moisture in here, it's just going to be like that.

Date: 8/25/06. Friday. 96572 The fires are awful. It's hard even to think when the air is that bad. But I did get over and pick up the mandarin. The female found him, swam right over and did a little 'he's mine' dance. They're so pretty. I spent the day trying to work.

Date: 8/26/06. Saturday. 96572 Trying to get a little clean-up in the apartment in case someone comes over, but no one did. A valiant try at getting some work done. I hate summers. I hate summers. Down in the plains you got the wheat smut, the fungus that grows on dead wheat stalks, and I'm deathly allergic to it, and up here we live in the wheat belt and downflow from the forest fires that plague the state in the summer.

Date: 8/27/06. Sunday. 96572 Mostly work. A little relief from the heat. I tell you I am so tired of fans going constantly I could scream. When I taught, we had no airconditioning [in Oklahoma, in 98 degree heat and 40 percent humidity] and we had to rely on fans, and years of trying to talk above the fans and keep my sanity have not improved my tolerance for them. If there's anything that annoys me, it's fan-racket day and night, day and night.

Date: 8/28/06. Monday. 96563 A quiet day. Looking forward to my birthday, and I'm trying not to blow the diet too badly. We're on that Nutrisystem diet, remember, and you're not supposed to be eating out. I've lost 8 pounds. This is good. And Joan promises us that tomorrow we're going to get actual good ice, without the highspeed hockey kids churning up ruts and going backwards and blind through our patterns. Good ice will let us practice the sustained balance moves that we need to in order to get test-ready this fall. We can't wait.

Date: 8/29/06. Tuesday. 94128 Finally, a really good lesson. I'm finally working on the 5-step Mohawk, the chasse, and a number of other moves I need to learn. We had lunch with Joan, did NOT respect the diet, and I'll be sorry tomorrow, but not today. Joan found a new Mexican restaurant with a chef, not just a cook, and it's really good food. Tecate is the name, not the beer, the restaurant. And Joan and I found out we have the same hair appointment the same day: we agreed I'll take it, since it was coming at a bad time for Joan.

Date: 8/30/06. Wednesday. 95821. Sat out the session today. It's just not worth it for crap ice and overcrowding. I've had it with trying on that stuff. There's something you can gain---practice keeping your feet over ruts and snow---but past a certain point, I'm just not willing to break a leg coping with badly behaved hockey-lets.

Date: 8/31/06. Thursday. 95821 No time today for anything. Hair appointment, chiropractic. Jane got to skate on the good ice, but I had that appointment to keep, and Joan and Jane got to skate. So I sat there in a chair for hours, then dived off to go get Jane about 3 miles away. She came in her skates and gear and changed in the car---right on Ash Avenue---well, a matter of de-skating and shinnying out of the tights and into the workout pants. So off we went for a chiropractic appointment which Jane sorely needed, and our usual burger and shake at Cougar Country. Not on the diet, but so-o-o good. Tomorrow's my birthday, and there's no hope of diet.

Date: 9/1/06. Friday. 95821. My birthday, which is getting up there in too many candles for a cake. Spent kind of a slow morning, not getting any work done, wishing there were something a little birthday-ish to do---which didn't include getting my foot run into by a shopping cart at Costco, as happened when we made a must-have run. I was getting a little down by then. I resist getting older. But Jane suggested we go over to the winery that sits, oh, about half a mile from our apartment: we've never been there. We ended up getting a mixed case of some pretty good stuff. It's the Latah Creek Winery, and the Chardonnay and Merlot are good. The huckleberry wine is a novelty, but fresh and nice. And we packed that in the car and went off to dinner at Scotty's...Jane's getting to where she doesn't like Chardonnay, prefers Scotch, and Scotty's is one of the few places in this end of town where you can get decent Scotch, as in, Single Malt. Well, guess: Scotty's had run out of her Scotch. So the birthday party consisted of a plate of jalapeno poppers, a plate of chili nachos [we've taught them to make these], Chardonnay and Captain Morgan's and Coke. Not quite what we'd hoped, but hey, we still had a good time. And thank you so much, you folk of Shejidan, who sent me all the cards and well-wishes and the very nice gifts. Ever so much appreciated!

Date: 9/2/06. Saturday. 96721 Well, the weight is naturally up a bit---like a pound. Time to behave and get back on the diet for sure. And get some work done. Party's over for a while. The mandarin is flourishing. I had one emergency, where the finger-coral fell out of its niche onto the blueberry staghorn coral and whitened a tip that's been all summer growing: I could just spit. I was up before full light on a ladder, up to my armpits in salt water getting that straightened out. I'm so irritated about that coral tip. Naturally I broke a few arms of the finger-coral, but they'll grow. For the most of the day I just settled down and tried to work. After a brief flirtation with cool temperatures for my birthday, we're heading back into the 90's again. Sigh. And the fires are still not out, and the smoke is still staining the sky, so the windows go shut and the fans go back on.

Date: 9/3/06. Sunday. 97102 Dieting and working. The good news is, the book is flowing again. I'm making great progress. I'm happy.

Date: 9/4/06. Monday. Labor Day. 97912. Got the news that Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, died---stingray barb, just swimming by it. The creature apparently zigged to dodge a cameraman and Steve caught it---really big ray, and a flip of the tail that's instinctive, no attack at all, just a twitch. I feel so badly. He was one of those people that just made you smile. All that flap about him and the baby---witnesses who were on site say there were precautions and safety people all around, and what just makes me furious is that at a time like this CNN had to go raking that up again. What do they think their pious flap is going to do to that kid, who is going to grow up with all that in the background? They and all the people-with-an-agenda have done more harm to Terri and that child and the little girl with their selfrighteous 'concern' than anyone but that kid will ever know, and their bringing it up right in the moment just makes me sick.

Date: 9/5/06. Tuesday. 97102 I am just so glum. At least the media have now stuck a finger into the wind and figured out that a lot of people are really upset about this, so they've changed their tone. I was really going on the book and this has me just way depressed. I went skating. That's at least guaranteed to lift my spirits. But I'm stiff and sore, to boot, so it was kind of an iffy skate. On the positive side, I've lost another pound.

Date: 9/6/06. Wednesday. 97102 Still having trouble concentrating. I'm trying to get my rhythm back. I stayed home from skating to try to get my head straight and get some work done. Got a shipment of live copepods to feed the mandarins.

Date: 9/7/06. Thursday. 97102 Work. That's all I can say. Work. I've got to get going again. Back on the ice, and back at the keyboard.

Date: 9/8/06. Friday. 98281 Lost the male mandarin. I have not a clue what happened to him. Bummer. The female seems fine. There is a kind of period of hazard after putting a new fish into the tank, so I suppose that's what happened, but that's that for mandarins. If the female continues to thrive, great, but two may be too many for the tank, and I'm not going to push it.

Date: 9/9/06. Saturday. 99017 I can see the end of this book, now. I know where we are. I know what's going to happen down to the finest detail. I can all but taste it. I want time off to work on it, and I have to get the taxes done and the accounts figured out.

Date: 9/10/06. Sunday. 99531 Working hard. I mean, I always work hard, but a lot of time that's headwork. This time the fingers are working too, and I'm making headway. I'm really getting excited.

Date: 9/11/06. Monday. 100286 Up early to get some work in. I did skate, and came back and hit the keyboard again.

Date: 9/12/06. Tuesday. 101022 It's flowing, in the way things haven't in months. I feel good about this. I'm anxious to get to the keyboard, and my weight has dropped another 2 pounds. That's all good.

Date: 9/13/06. Wednesday. 100712. Erase a bit, write a bit. Work, work, work and more work. Words are happening. I'm not doing much else, except getting to the rink so that I can work the kinks out and get the brain to relax. And things are going well there, too. I'm starting to really get my feet under me—though I need the skates sharpened: I'm starting to skid a bit on the turns.

Date: 9/14/06. Thursday. 101285 Good day. I'm really closing in on the end of this book. Got up early to get at it. Jane's going to help me with taxes this month—I usually handle the operational end of it and she does the accounting, but she's going to learn the forms and the reports, and that will be a heck of a lot of help. I get so emotionally upset when I have to do the forms and make the payments—it's a great distraction when I have to buckle down and do math, which is a real headache for me.

Date: 9/15/06. Friday. 102711 Had the most wonderful skate. I really got the knee bend thing down low, and at the end of the session decided the real secret to the backward edges was “squat and scrape”, very deep kneebend and a heck of a push with the other foot's sideward edge, knees knocked for a split second. It's something Joan has been trying to teach me. It's a finesse, that squiggle-push on the edges, and it looks very polished, and is harder, but once I realized it puts more power in the shove, I became all for it and asked Joan to teach me to do it. One of my big nightmares in contemplating testing is getting out there with a weak push and having to do a secondary shove to get myself on through the loop. This method shoves you along with power enough to really get into balance, and no matter it slows me down learning it, I want it. As I told Joan: I'm no 110 pound wisp, and anything that gets me into motion, I'm for. In the same vein, Joan has also decided I should learn to stop by some recognized maneuver, like a snowplow. This is not easy, for someone who is not a 110 pound wisp, but I think I've got the notion of it. It's going to take some time before I can stop in a shower of ice-flakes, but I can manage a small scrape on the ice at a modest speed. Jane got the accounts settled and we got the taxes in and I'm not frazzled and out of sorts: that feels so good. I don't know why I feel so emotional about numbers: sometimes it throws me back to the second grade, when our [overdue for retirement] teacher, a remarkable woman with purple hair, used to prowl the aisles as we did our math exercises, whack the back of our chairs with a yardstick if we were going too slow for her taste, and bring it down on our heads or shoulders if she spotted a wrong, couldn't have a thing to do with that. I hate math with deadlines, and taxes are math with deadlines...

Date: 9/16/06. Saturday. 103198 Finished with the book! I got through about noon, and decided to do nothing but play video games for the rest of the afternoon. I think I'm happy with the book.

Date: 9/17/06. Sunday. Cyteen 2:Outline: 23829. Just taking it easy, starting back to work on the Cyteen follower. I decided the celebratory dinner should be at Scotty's, rather than the [higher calorie] Tecate's, and today rather than Monday. So we went out, had nachos, and drank too much. Really relaxing felt good.

Date: 9/18/06. Monday. 23829. Pretty good skate, but the ice was rough and I couldn't quite get the balance I had Friday...couldn't be a thing to do with the wine last night, no, surely not. I had a short lesson with Joan, who says my back edges have improved enormously since last week—she's delighted with that, and my back runout was really doing well. The stop is also improving. I often refer to myself after a mistake in lessons as “bear of little brain”, but as I said to Joan today, “the bear can be taught!” We also caught Larry, who does the skate sharpening, and everybody loaded Larry down with skates to be sharpened. Since we live near him, we got ours and got Colleen's to bring back to her the next morning.

Date: 9/19/06. Tuesday. 23829. Had a lesson with Joan, which went pretty well, but the right leg started giving me fits, muscle tear and knee spasms. I kept having to stop to get the knee settled down, and I left the ice early. Jane had a molar break, and had to go to the dentist, so I attended the fish tank, called my mum in Texas, talked to my brother, and printed off the outline so I can hand-mark it. Thank goodness I had a well-written outline before I broke the project off last year about this time, due to a misunderstanding between my publisher and my agent---who told me my publisher wanted me to change books; and I did. It's a very detailed outline, though it doesn't go all the way to the ending. I'm going to have to boot this book up and continue the train of thought interrupted last September---remember? The project that was only going to take 3 months? Meanwhile the skimmer on the fish tank has stopped working, and I'm going to have to go elbow-deep in sump muck tomorrow and see if I can get that going. If I can't, I'm going to have to plumb in a new one. Just what I love: fishy sewer detail.

Date: 9/20/06. Wednesday. 23829. The skimmer turned to need a new pump, or the old one cleaned, which means vinegar. You can clean any pump or such by running it in vinegar water, and if you leave a little vinegar in, it won't hurt a salt water tank at all, just give a minor bump to the ph. I was really glad to save the funds---it's 300 for a skimmer. Meanwhile I have great plans to read the current book on the coming trip to Seattle for Foolscap, an sf literary convention, so that I can get the changes input and get this book off for deadline. So I'm packing, printing, packing, fixing the fish tank—so, so glad not to have to leave that to chance and a new system. And I am making ro/di water—a highly filtered sort of water that comes through a membrane in a pricey filter: you can get it at your local Walmart or general store, in those machines that stand in the lobby or the kiosks, etc, but I wouldn't drink it: it's been stripped of all nutrients. Good for salt water: we put all the minerals [and salt] back in before putting it in the tank. So I've got that set up, got the autotopoff to handle evaporation [about a gallon a day] which cools the tank, with all those pumps running, and that will keep the salinity proper while I'm gone and keep the ph regulated by adding buffer [glorified baking soda] to the topoff water. If you've never thought about it, you don't top off evaporation with salt water on a salt water tank, or you'd end up like the Dead Sea, with very high salinity [salt doesn't evaporate.] I don't run a filter on my tank, but I do have the protein skimmer, and that's still not working up to snuff. I don't know quite what to do about it. But that's going to have to wait. We're also bringing the two-ton camera, because Jane needs to take some notes for a story, and we're going to go on an old-Seattle photo binge.

Date: 9/21/06. Thursday. 23829. Sharon came blazing over early and we got off to a start, but Sharon's had a family health crisis, the seriousness of which multiplied as we got started—she decided to go ahead anyway, there being no help she could be at the moment except to coordinate things and people by phone, but that meant she had to do a lot of phone calling to try to get everyone where they need to be. Sharon was already exhausted when we started, and this didn't help her at all. So we got on toward Seattle and used the gps to find our hotel up in Bellevue. We set up the cats at Jane's brother's place. And we went out to dinner at a private house, guests of the convention, after a signing at the University Book Store. That went way late, and poor Sharon is meanwhile still calling family and trying for updates on a situation which is now both more serious and better than it was when it started. When we did get checked into the hotel, it turned out they'd booked us onto the 7th floor of the Sheraton as requested, but into a very small room. We were able to get Sharon shoehorned into it by setting the chairs atop the dresser, but it didn't seem a night on which Sharon needed to be by herself, the way things were going. During the check-in, while I had been trying to signal Sharon and Jane in the car that there was a crisis in the room situation, they'd rented the one room that was Sharon's option. Her room doesn't come due until tomorrow. So there we are. I haven't mentioned—the horrid smell in the lobby. They call it a 'scent machine.' It smelled as if there was something large and dead buried under the floorboards and covered up with bad incense.

Date: 9/22/06. Friday. 23829. By morning Jane and I awoke both suffering from the 'aromatherapy.' We left Sharon to the start of the con and sleep, which she badly needed, and more phone calls, and Jane and I went off to the hill and the Arboretum—which turned out to be closed for the hours we could possibly be there. So we went to the Conservatory, and up to the Asian Museum, and the old reservoir and water tower, which pertains to Old Seattle. If you're ever in Seattle, don't miss the Seattle Underground Tour, which has to do with the Great Fire of Seattle, and the fact they knocked the cliffs down to level the streets and covered up some of the early rebuilding efforts: it became opium dens, basements, and just general color of a sort you won't believe. I can recommend a book: “The Sons of the Profits,” which is available in the shop at the end of the Underground Tour, and it is absolutely one of the funniest books I have read in years. It's about the founding of Seattle. Well, Arthur Denny, who stars in the book, is buried in the Old Cemetary at the top of that hill: we visited Mr. Denny, just to see if we could find one of the Founders, and also happened across the burial sites of Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee, who are not far away—those being covered in flowers and frequently visited by pilgrims. We got back to the convention after a satisfactory morning, and I started to work and earn my keep. We did get to see our old friends Betty and Maelyn, in the weekend, and that was great. Jane has to go to her brother's place, this evening not only because of her throat, but because she has to take her brother to the airport to get to Hawaii, poor dear. I had a great time—a lot of book readers at this con, congenial people, and if it hadn't been that I was about to lose my voice to the aromatherapy, and the fact that everything on the menu seemed to involve onions [I'm allergic and so is Jane] things would have been great. Seems as if every time we turned around, there were onions—the restaurant attached to the hotel is an Azteca, so you may imagine. I can stand them just occasionally and very little, Jane not at all, and so the news that this was where we had to eat most of our meals was a problem. And by now Jane had a raging sore throat, and by the time she went back to her brother's place: she was really suffering from the aromatherapy, and had to leave the convention and the hotel for as long as possible. I was nearly with her, re the throat. Sharon was just exhausted, but impervious to the scent in the air, at least as regarded her throat.

Date: 9/23/06. Saturday. 23829. The convention complained, and the hotel said they could 'dial the scent down' but not turn it off. Lovely. But we soldiered on. Jane appeared after noon. By Saturday night, I was sick—major stomach cramps from the onions I'd had, so I took to my bed and missed my last panel and the parties, including the Scotch tasting. Sigh. And nobody asked Jane to that party [though she'd been standing right beside me when the invite was issued], so she didn't get to go either, and I wouldn't have gone without her. Bummer. The convention panels were good, but I just couldn't manage the last one. I think I went into this too tired, and Sharon, who ended up rooming with me, with the furniture still on the bureau-top, was spending all her spare time on the phone...what a weekend. And one poor convention-goer got something—onions, I think—included as a surprise in a food item and the con had to call 911, with EMTs and IVs and the whole nine yards, poor fellow, as they carried him up from the lower section of the hotel. I was at least having a better evening than that.

Date: 9/24/06. Sunday. 23829. The hotel, pointedly asked by the convention not to use onions in every dish in the banquet, created some dishes without—and bedded the items on, you guessed it, onions. They even put onions in the rice. Meanwhile they were having a beauticians' convention in the rest of the space, complete with models who looked odder than anyone in our costume contest---sort of like racoons, in red and white plaid miniskirts, with a walk like GI's going through deep swamp. And now that the the convention was a lame duck and outbound, the hotel cranked the scent up, this time smelling like something dead on the beach—I think it was supposed to be 'sea air.' But we over all had a great time. The convention folk were great. The hotel was, well, the agency of my problems. Sheraton is not my favorite hotel chain. We didn't go to the last eat-out dinner: I had just had all the food misadventures I could manage, and the name of the proposed restaurant sounded like more Mexican food—which I generally only eat when I'm home and near my medicine cabinet. So we went on back to Jane's brother's place and apologized to the cats for our desertion. Ysabel was so glad to see me she didn't even bite my fingers...her usual comment on my absences.

Date: 9/25/06. Monday. 23829. On the road again. We're quite the carful: Jane is still sick, has a horrid sore throat: she's driving. Sharon's still mopping up phone calls and schedules, which are now, indeed, looking much better; and I'm finally reading my manuscript and taking furious notes, which are many—a truck becomes a bus, and various changes. I liked it being a bus much better. Plus I had some time coordination to watch, and had to fix that. We were so tired by the time we got home that Sharon just took off to her place and left her laundry by mistake. We were too tired to get in the car and take it to her.

Date: 9/26/06. Tuesday. 23829. I slept. I slept a lot. And then hit the keyboard and started inputting changes. I read the rest of the Deliverer manuscript to Jane, and input some more, late into the night. And decided, the tank having survived, to do a little fixing in the sump. Well, of all things, a little red and white wiggle showed in the flashlight underneath the sponge that protects the major pump intake. We'd lost the original Teacake, back in, what was it, June? And replaced her. Well, I shut down the pump, got the net, hauled the pump out, and netted all the bottom debris. And there was Teacake! The vigorous wiggle said she was alive and fighting. I returned her to the main display tank and she shot for the bottom, nestling in with Teacake 2, which I think we should call Poundcake: she's that much bigger; while Raspberry, the male, hovered above. I fed: and Teacake came out and ate, voraciously—talk about will to live! Stuck in a 2 inch crawlspace in the dark for 6 months, and here she is. So long live Raspberry, Teacake, and Poundcake. I have three highfin red-striped gobies.

Date: 9/27/06. Wednesday. 23829. Or 111328 on Deliverer, at final count. I got up and input changes all morning. DAW Books has been nice enough to tell me the Real Deadline for this book, past which it will throw the production schedule, and I have sworn I'll make it, but it's going to be tight. And then what do I do? I decided to be sure Teacake continued to eat well, so while waiting on the coffee to brew [I'd drunk yesterday's] I got out the Cyclopeeze frozen stick and got the knife from yesterday, and tried to cut it. It resisted. I gave a harder push—and got a rather electric shock as the knife went through the 3rd finger of my left hand, hit bone, and stopped, probably hitting a nerve as well. Well, that hurt. It also bled like crazy. I went to the bathroom, put a waterproof bandage on it, and debated whether to call Jane, who was asleep in her room. I decided not, though I was dizzy and nauseated from the shock of a bone-hit and probably a small artery severed and maybe a nerve. So I went back to the kitchen, got a cup of water to fight the nausea and fed the fish the frozen food and got the Cyclopeeze stick safely back into the box. Then I pretty well had to sit down a bit. Jane waked, and came out to ask what was going on, and she got me some painkiller, trying to talk me into going to the doctor. I said no I'll be fine as soon as the dizziness passes. But opportunely at that moment, Sharon called about her laundry, and Jane having spilled the beans about my finger, Sharon told me in her best professional manner to get my rear down to the clinic and get a tetanus shot. So off I went. They worked me in at the doc's office, and it turned out to be 3 stitches, tetanus/diptheria [that's the way the shot comes], antibiotics, and painkiller, not to mention all the sterilized stuff they have to haul in. I can't wait for the bill. Which will come when they pull the stitches, I suppose. Jane got me, in order, to the pharmacy, to lunch, and home again, whereupon I had to hit the keyboard again and get the rest of the changes choice, when you're on the Real True Deadline. Too many people depending on you. So I did it: I typed, sore finger and all. But Jane, meanwhile, started having her own problems, back troubles and numbness in the lower extremities that just wouldn't stop, whether connected to the sore throat, the aromatherapy, which had her sore tooth kicking up, via the sinuses---or what, we're not sure, and we nearly ended up taking *her* to the ER somewhere around 2am. Nobody got any sleep until 4am.

Date: 9/28/06. Thursday. 23829. I got on e-mail to NYC and got the manuscript in via e-mail, first time I've ever done that. I'll have to follow it with a printed version, but thank goodness for email. Then we had to drive down to Pullman to go to a chiropractor's appointment, Jane having discovered that the Codeine/Tylenol prescription her dentist had given her for the tooth had caused the back pain. Once it wore off, she was fine. So I drove, we got crunched, had our ritual breach of diet at Cougar Country, and drove home. I spent the evening doing absolutely nothing useful and watching Captain Harlock anime.

Date: 9/29/06. Friday. 23829. Jane went skating. I went along and spent my time at the concession stand having 3 lattes. Double. I just was too dizzy what with the antibiotic to be able to skate. Also if I were to hit that hand on the wall I think I'd pass out. So I sat it out. And I got back to work on the Cyteen outline, at least reading over the paper printout and taking notes, and playing Dungeon Seige II, which was about my level of available mental acuity.

Date: 9/30/06. Saturday. 23829. At home and trying to work. Finger's a lot healed, but still way sore, and I'm already tired of those antibiotics—but faithfully taking them. I've had way too much biology to scant that. And we've still got Sharon's laundry.

Date: 10/1/06. Sunday. 23829. My arm has swelled from the tetanus shot: I've got a plaque welt that covers the whole upper arm, and hotter than is remotely comfortable. Getting a little head-work done, at least. Reading and researching and getting my notes together.

Date: 10/2/06. Monday. 23829. The arm is still swollen. I had trouble sleeping last night. I took Benedryl and Advil, and that at least let me get some rest. No skating today, just trying to catch up with things.

Date: 10/3/06. Tuesday. 23829. Third day, the arm is still welted and hot to the touch, and really having trouble sleeping. Back on the ice, however, and doing way better. I'm making some breakthroughs in the backwards gear, being able to go backward on one foot with a nice sense of control about it. I'm still doing the headwork. The stitches are sore, but the finger is clearly healing. My stomach is a mess from the antibiotic. And meanwhile Jane is having crown trouble, and is having to deal with the dentist.

Date: 10/4/06. Wednesday. 23829. The swelling is finally going down. I talked to my mother, who informed me I did that as a child when given a tetanus shot. But at least the effect is diminishing and I won't have it again for years. We were supposed to have a lesson with our junior coach, but she's deep in finals. I still don't have the energy I wish I had, and I run out of steam before Jane does, on the ice. The work, however, is going well: I'm waking up thinking about the book, and this is always an excellent sign.

Date: 10/5/06. Thursday. 23829. The arm is nearly normal. The hand is healing. Still doing research and pulling notes together. Skating went well. Joan's got me doing straightline work, just getting on one skate and going as straight and true down one of the blue lines as you can manage, foot tucked, then swung forward. I can cross in 3 strokes. I'd like to do it in 2. The good news is, I can do it for about 20 feet going backwards, at least on the right foot. The left, well, falls off after about 5 feet. But I'm working on it.

Date: 10/6/06. Friday. 23382. A little cleanup. And a good skate. The arm, at last, looks normal and has stopped being hot to the touch. I'm sleeping at night. This is good. Rain has eluded us. Again. They keep promising. But it never comes. Needles are going brown on the big pine against our balcony.

Date: 10/7/06. Saturday. 23829. Trying to get some work done. Jane is taking over accounts, and this will help enormously: I get incredibly upset when trying to work with figures and balance the account. I wish I were better at arithmetic. Math doesn't bother me: I can read up on string theory and not glitch. I just can't add two and two and get the same result consistently. It goes way back. I missed most of the second semester of second grade sitting in the office in a spat with the teacher and the other part of the semester out with a broken arm—which I think won me enough sympathy to pass the year. This was where I should have picked up my basic math.

Date: 10/8/06. Sunday. 21038. Working in reverse. Really sick of taking medicine. Getting a bit done, however, and the ideas are starting to come. It's feeling good.

Date: 10/9/06. Monday. 22127. Spent the morning working, then went off to the clinic to get the stitches out. That hurt a bit, but not too bad. They'd had to rearrange my appointment, and I'm glad I didn't have to wait any longer: I heal fast, and that was why it hurt as much as it did. It looks pretty good. I told the medicos about the tetanus reaction and they got that onto my medical records.

Date: 10/10/06. Tuesday. 24283. Back on the ice. The finger is fine, minimal scar, except I did in fact cut a nerve, as I'd thought at the time. The side of my finger is numb below the cut. But it's still quite sensitive to pain at the cut, so there's nerve fiber there, no question. I'm trying not to expose the remaining stitch-spots to any bacteria, so I'm being hypercareful. I am now through with that wretched antibiotic.

Date: 10/11/06. Wednesday. 25128. Best day writing I've had in a while. Best day on the ice I've had in a while. Everything went well. I was brilliant, she says, taking a bow.

Date: 10/12/06. Thursday. 26112. Skating was pretty good but there were still a lot of people. I was able to get the waltz jump off the wall, just very cautiously and slowly. When you've got two interested kids watching you, you try not to fall on your behind.

Date: 10/13/06. Friday. 27821. Skating was way overcrowded. School was out for teacher day, and it was completely crazy out there. Sharon says my finger will recover feeling. This is a good thing. But it still hurts. We went with Sharon and Steve to a slideshow and lecture downtown by a chap who was with the Imax expedition to Everest, has done the world's highest peaks with no oxygen supplement, and has some beautiful photography...and, typical of a writer, I can't, while writing my book, remember either his name or the title of his book on his climbs of the various peaks, but it's just out, and ought to be a really good read: he's a good speaker. I'll ask Sharon. We went across the street to the Davenport Hotel, the landmark Spokane hotel, which is a tourist stop unto itself, and had drinks and late supper in the Peacock Room, the hotel bar. The ceiling itself is worth a visit. Not to mention going upstairs to the Doge's Hall—when they renovated, they had to lift that whole room out by crane to protect it, then reinstalled it. It's quite a place, and a real time-trip to visit.

Date: 10/14/06. Saturday. 28171. A good work session or two or three. And in the evening we gathered up Sharon and went to Sri Prasert Thai for an Eastern dance event—a guy whose other work is in Bollywood, the Indian film industry. He was funny and very good. We ate too much Thai food, while we were at it, introduced Jane and Sharon to Black Russians with Captain Morgan's---I avoided them, not wanting a headache.

Date: 10/15/06. Sunday. 29256. Rain! Waking up to rain is the most wonderful thing. It's been since June without it, and now we're getting a good soaking. A bit of work, some house's a good day.

Date: 10/16/06. Monday. 29371. Got the waltz jump off the wall and managed to center my toe loop [still on-the-wall for that one!] We went to lunch with Colleen and Sharon, then came home and blew the day. The Cards/Mets game was rained out, so we sat and watched old Dark Shadows episodes from Netflix.

Date: 10/17/06. Tuesday 29712. First scene complete. It's feeling good. And I really looked forward to skating today, since I'd gotten the waltz jump. Jane ended up asking to take her lesson first, because she was sore and didn't know how long she'd last, so I practiced, and practiced, and about the time I was about ready to leave the ice, Joan came over and asked if I wanted my lesson. Which let me show off my waltz jump and ask what the other jump was I'd been practicing. Toe Wally. And she confirmed I was doing just fine with the waltz jump and then, after watching me do the other jumps, invited me to take both the Toe Wally and Toe Loop off the wall, with her hand to steady me...She said I wasn't far from the Toe Loop...all right, all right: the motions are—for a waltz jump: swing one foot back as you skate forward. Swing-foot comes forward, and the instant it passes your skating foot, the skating-foot 'picks-in', ie, goes up on the toe and engages the teeth you have on the front of a figure blade. This, with the continued motion of the swing-foot, turns you backward on that pick as you straighten the skating-leg and jump: now the swing-foot picks-in as you land, you flatten that foot onto the blade and glide backward as your former skating-leg extends behind you. The Toe Wally goes: outside 3-turn and pick-in with the free foot as you come around, jump, pick-in on the other foot, flatten and glide. The Toe Loop is: inside-edge 3-turn, same motions. So since I'm better on the Toe Loop, looks as if I'm going to have to perfect my inside 3-turn and start working on that off the wall. I never in my life thought I'd be jumping, when I started this sport. I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got off the ice. Jane had a hair appointment, so we rushed to get a few necessary prescriptions, some food, and rushed home so she could take the car off to her salon. We watched the ball game, Cards vs Mets. I don't have a strong favorite between those teams, but it was a good game.

Date: 10/18/06. Wednesday 30044. Working along. Back to the rink. I'm beginning to get the 'feel' of the back outside edge—this is where you go backward on one foot, tilting toward the right or left hand and curving into an arc. You do this with a fierce shove, then free-foot held in front of you, then in back, as you look over your shoulder and move your upper body in the corresponding arc: it feels like balancing with a cliff constantly at your back, but if you just get a hint of the heel down (ordinarily you go backward more on your forefoot), and bend your knee extremely, you become much more stable. It's a graceful move: I don't ordinarily think of myself as a graceful person, but in this sport you become so in self-defense. We came home like good people and had our proper diet dinner, and folded early. Jane's knee is giving her fits: she injured it in the Bloomsday Race last year, and now and again we practice something that hurts. She's got it on ice, and is in some pain. We hope it will be better by tomorrow. We've been watching Project Runway [we liked the outcome on that], and Dancing with the Stars, and the tryouts for American Idol---both Jane and I do music, and we find it an interesting window into personalities under, admittedly, a bit of stress. Mostly of dramatic tv, we watch House, One Tree Hill, and Bones, and that's about it: we're trying to follow Vanished, but keep losing episodes. We tried Gray's Anatomy the other evening, and were aghast: the script must have been put together by committee, we won't even mention the acting, and this is the number one show this season? My own guilty pleasure is Hell's Kitchen. Hope that one comes back.

Date: 10/19/06. Thursday. 30044. Jane's knee is worse, and more than that, we needed to do some phone-calling to New York, not easy to match West Coast business hours and NYC—and get to the rink. So we did that, prudently, instead of going skating, thus solving two problems at once. We didn't do much: Jane had her knee on ice, was taking painkiller for her new dentalwork, and when I have to go into business mode it just fries creativity for the day. So we did some other things that needed doing. This weekend we're going to have to get at accounts again.

Date: 10/20/06. Friday. 30044. Jane decided she could skate, gingerly. And we did, except that Lindsey showed up, and we both had a lesson—Jane, the longer one. I'm working on stability, which involves 3-turn in an arc, to a foot tuck, then push, to a back outside edge on the opposite foot, stepoff, foot-tuck, and repeat. And repeat, and do in both directions. That means sore muscles, but hey, it means burned calories, too. Jane's tooth is continuing to bother her. Real pain. And outside of that, we tried working, and organizing. At least we got the catfood. But I'm in a thinking stage, so work gets done in the head, not on paper.

Date: 10/21/06. Saturday. 30044. Today is the day accounts absolutely had to get done. And we got to them, with fair success. Tomorrow is sort of the start of Jane's birthday celebration: Sharon's coming over. Monday we'll probably get together with the gang at the rink; and Tuesday is Jane's actual birthday. So I got her an early present, a cat carrier for the Bowling Ball Cat, only it seems Ysabel may inherit it: the Beeb finds difficulty getting into it, though he's tried. So we go for another one. We did get a doggie toy carrier [foldable] that should help us get the dishes and other paraphernalia up the stairs when traveling. And I got her a black stuffed cat. She gets a Halloween cat every year. This one was rescued from being a dog toy, but it was black, and way cute, and I think this will suffice. I've searched the internet up and down and not found a good one. I think the manufacturers got burned last Halloween when they made those skanky motheaten scary-cats with the huge removeable eyes, and they didn't sell. So they wrote it down as “black cats don't sell” and didn't make a single one for Halloween this year. That's marketing for you. A mass attack of genius. I hope they'll do better next year.

Date: 10/22/06. Sunday. 30245. Outlining into the next section. Part 2 of the office accounts battle. Cleaning up the house so it's not a disgrace. Getting the dining area clear for p-a-r-t-y. Sharon came over loaded with wonderful things, a lot of beautiful cards from the Shejidan folk, some nice presents, too—Jane was quite overwhelmed and delighted. So much creativity and goodheartedness on the part of our readers: we're very grateful. And Sharon added presents of her own, oh, not to mention the piratical decorations which she brought over. Jane was still dressing, so Sharon and I had gussied up the decor with pirate banners and plates. We decided since we had no cake we would bring dessert home from the restaurant. Well, we went to Tony Roma's, which is a barbecue rib sort of place, and had a lovely dinner [thank you, Sharon] and ported dessert home, because we were stuffed beyond belief. We made thorough pigs of ourselves, and had a great time. I gave Jane one of her presents, a necklace she'd delayed buying at the Jo Williams Tournament: I'd gotten it, right behind her back, and the dealer helped us with a story about it being an out-of-stock item, unavailable, sorry, she'd check the catalog, etc. Everyone at the rink knew the secret but Jane. So now she knows, and it is a very pretty little sparkly.

Date: 10/23/06. Monday. 30382. Back on the ice, slightly hung over; but Jane achieved a milestone: she did her back-outside edges clear across the rink in beautiful form, and I'm so jealous! she said, laughing. I can do my inside-backs somewhat, but not the outsides. This is kind of an interval day between segments of Jane's birthday, but I sneakily got wrapping paper and bows, and we are now prepared for round two. You have to understand: we believe that a birthday shouldn't be just a day—it should be an onward rolling event, several days in which there are gifts and too much to eat and general happiness. Why waste a perfectly good excuse for indulgence?

Date: 10/24/06. Tuesday. 31490. Oh, we were ba-a-ad. I got up at 5am to be sure I got Jane's presents wrapped. I did. And I called literally all over town trying to find a blueberry bundt cake Jane had wanted from a particular grocery chain. No luck. I promised it for Christmas. We got organized, went to the rink—had a little bit of a lesson: Jane had one. She's still celebrating her backward outsides event...and Joan wanted to take us to Tecate's for a birthday lunch. Well, Tecate's waitress decided if this was a birthday, we needed a dessert to start lunch with, plus two highly loaded drinks, and then we had lunch. Way bad. We went home, and sat and digested for a while, opened prezzies, and then went to Scotty's for drinks and the nachos we'd intended. We were not worth much, for sure. Overfed, over-drinked, and just totally blown on the diet. So now we have one more October party: Halloween.

Date: 10/25/06. Wednesday. 31203. Well, after so much debauch, and the knowledge we've got the diet food [two 40 pound packages] and one of Jane's birthday presents coming in today, we decided to wait here for it and not go skating today. I slept past 7:30, which is late for me. And we've got to get that manuscript on Deliverer put together for my agent. And mail Lynn Abbey's birthday present—only a month late. A small trip out—I tell you, seeing this one guy on the roadside was just over the edge: I am so tired of guys [you guess they're guys, but can't be sure] that dress like unmade beds, in tees the size of bedsheets and pants that must be pinned to something, because there's no way they can hang that low without it. Ug-ly. Absolutely ug-ly. Shaved heads. Sacks for clothing, and a cultivated slackjawed look. Oversized tennies and ragged hems and tats placed at apparent random about the body, not to mention the mouth jewelry. I can't wait for this style to be done, stick a fork in it, enough already: it's tired, it's here for a decade already, and beyond boring. Supersize-me at McDonalds', oversized hand-me-downs, and feet the size of Marvin's. I'm for the eras when guys and gals indulged their peacock-factor to the max, wore clothes that fit, paid attention to their posture, and generally looked *good* in glitz even when they weren't built like Adonis. There's nothing wrong with eye candy. I think there should be a world-wide movement to fancy cloth and form-fit and personal hygiene. BTW, and totally apropos of nothing, here's a good website— , a livecam site that puts you at an African watering hole. Worth bookmarking, my friends.

Date: 10/26/06. Thursday. 31203. Galleys came in. Glug. This means work. This means sitting and reading and taking my mind completely out of the Cyteen environment and back into the Foreigner one. I wish there were a way to do a mechanical comparison of their script with mine, but it all has to be done by hand because they won't lend me their file. [Insert howl.] Thank you. I feel better now.

Date: 10/27/06. Friday. 31203. The usual routine: skating, work. Work. Work. Galleys. I hate galleys. I'm trying to get through these as quickly as possible. I was very careful proofing this manuscript [Deliverer] and have to trust that they went into type from my file, and didn't mess things up.

Date: 10/28/06. Saturday. 31203. Trying to get the place cleaned's a zoo. I can't think in this kind of mess. Meanwhile I'm still working on galleys. Jane's not feeling too well. But she is attacking the accounts. Bravely done.

Date: 10/29/06. Sunday. 31203. Galleys are done! Working on stuff that has to get mailed tomorrow. Jane's taking over the accounts has really made my life a lot more tranquil, but the essential round-up of papers still has to be done.

Date: 10/30/06. Monday. 31738. We stayed home from skating to get some essential mailings done...getting some business things handled. And cleaning the place up.

Date: 10/31/06. Tuesday. 32192. Had a nice skate, over all, and really had a nice success or two; I'm working on the waltz jump. But then, back in the locker room, I went to put things up, came back, and Jane, bless her, had stretched the cord from the hairdrier she uses for her boots right across the narrow gap between chairs and lockers. I fell flatout forward, a real face plant, caught my upper lip, on the side, and my right knee, and, thank goodness, missed the next row of chairs with my chin. That was a jolt. I'm moving ok now, though. And Jane wasn't feeling real well. We were going to go out in costume for Halloween, the piratical stuff, but Jane just didn't feel like dressing. She's had a heck of a time with the crown she had done, is almost perpetually on painkillers, and between a stomach upset and whatnot, we decided just to go to our favorite bar and have supper. So we went to Scotty's and had fish and chips. And regretting not coming in costume. So Halloween this year was a bust. There's always next year.

Date: 11/1/06. Wednesday. 32562. Well, I'm not as sore as I thought I'd be. I had a very good lesson with Joan, some real improvement on my admittedly bad stance on forward crossovers. It's nice that Joan is getting critical: just ok won't pass with her, though it might with the judges for a simple pre-bronze test.

Date: 11/2/06. Thursday. 32836. I stayed off the ice today. The knee is swollen and iffy, and I just don't trust myself. Haven't been getting enough sleep, for one thing.

Date: 11/3/06. Friday. 33281. Still off the ice, and the knee is still catchy. I was supposed to have a lesson from Lindsey, and my first strokes across the ice proved that leg still isn't reliable---the whole foot just shaking back and forth, couldn't hold a flat or an edge. I got off the ice before I killed myself. I was just terribly shaky. So I used the time to give me mum the call I'd promised and get the news from Dallas, turned out Jane and Sharon had plotted to go out to lunch at Tomato Street. That didn't take much persuasion. We're eating out way too much.

Date: 11/4/06. Saturday. 33281. Not that much got done today. I was going to do the fish tank up proper, take the frags that are ready for sale to the local fish store, and clean up the tank and move some specimens around, plus clean the skimmer...but Jane reminded me that on Saturdays is when Scotty's has bratwurst for the footballers, and I couldn't resist. Well, I had just about recovered from that when Sharon called saying she and Steve had a coupon for Outback, and there we were, out late and overfed. I feel like a Thanksgiving turkey...personally.

Date: 11/5/06. Sunday. 33698. Staying home and working. Being good. After last night, I really need to be. Jane's taking Theraflu. I hope she hasn't gotten a jaw infection from that tooth. She has a dental appointment tomorrow. I may go with her to be sure she's ok driving home. Meanwhile this place is a mess. Jane hasn't felt well, and I've just tried to stem the tide. I did clean up the living room, and have moved a room divider in, so it can serve as a quasi-arm for our two chaises—it's the dickens to try to find a chair that's both comfortable and that can serve as a workplace at need. So we finally came up with these two armless straight things with a pillow that collapses too much. The lighted divider gives us space to set cups and glasses [not to clutter, I swear] and something to prevent the associated pillows from collapsing. Jane approves [and helped me carry the divider]. So maybe we've arrived at a compromise on the living room furniture. It doesn't look particularly great, but it lets us both see the tv and keeps the pillows from squishing out onto the floor.

Nov 6, Monday. 34366. Rain. Lots of rain. Well, we went back to the ice today, finally. The knee is well, mostly. Jane's barely able to be here, has laryngitis, and I'm doomed: we crossed up cups at the rink, and I had a sip of her spiced tea. Glug, in the first place. And germs, in the second. The ice was completely frosted from the dew in the air, and that gives it a peculiar characteristic. It's frozen very hard, has a topcoat that cracks independently, and picking-in is an adventure: it shatters twice where the pick enters, and you'd better be 'on' or the pick won't take and you'll be on your rear. Edgework is iffy: it's hard to 'carve' the ice or to get a good edge. And where you've been heals over very fast from all the mist in the air. The glass walls are all misted. Very, very strange. Meanwhile, and later, Jane had an appointment with the dentist to try to figure why her jaw has never stopped aching for the last 2 weeks. The dentist said, well, sometimes it's like that, and gave her some exercises for her jaw...which was doing pretty well before the dentist visit, and now less so. By evening she's back on painkillers.

Nov 7, Tuesday. 35231. Election day. The rains continue, and western Washington is flooded, with the Skykomish and the Snowqualmie out of their banks. Jane is sick, really sick, her jaw is killing her, the laryngitis is worse, her ear hurts, her sinuses are misery, she's cross as a hibernating bear, and that's pretty well what she's done—Hibernate. So we didn't go skate, and I stayed and worked. Jane comes out now and again in a grim mood and dives back into the cave. We'd planned to go to one of the election watch parties and enjoy free Chinese dinner [and get hit for donations] and watch the outcome, but she just staggered out around five and pronounced she was feeling a bit better and offered to go out to eat. So we did, over at Scotty's. We watched the elections, and some segments of House first season that she'd gotten via mailorder, and the semifinals of So You Think You Can Dance—Jane's an avid dancer, and really knows what she's looking at. I've finally gotten the picture. It actually helps with skating, because one of the things we have to do is isolate parts of the body and make them behave without throwing everything else. I'm not likely ever to learn to dance, but the skating makes sense: it has to do with velocity and balance that I can feel. I'm absolutely deaf to musical rhythm, except on the ice. Then I have to restrain myself from doing things that I'm just not ready to do.

Date: 11/8/06. Wednesday. 35231. Clear skies. Jane has come out of the den saying she's feeling better. This is good news. Her theory is that the dental visit aggravated the bruised nerve and it will improve. I'm less sure, but I'll get her to a md type doctor if this doesn't clear up soon. She is apparently doing much better, but it had better stay that way. We went to skate, but the ice was just leopardspotted with hard little domes made by drip falling down off the metal rafters. It rains, it snows, it warms, the humidity literally has us skating through fog inside the rink, isolated by fog on the rink glass: it's just weird. Teaches you to bend your knees, for sure. [The skate blade curves, and is fatter near the toe, where that nasty jagged pick-teeth arrangment waits to catch the ice. If you bend your knees, you make a scissor shape with your shoulders erect, and like any good scissor brace, you're more stabler, with your weight resting on your relatively flat heels and mid-foot. Do *not* go out and try this on the ice if you're a beginner, because you're liable to stand straight up if you make a mistake, and being on your heels with your legs straight is a guaranteed pitch backward onto your head! But as you get more experienced, you can 'walk' the blade, moving your center of balance up and down it, even to the point you can pivot on the heel, a maneuver guaranteed to be fatal for a beginner.] I had a session with Joan which kept me from breaking my neck, because I'm still building in that reflex to squat rather than stand when in trouble...Joan keeps me from tipping, just by serving as a vertical reference point at times, because when you're moving, centrifugal force can con you into believing you're straight when you're leaning—look at contestants jumping and leaning way sideways: their ear is probably telling them they're upright. If they do it too much, they go down.] But it's hard work catching yourself constantly or bumping your way over those little lumps. Some of them will pop off if you scrape your blade sideways, some won't. Pick in for a jump and the top layer shales off, leaving your pick unstuck. This is exciting. Sort of like jumping and missing the handhold on the trapeze.//Remember I told you about the site? Addictive. Much of their day is our night, but sometimes night at the waterhole can be interesting. I've seen a rhino that has been more rumor than sighting; I've seen the night shift move on and the day shift run like blazes, as a spotted hyaena strolls onto the scene and sends a last baboon running for safety in numbers. I've heard lions in the bush at night. I've seen a monitor lizard nearly as big as a Komodo dragon. I don't know where he lives, but he was like watching a small dino stroll onto the scene. Beware of getting hooked on this adventure. But if you want a window into another world, try it. And be patient. Visit their forum: you can see pictures of animals others have seen during the last 24 hours.

Nov 9, Thursday. 35829. I had to take Sharon to the airport. She's off for a vacation and an adventure—going to a con in Chicago, and then to have a few days skating with an old friend and fellow competitor. I hope she has a good time. By the time I got back to the rink, since it takes me at least 20 minutes to get into the outfit and get my skates on, there just wasn't enough time to skate much, so I just sat it out and picked Jane up when she was done. She got a lesson with Joan, which she hadn't been able to do yesterday. She says she's feeling way better. Work is going well, too. The story is taking hold and Justin is talking to me again...that's so good. Y'know, this is one of the only professions where you get paid for hearing voices in your head.

Nov 10, Friday. 36117. I'd intended to go skate, but when Jane got up, she'd gotten a deep blister or tissue tear on the side of her foot: the boots are so grippy inside and so laced up that this can actually happen, when you launch yourself with all your strength onto one foot at an angle: tissue parts with tissue, and what she's got is sorer than a boil. So I could have gone solo as Jane did yesterday, but Fridays at the rink have lots of occasional public skaters, meaning lots of small kids who need help, or who dart into your path---they wouldn't do that if they knew how chancy my stopping can be! Ordinarily our rink is a dream, uncrowded, perfect ice---you could pay hundreds of dollars for such ice in bigger cities in the east. And we get it routinely. So when there's a day with a large party coming in, it just doesn't seem worth fighting it, and neither of us is experienced enough to go racing around backwards like Sharon, while watching and predicting where each errant 5-year-old is going to be by the time she gets there. So we stay nearer the wall, do our practice when we have a momentarily clear patch of ice, and survive until the ice just gets too chewed up by all those little rental skates and hockey skaters, and I give up and just help the beginners find their feet. That's ordinarily what we do on Fridays. But I decided writing was going so well I could use a day just with that. When we shut down for the day, we held a reading session over a decent Scotch: Jane was reading from her new book, new characters. Now she has to get back at it so I can hear more of it.

Nov 11, Saturday. 37441. Another off-ice day. We hope to have supper with Joan but haven't been able to get hold of her by phone. So we went over to Scotty's and had the beer bratwurst they have as a football fan special—Jane detests the flavor, but I like it; Jane is quite happy with the chiliburger. And neither of us is into football. I used to be a member of a marching band: and the band and football players and particularly cheerleaders are natural enemies. The football team is why we're sitting in the stand with the trombones pouring antifreeze into their slides and hoping not to swallow any, with one thermos for the whole band [thank you, mum!] and someone covering my absence [1st chair flute] while I duck off the end of the stands and get the thermos filled with more coffee. Football is why I'm spending the next day restoring my white buck marching shoes to something like white, after wading up to my knees in the hogwallow on the 50 yard line [don't ask about the condition of my wool uniform]—when what we all really want to be playing is not “On Wisconsin” or “Boomer Sooner”, but the contest piece that is going to give *us* a little egoboo, thank you, if we can get time off marching drill to practice. Oh, football has memories. A coordinated wheeze from the woodwinds as they introduce the cheerleaders who had to be taken onto *our* bus because their bus broke down. Those gals outswore the trombone players, and that's going some. Football, football. Being formed up and ready to go on the track oval, when a end of clock blitz sends a play into our ranks. Marching in rain, snow, and deep mud. Forming up in ranks to get to our bus alive as some fool on our side antagonizes Penitentiary High's worst elements and death threats have been issued. We put some of our nicer fellow students into the heart of our formation and got them to their cars alive. Ah, football!

Nov 12, Sunday. 37038. Working, believe it or not by the word count. The place is a pit. We seriously need to do accounts, but haven't.

Nov 13, Monday. 37592. The book is going well, never mind the word count. I'm making outline and erasing things. And back to the ice. It ought to be snowing, but it's raining. I want snow. I've been robbed.

Nov 14, Tuesday. 37987. Work and work. The weather remains generally rainy and the rink is absolutely foggy. It's sleep-in weather, and I'd love to, but Ysabel has been a bear. I need to chase her down and get those claws clipped. She and Efanor got into a chase at 3am and the route ran across my bed, and ended up ripping heck out of my arm. I know which cat did that. And why was Efanor in my room instead of Jane's? I have no idea, but I think it involved the shortage of food in the cat feeder.

Nov 15, Wednesday. 37987. Didn't get much done this morning. Skating was so-so. And I had a signing at Auntie's, the local bookstore. It's been raining cats and dogs, so I didn't expect but a handful of people—which was pretty well true, but they were nice folk. Jane opted not to come: she's doing some work on a scene, and there was just no sense in her getting out in the wet. Plus she's not feeling totally spiff. Typically, the store didn't have the first ones of the book they'd asked me to come in and sign. Or the first of most sets of my books, for the new readers that showed up. My apologies to my would-be readers. Frustration for me. And a little embarrassment. But there's not much I can do about it.

Nov 16, Thursday. 38211. Back to the ice. And I actually had a pretty good skate. I've discovered something: I don't skate forward as well as I ought to, meaning that I can do turns and a jump and all of that, but plain skating is something that just doesn't get covered unless you take a stroking class. So I'm going to try to increase my speed and steadiness on that, given any kind of good ice.

Nov 17, Friday. 38821. A lesson with Lindsay, finally, after every attempt to have a lesson has ended in a re-schedule for the last couple of weeks, it seems. Lindsey did some correction on the fast-skating—some safety finesses, like lifting the middle of the blade first—figure skates have hazards at either end, from the picks in front, to the long flat tail that has to be kept out of the way of your other foot. You skate by shoving sideways with your heel, and I was lifting the heel first and just being careful not to let the pick trail and hit the ice [guaranteed arse over teakettle]. She said, in effect, level the blade as you lift, and you're safer. This is good. My speed is increasing. One of the things that happens in taking figure lessons—you go straight into edge-work, and learning to control that U shaped groove on the bottom of your skates, getting from the inner to the outer edge. The result is, you may not learn how to skate forward down the center as well as you ought, because all your ice time is practicing the finesses. So we're catching up on some missed elements, and I think this will be good.

Nov 18, Saturday. 39160. Jane's still under the weather. And we made our weekly pilgrimage to Scotty's for bratwurst. They do real potato chips, ie, slice a potato thin and deepfry. Can you believe I'm still keeping my weight down. That was good. And...I committed tang. I've been researching this particular type for a couple of weeks, because we've got a macroalgae problem in the salt tank, and the urchin hasn't been able to do it in singlehanded. I tried a saltwater molly—which turns out to eat only filamentous algae from up on the outflow tube. I've tried Phosban, an iron compound which absorbs what fertilizes the algae. I've started emptying the skimmer basket religiously. But we have an algae problem. So I decided I've got to get a fish that eats it, and something less rambunctious than that rabbitfish that gave us so much grief catching him. I decided a yellow tang would be small enough to survive in the tank, at least until our next move, and went down to the store with that in mind. I exited with, instead, a much pricier purple tang that has a history. He belonged to somebody who had him in a 75, he has some scars, but he's quiet and very similar to the yellow: has a purple body, a yellow tail, and yellow nostrils, and is very laid back for a tang—the species is armed with a sharp spike on the tail and can be aggressive. The purple is alleged to be aggressive, but so far so good.

Nov 19, Sunday. 40292. Progress. We've decided to do accounts during Thanksgiving break. The days continue rainy, and we'd like snow, thank you. The tang is doing very nicely, and is completely calm, eating like a pig. The urchin, feeling its job threatened, has dashed across the tank and through the rock maze to chow down on the largest clump of macro algae. The tang is much more leisurely about its attack on the problem, but that long nose can get where the urchin can't. This may be a good team. And while I'm all for quarantine, I didn't in this case: this fish has been in-store and local for years, and my tank has been through its bout with ich and it doesn't manifest, so yes, I took a risk, since all my other fish are ich-resistent and the tang is healthy as a horse. I could lose big. I'm gambling on my ability to spot it fast and deal with it before it becomes a real threat...while the threat to my corals posed by that wildly growing algae is real and imminent. Something's got to be done, and that's the fish to do it.

Nov 20, Monday. 41023. Had a lesson with Lindsey, and then Joan showed up, so I had two lessons—a full hour, while working on forward speed and backward edges. It's something, when you exit with a sore backside from sheer exertion. The weight is not doing badly, either, re the diet, but we've resolved to go back on Atkins. Nutrisystem is a good weight loss system, but for us, who have gotten down to pretty active muscle, Atkins seems better: our medical tests bear that out. We have phenomenally good semi-annual test numbers while on Atkins, and only so-so on the more 'balanced' and low-fat diet of Nutrisystem. It's just the way our metabolisms work. I think the two diets in alternation are a good 'take it off and keep it off' yin and yang. We'll go back to Nutrisystem after a few months, then back to Atkins, etc. And we plan to observe the portion-control philosophy we learned on Nutrisystem, when applied to Atkins. There is no free lunch when it comes to big portions...that wisdom has finally sunk in. You feed the person you wish to be, and for me, that means no helping of any one thing larger than my fist.

Nov 21, Tuesday. 41866. The ice was absolutely miserable today. We're at least steadier on bad ice than last year, but it hurts when you have to bounce your joints over really rough ice, like roller skating on graveled concrete. Just wretched. We left early, headed down for a chiropractic appointment through fairly steady rain, and stopped by the dance shop to pick up on their sale. I got a (shudder) black outfit I plan to improve with color. I'm going to get some red trim and see if I can get it to attach without tearing fabric. Up the arm is going to be a challenge, but I think I can do it. And then of course I found the blue number I knew I'd bought at the summer sale, but couldn't find. So I will have some alternatives. I'm beginning to lose weight where I've long wanted to, around the waist, so I may wear these without the jacket, and a little glitz will be a good thing.

11/22/06 Wednesday. 42122. The usual, but we're trying to revise our schedule to do a little more late afternoon work, and this should be good for both of us. The ice was better, but not much. And I'm getting Lindsey to work with me on speed, trying to get just a little steadier and more confident at high velocity. Lindsey's very fast, and she's given me some good pointers, like lifting the center of my skate, so there's no chance of hitting a pick, and general stuff about posture. This will help. I'm tired!

11/23/06 Thursday. 41023. Trying to get my rear in gear to do some cleanup around here. But snow is upon us, and I feel just like going into the cave and sleeping for a while. I love the snow. I truly, really love it. Sliced out a good section of outline, which is dead weight, once the novel is taking shape.

11/24/06 Friday. 41384. Erasing and going forward. This is actually progress.

11/25/06 Saturday. 41902. Sharon joined us for lunch, first time we've had time to get together in a while. Steve hit a deer, or rather the deer hit Steve, and the truck is pretty banged up. Luckily Steve and his passenger weren't: the deer, needless to say, fared badly. The hazards of travel up here in the north: you're driving through woods, between high banks, and even when you're watching, you can find yourself in trouble. We're glad Steve's ok. A collision like that, that goes through the windshield, can be lethal.

11/26/06 Sunday. 42081. We just hunkered down and worked, mostly. Very little else. We're watching old Dark Shadows episodes in the evening, combined occasionally with House, or Nero Wolfe. We own the disks. Love it.

11/27/06 Monday. 42386. Skating went pretty well today—until Jane took a backward fall. She really did it up proper. Thank goodness for helmets. When Sharon came into the locker room and said Jane'd had a bad one, I believed it, and went outside to check, but she was on her feet and talking with Joan [our coach] and it looked as if she was going to be all right. She came home and hit the bed and stayed there, and I'm keeping a careful eye on her. I think she may be a bit concussed. Certainly she's going to be sore.

11/28/06 Tuesday. 42638. Jane's still sleeping a lot. We didn't go skate today, just stayed in and worked. I've looked up concussion on WebMD, and this sleeping business is not optimum. Besides the sleeping, she's got whiplash on the front of her neck and gut, both: when you fall like that, your head literally bounces, and when you try to save yourself, you try to curl, and the gut muscles get torn. It was an airborne flat-out backward fall. I'm glad I didn't see it. The description is bad enough.

11/29/06 Wednesday. 43102 Again we stayed home, missing a lessson, and Jane's better---sore, still, but improving, but now says she thinks the jolt knocked loose a sinus condition, because she's just having a wretched time with that. She's at least not sleeping all day, and she's able to get some work done. I did take some frags in, and brought Jane a firefish, which she'd wanted, to replace the one the wrasse ate. The purple tang is thriving. And I got a couple of new pieces of rock to try to force the confounded mushrooms up and onto that, so I can take them in and trade them.

11/30/06 Thursday. 43576 Again, snowing, icy, and we just decided safer is better. Jane's not steady even yet. So here we are laying out practically a whole week of skating. We're determined to go tomorrow.

12/1/06 Friday. 44102. Well, we made it to the rink, and Lindsey came in, bless her. This gave me the chance for a few minutes while Jane was warming up, and then Linds could steady Jane to make sure she's solid on her edges. Now Jane admits she was having fuzzy vision as well. Ha. I knew she was concussed, and the sinus condition has now involved both upper sinuses...isn't that lovely? I was a little wobbly myself, but I've begun working on a new lacing that I think will let me settle my feet in my boots better. What isn't apparent if you only rent skates---the better boots have what's called a 'pocket', or depression, one for the ball of the foot, one for the heel. It's more illusion than substantial, in a certain sense, because if you reach your fingers in, you can't feel it. Just your feet know it's there, and if your feet settle into those two 'pockets' your steadiness is so amazingly much better it's hard to describe. It's like having been on a tightrope and discovering you have a socketed foothold that will give you leverage to exert pressure, or rock from one side to the other. Well, this lacing will help my feet settle, and it was so amazing that they did, so quickly. You'll see skaters walk around bowlegged, bouncing on the edges of their feet, etc, and that's all to get the feet settled. Jumpers often lace painfully tight, and can't wear their skates over a length of time, so they have to have tricks to get settled in. And Linds gave me an exceedingly valuable piece of information: exactly where on the foot [i.e, inside heel approaching an inside three-turn, to inside base of big toe during turn, outside base of pinky toe coming out, and the reverse, on an outside three-turn]. This is gold, pure gold. It makes sense to me in an anatomical way, so I can feel what I'm doing at foot level, not just aligning the body and hoping to get out alive. It's amazing how steady you can be going backward on one foot and on an edge, once that edge cuts in deeply. Now if I can just coordinate the rest of my body---

12/2/06 Saturday. 44474. Just lazing through work today. It's snowing mostly at night. Frozen solid and in the teens after dark, so you don't want to go driving after that happens. We went over to Scotty's for the usual Saturday bratwurst, didn't have their best cook on. Sigh. Otherwise, just working, mostly on the tank. I fragged the monster montipora foliosa, which meant taking it out to the kitchen counter and using brute force. It left a nicely shaped base attached to the rock, so it will heal and regrow, and about 4-5 other people will have a piece of my coral in their tanks. That's modern coral-keeping, much less about divers taking things off the reef and much more about propagating and trading. This stuff in particular is very fast-growing and within a year will probably be in 20 tanks. Then 80, by 2008. If we didn't have new reefers occasionally losing a piece, who knows where it would stop?

12/3/06. Sunday. 44474. Today I went Christmas shopping, from my chair, coffee in hand. I got my brother's birthday present, and ordered a number of things, then targeted what I want to get for several other people. It took a while, but I am not exhausted, and I did not use half a tank of gas and lose my temper doing it. Also, if one 'store' was out of stock, you can just move on to where it is. Hints for successful online holiday shopping: don't buy important gifts from little companies—they often run out and then fold their tents and go away forever, leaving you with no gift. If you have someone who's hard to get for, for whom the request is clothes, get their gift from a major online company that's got a brick-and-mortar store near the recipient so they can trade for size and fit. Get it wrapped. That way if the package accidentally gets into the wrong hands, it will keep its secret. And one of the best sources, if you haven't tried it, is Good prices, reliable delivery. Ever gone shoe-shopping at There's a trip. If it exists, they have it. I leave the malls at this season to those who enjoy physical combat. I just want to see it, get it, ship it, and that solves my problem of so much of my gift list being scattered across the country: I can buy, wrap, and ship it all at the same time.

12/04/06. Monday. 44311. Doing more trimming of the manuscript. And back to the rink for a lesson with Joan, and a really good day. I'm learning some things that would absolutely kill a beginner on rental skates...learning to really go over on my edges and make them grip. The stance is scarily back on your tail, and a good lean, but the secret is—and don't try this without a helmet on—you bend the knees deeply and step hard onto the inside or outside of your heel going forward, or inside or outside base of the outer toe going backward. This means sitting down while you skate, literally, and it was truly amazing. This is the first time Joan has really asked me to use that posture, after 2 years of instruction, [remember I'm tall, and no wisp] and I think it means she finally trusts me not to break my neck. It's just night and day, in terms of grip on the ice, but if you should lose your concentration and straighten up, you'd go arse over teakettle. I'm also doing a new lacing on the boot tops, which means a hard haul on the first hooks coming up from under, and lacing all the other hooks going down from overhead. This sets my foot much better into the 'pockets' these boots afford, and that means control of the fine muscles in my feet. Amazing. On the home front, we dropped by Scotty's for fish and chips, and I spent the rest of the day thinking on what to do next on the book...the sort of thing that doesn't produce word count. We were supposed to get a new snowstorm today, and didn't. I'm disgusted.

12/05/06. Tuesday. 44311. Still wretched air. I've done a printout of the book and outline, because there's just a point you need to be able to hold fingers in two or three places in the pages and flip back and forth—a function the computer just doesn't do well. Working on a long manuscript on a computer gives you tunnel vision and sometimes you need to spread out and see where you are and what information is potentially duplicated, and Search won't do it. One day somebody will invent a contextual search, one that can actually parse the sense of the information for duplications, but nobody's done it yet for a word processor. So you won't see the word count move, but I'm working. I'm not numerically gifted, and can't remember numbers easily—witness I had no trouble recalling Grant's alphabetic sequence, ALX, but could not for the life of me recall the 972. Grant, I will assure you, would have no trouble recalling it. Skating went fairly well. I stayed near the wall and just worked and worked on turns, trying to run out backwards and in balance. I keep falling off to the inside, and I've tried most everything to fix it, and can't figure what I'm doing wrong. Keeping the inside hip 'up' is essential, but even doing that isn't working: I should be able to take a step after, and the body just can't manage the step, no more than it can fly. I just couldn't figure out what I'm not doing.

12/06/06. Wednesday. 44311. More work with the printout. The air is just wretched. There's a big gray blot on the weather map over our entire region, and I'm taking decongestants and Benedryl, more than I ought, just to get to the rink able to function. I did get a chance to ask Joan what I'm doing wrong, and the answer is 'hand position.' I have a hand flying back when it ought to stay in place after the turn, and if it stays in place, it solidifies the shoulder position, and keeps your back muscles solid, which, in turn, enables you to keep the hip up, continue the glide, and then step off onto the opposite edge to do the whole thing going the other way. It is nearly impossible to restrain that hand from movement. But I have an idea. The air, meanwhile, was so bad I didn't stay on the ice a very long time, and we were bad coming home—stopped at Scotty's for fish and chips, which I morally needed in the worst way. Yeah.

12/07/06. Thursday. 44311. And still slow going with the printout. We got put together and headed down to the parking lot to go to the rink, and on the steeply sloping asphalt there was a patch of ice right behind the car. I had on my good stable boots with the bottom tread, and only skidded a foot or so, but that was a wakeup. I was careful on the hill down from our lot. The trees were all frosted, and so was the grass, off across snowy meadows. It was a pretty drive over to Eagles. And my idea worked. I wore a neck scarf onto the ice, and when practicing my turns, I took it off and held it stretched between my hands at the proper interval. I did my turns and maneuvers that way, and the balance stayed, and the arm is learning its necessary position. Had a session with Lindsey, which went pretty well, and then went out to lunch with Sharon and Lindsey. Sharon had to rush off for a dental appointment in the Valley, and we asked her over afterward. She came over all numbed up, but not numbed in the right places. She'd found a patch of ice of her own, and gone down on a knee and a hand—the hand being the more worrisome, with soreness in the wrist. We watched an episode of House, and her numbness wore off, while she iced the sore spots—she went off home, and we watched old episodes of Dark Shadows, being unaccountably exhausted: it's probably the air. Oh, for a good breeze to clear this stuff out!

12/08/06. Friday. 44311. Major breakthrough on the skating! I spent the whole two hours working with the scarf, and eliminating bad arm position as a source of problems with the backward runout from the 3-turn. And after I had gotten my posture corrected, I hit it with a very deep kneebend, and all of a sudden it was as if my back edge was 'locked' into stable position by my weight and the angle of my knee. I was so stable I could have been standing on flat ground, while going backward on an arc. And of course I made this discovery immediately before time was up. But I have to get back at this Monday! I'm excited! The backward runout is critical to all backward edges, the exit from jumps, from the mohawk, from just about everything, and after feeling like I'm balancing backward on a cliff, hitting that point of stability is huge...absolutely huge. Now watch—I'll probably fall over backward on Monday, but I have the best of intentions. We went to Scotty's for lunch, skipped supper—the air is just awful from lack of wind and air stagnation, and I'm having to take too much allergy medication. But I'm making progress on the book.

12/09/06. Saturday. 44311. Still working on the outline, but now I'm actually altering text, which is from hand-written notes and fussy as all getout. It's rainy—I want snow, and it's too warm by about 7 degrees. But I got so far into my work that I even turned down the Saturday bratwust and just kept going.

12/10/06. Sunday. 44311. Back to the outline a bit and then more change-entry. It's so slow. I wish I could wave a wand and have it all done, but sometimes I think best with a pen in hand, squeezing notes into the margins, and sometimes I think better during the slow process of adding in hand notes. The good news is, it's working. It's still raining. But we did finally take a mutual break and go to Scotty's for hamburgers.

12/11/06. Monday. 44311. I'm pretty sure someone downstairs is smoking something that's reaching our windows. I can't believe anyone can live in that atmosphere. I've rubber-matted our balcony so it doesn't get in the back I think it's reaching us via the front. We've never had problems like this before. I'm trying to work, but it's just really affecting me. I was glad it was time to get to the rink—also because I wanted to work some more with the scarf and my balance exiting the turns. As you could predict, it wasn't going to be as cut-and-dried as I'd hoped, but it was pretty good on the left foot—usually my weakest—but not the right. I finally started analyzing the difference, and what could make me fall inward; and I began to get the picture: my right knee is knocking in on the turn. I have to press it outward—and viola! Magic happened. I have it! It's not going to be the cure-all, but I'm getting there. We then scurried home to intercept a promised call from our agent, which came on schedule and was very encouraging. So all in all a good day. It's been clear, still too warm, but starting to spit rain again.

12/12/06. Tuesday. 44328. Well, I worked too hard on my turns and managed to hurt my leg—That right leg's been bothering me for a while, and is really, really sore, in that way limbs can be before they cut out unexpectedly and dump you on the ground. Or ice, in this case. So I left the ice early. On the domestic front, I spent a frustrating while online trying to order Christmas presents, and finally gave up. The idiocy of some major bricks-and-mortar stores who've hired the nephew of the owner as webmaster [only nepotism could account for the depth of ignorance I've just met] who wants to know what *county* you're in, as well as what city, and who puts the address-change blank on the same page as the credit card info, so it creates an endless loop: the credit card won't acknowledge the old addy, and the page won't install the new one until you complete your order, which can't be done because of the old addy. Then I tried to explain this to the woman you get with a phone call, and she kept saying it was clearly my credit card company's fault and I had to straighten it out with them. I tried to order again—she couldn't do it either. Then we tried a different card. Same story. Well, she insisted it was my cards, and I tried to explain to her that the company should take a serious look at the webmaster and website, and then she said that credit cards are often messed up and their company has this problem all the time. I'm having road rage on the information superhighway! And then—oh, then—I get a fraud call from my credit card questioning two identical purchases with this company, which now, since my order didn't go through, has nowhere to send them. I got online with the fraud people and explained the whole situation, but I'm going to have to watch my accounts closely. This is the same idiot company who lost my mother's Christmas gift last year, and I thought, well, they are one of her favorites, and no, they surely wouldn't screw up twice. Ha! I did turn my boots over to Larry, who does our sharpening and blade setting, and asked for several more screws. Having my blades slide around with only the slotted screws attached is not comfortable, and it's nervous-making when practicing jumps. So I got screws in two more holes, to be sure the blade stays put. My soles on these Graff boots are thicker than Larry's own, and it's taking forever to flatten the sole out [wear and tear] so I can get the toe screws in. Sometime before these boots wear out I'll get those last screws!

12/13/06. Wednesday. 44732. I'm home today. The leg is just too iffy, and I figured giving it a rest would be to the good. Meanwhile we've arranged to have Joan's birthday party Friday and I'm trying to get with my hairdresser and arrange a changed appointment. Of course this is right after [last month] I told my hairdresser I want a standing appointment on the fifteenth, forever. And here I am trying to change it one month later. My life is just too complicated for standing appointments. And now I can't get hold of her. The weather's messy—meaning the sun is shining and melted all our nice snow. We did get a call from Larry that we need to pick up skates for another of the adult skaters—and we aren't the only ones caught in a screwup. Her brand new boots aren't accepting the blades. There's something wrong with the angle of the sole. I know she's going to be disappointed.

12/14/06. Thursday. 44901. Definitely she was disappointed. What a pain! I skated for the first time with enough screws to hold my blades in place—this was good. And I've been trying daily and sometimes twice daily to call my hairdresser to say I need to move that appointment, but all I get is the answering machine. I don't know what's going on, but I'm still trying. The leg is still giving me grief. I have it doublewrapped around the upper thigh with two sets of bandages, and it helped, but it's still painful. We had a chiropractic appointment, and I complained about it to Dr. Mike, who said it was tendonitis—tendonitis involving just about every tendon that holds the leg on—so he did some adjustment, advised me to take it a bit easy, and I took some painkiller and muscle relaxant, and then got the bright idea to put an IcyHot Pain patch on it. It's actually working. It's also my brother's birthday, so I gave him a call, and the prezzies did get there, but he's saving them for Christmas: when your birthday falls that close to the holiday you can fight it or you can go with the flow.

12/15/06. Friday. 45012. Skated with the patch only today, and it is definitely helping. And Dr. Mike helped. And all in all I think this is the first time I've been this pain-free in this leg for, oh, two years. It just had to get bad enough to manifest, and now I think we're on the road to fixing it. I skipped the hair appointment. Sharon and Dawn and Jane and I threw Joan a small birthday party, at which we all ate too much and finished off with a scandalous huckleberry dessert. We've decided we're going to go back onto the Atkins diet—we think we've stabilized our weight very well with Nutrisystem, but we haven't lost anything to speak of. So back to the diet that works. Then we'll go back to Nutrisystem to stabilize. Steak is on the horizon! I can get behind that! I'm getting real tired of Cheerios. I want eggs! I want steak! I want bacon!

12/16/06. Saturday. 45937. A leisurely morning and hard at work. Things are starting to take shape in the book, and I'm happy. The leg is continuing to improve. The state is continuing to recover from this week's nasty windstorm—I slept through it on muscle relaxant and painkiller, and Jane, poor thing, kept awake for fear the power would go out and the fish tank would need emergency help. She gets the medal, for sure. But now it's all clear and blue out there, still windy, but that nasty pollution has gone away. I'm really glad of that. The book is making progress now, and I have a clearer vision where I'm going. You'll notice I've now done the archiving and this page will load faster. I always dread doing that: Frontpage has you working realtime [more or less] as WYSIWIG on the site [actually, with the FTP function live and loaded] which means you can actually make a mistake, like lose the whole blog, if you get really wrong headed. Reading the Jan 31 entry, in which we were freaked out about a 4" bristleworm, is funny: our tank turned out to have 4 10"ers that we simply named. Lately I'm told they're not ordinary bristleworms, but are the more fearsome Oenone Fulgida, which have been completely harmless in our tank, and rather useful. The tank has prospered, I've turned in quite a few frags for such things as food and salt, and we're really enjoying it.

12/17/06. Sunday. 46234. Progress on the book, real progress. Jane finally got onto antibiotics for that sinus condition that's been nasty for 3 weeks, ever since she hit her head on the ice, wearing her helmet, got herself mildly concussed, and knocked loose an impaction in the sinus. //And we decided today is the day we get the tree up, any tree, of the 3 [of varying sizes] we have in storage. We decided to go modest this year, and just get out the 3' tree and set it on the dining table. So we can't find the book that contains the access codes for the storage area. So we hope for the office to be open: it is. We confirm our identity and straighten out the mess that had had them calling us requesting an addy confirmation: this gets complicated here—but we kept one storeroom on the west side of the city when we moved to the east, and they keep reverting to the old addy and then complaining that they can't find us. This info-pollution has now spread to the storeroom on the east side [same company] who now wants us to correct our already-correct addy. We knew this was a problem, so we mentioned it and got it straightened out for the third time. Then we get the code and go over to our storeroom across the street and behind a chain link fence. Simple, eh? No. They've put a special red lock on our unit. This usually means non-payment of bill and impending auction. Whoa! And our key won't work on our own lock, either. So Jane heads back to the office by our usual foot route, but they've found that since our last visit and chained the gap in the fence. So we take the car over, past the code-box, the auto gate, etc, and ask the office what's going on. The gal on duty consults the computer, says we're paid up, [yes], and probably it's frozen, so she gets a blow torch and a pliers. Back we go, past the code-box, etc. And she takes the tag off, and blow-torches our lock, which still won't open. They want 20.00 to cut off the lock when the manager returns tomorrow. Sigh. So back we go to the office across the street. She consults records again, and gets into the record connected to the tag number. It turns out, no, it's not our lock: they cut our lock off a month ago [no charge!] to repair the roof from inside, and here are two new keys. So back we drive across the street, through the gate again, and this time we actually get into the unit, retrieve our tree and some ornaments, and there we are. Sigh. Nothing is ever simple.// Meanwhile we decided to go back onto Atkins and went to the store, got the different set of supplies, and a steak. A really nice steak. Which I cooked for supper and managed to do perfectly...pretty good for me starting cooking again after a 6 month gap.

12/18/06. Monday. 46392. Jane got the tree decorated, well, at least got the lights on it. And the last of the gifts arrived, so we're set. We have the box of our best ornaments sitting on a dining chair. Does that count? Jane's of course on antibiotics, and is trying not to let it get her down. Meanwhile the diet is having immediate benefit. I dropped a pound and so did Jane. A lot of people worry about Atkins, and it would be worrisome if you cheated, because of the potentially high fat levels. You just can't combine fat and carbs if you want to be healthy. And you can't short yourself entirely of either on either diet. But if you treat the two like fire and gasoline, and just be careful, Atkins, in my own experience, is a pretty healthy diet...witness losing the weight which is generally bad for you, witness that cholesterol readings go way down for us, particularly for Jane, when we're on Atkins. Both of us gained weight like crazy on other diets, and the low-fat craze was the worst of all—show us a carb and we'll find a way to apply it to our hips. But the strict version of Atkins works for us. Everybody's metabolism is different, and blood tests are de rigeur while you're dieting. We do that, for sure.

12/19/06. Tuesday. 46372. Still happy on the diet of eggs and steak, and full of energy. I'm making progress. The book shows signs of taking off. It's still a stage heavy in thinking. Weather is wintery. I love that. The more snow the better.

12/20/06. Wednesday. 46501. Back and forth to the rink all day: we needed to come back in the evening to take photos for the bulletin board, for the coaches and instructors, so it was multiple trips. But I have the camera and it's a favor we can do the rink. It meant eating out, so we tried the chicken piccata at Scotty's. Some of the best I've ever had, even in Italy.

12/21/06. Thursday. 47273. Unfortunately the chicken piccata found a way to embody carbs, and we are both regretting it. So that dish goes off the menu. All our losses have been regained—I think mostly water weight, but that's a bummer. Going right along with the writing. The rink has made special time available for its regulars, and we're glad of that. Kids getting out of school means a real wild time on the rink, dodging bodies lying on the ice, watching out for kids who don't themselves know where they're going next...

12/22/06. Friday. 47929. Working away. More characters have begun to talk, and that's good. I have a notebook I've got to get copied for safety's sake, which contains notes from all the books, and that's been very, very helpful with this. I'd forgotten it'd been so long since I last visited this world. We skated, got to the market to buy a ham, and it was absolutely crazy there---very glad to be out of the madding crowd! We've got most everything wrapped, and we did get the ornaments on, so it's an official tree now. On the ice, I made a breakthrough. I've been battling my lack of runout on the 3-turn for months, and finally began to realize that I need to press the knee outward and not let it knock in on that maneuver. Then I have runout. It's also useful information for edges, and most everything else I do. I'm an old fencer, and those muscles have come back, but the particular muscles that control the knee's outward tension don't develop as much as the fore-and-aft movements. So I have some muscle-building to do. I tell you, everything you do in this sport trims up your posture and your body's resting-muscles so that you just reform everything piece by piece. I'm excited to get back to the ice to work with this, and we'll be off several days for holiday.

12/23/06. Saturday. 48359. We're going to lose our white Christmas. The weather is warming up. Bummer! On the other hand, if it lets people get to their relatives safely, that's to the good. Us, we're sticking close to the house and watching the madding rush from a distance. I did make a trip out to the supermarket, which was insane, for a few items I still needed. Jane's going to make Russian teacakes, which are just deadly, but otherwise we're being good for the holidays. Nights are full of the sound of water dripping, our snow leaving us, but it's still pretty cold, and the snow is staying on the mountains.

12/24/06. Sunday. 49211. T'was the day before Christmas and we aren't stirring, no, indeed. I'm working, playing a little Caesar IV, working, doing crossword puzzles, working. I did bestir myself to get the last few presents wrapped. We watched “The Lion in Winter,” our favorite Christmas movie.

12/25/06. Monday. 49831. And a merry Christmas! We did the little-kid thing of opening our presents before breakfast, and had a delightful Christmas. Everything fit, that was clothing, and worked, that wasn't. I gave Jane a clock that brightens a light gradually to wake you up, and she gave me a big plaque with the da Vinci “infinite man” image that also happens to be Reseune's logo. It weighs a ton, and we're going to have to use special care mounting that! We had a lovely dinner, drank too much bubbly, and watched Christmas things on tv.

12/26/06. Tuesday. 50592. It's an off day for the rink, so we just stayed home and took a holiday, or rather, worked, and cleaned up, and worked. Had steak, instead of ham, for variety for the day, but hereafter until that ham is done, it's ham. And have we gained over the holidays? Yes, but not with a feeling of despair---we'll take it off again quickly: it's just those delicious teacakes, which are now gone.

12/27/06. Wednesday. 50881. Ditto yesterday: not much going on, and we just worked on our respective books. Watched Pirates of the Caribbean II, which was another thing Jane gave me for Christmas. We'd already seen it, but that doesn't matter. Love those movies.

12/28/06. Thursday. 51162 Back to the rink, and back to work on those turns. As with everything of this sort, the knee position is not an instant cure—there are a lot of factors, but it's coming. We were going to go down to Pullman for Dr. Mike, but we had to cancel: today is just too tight. We went on a lake cruise in the evening with Sharon and Steve, to look at the Christmas light displays, then went to Scotty's for drinks after, and to get Steve supper—he had to dash back from a mountain top where he'd been working on cell tower stuff, way far off. But he made it. I, however, had a bit of a disaster: my camera failed me on the cruise—dead battery, as it turned out. But I had worn thick clothing and gloves because of being on deck during freezing weather for an hour, and when I got home from Scotty's, I shouldered my camera strap and my purse, the purse started to slip off my shoulder. So I grabbed it, but thanks to the thick coat, the camera strap also slid, right past the hand holding the purse strap, and the weight of the camera carried it on, bang! right onto the pavement. I managed to pry the lens cap off, and found shattered glass—which fortunately is just the filter that screws on over the lens, and recharging the battery proved the camera and lens do work; but it's a sickening sight. I'm going to have to take it to a shop to get that filter off the lens. It's trashed, bent, and it won't let go. I'm figuring they'll know how to do this without torquing the long lens. Sigh.

12/29/06. Friday. 51162 Back on the ice, and working hard on that turn and runout, and making really encouraging progress. Working on the manuscript. Playing a little video game. Working again. We've got to get the end of year accounts in order.

12/30/06. Saturday. 51475 A work and clean-up day, mostly. We've got so much cleanup to do around here: it's truly amazing how many boxes you can accumulate on the third floor, during holidays. The apartment dumpster is totally full to overflowing, and you can see what was the Christmas Gift of the Year—there are no less than 4 vacuum cleaners sitting by the dumpster, a pretty good looking wastebasket, and tons of boxes and wrapping paper. The apartment handyman is running from dumpster to dumpster with a pickup trying to keep the dumpsters accessible and empty-able.

12/31/06. Sunday. 51475 New Year's Eve. I'd already determined I wasn't cooking this New Year's Eve, and we'd decided to go to Scotty's for a downhome, modest New Year's, but Scotty's turned out not to be open: private party. Sharon was coming over, so we decided to go splurge at Tony Roma's, which is ribs. We did. We have a trick of sitting and having dinnner in the bar, which means while other people are sitting out in the lobby still waiting for a table, we get our dinner without a wait, which worked tonight, too. We came back, opened up a bottle of wine and bubbly, and had a good time watching movies past midnight—we did stop for a spot of bubbly and good wishes.

1/1/07. Monday. 52837 The rink is shut today and tomorrow for the staff to take a holiday. So I got a bit of work done. And I made a discovery: I've been a little annoyed that we're not getting good flow out of the tank pump—and getting up on a ladder to do some cleaning gave me a view down into the sump. The confounded top elbow of the return pipe has broken and is spewing as much water back into the downflow as into the tank itself. This is going to be a bear to fix in a corner tank: the downflow box is in the corner, and I have a major lean across the tank from any direction to reach the pipe, let alone extract the split joint, if it turns out to be glued. I'm just thrilled beyond measure. I did, and with great reluctance, do in a batch of mushroom coral, because it has stung 3 branches of much more valuable corals, and just has to be stopped short of taking over the tank. I'd remove it for sale if I could, but it's affixed to a 30 lb rock and can't be removed without destroying the tank. I'm just hoping that pipe doesn't blow the rest of the way before tomorrow, when I'll go down to the fish store and look for a replacement.

1/2/07. Tuesday. 53281 The fish store is shut for the holidays—won't be open until the 6th. I just have to keep on crossing my fingers. I was going to turn my camera in for repair, but didn't get that done either. Every kitchen light but one is burned out, and I'm going to have to call the apartment manager to get those replaced—cathedral ceiling: the manager's guy does it. And we're still trying to get the tree down. Our pretty snow has given way to yucky rain. It's a mess.

1/3/07. Wednesday. 54178 Annually, the senior skaters pay for a party for the staff at the rink, and this time everybody went out for breakfast. The rink was kind enough to invite us and Joan, and we had a nice breakfast at the Old European, which features Swedish breakfasts, give or take the kippered herring. Afterward, Tim offered us ice on the main rink while they got our usual rink cleaned up, so we skated a lot. Or Jane did. I skated, such as I felt like—I was a bit in pain, stepped wrong, and had the whole bad hip light up in neon, wah! and I really want that chiropractic appointment tomorrow. But I'm making real headway. Even with pretty iffy ice on both rinks, full of lumps, my runouts are getting steady, and just as solid as you please. Unhappily we didn't get to have a lesson with Joan for a reason we like even less—Joan's in major pain herself, and had to go off to the doctor after breakfast.

1/4/07. Thursday. 54895. On the ice again, and still fairly iffy ice, I'm really getting the runout down, feeling a lot steadier, and having a good time. Joan's still out. I'd love to show her what I'm learning. I'd like better if she were not in pain, and were able to be here. I left the ice early, as was, and we went off to Dr. Mike's down in Pullman, which is in the Palouse district of Washington—vast loess hills where they grow wheat, nary a fence nor a windrow to be seen, so when the wind blows, it blows. In this case it was blowing snow, and by the time we got within 20 miles of Pullman, we came to a major traffic stoppage: seems cars had skidded, a truck had jackknifed, at a hill called Roundtop, and we were stuck. The problem with Pullman is that it's a college town, and a lot of the drivers are young and either crazy or timid on bad roads. In this case, however, not all the trouble was the young: a farm truck was at the head of our line, a big, empty, drives like a tin-can kind of truck, and when after 45 minutes the sheriff showed up and we began to move, the truck couldn't make the hill and slid sideways and then backward across the only remaining lane. The sheriff, we could make out, approached the truck and issued an on-the-spot driving lesson, and they finally got the truck backed into a snowbank and clear. So on we go, at 15 mph, because it's iced, and getting worse. We had our chiropractic appointment—and Dr. Mike decided, by my report, that my right knee might need work, and it might be contributing the the persistent hip mis-alignment. He gave it the crack-the-whip treatment, which I can only describe as initially painful, then not, and, amazingly, after rolling in on my ankle as I stand for the last while, the foot began to align properly to the outside edge. I'll have to concentrate and hold it carefully to make sure it doesn't redo the bad 'patellar tracking'. But this is really promising. It stopped the hip pain instantly. It lets me walk on the outside of that foot, matching the other foot, and stand square. So it isn't wholly the hip. I think Dr. Mike is onto something.//When we got out, our car looked like a white-iced cupcake, and we decided to go to Cougar Country and have our hamburger inside and sitting down, to let the traffic jam clear out a bit. So we did, got ourselves a malted, each, [blackberry/crunchy peanut butter, and no, not a bit on our diet] to endure the 72 mile drive, and set out. When we got back to Roundtop, they were only then pulling the first of two cars out of the snowbank, the truck was still stuck, another truck had joined it, and chains were highly advised [Subarus and Jeeps are exempt, being all-wheel drive]. All sorts of trailers were abandoned along the road, where drivers had left them—a moving van, an express freight trailer, and so on. It was getting dark. But our delay getting through this time was only 17 minutes, and then we were on into the dark—the line of stalled traffic stretched for about 10 miles of the 20 on to Colfax, and beyond that we were able to shake some of the local traffic. We were by now not only in near white-out, we got fog, which made it unwise to go above 40 mph even if the road surface had improved a bit: you'd overdrive your lights, otherwise, and you just couldn't tell when you'd find some dark, stalled-out car. I could just make out the centerline and the plow-line on the side of the road—and still had to pass 2 cars who believed they'd go 15mph the whole 50 more miles to Spokane. Still, it's not too hard to pass someone who's going 15, even in the icy hills of the Palouse. And I may say, we spent quite a while behind a pretty red Lexus that couldn't keep its back end straight---while our dear old Forester, with all-weather tires, just kept on a steady as could be, never even needing its fancy ABS braking system, so long as the overstressed driver [me] could tell which side of the road we were on---or that we weren't driving on the shoulder. So on we went. By the time we got to Spokane, we were merely in slightly freezing fog, but the heat of traffic was still keeping the roadway passable. We were so exhausted by the time we got home, near 8pm [we'd left at 1pm] we just headed for bed. The evening news was saying "hundreds of wrecks in the Palouse" and "major traffic mess" and, yeah, been there, done that. Going to bed.

1/5/07. Friday. 54178. Got up this morning [well, Ysabel clawed a piece out of my arm, urging me to get up and feed the cat] snow in Spokane. Actually—it was more like square chips of styrofoam everywhere. Our car was still snow-coated from Pullman, but the styrofoam chip snow was really quite odd. We went skating, and the improvement in my runout from the 3-turn with both legs now working the same was amazing. We were supposed to have a lesson with Linds, but she didn't make it in; and Joan's still laid up—we want to know how she is, but don't want to make pests of ourselves. The ice today was just perfect, and as luck would have it, what with the sugar hit last night from that malt and the long strain of the drive last night, I wasn't feeling too sharp, either. So we gave up a little early, got an immense bale of clothes I've shrunk out of delivered to Goodwill, and got home in thick regular snowfall. Tomorrow I get to tackle that plumbing job with the tank, and I just can't wait. It's time to replace the lights, which will be delivering less than the 10,000k they're supposed to; it may be time to replace the Sea Swirl circulation motor, which may be what broke the pipe, and I'm going to need hose and clamps, gloves, strap wrenches, towels, and probably a stiff Scotch somewhere in the middle of the operation. Plumbing is not my favorite thing, but I can do it and not have a geyser. I may not have any fingernails left, but I'll get it.1/5/07. Friday. 53187. I got the plumbing. It turned out a lot easier than I feared: the pipe was only jammed in, not glued, and I was ever so glad. The elbow joint that failed turned out to have a perfectly round hole in it, which Kevin at the fish store says is a case of 'never seen that before'—and he used to work in plastic casting. So I got the new joint on and got the tank running again. Erasing a bit of outline. But writing's going great. All of a sudden all the people are talking to me...a very good thing.

1/6/07. Saturday. 53187. And then disaster hit. Late last night a burst of wind came through with the snow and ice, and we lost power, no heat, no light, no pump on the tank—and a tank can die if the temperature sinks too far, and it can die if the water gets depleted of oxygen, due to the fish. We have a big power backup on the tank, so when it beeped, I got up to check on things, and, being sleepy, I went back to bed, trusting Avista to have the power back on by morning. The backup power would run the main pump for three hours. Now, what I didn't know—it started beeping bigtime as it was failing, but by then I was sound asleep and the sound woke Jane up. So she got up, saw the situation, and started unplugging computers from our two other power backups, to bring them into action with the pump. By the time I got up she had things under control, except that she was cycling the pump only occasionally, which was brighter than I'd been. We settled on 5 minutes an hour, and watched the fish for signs of gasping. By 10am, we decided we had to do something about heat for the tank. Jane suggested lighting every candle we own [quite a few] in the area of the tank, and that did help, but I was worried about the residue of the candles and lamps getting into the water [modern reef tanks are open to evaporation]. So we decided to extinguish the live flame and go to Walmart and get some hunters' palm warmers, and float those in bags. We found them. But they turned out to be a very minor fix, and the tank temperature was sinking dangerously, without the big lights coming on, and no heater power. So by now the fish store was open, and I'd brought our dead main power backup with us. We asked Kevin, who had power, if we could plug it in: yes! And if we were going to have to do the 5 minutes an hour routine all night, we'd be able to. So we left that charging while we went back and cycled the pump again. Kevin's word was that the tank could tolerate a temperature as low as 62 degrees, and we were at 65. But we spotted a hopeful sight: the repair truck with a crane up to the power poles across the road from our section. Sure enough, by 5 pm, power came back on—a minor adventure, compared to what other areas of Washington are going through, but we won our little battle. We let the lights stay on their full cycle, even in the middle of the night. And got some sleep.

1/7/07. Sunday. 55270. A real pleasure to have power for my computer. And the work just started flowing. Maybe I needed the mental jolt. The tank seems ok. All the fish have left the warm rocks [the big rocks hold heat the longest, and the fish were no fools: they tucked in where it was warm] and reported for duty. I don't think we even lost a snail, let alone a coral. I did go back to the fish store and got replacement bulbs—went from 10000k Ushio 250w to 12000k Reeflux 250w, which is a bit bluer, more intense light, and things look amazingly nicer, softer to our eyes, but more high-energy for the corals. Unfortunately the actinic bulb I bought has the wrong base, and I have to disassemble the light kit once again when I finally get the right bulb, but we gave the tank a general cleaning, and the new bulb, and things look very nice. And alive, that's the good thing! So many people have lost tanks in power-outs, and we were very lucky.

1/8/07. Monday. 56385. A good morning. I started reading Cyteen to Jane last night, and she read some of her current work to me, and we had a good evening—we used to do that, way back when, and then somehow stopped doing it, being each so busy at what we're doing, but it's a good thing—it helps me clear my head of questions and concentrate on the effect. I spent the morning entering the corrections I entered on the fly last night while reading, and doing some new work. I am so happy today—I haven't had work go this easily in a long time, and we've got to keep doing this. We're supposed to be doing the accounting, but we're tired after the weekend hassle, and somehow that didn't get done.

1/9/07. Tuesday. 57311. More reading last evening, and we've just given up on television, in favor of our read-fest. That gives me a lot of correcting as I start the day, and things are going so well.... Meanwhile, on the ice, Joan's fussing at me about my shoulder coming forward and making me tip out of balance. I know my backbone has a bit of a kink in it, and this may be real hard for me to fix. I just can't get my arm back far enough. So I have some exercises to do, mostly gliding on one foot on a hockey line, without wobbling, with that shoulder pressed back where it belongs. Ouch! But my line is getting straighter. Remember waxing the car, in the Karate Kid? That's pretty well my work on the ice today—I get to go across the ice while other skaters are whizzing across my line at high velocities, and I'm gliding on one foot in a cursed unnatural position.

1/10/07. Wednesday. 58281. Work is just flying. This is what I've missed for so long. Jane's reading me some of hers, I read what I feel like reading. To heck with the television, for sure: our evenings are read-fests again. On the ice, more straight lines, interspersed with our half-loops on the line [not a loop jump, for sure, but edgework, arcs] which are done on one foot, with the other foot either tucked or held forward. It's a balance and edge test.

1/11/07. Thursday. 59018. I wish I had chiropractic today. But making headway with the knee situation. It's still a lot better, and I'm fighting not to let it slip back out of alignment. I'm fighting to perfect running on the flat or on an inside edge and meanwhile I have to keep my brain on tightening the muscle on the outside of my knee. That's mental gymnastics, for you! But it's working. My lines are getting straighter, and Joan's letting me do the same backwards, too. So I get to go backward across the ice on one foot, in an unnatural position, while other skaters whiz past me. I don't mind the regulars. It's the visiting kids in hockey skates that make me nervous. You'd think they'd figure that if you're going backward in a straight line, you're going to continue to do that, and you'll be most of the way across and in their path as they complete their turn and race back at breakneck speed, but they often seem surprised by this fact—like ducks, not much lingers in their young heads, I swear to you.

1/12/07. Friday. 59829. Weather continues snowy. The readings continue. The work continues. And my lines are still getting straighter. I think I've discovered something. If I do my old fencing posture, with the arm back [to avoid getting hit] and curled aloft, I can wake the memory of certain muscles that haven't had much to do in years. In fencing, the palm is up and stays up as the arm descends, but in skating, the palm needs to be down. Still, I can do it and rotate the hand, and that pulls the shoulder further back. Interesting! And it does help!

1/13/07. Saturday. 60281. Filling the topoff [water reservoir] with purified water—this has to be done every 4 days. Spent the day working, and didn't want to move, it was going so well. But you have to take a break. And we went to the MAC [the Spokane museum] with Sharon and Steve to see the figure skating exhibit, on loan from the National Figure Skating Hall of Fame—just a little exhibit: they had Brian Boitano's outfit from the 'battle of the Brians', Tara Lipinski's blue dress with the sparkles; Dick Button's Olympics uniform coat [one of the classier numbers] and medal; Punsalyn and Swallow's matched outfits, numerous cups and trophies, etc, plus some things from the era of ankle length skirts on the ice. Skating without even being able to see my feet is a scary proposition. So are those blades, without much of a bow in them...either sharpened so many times they've lost it, or never having one—meaning hard to turn. After the museum, we were going to have Thai food, but the restaurant was closed, so we headed to the Spaghetti Factory, where none of us had been in quite a while, and lucked into a booth in the bar while the waiting room was full of people—that's the best trick when dining: go to the bar, where it's seat-yourself and first to the table gets it. They serve the same food in there, and it's without small screaming children.

1/14/07. Sunday. 61287. Working and playing that cursed game. Caesar IV is really quite good. But I'm still making blazing progress on the book, and we're still doing readings—we missed last night, but we'll make up for it this evening.

1/15/07. Monday. 62102 Martin Luther King Day, and we stayed home from the rink, just work, work, work. And took a little time off to get the Estimated Taxes done. Plus I had a hair appointment. Got out late, so we just went to Scotty's for supper.

1/16/07. Tuesday. 63271. Got the taxes mailed, finally! And I had another lesson with Joan. My work with the shoulder is showing, and it went well. We've entertained thoughts of moving—our neighbors aren't the best; and we drove by a place we could afford, that would admirably suit our needs, at least by what it says on the internet—but the main beam on the porch is sagging visibly. This is not good. There's a house we could really afford—a fixer-upper, and I love doing that sort of thing. But it was built in 1907, and I'm betting it would need plumbing and electrical work—and it's not just the expense (though that's not negligible, even against the marvelous bargain price of the house) it's having your work disrupted by workmen. I just can't take living in a construction zone and putting up with strange people tramping through while I'm trying to concentrate. We finally had an attack of common sense and realized that if we did the fixer-upper, we'd have to give up skating, and that's no contest. So, sigh, we waved that idea goodbye. By evening, however, we were for some reason just exhausted. The weather is snowy, we'd had supper at Scotty's, and we just are ready to cave in.

1/17/07. Wednesday. 63948. Several days of unmitigated good vibes, and then Glum. I get like this. It's one of the penalties of being a writer. You live by your emotions, you pour them out on paper, you deliberately exacerbate the darkest of them, you what-if disaster for a living, and then—payment comes due, and you start what-iffing things to do with Did I pay the bills? What if I forgot? Did I get the taxes in? Do they arrest people who just forgot the 940 form? How long can I put off doing the accounting? And maybe its the house business and the neighbors who scream and yell and my  having flown that little flight of fancy and realizing, no, I haven't the spare time had something to do with it. Possibly it was because I was being so-o-o happy lately I'd let my Zoloft lapse...I do take a minuscule dose, consistently. And it makes a difference. My slight asthma makes sleep iffy at the best of times, I'm chronically insomniac in the first place: normal people have their body temperature drop at night: not me, not easily: I just keep going, and pretty soon I get the effects of it. Zoloft is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor or something of the sort—worse than Greek to me, except it's tied in with my dysfunctional sleep cycles, melatonin, serotonin, etc, and the inability to turn things loose and relax. If you get attacks of the Glums, it's worth investigating with your local medic. It's not happy-juice: it just lets the stuff that ought to cycle out at night actually cycle out, so that you don't have that persistence-of-memory effect that won't let you rest or just zone out. And believe me, when I'm short of rest, I'm a total bear. Fortunately Jane didn't let my Glum keep us off the ice, and I perked up. I kept working on that shoulder problem, and all of a sudden, as I entered an outside edge arc and pulled my shoulder way back, preparatory to a 3-turn, the turn happened, not because of anything my body was doing otherwise: it was just the extreme shoulder-twitch. Scared the daylights out of me, but it was smooth, it was effortless, and it worked. I went berserk. After checking out the motion with several senior skaters, I learned, yep, that's the good way to do it; and I applied that knowledge to the outside 3-turn, the inside 3-turn, the edges, forward and backward—it was amazing. Once the shoulders began to flex and arch back, I was on something—I managed to complete the inside 3-turn without a save-catch at the wall—balance was dead on. The outside 3 was a snap. A trifle. I used it on my back edges. I used it everywhere. And by the time I got off my shoulders knew they'd had a workout. It's Advil time.

1/18/07. Thursday. 64001. Supposed to have a skating lesson, but Lindsey couldn't make it due to a family emergency. I'm sore, not quite so pert as yesterday. Work is going well, but we had one of those shopping expeditions which quite took the starch out of me—I hate shopping. But it had to be done. The snow is coming.

1/19/07. Friday. 64543. My poor ankles have had it. I skated-up, and got out on the ice, and after about 3 or 4 3-turns and a circuit of the rink or so, I just couldn't go further: the ankles are hot to the touch, muscle-soreness inside and just behind the anklebone, from all that edgework I've been practicing. Really felt it when I put the boots on. And our rink #1 is serving as practice ice for the US Nationals Junior and Novice division, so there was no shortage of people-watching. Really good young skaters out there, including pairs doing lift and spins. So I entertained myself while everybody else had a good time on the ice. It was one of my skating buddies' birthdays—Dawn's—and we had agreed to take her out to lunch at the place of her choice. So we get dressed and make a run for the downtown mall, get parked in the parking garage, in a not-too-bad spot, and then—Jane says “where's my purse?” Well, you have to be female to realize the entire panic involved, I suppose: it's like losing your wallet plus your personal keepsakes, your personal grooming kit, your cell phone, and your pocket organizer with your appointments all at once. So I'm for heading right back to the rink and getting it—it was in the locker room, which is pretty secure behind a combination look on the door, but all the same, with the building swarming with strangers because of the influx of Nationals people, and all, I argued with Jane about it. But she had more sense, and we started calling other members of the group to see if they'd left yet—no joy. And her phone with the rink number is in the purse. She opted to go upstairs in the mall, where we ran into Joan, part of the party, who had the rink number—and admin didn't answer; but we got another skater to go into the locker room and get it, and take it to the office. So we had a nice lunch—we broke our diets royally—and then drove back to get the purse, which was, as advertised, waiting for us. I'm spending the evening regretting that piece of pie, with Bengay wrapped around my ankles, and the snow has started to fall bigtime. I have to do more topoff water for the tank and get that added, but I'm just too tired.

1/20/07. Saturday. 64543. What a day! The snow came down absolutely thick, a wet snow, which clings even to twigs and grass...and the air pressure or something made it impossible to stay awake in the morning—my best working time. I kept folding up and resting. Finally I got up a head of steam, and Jane, who had been searching the whole place [and her room] and calling restaurants to search for her glasses, had finally come down to the theory they've become a cat toy somewhere just after New Year's, and we hope they didn't go out with the wrapping paper. She announced she was approaching a funk, because she needs them to see distances, and tomorrow is the start of the US Nationals, and she can't see. So we called the place where she'd last gotten her prescription, one of those 'glasses while you wait' places, and no, they can't just make her another pair because her prescription has expired. Sigh. I love it when regulations protect us against what we really need. So since the outside is half a foot deep in snow, we decided to try for someplace closer. No joy. We call the first place back, and yes, they can work her in—probably because the advent of the next ice age has slowed traffic at the mall—not the close and convenient mall, no: the mall on the opposite side of town. So we head off in the faithful Subaru, doing its usual really good job on ice and snow, and we reached the mall with only one downhill skid...right at our own hill. I let Jane out, parked the car in the south 40, hiked in, and couldn't find the eyeglasses shop. There are *two* in the mall. I had to wait at the counter in one until I could ascertain, no, not here. So I hike back the width of the mall *upstairs* this time, and there we are. Jane had her appointment, and ended up getting contacts instead of glasses, since of course it would mean new frames as well as new lenses, and we're absolutely certain the glasses will turn up in some perfectly logical place. We had supper at Scotty's on the way back, and just folded—the driving wasn't easy, and we were pretty tired by the time we got back. Jane declares she's had it with losing things, but she's happy with the contacts, which let her read with ordinary over the counter glasses---I have every strength of lens within the range of 1 to 2, so she can take her pick. I finally got the tank topped off, but that was about the accomplishment for the day.

1/20/07. Sunday. 65021. The first day of US Nationals! We got up, got some work done, and discovered events didn't start at 6:30pm, as I'd mistakenly read on the tickets, but there was a ticket #1 in the booklet *behind* #2, and it was now! So we got dressed and headed out. I wore a light coat, as I was just sure I'd fry in my heavy fur-lined one, despite below-freezing temps. They always overheat the rinks for general public viewing: it's ghastly. And I wasn't wrong. We arrived, were disappointed to find few vendors---teeshirts and pins, yes, and a few gear merchants I have to check out tomorrow: I saw one black outfit that's gorgeous---but I don't like sleeveless outfits, and that seems to be all they brought. But I get ahead of myself. There are two venues: the new convention center---this is its first event---and the Spokane Arena, which is much larger. The Novice events are a sellout, and they had only bleacher seats, which were a real trial for the handicapped---or me, wearing my super-large snow boots which only came a size too large. I declined to clamber up to the few seats available at the top: Jane stood, I sat on the first row---I'm tall enough I could see most of the ice as was. But backless hard benches---aagh! A few years ago, I'd have died. As was, the skating has strengthened my back so I could get into skating posture and just hold it for the 5 hours we were there---shoulders and spine in line, which is hard to do at first, but it's the only way to sit like that for that long. We did get a backstage tour---Larry, who sharpens our skates, got called in to handle emergencies, and showed us his operation. He's already had one customer, a young lady who dropped her skate blade down onto the concrete. Ouch! The competition was Dance---we came in on the tail end of that, then Pairs, which was very impressive in a few instances, and then Ladies' Singles, which was, I regret to report, excruciatingly boring. I now entirely agree with Dick Button, that I would be just as happy not to see another Biehlman position for at least a season. One program had half a dozen of them and the rest all spirals in one direction or another---the young lady almost never had both feet downward, and it was inelegant, to say the least. None of them had footwork worth mentioning, and I'm afraid the Biehlman has become a crutch for ladies who can't lift their leg without grabbing their skate. On a much brighter note, the men: there were some real nice performances---and the winner I think was underscored: I agree with Jane on that. He has a name I can't reproduce, but the first name is Armin, and he's very interesting: middle eastern in origin, I think---certainly in the style of arm movement. Jane said, and I agree, that the judges are used to judging balletic artistry, and don't know middle eastern dance, and therefore might not know what a difficult thing he was doing: middle eastern dance requires the arms be rounded and fluid; skating requires the shoulders be back, way back. His arm and hand movement was beautiful, his skating was very good---and he won by a good margin, but still, that artistry score should be a couple of ticks higher. I'll be interested to see how he does in the Long program. We caught the bus, which turned out not to be 'just outside' but down the block in a fair breeze, and I nearly froze. It was another long hike up to the Arena, where we found our seats, and watched some of the Junior [higher than Novice]  Ladies Singles. There were a couple of bright moments, and fewer Biehlmans, but the choreography was more dedicated to racking up points than to creating a really interesting flow...I know this is a matter of controversy in the judging system, but I think it's more a failure of the choreographers, who have long done things by the old system, to see how to do both, get points, and make it unique. I think right now everybody is on one level, point-chasing, and the breakout that will get attention is going to be a choreographer---and a capable skater---who can create unique expression. We got home about 8:30, after having started at 10am, and it was Advil and muscle relaxant. I hope I'm not too kinked up to move tomorrow.

1/21/07 Monday. 66521. The plan to go skating fell victim to the work schedule and the fact I'm exhausted---and the fact the novice men's finals came in the middle of the day. So we got ourselves together and headed down, this time, to the Arena, which has better seats. We forgot to eat breakfast, caught a decent taco salad at the Arena, surprisingly good, if sparse, ---and sat down in our pretty good seats. We watched the pairs finals, the men's finals---Armin won, and young Messing actually won the long program---his coach teaches one of our former Spokane skaters, which is a circuitous connection, but we cheered for him. We broke for supper and had an absolutely wretched dinner at Clinkerdagger's, next to the rink, a restaurant famed for its scenery [it was dark out] and [once upon a time] for its food. Ever seen a Caesar salad buried in fried vegetables and cheese? This odd offering went back: Jane's allergic to onions. My own calamari had a suspicious flavoring, and I really didn't feel well after dinner...the old 'thought I was going to die.' Meanwhile we got a call from Sharon that we were supposed to go out to Anthony's [a really nice restaurant on the falls] with her and Joan, and we blew it: we'd already eaten. We were able to locate them across the arena by the time-honored tactic of mutual waving. We watched the novice dance finals, and were glad to see fair judging and comprehensible results. Several falls, at this level, but no one got hurt. Then noting that many people were leaving [it was 11:30pm] and that there wouldn't be a large crowd to cheer for the awards ceremony for these kids, Jane wanted to stay on; so we stayed and cheered for the medalists, and then got to our car, both of us just done in. The windshield was frozen: we were one of the last cars in the area; but we got home in good order on very icy roads, and just turned in immediately, after a cursory hello to the cats. Supposed to have a lesson with Joan tomorrow. I don't think so. Sitting in those short-backed seats is killer, and that dinner was the clincher.

1/22/07 Tuesday. 66521.As of here, I have to try to reconstruct this from memory, for reasons which will become apparent. Tuesday, more of the Novice and Juniors, and we sat until our backsides were sore.

1/23/07 Wednesday. 66521. More of the same. I'm so distressed at not having been able to keep notes. I was so afraid if I posted concurrently I'd give away the surprise for people who wanted to see for themselves. I did, however, get some work done every morning.

1/24/07 Thursday. 66521. Finals for the Juniors, as I recall, and some very nice performances. One hopes these kids make it to competitive seniors.

1/25/07 Friday. 66521. Now the Seniors are starting, and a very, very interesting situation this is, with Sasha Cohen out, and Kimmie Meissner expected to have no troubles with the Women's division. Never believe things like that. The men—my bet is on Lysacek. Weir is still going through some changes. In dance, Belbin and Augusto. It's something to watch him take the ice in practice—it's as if these two are a whole different species than most of the competition: he hits the ice in a curious combination of skating and sprinting, a kind of bouncy gait, and fast! Incredibly fast. There are some very fine performances, including Petukov's, and I never saw her skate better—just absolutely electrifying. But for the rest, the World level competition was between those two pairs, and it was a fair result...amazing since Belbin and Augusto have started a whole new program: a good idea. The last wasn't working well.

1/26/07 Saturday. 66521. The big finals: there were some real surprises, and outstanding among them, the women's, to my surprise. I usually had much rather watch the men, and was not disappointed, but Czisny turned in the skate of her life. She actually won the final skate, but Meissner had her on points. I will say that Meissner in person, as is so often the case, is a very different skater to watch, technically very strong [the camera always cuts to the face at the wrong moments for the home audience to have a fair shake to judge this.] And I wasn't upset about the order, but Czisny's performance was just magical, and the crowd went wild. Then the men's—Lysacek had the skate of his life, too: he's skated well in Spokane before, and the crowd was appreciative of that fact. He cut loose and tried a quad in his first jump, a move he hasn't done much even in practice, and stuck it; and after that the crowd was on his side and he was absolutely electric. He just collapsed after the skate, and turned in very, very high numbers, if not the highest ever awarded in an American competition. He couldn't believe it and the crowd was on its feet. Poor Johnny Weir had to come next, and heard the scores, and just—“How do I top that?” He didn't skate his best, blew a jump, and that was it. He handled it with class and grace: clearly it was Lysacek's moment, and that was what you could say.

1/27/07 Sunday. 66521. We'd had so much fun I didn't know how I was going to drag myself down to the arena again. But we managed it. We watched another magical Czisny moment, at close range—we were only 5 rows from the ice...and we agreed it had all been worth it.

1/28/07 Monday. 66521. Well, time to get back to real life and get those taxes in before they show up to cart us off. We're both exhausted, but we dedicated the day to getting the taxes in and the place cleaned up—we've just been coming and going and tossing things.

1/29/07 Tuesday. 66521. By evening I wasn't feeling so well, and we called Joan and begged off a lesson today. In a few more hours I was spiking a fever of 103 or thereabouts, and it all gets fuzzy. This is why I lost the skating notes and have reconstructed them as best I could. I couldn't even stand up reliably.

1/30/07 Wednesday. 66521.I spent a horrid night. My nasal passages and sinuses swelled so badly ice gave the only relief, and the headache was one of the worst I've ever had, not to mention the cough. Temperature is down a bit, but I'm still iffy.

1/31/07 Thursday. 66521. Temperature is hovering around 101. But this is an improvement. This is indisputably the flu. And I'm hoping Jane can miss this, but we have little hope of that.

2/1/07 Friday. 66521. Somewhere in here we got hold of Sharon, who could only commiserate. I'm at least able to eat bread and butter, and that's about it.

2/2/07 Saturday. 66521. Still iffy, but the temperature is starting to fall. The cough keeps me awake at night, and I have trouble breathing.

2/3/07 Sunday. 66521. Now Jane's showing signs of the flu, and somewhere in here we called Sharon. We were able to get Tamiflu for her, which is a pill you take in the first 48 hours of the flu. Jane's fever was rising a point an hour, and once she started taking the pill, it began dropping a point an hour. So it was working. Fortunately, I'm now able to walk and cook, so I can take care of her. I can just about totter around and see to the fish tank, which has chosen now to have a near crash. I find no choice but to get a different protein skimmer for the tank, a big expense, but it's that or lose everything. And I don't feel like doing plumbing, I'll tell you, but we neglected the tank since Christmas and then New Year's, and then Nationals, and then catching the flu and it's all caught up with us. So I have to do this, and muck about upside down while coughing and installing this cursed skimmer...and adjusting it.

2/4/07 Monday. 66521. We'd like to be on the ice again. That's not what's happening. The new skimmer is working and pulling out crud, which is what it's supposed to do, and the water is improving. Jane is doing pretty well. She scraped down the walls of the tank, and they're staying scraped: film algae has not regrown. But now Jane's having another problem: a) we ate too many potatoes during Nationals and her good knee has swollen like you wouldn't believe. B) she already had a sinus infection, and now that's taken off.

2/5/07 Tuesday. 66521. I'm still coughing, and Jane is collapsed, uncertain whether with the sinus infection or with the flu. She'll be on meds until Friday. Here's hoping. We're both sure if she hadn't had the Tamiflu, she'd be in the hospital.

2/6/07 Wednesday. 66521. Both of us unimproved. But the new skimmer is working well.

2/7/07 Thursday. 66521. And once again. Sneeze. Cough. Somewhere in the haze, Sharon got us some new cough medicine, but it gave me a headache to equal the flu, and it didn't turn loose all day long. A glass of wine with supper, before that medication was Not a Good Idea.

2/8/07 Friday. 66521. And again. I hate this stuff. Jane isn't improving as magically as she hoped. And now the pills have run out. Her leg is better. Long enough off potatoes and those cramped arena seats. I've been amusing myself, while I have no brain, by looking at real estate. House sell fast here in Spokane. Hard to keep up with the good ones.

2/9/07 Saturday. 66521. Jane's near relapse. She's just real sick, not able to stand up securely. I'm still house-tracking.

2/11/07 Sunday. 70394. I've been working on the manuscript off and on, on my good days. Couldn't track the daily word count. Fourteen days after I came down with this mess, I can report the brain is finally coming back on line. Jane is still very sick. I've got an appointment with the bank tomorrow. I'd hoped we'd both be back on the ice, but no hope of that with Jane, I fear. She's still miserable and dizzy.

2/12/07 Monday. 70821. I can't take it any longer. Our neighbors are keeping us from sleep, and the last light burned out in the kitchen. Which is all right, because Jane's too sick to go face the grocery store and all she wants is chili, which I have a pot of in the kitchen and I can cook by flashlight. I just don't want to deal with apartment management any longer---the apartment owner is the noisy tenant that's driving us to distraction---to call them to replace those out of reach lights. The place is a pit, with both of us being sick, and I can't handle it. I've contacted a real estate agent. And I've made an appointmet at the bank to talk loan. I don't know what we can do, but it's got to be better than the situation we're in.

2/13/07 Tuesday. 71232. I've presented the agent, via e-mail, with a long, long list of properties that could serve, ranging widely in price. I've looked at our finances and we could actually save hundreds a month by doing this. And we wouldn't have to go through crazy neighbors again---I hope. Met with the bank, and presented them our papers. They say no problem on a loan, so that's encouraging....we've got to find our tax records, and I've scraped up most of them, but we're missing one of Jane's, and she doesn't know where it is, so we're going to have to ask the IRS for a replacement. She was there for the bank business, but went back to bed, and I did the files searching. Neither of us has much energy. Jane swears she's a little better, and at least can breathe since she's gotten onto the antibiotics, but an hour on her feet and she's just wiped and dizzy. My cough is at least controlled with Codine at night so I can get some sleep. This is helping. I think just the possibility that the neighbor situation has a foreseeable end is helping.

2/14/07 Wednesday. 72711. We had to notify Radcon we just couldn't make it this year, and are really sorry. Jane is still suffering badly, is on heavyduty antibiotics, and has about 10 minutes of energy for every 20 minutes of rest. I'm not too much better, even yet, because I had the fullblown flu. We did drive out to a couple of prospects, just to meet our agent and look the situation over. Not good. One was way overpriced for the neighborhood, with Victorian plumbing and 1920's wiring, a basement only Norman Bates could love, wiring you don't want to know, ,and doors even painted shut on the upstairs rooms. Of the rooms we could get into, none were expertly painted. Only the front room was pretty. We saw another house, circa 1930's, that had scarred floors, a bad kitchen, a finished basement, but really mysterious engines down there that may be a generator or sump pump or oil tank. I got Jane back to the car. She was starting to see possibilities in it. The next we drove by was a 1950's item that had been heavily diy'ed by a non-carpenter—a mechanic, actually, that had the lawn torn up with heavy tires, tons of tires sitting around the garage, not to mention the yard littered with truck axles. The advertised fish pond and firepit were the size of washtubs with loosely piled rock holding them in the ground. And the yard was under 5 inches of mud from recent rains and too many trucks driving over it. This was depressing. We went away discouraged. I put Jane back to bed and went back to the internet.

2/15/07 Thursday. 73183. Worked in the morning, talked to the agent, who is surprisingly free to deal with us, and we got together for another try. Got to move fast, in the Spokane market. Houses disappear off the market inside a month. Two months is considered long. My whole list can obsolesce in a couple of weeks. And this day's hunt was better. Two actual real possibilities, one in a restoration neighborhood, mostly vintage 1890's, well-redone, but with a shell of a Victorian next door and an 'interesting' neighborhood, somewhat Bohemian. The other was more traditionally suburban, but old, and it smelled literally like a stable. We wonder what it was used for before it became a house. We about decided on the first place, interesting huge basement, no dishwasher, but really, really nice inside, in an upbound neighborhood. But the agent suggested (which I should have thought of) that I check crime stats for the areas. Jane was well enough to sit up and watch telly this evening, then folded, and I went back to the computer to run the crime check on the properties we thought might be our answer, with terribly distressing results. Crime stats on the better house said there'd been 240 criminal arrests within a quarter mile of the 1890's place, lot of assaults, thefts, burglaries, and 70 near the other, that smells, mostly drugs, car thefts, and assault. I'm depressed.

2/16/07 Friday. 74531. Well, I spent a number of hours, well past two, going over absolutely every address of every actual prospect with our requirements that's in Spokane, and crosschecking the crime stats. I've come up with a short list of 10 places to look, all with fewer than 30 incidents in the past 3 months, and costing more money than we wanted to spend. And I feel like blazes. My head is killing me, I got no sleep last night, and my stomach is upset. But we've still got to do something, or it's going to be spring, the windows will all be open, the noise will be killer, and I've got to get down South to see my mother---which takes a slice out of spring; and I'm trying to keep this book in my head and get it finished. Our agent, sensing blood in the water, cleared her calendar and took us to one place—like the Winchester House, a warren of odd rooms, and the basement remodeled with a ceiling that makes me have to stoop in certain places, yet they're all called bedrooms. We left that place bewildered. Then we got to another place that was supposed to be vacant, and wasn't. We gave up. Then the agent took us to one she'd found, and it was, from the curb, just...different. Circa 1956. Brick, which is very unusual in Spokane. Not great from the curb, but right on the street we most want. Situated between two heavily trafficked streets, but we like that. Big finished basement. A garage that nobody has dented the door on. With no leaks. Air conditioning, a rarity in our price range, up here in the north. Cabinets are a mess, appliances mostly work. Only one bath, with a blue tub---we'd rather white---and that had been a must, two bathrooms, but it has a long counter and enough drawers. And there's enough storage, and the house is solid. We decided for the rest of it, we could cope. Mindful how fast houses go, we decided to pounce on it immediately. And drove back to the agency to sign papers and put down a deposit. We were halfway through the process, check written, thinking we had the house, when a search turns up the fact there's a prior offer, a week old, contingent on the buyer selling their house—meaning they get it if they sell their place and deliver the money. But there's no offer yet on their house. Our agent says we should put in an offer to buy the house immediately, that a contingency on that basis doesn't constitute a purchase, but we aren't allowed to know what the other people offered. So we offered, trying to figure what that amount ought to be, and went home via a kind of glum supper at Tomato Street, having gone from joyous delight to a headlong crash. Turns out moreover we're dealing with a trust, and we have to wait for Monday for the estate executor and committee to meet even to get any kind of answer as to whether they're willing to consider our offer on the place, and if we have to go higher, we can't afford it. Plus it's Presidents' Day, and it's not certain they'll even meet. And then if they do accept our offer in principle, they have to give the other buyer 10 days to come up with the cash. Which, who knows, they might be able to do. Jane's down. I'm trying not to be: I've been through this so many times. And if you've found one perfect house, you can find another. But we just won't know for a while. Meanwhile to get the loan, we have to attend a financing seminar in the morning—we're at least proceeding on that. Jane's nearing the end of her antibiotics. I hope this gets that infection. She says it's some better. She's trying not to crash, but she's playing obsessive solitaire, which is not a good thing. I'm just at loose ends now. I can't tell her it's going to be ok. My most hopeful theory is that the other agent, who should have recorded that contingency offer on the listing, didn't, because he represents the seller, and the other offer was much lower than the trust's asking price, so they took that offer just to have some movement on the house and force the next offer higher or faster: if that's the case, we stand a chance. If not---we don't get it.

2/17/07 Saturday. 74531. We attended the seminar in the morning, got our necessary (for the bank) certificates, tried to take some of the bank papers by the realty office on the way back, and just came home and collapsed, both of us. There's nothing we can do now, except Jane has to do her 2006 taxes to provide paperwork for the bank; and now, as per the seminar, I find I have to do the same, when I thought the 3 prior years were enough; so at least anxiety over the house situation will have some relief as we have to wrestle with the tax mess, and then I have to beg my accountant to actually run my taxes next week and get me the forms by FedEx—because if the committee should come back approving our deal, and if the other party folds their offer immediately, we might have to move fast. If you have an offer accepted, in Washington, apparently, you have 14 days to get a loan approved or lose the house—which we don't know we'll get a chance at in the first place. I have a splitting headache this evening. I want to sleep, and we're both too wired to get any rest. Jane's gone to bed, all the same, and I hope she doesn't relapse in this stress. She's been trying to get on her feet and go when we've had agent appointments, and I think she's pushed herself too hard: I drove---we didn't share the car with the agent, because she doesn't need to catch whatever we've still got---and with the GPS unit, it wasn't too stressful finding the places, but you still end up climbing a lot of stairs, and neither of us it too fit for that. But I'm frustrated. I haven't got anything to search up on the internet, after days of intensive search, and I'm kind of at loose ends and just glum, exhausted, and most of all, exasperated. I cooked our supper by flashlight this evening. We've got to do something about those lights. And the new light I got for the tank has, in the last two days, killed six of my corals while I've been tied down with this stuff—too strong for the tank. Our tank was so pretty, and now it's a total mess. I've got to fix that. Got to get and install a new light or see it damage more things. I've got to scare up my tax records. Papers and bills are literally half a foot deep on that computer desk. Sunday is going to be all paperwork and cleanup, and Jane's still too sick to be up cleaning stuff. Pushing a pencil and figuring taxes is going to be her job today; I clean, and run the accounting program for printout, and I may get her help on my taxes. Meanwhile I've got to be sure everything is ready to mail on Monday---no, drat! It can't even go until Tuesday, because of the holiday. I think I'll fax stuff down to the accountant. We wish we were down at Radcon. We had a call from Sharon, who is having a great time. We can console ourselves we at least didn't bring contagion to the con. We couldn't have done that level of exertion. It's hard to resist parties, but Jane came close enough to being in the hospital that I'm being real fussy about her sitting down when her energy runs out. Tomorrow is the 14th day since she started coming down with this stuff, and that was the day I began feeling markedly more mentally 'on'. So even if she had the Tamiflu, and threw it off, maybe tomorrow will be a day of real improvement in her stamina. It was for mine, at least. I can tell you, if you get this stuff, you get one week of semiconscious misery, one week of dragging around feeling half dead, and a third week of feeling exhausted. I'm hoping tomorrow may mark some kind of turnaround for me, too. My stomach hurts, my head hurts, and I'm really ready for this all to be better.

2/18/07 Sunday. 75022. Got up at 4am, got a little work done on the book, then hit the office and started getting organized down to sharpening the pencils before Jane woke up. Laid out all the financial papers, ran the computer reckoning of the accounts, found all the recent tax books, ran off the 2007 tax forms off the IRS site, and began working on my own. Jane got up and decided to cook bacon while I did this---welcome, a good breakfast. Then we both sat down to try to figure this out. The desk in the office is 5 inches deep in forms, bills and unanswered letters, but the dining room table proved ok for work. And after a while I actually began to make sense of mine, which says my brain is in better shape or I'm totally delusional. By afternoon I headed for the fish store to figure out what to do and buy a new light, but Kevin, the owner, says it's not the light: the survival of the aculeus and the spotty way the skin has died on those that have died tells him that the trouble is chemical, not the light, and that the spike of high alkalinity I had was to blame. I'd been letting it fall naturally instead of trying to remediate, and I've had a big spike of phosphate too: so possibly the combo was to blame. So I came home with a plan, tested the Total Dissolved Solids in my water filter to be sure phosphate wasn't coming from there, and began consulting online for some remedies to this situation. More on that later. We watched the skating competition on the telly, then went off and looked at paint chips at Lowe's, trying not to get our hopes up too high.

2/19/07 Monday. 74329. Presidents' Day, and a holiday, and I wasn't totally sure we'd hear anything on the house despite assurances we would; but lo! our realtor called early to say that the committee wouldn't meet until tomorrow, but that they were almost certain to call in the other buyer and invoke the contract, which says that the other side has to take the contingency off [begin the process of actually buying the house] within 24 hours or cede the house to the other offer [us.] We really wish we weren't in this kind of duel for the house, but this is the situation we have, and we may know by late Wednesday whether or not we call the bank and start the process of buying it, or whether we go back to the drawing board and start looking at houses again. Meanwhile Jane called our chiropractor and got an appointment: her knees were a mess, and he wants her back in two weeks to renew the treatment, because it may take that. So that's where we are: half a step forward on the house front, knees repaired, and a long drive; I'm tired. Tomorrow we'll drop by the realtor's office to sign and respond to whatever the committee comes up with as a counteroffer. Then we wait again. We hope we're going to get to skate tomorrow. It's been much too long, and we'll have to go slow and cautiously.

2/20/07 Tuesday. 74329. We went back onto the ice, both of us, though Jane was doubtful, and very sore. It was something to try to skate---different than being a new skater and just tootling in a circle around the ice---we know enough to get into real trouble, and use the heels and toes of our blades. I stepped out there and went on my heel---whoa! Upper body wasn't ready for that. Then the toe, and nearly pitched forward. It took a quarter hour to get my balance back, but then I settled into the boots, and found myself doing pretty well with the turns and waltz-jumps. Jane was in the same shape. We only skated an hour, so as not to overdo; and then we took the papers by the realtor's office, and signed more papers for the counteroffer from the trust that owns the house. So now we wait. The other bidder has 24 hours to take the contingency off the house and start his loan application, or we move into prime position and we start our loan process and buy the house instead. And we won't know until tomorrow.

2/21/07 Wednesday. 74329. As you can see, we're not getting much sleep done, much work done, or anything else, in the worry over this house situation. We went skating, waiting the while for the phone call to tell us we've lost the house or gotten it, and Hank was on the ice, bless him: guys are wonderful on the ice, except when they hack a divot or a track, they hack it hard. I had a lesson with Joan, and had gotten off the ice because I was tired. But Jane stayed on to take a lesson, hit a track on her backward arc, and went down on her head, taking Joan with her. We hope Joan's ok---Jane didn't need a fall, I'll tell you, because she was so sore before this happened. She's in soaking, trying to undo the aches, as I write. But meanwhile we got a phone call from the realtor saying it's 99 percent certain we've got the house. In 30 more minutes, it will be ours---or ours as far as now we have to arrange an appraisal, an inspection, and our bank loan, which is already approved. So here I sit, watching the clock...and knowing I've got to get my little self organized and get to work to help pay for this. This house has one bath---we'd wanted two; it has a very iffy kitchen: I'd wanted a really good one; but it has all the room we need, and the cats are going to go berserk with a basement to explore. Thirty more minutes. Twenty-nine. Twenty-eight. Cross your fingers.

2/22/07 Thursday. 74821. We got it. The count went to the deadline, and no word. And no word. Finally our realtor called to say definitively there was no official word, that if the other party had done something and we weren't told, we wouldn't find it out til the other office opened in the morning. So we waited until 10am this morning, at which point we got a call from our realtor saying they had a signed document ceding the house to us. We flew about getting documents together---getting lunch: I rammed my finger into a shelf reaching for the hotdogs, jammed my fingernail so hard it bloodied it up a third of an inch under the nail, and I never even felt it was bleeding. That's how much adrenaline we're carrying. But we did get things together, moved money around: in the way of a writer's life, after months with no income, a pretty major check came in, and that---was oh, so welcome. We ran to the bank, deposited that and went to see our loan officer. That took a long time, and it turned out we needed W-2's for the last 3 years. So I made a wild and desperate call to our accountant in Oklahoma on my cell, while in his office, and I owe that woman roses: she raked up the missing pieces and faxed them inside 15 minutes. Then, leaving the bank with most things needed depending only on the house inspection we've scheduled for Monday morning at 9, I discovered I didn't have the phone number of our new insurance guy, ---but---our loan officer had it, because I'd e-mailed all the contacts to him. So back upstairs in the bank and got the number, and headed off that way, which took as long as the bank. But we now have new car insurance and insurance for the house to be activated at closing. So afterward we headed off to the Swinging Doors, one of our old watering holes and soon to be again, since it lies pretty well at the top of the hill between the new house and the rink. Had a fairly decent supper, then headed home on a little detour past the new house---and missed it: the exposure on that side of the road is pretty brief, surrounded by a pine tree, and just a driveway. So, well, we just hope not to get rear-ended trying to get in and out on that major road. But we went home---of all weeks, AC Neilsen has picked us as one of the households, so we're faithfully starting to record what we watch. When you receive over a hundred channels, filling the darned thing out is complex...unlike the last time I did this, back in the early days of tv AND Neilsen, when I was a kid. My tv habits are simple. CNN most of the day, then UPN, Fox, or Bravo or the Science channel. But you still have to list all those other channels, most of which I don't even know the content

2/23/07 Friday. 75729. I hadn't realized I was so tired. I'd been tracking the housing market by computer, obsessively, at all hours of the working day, making sure nothing got past us. I'd accumulated data on a hundred houses, and yet the one we ended up buying is none of the above. I could be frustrated, except it's so right for us. And we spent all yesterday running around at high speed. I got up, worked a bit, then got dressed and went to the rink---supposed to have a lesson with Lindsey; but after a 30 minute drive to get there and 20 minutes kitting up to get on the ice, I got out there for about 15 minutes and just folded. It felt like a blood sugar crisis. I went back to the locker room while Jane continued on the ice, whiplash and all. I just didn't have it in me even to walk to the concession stand for a second latte. We'd been going to take her car [affectionately named Wesley] to the rink too, so we could split up, but we'd come in one because her battery's dead, it's snowing [doesn't stick to pavement, a pretty snow with no inconvenience] and we just decided there was shopping to do and she could do that because I had a hair appointment, without us having to mess with the jumper cables with Jane with a sore neck. So after we got out, we had a fast-Chinese lunch and went on to the salon, while Jane took off to Costco to do some moving-shopping. This is scary---Jane is a power shopper, and I never can keep up with her, so this time she was let loose without a sea-anchor, and it wasn't until I was through with my hair appointment and we went out that I found what she'd been into---shopping for ladders and fridges with ice in the door, and so on and so on. What she'd picked up, however, were sensible packing boxes and Rubbermaid storage boxes, so that was good, and tomorrow we'll fill a few of them. We went on home, I cooked dinner, and then did nothing but catnap while watching telly after dinner. I don't do that sort of thing. But I just couldn't wake up. I think I've been under a bit of tension, what say? So it was early to bed and not even any reading at bedtime, just out with the lights and out with me.

2/24/07 Saturday. 73282. A little more awake. I got a little work done, erasing outline and writing forward. Then Jane started packing up the fragiles, and I joined her in that, trying to handle some of the office mess, and gather up some of the things we need, and more packing. Plus carrying things up and down the three flights of stairs to the garage. In the evening we broke for supper with Sharon and Steve---we're hoping Steve can give us some help on the storeroom moving, because we'd rather pay a friend than strangers. We went home and just immediately crashed, to bed by 8pm. Which is how tired we both are.

2/25/07 Sunday. 74821. Up again, somewhere around four am, got a little work done, and then fixed breakfast, because Jane had packing in her agenda, and I knocked off and went downstairs to help: she wanted to rearrange the nearer garage to receive fragiles from upstairs, and so I volunteered to pack books---I packed a 15 foot x 7 foot wall of books, broke nearly all my fingernails into a jagged mess, and am suitably exhausted. We took one break to go buy more boxes at Costco, then stopped at Scotty's for lunch, and went at it again. We now have something like order in our nearside garage. If only we had in our other storerooms. We're wiped. Tomorrow we go to the new place with the inspector and get the final word on buying this house: this is our last chance to back out of the deal without a penalty. And we don't see any reason to back out, but tomorrow will tell that tale.

2/26/07 Monday. 74821. Well, up at 4 am, tried to get some work done, but I wasn't getting anywhere. I fixed breakfast, and we went off to our appointment with the house inspector and our realtor, got a re-look at the house---can't believe I missed the bedroom in the basement that will be our library! And the good news is, it was a pass-with-flying-colors inspection. The house was apparently owned by a former sea captain, as I understand the story, and I'm suspecting he wired that breaker box himself: I've never seen wires right-angled and coordinated into a design like a computer chip, not in a breaker box. Everything neatly labeled. Top of the line heater and air conditioner. Ship-shape is an adjective you could apply to this house. We discovered the fence has a gate in it and that expanse of concrete in the smallish backyard is a former driveway before Jane's room turned from garage to master bedroom---and they built the new garage. It amounts to close-approach driveway into the yard and up to the back door. This is good. And things work. I'm not used to things actually working. We were ecstatic with the way the inspection went, and in the midst of it all, Joan turned up to give the place a once-over. Joan thinks we got a good deal. So did the inspector. So we feel good. Most of the house has two-prong outlets, but the work had been done to ground the other sockets, so all we have to do is install new three-prong sockets and connect the ground wire. We went over to Joan's for coffee, then came home and called the bank and got that straightened out and on schedule. We're hoping to be able to close on the deal early. And then we got a call from Sharon on her way to her job---quite a lot she's got going on, too. She's trying to help us with the packing, but she's up to her ears in alligators. But we do see how all this is going to work. I do need to install a range hood and get the pipe to go all the way through the roof---which means removing and relocating one cabinet. And meanwhile, I'd like to get a good range---but discover to my extreme dismay that all the manufacturers have gone nuts over smoothtop ranges. They're crazy. Have you read the instructions for care of those things? Spill a little sweet sauce on the top, and you've practically ruined it: you have to re-treat the surface, not to mention the problem getting it off. You can't use bleach-containing cleaners, you can't do this, you can't do that, and most of all, you can't use an iron skillet without risk of ruining the surface. Not for me, no sirree. I'm an iron skillet cook, and that's the way it is. We hates it, we hates it, we doessss. We're going for electric coils, no matter what features I give up. And I've still got to get a range hood: right now there's only a smoke vent some foot outward on the ceiling and it doesn't vent to the outside: that was the one real gripe the inspector had and I agree with him: if you get a grease fire with that arrangement, you have a dangerous, dangerous problem, and that's going to get fixed.

2/27/07 Tuesday. 74821. So what do we find when we go to sign the final addenda to the contract on the house? We get a call from our banker and we make 200.00 too much per year to be able to be IN the first-time homebuyers' program we had to attend that class [with the flu] to get the certificate for that should have qualfied us for 5.25 interest, and which made a big difference in our negotiation for a house at the upper end of what we could afford. Skunked! We're going to have to pay 5.75, and this AFTER we buy down points, meaning pay cash money up front to the bank. We're so disgusted. If we could have a domestic partnership---we've only been under the same roof for 20 years---we'd qualify as a household and things would be counted differently, but hey, the law is guaranteed to be evenhanded, not fair. But hmmn, is that quite even-handed? Ah, well, it's what we've got. We stopped by the desk for our financial advisor and told them go ahead and liquidate shares for a slightly larger downpayment than we'd thought we'd have to make because of those points. At least we have the money, even if it hurts. But wait---we get home to discover the stock market has taken a 400 point nosedive, which impacts the stock we just told our advisor to sell, so he'll have to sell more than we planned to cover the amount we need. We're about wiped out, in savings. Sigh. This is not one of our better days. I always know, when it comes to houses, there's always something that stings you hard---and I hope this is the last of it. Two hits in one day.

2/28/07 Wednesday. 76382. Last day of our corporate fiscal year. Naturally the market is recovering. If we were really, really lucky, our sell order didn't go in yesterday, and if we're extremely lucky, our financial guy will pay attention to the market and time the sale accordingly. I'm too bummed out to call him and ask. BUT, at least nothing worse has happened. And we had a glorious snowfall: deep and sloppy, and we decided to stay home from the rink and pack. So we packed. Everything's stripped off the walls of my room. Jane's room is getting there: she has so many sitabouts. Maybe I'll get mine out in the new place.

3/01/07 Thursday. 77101. First day of the new fiscal year. Up at 4 to try to get some writing done. And we kit up and head off to skate. Our car is tilted. We know the other one, Jane's, has a dead battery. The Subaru has a flat rear tire. Curses! Screw everything. We head back upstairs, or I do, while Jane offloads the Subaru to the Olds to get at the spare. I check my AAA card. Expired yesterday. I know I've paid the new year, but have no card or updating sticker. So I call AAA, and get them to admit, yes, we are paid. And they will ship us new cards, and there's a 30 day grace period and they'll call a wrecker. Meanwhile Jane comes upstairs, and in about 10 minutes the wrecker shows up downstairs. The guy wants to air up the back tire, which is half flat, so I can get to the tire store. But we also have them jump the Olds, which won't take a jump until we disconnect the alarm system, go figure. And for once I actually have the paperwork on the tire guarantee. The GPS for some reason won't acknowledge the tire store's addy, but I got it to take something close, which solves the "do I turn left or do I turn right" dilemma up at the mainstreet corner. And while they fix the tire, Jane suggests we drive 20 miles over to the most remote storeroom to check on it and see if we have painting gear there. No. We don't. We drive back, the Subaru is ready. And we head back 5 miles to Lowes to check on ladders, which turn out not to be exactly what we want. Jane by now has heartburn. It's time we got something to eat. So off we go to Scotty's, and intermittent with writing, for the rest of the afternoon, we use the better painting ladder we pulled up from the garage to get the Christmas decor of the high, hitherto unreachable shelf it's been on for 2 years, and to get the butterfly collection down from the kitchen lintel. This is the last day of the Neilson ratings business, so I'll send that off tomorrow. And tomorrow we're getting a hard estimate from Bekins Van Lines about what it would cost to move all this stuff. Turns out the helpful legislature, lobbied doubtless by the movers, has now forbidden the piano mover to move our tank and telly, so we have to get a mover to do it, at peril of our stuff. The piano guy could do it so much more safely.

3/02/07 Friday. 73271. More packing. We got word the appraiser is actually assessing the house right now, so fingers crossed that that goes well. And the Bekins guy arrived, actually only 30 minutes late and with an advisory phone call. I walked him around all our stuff locally, and he took our word on the other two units. He says its going to take 2 crews, 2 trucks, and that way they'll avoid running into each other on the stairs---one truck, one crew to get the two store rooms, one to get the upstairs furniture, and meanwhile we just keep packing. I sure hope he doesn't come in at an estimate through the roof. I just don't see how we can do this otherwise. I'm wearing out, and Jane's exhausted.

3/03/07 Saturday. 73582. Packing, packing, and carrying things on the stairs. Sharon's been helping us, and she's exhausted from work, running over here and carrying a few boxes. We found a desk we like, unfinished, but it's just too pricey. We're going to go on looking.

3/04/07 Sunday. 73690. More packing. What can I say? It's sort of like a treasure hunt, as we find things forgotten---

3/05/07 Monday. 74822. Got the Bekins estimate, right on target for what we'd planned, so we're going to go with them. Movers getting paid by the job is so much better, because you don't have to bite your nails when the by-the-hour guys start slowing down due to being tired, at most generous estimate of motive. We outright forgot we had a chiropractic appointment---it's *never* on Monday. So we have to call tomorrow and apologize to Dr. Mike. And beg for another appointment, because we really need it. We called the bank to find out how the mortgage is coming, but the appraisal hasn't actually gotten to them yet. Sigh.

3/06/07 Tuesday. 74822. We were able to get on the ice for a while, and are suitably wobbly. We retrieved Jane's camera from our realtor---who found it in the house, where we'd left it, when they were doing the appraisal. Then we took off for the south and Dr. Mike, which we were way ready to do. We're still hoping the appraisal gets to the bank. And there's nothing we can do but wait.

3/07/07 Wednesday. 73179. Another wobbly ice session. Packing and more packing. Got a call from the title company that we can come in and sign tomorrow! We are so excited.

3/08/07 Thursday. 73179. We came in and signed all sorts of documents. Tons of documents. We had to go to the bank first to get the cashiers' check [gasp] and then to the title company, and then sign and sign and sign, a half inch stack of things that will convey ownership of the house to us, in just 369 more payments. We'd meant to drive by the house just to look at it, but we ended up going used-desk-hunting, and actually found one. They've agreed to hold it for us until we can get into the house and take measurements. It's L shaped, 6 feet long in either direction, with a hutch, and half the price of the unfinished one.

3/09/07 Friday. 74587. No keys. Sigh. And I've lost my cell phone. I've tried to concentrate on story and also to get some keyboard-hunting done; and pack, always with the packing. We had to do the credit card entries in accounting and get everything done; we actually got the corporate taxes as well as my personal all ready to send off to the accountant; Jane's is already done. And I've lost my cell phone. I think it might be under the front seat of the car, but the car is now totally packed, and I can't search. I called the title company, Lowe's Hardware, and Scotty's, and everywhere else I've been. No joy. I did call the phone company, and it hasn't been used. Calling doesn't work: it's dead as a mackerel---it always is: has the shortest battery life of any phone I've ever owned. I tell you if I have to replace this thing, I want one with no color, no pictures, no camera, no text, no internet---I just want one with batteries that will go a week!

3/10/07 Saturday. 74487. More packing. Filling holes in the wallboard. Sharon came over to help us get yesterday's packed stuff downstairs, and we're beginning to run out of garage. I decided I was going to take one of the two big planks from my platform bed downstairs, and got about 2 flights down on the landing when something seemed to explode in the center of my left calf, quite painful. I couldn't go all the way down with the board, Jane had to take it, and Sharon was behind me. She advised I get some ice on it, which I did. I'm not sure what I did, popped a bloodvessel, ruptured a muscle, partial tear on a tendon, but it was a weird feeling I've never gotten before, like a jolt, relatively painless. My guess is, since I've done the other two, I ruptured a muscle sheath. So I sit with ice, while everybody else works. Bummer! And no cell phone. The only hope I have left is that it's in the car or it's in our locker at the rink. I have cut it off, so it can't be used, but what a pain!

3/11/07 Sunday. 75101. I spent the night with my very swollen and Ace-bandaged foot and leg propped up on a bag full of clothes from my closet, which I dragged onto the mattress [which is on the floor]. It wasn't a restful night. But at least all our computers survived the Y2K event set into motion by our Congress when they voted in Daylight Savings Time early.  I spent a lot of the day using the keyboard instead of the stairs, and running down things we need. Poor Jane has been schlepping stuff downstairs and I'm getting worried about her.

3/12/07 Monday. 76640. We got the keys! We headed over there at high speed to meet our realtor, who gave us an envelope with some freebies from Home Depot, and also, and this is what attracted us to this realtor, offered us a free pet from the shelter. Naturally Ysabel and Efanor would take exception for that, but we asked her to donate the free pet to the "case of most need" at the shelter, which will let somebody who'd have trouble with the fees for adoption have a pet. We're going to back that up with two more such sponsorships, just for luck, and suggest that anyone out there who can do so, it's a nice thing. It saves a pet and puts same with someone who's likely a very loving owner, just a bit short of cash. So we take photos, offload the cars [no cell phone turned up, and on the way back after the first load, I checked the locker at the rink: definitely no phone!] and take another load over, after which we scrubbed, we cleaned the fridge, the counters, the cabinets, and Jane bought rakes to help us get the pine needles and red berries off the walk before it tracks onto the white kitchen floor. We stowed things and took measurements: the desk will fit. Jane's piano can go on the living room side of the kitchen wall beside the fish tank, and where I need to drill to get two pipes through the living room floor will come out fine in the downstairs craft room, before it goes through the wall and into the unfinished side of the basement, where we can set up the sump. We got the feel of the house after dark, and it's a comfortable feeling---unlike the one in Oklahoma that didn't. The feeder avenue beside us is busy, but not noisy. The church catty-angled from us across the feeder avenue had a service [on Monday?] and was quiet to the point of invisibility: that's good. And there's only one barking dog, whose barking was very reasonably directed at new activity across the street. Oh, we are so happy! We are exhausted---got in at 9:30 pm from all that scrubbing and whatnot. Watched the tail end of the Celtic Woman concert on PBS, had a little glass of wine and fell over, too stiff to move. The painful swelling in my foot has greatly diminished today. By the way, we found a really good local wine that you may like, if you like reds---the Sangiovese from Latah Creek Winery, just around the corner from us. It's one of the best dry-ish reds we've run into in years. They do sell on the internet. and their Merlot has won awards, but it's not, in my own estimation, as good as the Sangiovese. [That's SAN-gee-oh-VAY-seh] They also sell a neat little device that's a wine bottle 'cork' with a hand pump, plastic, cheap, that actually will save a wine with vacuum...this makes reds a much nicer proposition, because they're notorious for going 'off' if recorked and left overnight. For Chardonnay, I'd go with Hogue Wineries, a Columbia Valley wine, a very definite strong taste, but right down the middle of acceptable, for me. Just one of those odd little finds: we'd never given Latah Creek its proper respect because it's local, and you don't know what you'll get, but we tried it on a lark, and it's great.

3/13/07 Tuesday. 76640. Note: from here on, until the 3rd of March, I've had to do this from memory, because there was no time to take notes, so forgive me for the reconstruction. Understand that we had help from Sharon, from her husband Steve, from Joan, and would have had help from Terri, but Terri's back is iffy and it didn't work out. We're not totally sure on what day they were actually there, but we're pretty sure, and we wouldn't have survived without them, that's the truth! So here we are on March 13th. We loaded the car to the gills, went to breakfast at the Village Inn, an old favorite of ours, and had the best breakfast to be had. Then we took our keys and inspected our new house, planned colors, reached agreements, offloaded stuff, and went to Lowes after paint. The kitchen has this tulip and watering can border all around white walls, and that has to be pulled. I started in peeling wallpaper, and had about half of it done when Jane showed up from Lowe's run with proper tools. Scrape and peel. I've broken 3 nails and am so sore I can hardly lift my arms. We also bought new cell phones: turns out it was time for an upgrade. This took forever. But at least we can now communicate when one of us is at the house and the other at the apartment.

3/14/07 Wednesday. 76640. I finished with the wallpaper and we started painting: first was a dark yellow, in the pantry, which just glows with that color: I've called a plumber, but got no callback. I've called an electrician, but can't get a callback there, either. It seems I was way optimistic about the way this works. In Oklahoma, you call either, you get answers: here, there are more jobs than workmen, so you beg for plumbers and electricians, and you're lucky if you get one. Joan's son is an electrician. We're about to use connections to get help in that department. And I did just go to the phone book and called a likely prospect, who turned out to have a businesslike dispatcher who told us we will have a plumber Monday. Monday? Aaagh. Meanwhile we've been looking for a desk for the office, and before we overspent at Unfinished Furniture [we couldn't care less about 'solid wood': we just want something that holds what we need in the order we need it] we stopped at Davis Used Office Furniture and found exactly what we want: it's a huge L of a desk, but the room will hold it, and it comes in pieces. It has, not pigeonholes, not those useless CD slots, but vertical divides that will hold books, phonebooks, record books, book-books, and horizontal ones that will hold—gasp!—paper. What a thought, eh? Plus there's an easy sweep for the desk sitter to reach the return or the keyboard, which is not in a drawer, but on a lowered section of the desk. It's a Sauder type, and a design not currently available. And half the price Unfinished Furniture wanted for, yes, an unfinished desk. So we put a hold on it and Steve, [Sharon's husband,] is helping us move it.

3/15/07 Thursday. 76640. We start painting the kitchen in pale yellow, which won't cover the white worth spit. We paint once, twice, three times, and thank goodness for Joan and Sharon. We painted coat after coat, and began to see shadows where none existed. I'd bent over painting the pantry, and am now wearing 2 pair of gym pants to conceal the blotch of yellow on my rear: I look like hell, and am trying not to make mistakes which send my sore bones down the ladder after a cloth for cleanup. I talked to my mother in Texas, and discovered that she'd had an odd phone call—from Walker Furniture in Spokane. She hadn't mentioned it before, but it was about a phone. Ha! We'd visited Walker's on the desk quest, and *that* is where my lost phone is. So now I know.

3/16/07 Friday. 76640. We tried the living room paint, which turns out to be swimming pool blue and with the light yellow and white trim in the kitchen, makes the place look like it was painted by a first grader. We went after more paint, and got a deep Mediterranean blue [Jane calls it Payne's Grey] that looks great for the living room. So all of us are painting: Joan, Jane, Sharon, me, and after I paint, I got an attack of designer genes and headed for the wallpaper in my bedroom, an indescribable blue gingham plaid in navy and white topped by a Thomas Kinkade village at night scene as a border, chair rail high. I pulled. It gave. I started ripping. In a while, we had it clear. I'm trying to figure what to paint my room now that we've used the color I'd sort of wanted for the living room; and I settled on forest green, dark, which we picked up.

3/17/07 Saturday. 76640. Started painting my room while Jane finished up the living room, and after a little while of painting, first, the paste from the previous wallpaper started coming up through my paint, along with wallpaper fiber, and then when I got a good distance look at what I'd done, I just realized it looks like a damned blackboard. I'm an old schoolteacher. I couldn't take it. I couldn't see spending another 25.00 for more paint. But I was clearly upset, and Jane urged me to go get something else. I couldn't do reds: that's what Jane plans for her room, and it's not for me, anyway; couldn't do blues; yellows were out—that was the kitchen, and I had a yellow room when I was a kid, don't want another; don't want lilac, had one of those once, too, don't want a clear blue, I've had that. So back to the greens. I picked out a green so light it's nearly possible to mistake for light, a yellow-green you'd call New Leaf Green, very, very pale, as far from that forest green as you can get and still have color. Jane had real misgivings, but I began to like it. My furniture colors are mostly celadon green and marbled blue/green/grey/gold fabric. It actually worked. Meanwhile Jane had spotted these old metal library shelves at Davis, and they'd do great for the garage, holding all those oddments of yard chemicals and pots and auto chemicals and cleaning kits in the most economically tight space you can imagine. So those are coming to us, too, and Steve is helping us. We're starting in at 7am and working until 6-7 at night, really hard physical labor. We eat on the way home, we hit the apartment and collapse and sleep until 5am and get up and do it again.

3/18/07 Sunday. 76640. Still painting, but nearly done. Fingers hurt to wield a brush. But I peeled that flower-swag border in the bathroom. And we shlepped more stuff over. And the shelves have landed and are being filled.

3/19/07 Monday. 76640. The plumber is supposed to be there at 8, so I had to go over early, solo. The plumber, with Gold Seal Plumbing, should anyone local need a good one, is named Don, and is a real great guy. He came equipped to do the job and did a general inspection, finding a few problems, and is estimating what it will take to get a bathroom downstairs, where, if you recall, water flowing uphill is a problem that has to be overcome. He is going to get some hose that will work without a bis-2diethylhexyl-whatever problem...seems the stuff is in white pvc and will harm fish: I wouldn't worry if it were just a pvc connection, but we've got a 20 foot continuously cycling run of pipe, here, and buildup could become significant. We had a late breakfast and did some mopup painting and cleanup. I did call Walker Furniture and told them I'd be in there to pick up that phone. Meanwhile I like my new phone [an LG] much better than the old one.

3/20/07 Tuesday. 76640. Breakfast at the Village Inn, and we discovered to our dismay that they're about to close their doors—one waitress told us the owner had been supposed to be finding a new site for the restaurant, since they'd lost their lease to a bank wanting the same site, and he just took the best site for himself to set up a steak house. That left the restaurant corporation high and dry, and all the employees screwed. So these are their final days. We really hope Village Inn builds another restaurant in Spokane: they're the best place for breakfast there is, wherever you find them. And the staff is just great. This place has been here for 20 years, and now they're just—shafted. It's not fair. We got to the house, and Don showed up with 40 feet of hose, half for up, at 3/4 inch and half for 'down' at 1 inch, which is what the fish store says I'll need for the new system. Don drilled through our wooden floor on the main level, neatly snaked the hose through the ceiling of the finished side of the basement to the unfinished side, right where the sump will be. Beautiful! Expensive, but beautiful.

3/21/07 Wednesday. 76640. Breakfast at the Village Inn, and, it being Wednesday and time to set up the sump so I can move the tank expeditiously, I call the fish store to be sure my pump got there: it did. That's the good news. The bad news is—they accidentally sold my sump, the only one, already paid for, and nothing else will work. I blazed over there and tried to figure out what we could do...I wasn't irate, just floored. They were embarrassed, and trying to figure what to do, called coast to coast trying to get another, and couldn't get anyone on the line. So they told me they'd call when they heard anything. I went back to the house, where Don the Plumber is busy trying to install the garbage disposal, and it turns out we have water pressure of about 150, which is enough to blow out my ro/di unit—or blow the seams on the pipes. So we're going to have to install a pressure regulator to bring that down. He's going to set that up for very soon, like next week.

3/22/07 Thursday. 76640. A lot of loads of stuff going to the house, and absolute finish-up on the painting. Joan helped—I'm so sore and it hurts so much to get up and down off my knees to do baseboards and my hands are so sore I can hardly hold onto a paint roller: and we gratefully took Joan to lunch.

3/23/07 Friday. 76640. I went over to the house at oh-god-thirty to meet the electricians, who were supposed to be there between 7:30 and 8.The electricians showed up—the head guy is Joan's son—but only to scope out the situation, it turned out, and they'll be back on Monday to do the work. I finally got breakfast when Jane showed up for the day, and we finished the painting and cleanup. The house reeks of paint.

3/24/07 Saturday. 76640. We took the cats over to the house for the first time. They weren't impressed, especially with the paint smell. They mostly wanted to be in their cages. We were kind of disappointed. We spent time unpacking and cleaning up. The cats were glad to be back in the apartment, but we have news for them: this is our last night here. And typically—the neighbors were screaming and yelling and slamming doors at 2 am. I've generally been sorry to leave places I've lived. This one, despite the beautiful view, I do not regret leaving.

3/25/07 Sunday. 76640. This is our official 'move' date, meaning we shlep more stuff over to the house along with the cats, and take our personal kits as well. This time we'd set up the cats' scratching posts by doorways in our respective rooms, and we'd set up Aerobeds in our respective rooms, and all of a sudden the cats shifted attitude—like—this isn't a visit. They'd evidently thought we were on a visit yesterday: today, they began scratching their posts every five minutes, rubbing their chins on familiar items [for those of you dog folk, this is how cats mark territory, via small glands on paws and cheeks] and generally claiming what was theirs. They began to run the basement stairs, climbing on boxes, tried the kitchen cabinet once, and were disabused of that. They're happy as larks, and purring and rubbing heads and acting as if they've figured it all out. We unpacked boxes, and generally worked at planning our rooms and the living room. Had supper at Tomato Street and we went to bed at 8, just absolutely exhausted. We're popping Advil, and I hurt so bad I had to drag myself up off the floor and take more at 2 and at 5am---I just hurt. And Jane's trying to carry everything heavy, and she's in just as bad shape.

3/26/07 Monday. 76640. We woke up in our own new house. The electricans came for real this time, and worked all morning, for a hefty bill. But we got a new plug-in in the hall, where we can use the vacuum; a quad plug where the fish tank sits; a quad plug gfi [ground fault interrupt] down by the sump, two new breakers, for those, and Sharon gave us an in-box garbage disposal she'd had, an In-sink-erator, a good brand, and Don the Plumber had installed it, but it lacked electricity: we got that, involving a tile saw and a new line from the basement to the sink. Our 2-prong outlets throughout the house need replacement: Jane's doing some of that. But we now have power where we're going to need it. And I'm hoping like everything the sump gets here.

3/27/07 Tuesday. 76640. Trying to tuck things in where they belong so there'll be more room for the other stuff to arrive. Doing some last minute touchup, cleaning the sump. I got the base for the sump, so I'm ready for that. The lines rise from the living room floor like garden eels, and coil on the basement floor like snakes. I can't wait.

3/28/07 Wednesday. 76640. Breakfast at Village Inn, and a last day of prep for the movers, meaning trying to get some order in this place and at the apartment. Jane and I split up, Jane working at the house while I went back to the apartment to do some pickup and cleaning. But most important, the fish store is open. I went running down there and to my vast relief the sump is in. But the lines I have expensively had installed through the living room floor—this turns up when I take two snippets of hose over to the fish store to pick up the sump—don't fit its connections: the largest line, intended as the downflow, will fit the Iwaki pump as the 'up' line; but the other line needs to be completely replaced; and in this town, you just don't call a plumber and get him there on the spot, and that rock is dying in those buckets. I'm blitzed. Absolutely fried. I don't know what to do. So I picked up the sump, the Iwaki pump, paid for the latter, and we loaded down the car with stuff from the apartment, as I made a run home to call Don the Plumber and get him to *please* come and replace the #2 line: Don and his company fortunately are all good guys—Don was already supposed to come on Thursday for the pressure valve, and meanwhile I'd gone to the House of Hose [who didn't have anything that would work, that wasn't so thick-walled that Hulk Hogan couldn't bend it] and then I went to Lowe's where I spotted some hose that's intended for hot tubes: thin as paper, but tough, and it's only a 'down' line. Ridged, alternate with 'insert' sections, which I pray will work. But they don't have 20 feet of hose on that reel. Their computer says they have 50 feet of it. So I scan the boxes on the top shelf up and down that row, find one with the right stock number, and point this out to the clerk, who gets the mega ladder. Meanwhile this other woman yells “that's what I want!” and we hold a mini-sale-event on hot tub hose, as I get my 20 feet first: I hope it left her with enough. Don called, meanwhile, and agreed in principle, but he was somewhere the cells didn't reach well, and I tried to get through that I already had the hose. Meanwhile I got that load home and went to help Jane. We piled everything we'll take into the kitchen and headed home again: meanwhile Don's dispatcher called and said it was a go; and Don finally got to a clear calling area and I could tell him he didn't have to search for the hose. I did get the sump down to the basement, and it fits its stand with the pump attached—if I don't put in the union valve Kevin at the fish store told me I should. Darn! So Jane asked why not put the union valve on the 'up' line. This was so sensible I smote myself on the forehead and called Kevin, asking why not install on the 'up' line, where we really may need to throttle down that flow. Oh, says Kevin, I forgot to tell you to do that: you need another union valve on that line. So, points to Jane, I went down to Lowe's, second or third trip of the day, got the list of parts Kevin recommended, came back, and most of them didn't fit. Except the union ball valve and the two hose barb connectors which will splice that into the line, when I get the strength to tackle it. We got supper at Scotty's on the way out of the apartment for the last time before the move, and landed home to a house smelling increasingly fishy because of the rock in the buckets.

3/29/07 Thursday. 76640. Breakfast at the Village Inn, and we head in separate cars over to the apartment. The movers showed up at 8:30 practically on the dot, and started moving furniture out like crazy. An excellent crew. We told them don't touch the kitchen, and started hauling into it everything that wasn't boxed or otherwise prepared, and there was more of it than I liked, but there you are—we were out of time. Jane headed for the house with the #1 truck, trying to prepare and figure out where the furniture was going to go, something I hadn't even had time to think of, except mildly to wonder if I should put my bed on the left wall or the back wall. Jane had it all figured, thank goodness, because when we showed up with the second truck, stuff was going in like crazy, and Jane had made the executive decision to get everything into the basement that was going into the basement rather than try to stage it in the garage [which would have meant us leaving our cars out at night on the main thoroughfare, not a good thing.] So she told the movers that was where all the boxes would go, and that was where they were going. I went on with the movers in the second truck to the store rooms, after we got the fish tank loaded—safely, to my vast relief. And meanwhile Don the Plumber had shown up in the midst of all this chaos to replace the hose that leads to the sump and to install a pressure valve. And Don agreed the hose I'd gotten, an inch and a quarter interior dimension hose, would work. When I showed up with truck #2, we parked that and both teams started emptying the truck that had backed through our double back gate [a nice feature of this house] and onto the short former driveway that leads right to the back door, the mud room. After that it's only 3 steps up to the main floor, in the kitchen, and the basement access is a short left turn. Boxes and furniture started flying out. The tank goes into place in the living room. There's no time to connect lines: things have to be moved, movers have to be directed, and Jane is exhausted. But at the end of things, I get down to the basement to survey the situation and to check on the ro/di water I've had mixing since yesterday—1/2 cup of salt per gallon of medically pure water to create seawater. Into a meticulously cleaned Rubbermaid Brute trash can. Polyethylene won't leach chemicals into the water. I take it this is a 50 gallon container. But note now that the label on the side says 32 gallon. Damn! I've over-added the salt. I've got to go to Lowe's and get another Brute can and start more water in that to mix them—but it's after 10pm. The rock is not going to last.
3/30/07 Friday. 76640. Second moving day. I went with the movers and Jane went to the apartment to clean and pack. I thought I'd done a good thorough job. Jane still ended up scrubbing. Jane told me just put the boxes where you can—so our longsuffering movers [Bekins, by the way, and the best company I've ever dealt with in this line] got everything loaded up and got it all to our basement—700 square feet solidly packed head high with boxes from the store rooms. And I went off to Lowe's to get that other can—but as I was setting it up to bring the ro/di line over to it, side by side with the other can and beside the laundry shelf—I knock off one of our soapy cleaning sponges straight into the 32 gallons of ro/di water I've been coddling and mixing for two days. Sigh. It has to be dumped. I tipped the can, sent it all into the floor drain, and started over in the clean can, this time with the correct proportion of salt. It takes 12 hours to run 32 gallons of ro/di water, since it processes about enough to fill a water glass every 5 to 10 minutes. And we did go over to the rink to watch Sharon skate her program for Nationals—we've been off the ice so long we can hardly imagine it; and it looks like a great program. We're enthusiastic about it. Sharon had a few glitches, got those out of her system, and wants to do some costume alterations. She's skating to “Why, God, Why?” from Miss Saigon. And we had supper—wanted to go to our traditional digs, at Tomato Street, but couldn't get into the bar with a shoehorn, and decided to go to Mamma Mia's down the road. That was too crowded, so we ended up at the Village Inn and ate on the cheap—we owe Sharon a better dinner. After that we parted company, us to our new house. I am by now so sore I can't get up if I get down on the floor. I have to have help. At least I'm now sleeping on my own mattress. No sheets, no bedframe, just the bedspread, but it's easier to get up off the floor from the mattress than from the Aerobed, which flattens when you lean on it. I'm still taking Advil at various times during the night, and I'm getting to where if I get down on the floor I can't get up without help.

3/31/07 Saturday. 76640. We had breakfast one last time at Village Inn—they'd found Sharon's glasses, which she hadn't known she'd left, so glad we did that! Tomorrow is their last day of operation. And now I have to get the fish tank in operation or else. We've lost our live rock. Jane went off to mop up at the apartment and be there for the inspection with the new management. This was frustrating, since they decided to bill us for the carpet cleaning that they do with every resident, and then to bill us for pet fur on the Venetian blinds—which have never even been unfolded. Just—we have cats—so they have this charge. We suspect these charges are on *their* contract, not on the one we signed two years ago [our lease is long since up]. But we were too tired to argue. And thank goodness Sharon, despite her grueling schedule getting ready for Nationals, came over and helped Jane with the apartment, or I think we would have died. Meanwhile I started in on the tank. I got the carpet knife, cut the 'up' hose at about eye level, teflon-taped the two barb connectors' screw ends, connected them to the union valve, [imagine a giant valve, a piece of hard white pipe the size of your fist with a turn-handle on it,] put the hose clamps on the hose I'd cut, one on each end, and jammed the two barb connectors on really hard. Tightened the hose clamps really well, since I don't want the tank emptying out onto the basement floor. Those 'up' line connections will have pressure on them. That line is the artery: the 'down' line is the the vein. Then I teflon-taped the screw-end of the pump, hefted the empty sump up on the rim on the stand so I could rotate the pump, and screwed the pump into the bulkhead Kevin had inserted into the acrylic wall of the sump. I screwed it close, *didn't* realize I should question Kevin's casual connection of the hose barb screw connector on the 'up' port of the pump—I had thought of this at 3am, and then began to realize, y'know, those round thingees on the bulkhead are screw-type thingees, and I probably ought, y'know, to screw them up tight before adding water. Meanwhile I'm running ro/di water like crazy so I can get that rock [which is beginning to smell] out of those containers before the life on it dies. But I had run enough ro/di to start adding water...if I can get the lines connected to the tank lines. Trouble is, the tank lines are 3/4 inch 'up' and one and a half 'down'. And they have to mate to a 1" 'up' and an inch and a quarter 'down'...which requires adapters. Now, yesterday I'd found an Ace hardware only a few blocks up Maple, so I went there, and got a fistful I'd hoped would help. But I need more. I can do metal hose clamps, not plastic, since they'll all be 'dry' connections, exterior to the water flow, but I'm up those basement stairs, down those basement stairs, 3 times in a half hour, checking this, connecting that. My knees are killing me. I feel like I've been poleaxed. But there's nothing for it. I make 3-4 trips to Ace, getting more connectors as others don't work. And finally get the job done and as secure as I can, which has required doing a mechanic's job upside down under the wedge shaped tank stand, and shoving and shoving to get hoses up onto connectors, then splicing same via hose adapters and hose barbs [if you forget a hose clamp, you have to undo the line to insert it] and at long last—Jane's put the plug onto the Iwaki pump—they come with no plug, if you get the Japanese motor, which is alleged to be better—so we connect the little Maxijet mixing pump and pump what little sea water I've made into the sump, then fire up the Iwaki, and good Lord! That thing sounds like the Seattle Aquarium basement, and moves water like you wouldn't believe. Up goes 32 gallons of seawater, and we have a little leak, right at the pump insert into the bulkhead. I get my brand new pliers, and tighten down, praying I don't crack the acrylic sump. Tight as I dare. We're only getting a tiny seep. I'm hoping that will diminish as the pump heats up the gasket. There's water in the tank above, and I'm meanwhile running more ro/di. And the light hose I got is suddenly stretching like a rubber band, heavy with water. I hadn't planned on that. I grab a piece of Jane's macrame rope from among the boxes where I'd spotted it and tied the hose up high to the air conditioning ducts under the joists, and that solved that, fast enough to prevent a problem. But there's enough water in the tank upstairs to start adding that rock. So I put on the bicep-high gloves for this job: that rock is smelling foul. And I start piling it in water so raw with salt and murky that I can't see what I'm doing. Slimy decayed bristleworms are leaking off the rock. My featherdusters are likely dead. I found poor Peanut the crab, dead, snails dead, no sign of life anywhere, except a couple of the sponges look intact. Horrible, horrible smell. I decided I'd better fire up the protein skimmer and get it working to get rid of the smell [and part of the food supply for the bacteria the tank needs, but the smell is just too bad]. I'm really in mourning for the inverts I lost: I loved those little hermit crabs. And they're all gone. Sam and Fred and Barney the big bristleworms; and Peanut and Big Boy and Hilda and her partner---all dead. It was just too many delays. If I'd been able to get the sump in early, get water ready, I'd have had it ready to go in 2 days and everything would be alive. But it didn't happen. So there we are. I started adding the new sand, and that means you really can't see a thing in the tank. Then a froth started happening—protein waste from all that death. I had to start the skimmer. That meant cutting some lighting grid for a platform [I'd bought that earlier] and setting the skimmer on that, then back to Ace to get an outflow pipe that will carry the effluent down and back to the tank without splashing. I got the Mag 9.5 skimmer pump into the right bay of the sump, beside the Iwaki inflow bulkhead, and got the outflow set, but it turned out where I was going to send the outflow would deliver thousands of bubbles to the tank [not good.] So I cut off another length of the 1 inch hose and shoved it onto the 3/4" outflow pipe, running it to the sump's #2 inflow port on the other end of the sump, and the result—with the macrame suspension of the #1 port inflow hose from the tank, and the arc of the #2 inflow port hose from the skimmer, is downright comic, but hey, it works. Then the breaker went, and stopped the main pump. Turns out one of the expensive new gfi plugs is kaput. I switched to the other, put the skimmer plug onto an extension cord from the ceiling near the lights, and kept going.

4/1/07 Sunday. 76640. Went to the local Shari's for breakfast. Jane helped me put the platform bed together. She's sleeping on her mattress on the floor in her room, having decided to go on using the Aerobed atop it, which she finds comfy. Boy, I don't. Both of us are popping Advil like candy. If I sit still for any length of time I can't move afterward.

4/2/07 Monday. 76640. We went back to the rink. But I was too sore to skate. Sharon says I've got a lowgrade infection and gave me an antibiotic. This is a relief. It's always a relief when what you'd thought was advancing age turns out to be medicatible. We took Joan out to lunch—then headed home and started sorting out the living room and de-boxing items. I was going to cook supper, but the antibiotic knocked me for a loop: I slept, really slept, for 4 straight hours, getting up at 6 to discover Jane's completely revised the living room. The fact is our furniture doesn't fit it well at all, and we can't figure what to do. We watched the first Mariners game of the season—we won! I took a second dose of antibiotic and went back to bed. The tank is still running, and you can sort of make out the rock. No signs of life at all. I'm so depressed about that.

4/3/07 Tuesday. 76640. Well, a little surprise in the tank this morning: the water is clearing a bit, and I saw something move. After all that mess, one lone little hermit crab is still alive, one of the nameless little blackleg micros. I need to drop in fish food anyway to get the biosystem going, but I made sure some pellets landed near him. I'm delighted. If there's one, there may be other survivors deep within the rock pile. I'll be so happy if there are! And meanwhile we are dealing with the fact our furniture doesn't fit the living room. Jane's moved it all over until it looks like a jumble. So I suggested we go to the Valley post office to see if they've got our missing two weeks of mail [the carrier stopped service to us, thinking we'd moved out, when I'd only requested fowarding] and we stopped by Spencer's, which sells inexpensive furniture. When we were desk shopping I found this wonderful sectional set that is the most comfortable thing I've sat in in years; and I wanted Jane to try it. The catch is, it's 10x10 feet, and we feared it was too big. We had then to run back to the rink to catch Sharon and make arrangements for her send-off dinner: but we had to go on to Pullman to get Dr. Mike to straighten out Jane's back—she's in such pain she can hardly sit for the car ride down there. He helped; and we had supper/lunch at Cougar Country, then drove back, and caught a little nap before it was time to gather up Sharon and Joan at Tomato Street. Jane's clever vulching [looming over the room like a vulture, waiting for someone to get up] got us a table at the packed bar, and we duly wished Sharon a great trip and great performance. We measured the living room, too, and indeed—the set won't fit. Sigh. So we're going to talk to them and see if they'll sell pieces. So we still don't know. Oh, and I didn't mention the news someone came to our door to deliver: we live on a 4 house snip of a street between two arterials, Maple, and Ash. Our driveway is on Ash. They're about to close Ash to repair a water main and repave, come April 9, and we'll be local-access only for a dusty while. But that's not all. When they finish that job, they're going to close Maple for a huge length, *plus*, they're going to close the two cross-connectors, Garland and Wellesley. How do we get over here, I ask the chap, and he says just drive across Maple on our street. But our street has a traffic barrier on Maple, and you can't cross. Oops. Well, they'll work something out. I look at our tall pines right along that roadway and just wince. I hope they leave our trees alone. But they're not widening, just repiping and repaving. Just in time for summer.

4/4/07 Wednesday. 76640. Well, the great couch hunt: the one I was looking for didn't pan out: it just wouldn't fit, even if we left out pieces. So off we go in the rain to pick up the lost cell phone from Walker Furniture, and to nearly find something that works. But that's the area of Furniture Row, as it's called, so we just hiked hither and yon and visited everywhere. We found something at Mor Furniture, inexpensive, basic, one color fits all [coffee colored] and we decided rather than a true sectional we'd get two love seats, each one a double independent recliner, so we can have company that can also watch telly. We decided to go home and measure again, and measurement said this is the best.

4/5/07 Thursday. 76640. Jane skated. I just wasn't up to it. So I went down to Mor and bought the couches, and scheduled delivery. For the rest we're still unpacking boxes and I'm still refining the fish set up. The skimmer is working too fast, but that's what we've got. I am trying to get the system buffered up to 8.3 alkalinity, and that will make it fit for life. The little crab is still alive, still out and about.

4/6/07 Friday. 76640. We got a call that the couches that are supposed to be here in 4 weeks are going to be here Monday: that's Mor for you. There must have been some on a truck that came in. So we're glad of that, but that means man-handling [or woman-handling] a 7 foot media cabinet with glass doors down into the basement, followed, tomorrow, with both chaise longues that are going to be a tight squeeze. So today we took to unpacking boxes and trying to move stuff out. We have gotten Steve to take some of our boxes. This is good.

4/7/07 Saturday. 76640. More unpacking and clearing of boxes; we're seeing actual bare floor in sections of the craft room. What really threw us was the discovery that our major bookshelves wouldn't work. So we have to saw those off, or remove 3 inches from their height somehow. They're 86 inches tall and our ceiling in the 'library' is 83. This is going to be interesting. But meanwhile we just unpack and shelve. I'm setting up the office, and trying to get that somewhat organized. Taxes are now shipped to the accountant, and I hope that will get done in a timely way.

4/8/07 Sunday. 76640. More unpacking, and some heavy hauling as we got those chaises downstairs. That was an effort, I'll tell you. The room is going to look so much better. Meanwhile we're being good: no matter how hard we work, I don't chicken out and call for a restaurant: I'm cooking every night and we're both dropping weight. This is good.

4/9/07 Monday. 77382. A wildly scheduled day. Got a little skating in, then got back to get the couches—I can't believe these guys bounced the couches out onto the pavement upside down—but at least the mechanisms work. The city meanwhile has torn up the pavement on Maple, 4 doors down from us, and the whole city is trying to find alternate routing—this is one of four streets that are the only way up Spring Hill, Ash is down only, Monroe is 2-way, and Division, well, it depends on what block you're in. So needless to say this is major. We found our way over onto the other end of our street, but by afternoon, they'd blocked it off, and blocked off all other streets they'd promised we could use, by piling gravel by the Local Traffic Only signs. Lovely. At least we have new couches, and they're cloud-comfy. The cats approve.

4/10/07 Tuesday. 77382. Back to the rink, and attempting to get my feet under me. I am starting to do the waltz jump off the wall, and have arranged a neat technique which finishes by running into the wall, backwards, rather than having to do a long run-out on a back outside edge with not a clue in the world where it goes from there. But the jump part of this maneuver is now securely out in open ice. Hurrah for me! I'm also improving on my balance and beginning to get the inside 3-turn set. Commensurately, my writing is also beginning to move again. I tell you it's scary not to be working; and it feels so good to have story happening again.

4/11/07 Wednesday. 78101. More skating—typically not as good as the last---, more boxes, and getting ready to go get cleanup crew—the tank is now testing ready, and is starting to grow green hair algae on the rocks. This is a good sign in what's been a moonscape.

4/12/07 Thursday. 78101. And more boxes. And more arrangement of the office. We have huge numbers of dvd/cds that need sorting and a good many of them need shredding. Just junk. We've packed the trash can full and wish we had another.

4/13/07 Friday. 78101. We made it to the old neighborhood—went to Costco, the bargain center; went to the fish store and checked on our critters, plus bought new hermit crabs and snails; and some rock rubble and cheatomorpha macroalgae for the refugium—the center of the sump is going to be a flat expanse of sand, topped with rock bits and green algae, lighted at night. You may know that plants give off oxygen during the day, CO2 at night, so we put the plant-heavy refugium on an opposite cycle to the main tank, with its own little light down in the basement. I set everything up and released the cleaning crew, so there is now life! It's such a nice feeling! We got a call from Sharon, who's at Nationals, and who did very well in her new dramatic program. We're very proud of her. Hank and Sheila are competing in Pairs, then in Singles, first time our club has had pairs since I've been a member.

4/14/07 Saturday. 79438. The crabs and snails are wandering around and getting tumbled by the current—I reined that back. We unpacked more boxes...what can I say...and I discovered the fast way to deal with our tall shelves: I can knock the kickboard out of the base and saw off the two sides and that'll do it. Meanwhile we helped Joan get her drapes down—Joan graciously donated her beautiful much newer drapes to our redecorating as she's gotten new shades. We've offered to donate two pretty good green chaises in return if she wants them. Meanwhile we're loving our couches.

4/15/07 Sunday. 79832. A moderately quiet day, smug with the knowledge I've done as much as I can do with my taxes. Got some writing done, opened more boxes, shredded CD's, and nearly killed myself on the drapery rods, which I have tripped over before: this time I nearly went down and spilled coffee all over the new couches while the cat ran in terror. Thanks to skating, I kept my feet, but that hurt. We moved the rods, but haven't gotten the drapes up; and fortunately the couches are microfiber—if any of you have had trouble with cats scratching furniture, try getting microfiber. It's not satisfying to scratch, is generally impenetrable to their claws, and de-furs with the wipe of a damp cloth. Best stuff in the world for people with pets, dogs or cats or ferrets or whatever. Meanwhile I got into a box of formerly too-small clothes, and found a pair of honest, misses-size jeans that fit that wouldn't remotely have last year. Hurrah! I spent 4 hours of the day shredding checks from a sunsetted box of records: it's so nice when you can absolutely dispose of old records and clear a box entirely off the face of the planet!

4/16/07 Monday. 80104. Back to the ice again, and a lesson with Joan, who nearly did me in! She's suddenly set her sights on our passing Pre-Bronze Adult Moves in the Field and Pre-Bronze Adult Freestyle sometime this century, and she ran me through Stroking left and right, a full-rink pattern; Outside Forward Edges the width of the rink; Inside Forward Edges, ditto; then Outside Backward Edges; Inside Backward Edges; then Forward Crossover on the 8, 2 reps; outside 3-turn to a Backward Crossover on the 8, 2 reps [got to reduce the number of strokes on that one from 12 to 5]; then the Waltz 8, 2 reps; and what we call the Funky Pattern, which is: Inside 3-turn, Outside 3-turn, back outside edge, back cross, stepoff, repeat the length of the rink on one lead and back down the rink on the other; and next I'm promised we work on the Freestyle program, which is: [pick 2] waltz jump, single toe loop, lunge; two-foot spin; one-foot spin [have never tried that one]; forward inside spiral; and something else I can't remember---oh, yes, forward crossovers on the small circle; don't know if we have to do the back cross as well. Of the Pre-Bronze Moves I can do all but the Outside Backward Edges and the Inside 3-turn without help from Joan, well on some items, too shakily on some others; of the Pre-Bronze Freestyle, I can do the 2-foot spin iffily, have never been instructed in the one-footed; can do the spiral [I'm no Sasha Cohen]; can do the waltz jump off the wall, and probably can do the lunge—haven't tried that one in a while. The unassisted single toe loop awaits my doing the inside 3-turn on my own. So...I was pretty worn out. That should have been my day, and a satisfying one at that. But the day didn't end there. Now pardon me while an old teacher has an emotional and unpleasant Moment: this mess at Virginia Tech—twitches old nerves, I'll tell you. One of the things that made it less of a wrench for me quitting teaching [I loved my subject and my students] was no longer having to start the year telling my freshmen how to react if someone started shooting. The shock on the young faces actually hurt. And of course, if you're a teacher, you get to go in search of bombs—they let the teachers do it instead of the police bomb squad. Unmarried teachers, of which I was one. We got to confront students with knives. I never had to face one with a gun, but one of our principals had that experience—took it away from the kid, too. You know what I think is the problem? First, you take authority to search and detain away from the teachers, so in the eyes of the students they have no authority; you overload the classes; you make administration responsible for all decisions, so that you can't call the police—you go to administration for their untrained decision before they finally decide they can't handle it. Administration runs scared of lawsuits, knowing that one suit can bankrupt the school district, and there is no protection against it. And in the classroom, no, you don't teach students to stand up and talk and present themselves in a reasoned and dignified manner; you don't insist on dignity for students and teachers; you rush from bell to bell and can't even get to the restroom. You don't insist on manners; and you don't encourage pride in dress or bearing. A kid gets disappointed romantically, and the only model he's got is the movies; a kid fails geometry and he doesn't talk it out, he blows as if it's the end of the world; it's all pressure and ultimatums, and because everybody's got rights all over the place, nobody's got freedom. So there. That's the distillation of the experience of one pretty burned-out teacher who took several years before she could enter a room of strangers without automatically scanning hands and stances for weapons. It's all right. I'll be calmer tomorrow. But oh, for the days when youthful rebellion involved stealing the Sophomore flag, not collecting an arsenal and composing an enemies' list. We outlawed the Sophomore flag to make us all Equal, and look at what we got in its place.

4/17/07 Tuesday. 80838. A better morning. We got ourselves together and went skating---had a lesson with Joan, and she kept her promise to show me the ropes on the Freestyle portion of the Pre-Bronze Adult Test---which involves a two-footed spin, first. I found out what I was doing wrong, which was folding my arms too soon---you skate forward, do a roundhouse swing to your spinward hand---[people vary as to which side they turn to]--which with me is the right; and when you feel centrifugal force pull your hand, then you start drawing your arms inward like King Tut. You'll spin faster, till your momentum runs down. Second, the one-footed spin: you do the same, but while your arms are still fully extended, you tuck your left foot up tight against the inseam of your right leg, and then pull your arms in---Joan made me promise not to try that one until she okays it. I'm simply to practice up against the wall, rotating on the 'rocker' of the skate [ball of foot] until I don't wander off it. Then there's 2 jumps: one of mine is the waltz jump, and I'm getting that one. I'm getting the inside 3-turn pretty good, but not quite off the wall yet, but when I do, I'll be setting up to do the single toe loop. It doesn't feel to me as if it's a full revolution, because it has so many moving parts, but I guess that it is, because you end up going from backward pick to backward glide---I may be a right-handed person, but I'm a left-handed jumper, so for me, on the heel, I curve the left foot toward the wall, rock forward to my toe, which throws you into a turn, backward---leaning on the outside edge; meanwhile you have flung the free foot completely around to the rear and picked-in, meaning stuck the toepick into the ice, and nearly simultaneously you kick forward with the other foot as you use the first pick-in as a vault. You next land on the kicked foot's toe-pick, flatten it going backward, and you've just done a toeloop. Besides that jump I've got to do a simple forward crossover on a circle, and then---then the big excitement. I've half killed myself trying to do the spiral 'with shoulders back,' as per instructions, and now it turns out I'm permitted to bend over, a la Sasha Cohen, and just hold the shoulders back relative to your chest---which makes it a lot, lot easier to get the free leg up [the spiral is the one you do with one foot in the air, looking like a luxury car hood ornament on a one-footed glide]. I'm no Sasha Cohen, but I may have a chance at actually doing a respectable spiral. So excited about this prospect!// Meanwhile the earthmovers are back at work on Maple, and little snails and crabs are trying to eat their way through the algae that's growing in the tank, but the algae isn't near as bad as usual, at this stage in the tank's development, thanks to the refugium---where I have spotted little copepod crustaceans crawling on the algae. Free fish food. My mandarin dragonet eats copepods almost exclusively, and is the chief reason I struggled to set up a refugium in the first place---dragonets are my favorite fish, with gobies and blennies a close tie for second. So my little mandarin is going to come home to much more food than my tank has been able to provide for her. If you're curious, websearch 'dragonet', and you'll see some very pretty fishes.//Went down to Dr. Mike today to get crunched, and I'm doing a whole lot better than last visit. I almost have a back. Jane's suffering extremely with a sore hip, but she was much more comfortable on the ride home, and it looks as if another visit in a couple of weeks will see that on its way to fixed.

4/18/07 Wednesday. 80838. One of those frantic days. I started off trying to make the sprinkler system work: now this is usually a puzzle, a diy project of some previous homeowner, with no instructions or records and a set of directions on the master control that would challenge Einstein. Sure enough, it's a Rainbird, and we have the A,B, and C zones, with 1-6 sections, it's been unplugged, it's lost its program, and I have to figure how many sections there are, right? I try putting it on manual, and I get, for A---3 sprinkler heads on the left side of the front walk near the curb, plus the right side flowerbed near the house. I try B. I get---the flowerbed in the backyard and then a leaking flowerbed section near the garage. I gave up on C and unplugged it all again, because Jane informed me were late for skating and I had no makeup on. So I went back to the house to prettify myself while she took her car to the rink---we're doing separate cars today because I have a hair appointment, and the makeup has to be good because I don't want to stare into the mirror at the salon for three hours looking at death warmed over. So I remember I need to call my accountant and make sure the documents got there: they did; and call the fish store and tell them I won't be in today to pick up my corals because I've got an appointment: tomorrow for that. Done. Off to the rink. Today we used the sand-based rink: the big one. The ice there is different from the concrete-based rink we're used to, and I just couldn't get my feet under me---my skates wanted to skid instead of have the edge bite---hard to describe, but like skating on plastic. And a pick-in dug up ice as if it were itself sand, very strange and grainy. So I decided I'd do better to wait a day when we have our other rink and try the new stuff on ice the consistency of which is familiar to my feet. I went off with Jane and had a very unsatisfactory lunch at Noodle Express, a few good pieces of chicken laid on perfectly bare lettuce that was supposed to be a salad; and off to the salon, which takes bloody forever. I detest hair appointments, but I can't stand the mirror otherwise. So I got out, exhausted and tired of sitting, and headed home: since the new house, and going back on Atkins [lost 4 lbs!] I've sworn on a stack of Bibles I'll cook, so I dragged myself into the kitchen and started dinner [thin porkchops with worcestershire sauce and steak seasoning, fried in olive oil: Caesar salad: bottle of wine] ---until Jane mentioned we'd had a flood with the sump. Wak! Seems when I'd gone down in the morning to do my morning check on the system, I'd nudged something in the dark: surprise: it was the hose from the autotopoff tub. It had fallen out. Evaporation had lowered the water level in the tank and the autotopoff float switch had triggered the pump in the autotopoff tub---which had pumped, and pumped, and pumped, because the hose that should be going into the tank was pouring out onto the floor, and of course the system had never shut down, because the float switch was still saying "water needed." Now 32 gallons of patiently produced ro/di filtered water [99 cents a jug at your friendly Walmart] had gone down the drain. Aagh. So I pulled the reserve tub over and partially pumped it out into the autotopoff tub, and put the hose where it needed to go, into sump port 2. And looked around for the plugin for the pump. Plugged it in to an extension cord. And it ran. And ran. I began to be alarmed as water rose in the sump. Then I realized the dreadful truth: I'd plugged it into a plain socket, not the limiting float switch socket, and that sucker was emptying the barrel of ro/di [fresh] water into my sump! Scream of panic here. I pull the plug, realize 2 1/2 gallons of fresh water has hit my perfectly balanced saltwater [not the 2 teaspoons it needed] and meanwhile my porkchops were burning. I hastily plugged the damn pump into the right extension cord and raced upstairs to prevent conflagration. So my saltwater goes out of chemical balance the day before I'm to bring home the corals, and I just can't face it. We had supper, and I figured if the crabs and snails hadn't died of the drop in salinity, it wouldn't be kind to hit them with the reverse change immediately---that's for tomorrow. I'll fix it. I'll run more ro/di water. [You know if you are buying those jugs from Walmart, you can buy your own ro/di filter for less than 200.00, and produce your own jugs. The filters have lasted me over a year, and cost about 100.00 to replace. At the rate we use ro/di water, it's economical---especially if you insist on pouring 32 dollars worth of jugs down the drain in an accident! If you do consider buying your own, don't get the ones on Ebay: they wear out too fast.

4/19/07 Thursday. 81022 Well, I'm better on the big ice than I was yesterday. And I got to the hair appointment, which took all afternoon, as usual. I hate sitting still for that long. I'd wanted to go to the fish store and pick up my corals that the store has been boarding for me, but I had the hair appointment, and they're harder to get, so not much got done today except getting worn out doing nothing... I look better, however. We've heard from Sharon---she had a rough flight, missed connections, but she's ok. I guess we won't see her until next week. Skating went pretty well, all told: my feet are getting used to this ice. But tomorrow we'll get back to our old rink for a day. And meanwhile we went off to the fish store back in Spokane Valley to get the corals, stopped by Scotty's on the way back for a salad, and then I put the corals in---matter of acclimating them to the local tank, by matching temperature and salinity and everything else by dropping water from the new tank into their water, then hand-carrying them across. This is quite a job, up to your elbows in salt water and trying to get them to stay where you put them. Balancing rocks underwater is a tricky business, about like balancing a house of cards. But I got it. And they're starting to open---at least before the lights went out.

4/20/07 Friday. 81022. Two days ago, you may recall, I had a topoff accident, in which the 32 gallons of ro/di reservoir emptied itself onto the floor [drain nearby] because the hose fell out of the sump port, and I had to re-run the reservoir. It had flooded the extension cord that powers the topoff. [ dual float switch with module: good unit: stupid owner.] I refilled all 32g from my ro/di filter. I put the topoff pump into the reservoir, put the hose WELL into the sump intake, down below the water line; and being extremely tired, I plugged it into the general plug, not the float-switch-limited topoff plug---so it emptied some 5g of fresh water from the reservoir which sits on the floor beside the sump, which is on an aquarium stand of its own---[are you forming a mental picture here? It proves significant.] into my newly balanced tank---which was prepared to receive my corals home from their boarding at the lfs during the move.//So, what the hey, I'd realized my stupid mistake and plugged the topoff into the right receptacle, and in this case, just added salt via the 30g sump. Nothing much alive in there but the cleaning crew, and a cup of salt's not too huge a deal in 84g total system water. Not nice, but no inhabitants that aren't tough, and this needs to be straightened out before my corals wear out their welcome at the lfs.//So I get my corals, having balanced out the water to perfection. I acclimate and install them [never mind the rockfall that ruined my beautiful arrangement: they're in.] The lights go out for the night...come on the next morning---and none of the snails are moving. Nor have moved, since last night. This is not good. I test daily during setup. I tested immediately. Salinity is supposed to be 1.025. It was 1.017. That's .017! in a tank with stony corals and a clam! At this point I thought---it can't get worse. I must've misread the refractometer yesterday by an entire register, seeing 1.014 as 1.024. Lord, how did the corals ever survive the acclimation? But they're all alive, never mind one polyp bailout---it had a damaged head anyway. So what to do? keep the salt at this impossible figure while I correct over a matter of days, or figure that in a fairly new, raw tank, a little raw salt well-dissolved could be no worse. So I add a cupful. Salinity doesn't budge. Another cupful. This goes on through hours and hours, and half the salt I have. And the salinity in the sump has inched up to 1.022. The corals are looking happier, so there's that. But why in hades does salinity rise so slowly? And why does the cussed autotopoff pump keep pulsing on and off, on and off? This is a 2-story system, sump in the basement, so I wonder if its the flux in the system as the downflow raises and lowers the water level. But why would keep turning on? Maybe it's a short, from the soaking the plug had yesterday. There's no less ro/di in the Brute tub. It's not outputting very...much....//OMG! OMG! I didn't put a siphon hole in the line! It's siphoning back and forth, reservoir to sump, sump to reservoir, and THAT's why the topoff keeps cutting on and pumping water back in!//I put a siphon hole in the hose and got a faceful of saltwater. Repeatedly. The siphon hole doesn't work if you don't have THE OTHER END out of the water---doh! I'd put the business end way deep into the sump...//So there I stand with water on my face---I pull the hose up so it's NOT submerged at the other end, and on a sudden's inspiration, or sanity, I measure the salinity from the downflow: 1.022. I measure the salinity in the sump itself: 1.022. Then I measure the salinity in the reservoir. 1.022. Words are eliminated here for the sake of brevity. I did not beat my head against the wall. I calmly pulled the reserve tub over to the ro/di line and calmly turned on the water, to fill it with fresh nice ro/di. I'm going to leave the nice pump connected to the nice reservoir with the nice 1.022 reading, since I can use another .002 in the tank when NEXT the sump needs water due to ordinary evaporation.//Sometimes the answer is just as simple as it was BEFORE you got the fancy new system with all the fancy new between-floors piping. DON'T put the other end of the hose into the water if you don't want a siphon.//So I am going out to dinner. I am not going to attempt to cook. I am going to be out there on the roads, so be advised. My corals are still alive. The snails are up and moving. The candy cane and gsp look positively ecstatic, and the battered frogspawn is recovering...4/21/07 Saturday. 81281. A little editing. A little outlining. A little work on the mess in the office. Things survived. I'm testing water like crazy and things are tending into balance. The rockwork isn't what I planned, the corals haven't fitted where I wanted to put them, and my poor acropora colony has lost limbs, and may lose more—acroporas, the colored sticks, are amazingly cranky about water chemistry stability. But we got to the fish store and picked up our fishes. Our tailspot blenny is missing. We don't know where he is, but I distinctly and carefully put him into the bucket that I took to the fish store. My guess is that he jumped or got into their sump somehow. We're very sad about it, but we're very glad to get our fishes back. We just about had time to get them drip-acclimated [you never just drop a fish into a tank] and safely home before the lights [on time] went out for the night, so we're kind of waiting until morning to count noses.

4/22/07 Sunday. 82382. The fish are all out and about. They're all fat. And our little mandarin dragonet is absolutely plump. She's delighted with the new tank—our refugium sends all sorts of little no-see-um crustaceans through to the tank, and they're lunch for her. She's going everywhere, hunting. Our yellow watchman is out supervising. The two firefish, one red, one purple, are resuming their warfare, and Jane is improvising a no-jump guard over the downflow [the tank drain] so that we don't have another disaster like the escape of the stonogobiops nematodes—translation: the cussed little highfin redstriped goby jumped into the downflow box, rode the drainwater down to the sump, was flung in, swam to the next compartment, and the next, and the next, and when I happened down to the basement to check the chemistry—there was a little flash of white and red. I looked more closely and there was that fool goby playing tag between the twin intakes of a mag 9.5 pump that would dice him to hash, leading to the skimmer, and worse, an Iwaki 100 that would turn him into puree before feeding him back to the tank upstairs. I immediately shut both pumps down, started trying to catch this inch-long fish in a box the size of a beer carton, and 2 hours later, finally caught the little blighter. Which is why Jane was upstairs fitting a cover over the downflow box. I'm exhausted. And the fish is fine, going back to live under the clam, while his mate has shacked up with the yellow watchman, the hussy.

4/23/07 Monday. 83222. Got someone to fix the sprinkler system. It turned out to have a broken near-surface pipe in the front flower bed, a broken head or two, and I now know how to run an Irritrol [doesn't that sound like 'irritate'] control box, which is not that bad, once you get the logic. It's worse than programming one of those multifunction watches. Thought it was a Rainbird. Wrong. That's why I wasn't able to figure it—yeah, as if. They're all complicated, never mind I've run the Rainbird, back in Oklahoma. Meanwhile skating is going well. I'm getting downright brave about the jumps. And the fish aren't—no jumping today.

4/24/07 Tuesday. 84331. A lesson, and I feel as if I'm making progress. Writing's going well, though I'm doing a lot of staring at the screen and thinking, and thinking, and thinking. Which is good. I suddenly realized the people who mow come on Monday, and I've got to go out and fix it so the sprinkler doesn't come on before they come next week. I think my Irritrol skills are up to it. Nobody has jumped from the tank yet. All is peaceful. And—wonderful find—I managed, on the internet, to find the rosebush we had die on us when we moved to Spokane: we moved it all the way from Oklahoma in a pot, but it didn't survive the second winter on the apartment balcony, no matter how we wrapped it. It's a rose from the year the Berlin Wall came down—it's called “World Peace,” and it's a red peace rose, from Perry rose company, which I am not even sure is still in business. But a company in California, GrowQuest, has it, and I have an order in for it, and for “Just Joey,” one of our favorite apricot roses, and for “Tropicana,” which is Jane's favorite. We're going to have roses again!

4/25/07 Wednesday. 84715. Again, a good skate. And we're settling in. We've found, with the dining set in the kitchen, that it's just nice to eat at the table, without the television. We get to talk to each other—we find the occasion to say what we're thinking of doing, what we want to do tomorrow, what we'd like to do, what was funny in the day, what we're up's just nice. We find something to toast, every evening, congratulating ourselves on progress made... “To the third tree!” “To more boxes!” “To balancing the accounts!” I recommend it. Family dinnertime has about gone the way of the dinosaur since the advent of television, and I can't say enough how nice it is just to sit and talk quietly...our tv records. We won't miss anything. Even a ballgame can be caught up on, without commercials, and meanwhile we've found the occasion to advise each other of things that just might get lost in the shuffle, or not communicated, or mistaken. Amazing how many family rows could be averted if there was just that breakfast and dinner conversation.

4/26/07 Thursday. 85221. Working hard. I wish I could find my copy of Cyteen. It's in a box. But I'll find it. We had supper at Scotty's. Got to pick up a few supplies at the fish store.

4/27/07 Friday. 85928. Back to the old concrete-based ice for the day, and I enjoy it, but it's funny how I'm getting used to the sand-based stuff. I wasn't sure I ever could adapt. So this changing about has been very good for me. I now look forward to Friday ice, however, sort of like a homecoming. Work's going well, no fish have jumped, and the only problem I'm having is the chemistry. I'm having persistent trouble getting the alkalinity to stabilize, and I'm testing, testing, testing every time I turn around.

4/28/07 Saturday. 86829. Writing well, and enjoying it. On Saturdays I take a little spare time to go down and unwrap and unbox things. Amazing things come out of them. I've found some clay figures I made when I was 10, a sleeping horse that isn't too damned bad. Some things people have given me. It's very much a treasure hunt.

4/29/07 Sunday. 87102. Work and work. I'm really starting to feel good. We've discovered a few things about the house—first, that we don't have nearly as many allergies as in the apartments. The ladies smoking up a storm just below our apartment, so that it wafted into our windows, is one answer. We're glad to miss them. Even the cats are happier, just more relaxed. Efanor was inclined to hide in a closet a lot—and he doesn't do that here. We've finally figured that it's the quiet. We have a major arterial street 20 feet from our kitchen wall, but we don't get much sound except the occasional egomaniac with car bass cranked up to fry eggs. Mostly we don't get anything but the vibration: brick house. Deep basement. And the cats relax. I think they had no idea about locked doors, and feared everytime we left that some of the people making bangs and thumps in the rest of the building could just come in and catnap them. They're just calmer here. And so are we.

4/30/07 Monday. 88738. Back to the ice. I'm really, really getting used to the larger, sand-based ice, even if it does crack like a rifle shot underfoot periodically and scare me out of ten years' growth. I'm beginning to feel my blades gripping the ice, and I have a feeling for picking-in on the stuff. I'm actually jumping without using the wall on the new ice and doing it pretty regularly. On the home front we're still unpacking stuff. We decided to take out the Lenox Princesses and put them in the display in the kitchen, by the breakfast table. It looks good. Civilized. With curtains. Meanwhile I've discovered heirloom cups and saucers and more of Jane's collectible horses. I've no idea what's in most of these boxes, but pretty soon we've got to get those bookshelves trimmed and set up: I have stacks and stacks of book boxes, and I still need to know where some things are.

5/1/07 Tuesday. 89037.A really good lesson today. I'm very pleased with myself. And I've come to an expensive conclusion: the tank is a little harder to manage with the chemistry all downstairs and the tank upstairs...and since it's all new and the chemistry is skittish, as new tanks tend to have happen, it's even more so. And having asked around online, I now know there's a very simple quasi-machine that would help me out a lot. It's called a kalk reactor—kalk, as in German for lime. Corals use a lot of calcium. They eat it. They use it for their skeletons. Clams do too. And you're always having to pour more calcium into the tank. But calcium isn't the only thing—your alkalinity keeps dropping, too, if you don't add buffer. But dkh buffer can't be added at the same time you add calcium, or the result is a snowstorm in your tank, which is not at all good. So you have to test a lot and go down at completely opposite ends of the clock to add chemicals to the water. A kalk reactor, on the other hand, is a plain fat tube you plumb in between your topoff pump [which supplies fresh water to the tank to make up for water evaporated] and the sump, which is where the water goes through weed, rock, and the skimmer on its way back to the tank. You fill said tube with ro/di water [purified water] and add half a pound of kalk powder [Mrs. Wages' Pickling Lime, I kid thee not, 5 dollars a pound,], which is much cheaper than pilled calcium, at 20.00 a jar. The pressure of the topoff pump, when the float in the sump calls for it to pump, drives dissolved limewater [kalkwasser is the German word] up to a tube that drips into your sump, and, miracle of miracles, it raises both calcium and alkalinity at once! I lust after one of these things. It would make life so much easier. And I just can't justify doing it.

5/2/07 Wednesday. 89385. A bit of work. At breakfast I discussed the question of the kalk reactor with Jane, and we concluded if it makes the tank easier to take care of, we should do it. It's not cheap, but it will mean we can leave the tank to run on its own for over a week, and this is a good thing. Skating went pretty well. I actually have a small program Joan gave me—a waltz jump to backwards runout, back cross, back cross, stepoff, skate forward into a two-footed spin, and then exit with another stepoff to a forward spiral, then two-footed turn to a back spiral, exit, repeat. It's fun. It's sort of like having practiced the scales for two years and then finally being given a piece of music to play. I'm working hard on the spin, and actually found I can rotate on one foot—at the wall, and using one of the poles to shove with. But the thing is I can start the spin, tuck the foot up, and neither slow down nor fall out of it. Neat!

5/3/07 Thursday. 89839. Skating went pretty well. Not brilliant, but encouraging. We went to Scotty's for our weekly trip, and off to the fish store, and I did it. I bought the kalk reactor. I brought it home, and set it up, between the ro/di topoff pump and the tank. It immediately backsiphoned white kalk into my ro/di water the moment it shut down. I tried to stop it and it sprayed me with kalk, all over a good blouse. Clearly this needs some refinement. Like a check valve. I'll have to get that tomorrow. In a fit of remorse, I also ordered a Mantis Tiller to help with the gardening: Jane's going to kill herself gardening, if not: she's limping from using that spade. Meanwhile my computer primary battery died—I can still use it, plugged in, but I contacted Dell to get a replacement—can't handle not being able to move about. And after this we have to be good about the budget, and at our birthdays this year, just give each other little tokens: we've had more than our birthday presents, in this reactor and the tiller, for sure---llet's not even talk about moving expense and the house expense---even if it is less per month than the apartment and storerooms combined.

5/4/07 Friday. 89839. Skated a while, but not long—just not feeling too well today. The ice was rough, and my legs are a little iffy today. I decided to go to Lowe's and get a check valve for the half-inch line from the ro/di pump. Which took forever. Did you know that 'funny pipe' means half-inch line? Thanks to a fellow-customer, not the clerk, I figured this out, got my supplies, and incidentally bought a weedeater, since we have ragweed trying to grow up on the alley side of the garage. With the tank, I sure have learned a lot about plumbing lately—and I'm coming to appreciate it as an art form: never mind they don't make a part to do what you want, you put several together until they do, and a hose clamp can hold most jury rigs together. In this case, I got the check valve installed, sprayed kalkwasser over everything again, and figured out that I also shouldn't have turned the kalk stirrer up to max—it fed suspended kalk powder into my sump and into my tank. Die and learn. But nothing seems harmed by it. And the check valve doesn't work perfectly, but it does seem to help. I ran another barrel of ro/di water and hauled it over to take the place of the one mucked up by the backsiphon, which I figure just can't help the pump at all.

5/5/07 Saturday. 90107. I've been helping Jane rip three trees out of our front flower bed over the last week, and it's a mess. Fortunately arbor vitae's don't have a big taproot, but it's still bags and bags of clipped limbs and then working the stumps out—stumps that are too heavy to do anything but drag them. These need to go: their inside is all brittle and dry, where the big hemlock towering over the side of the yard has been shedding needles into them since the 1950's. They're a fire hazard under the eaves. And I was planning to hire someone to get these out, but Jane decided to tackle them herself. She likes to work solo on projects like this—says she just puts her tunes on the mp3, and zones out, but she can sure use some help bagging and picking up. The reactor is running, meanwhile, and I've scrubbed the floor where the kalk cut loose. That stuff sticks like white paint and when the water dries, there's residue left, so you do it again, and again, and again. The corals look happy, however, and the calcium is up to 440, which is as high as I've ever been able to drive it.

5/6/07 Sunday. 90382. A little work. I'm trying to puzzle out a mental problem on the text—and get my timeline straight. When you're working on something as intricate as the scheming and plotting in a Cyteen book, you've got to track it very carefully. In between times I'm trying to get the new kalk reactor to feed correctly, and keep my water in balance. The alkalinity keeps dropping even when the calcium is up that high. When that happens, the problem is usually neither, but the magnesium level—which acts to stabilize the two. I've looked through all my supplies, but I don't have a magnesium test, so I just did a precautionary addition of magnesium—as much as I know is safe. Jane's still attacking the trees.

5/7/07 Monday. 90621. I finally got hold of that greenhouse I've been trying to get for days, to confirm the rose order, and got the roses definitively ordered. Took a lesson today. Jane informed me Joan said I should practice stops. I hate stops. They're hard to do without putting yourself on your nose. And they hurt my usually-sore hip. But I practiced them for half an hour, and then Joan showed up and wanted me to do them some more. After which she decided to rework my forward cross—not the chicken way, this: oh, no, the pro way—you lean to the outside of, say, your left foot, push hard with your right, extend it back, then bring it around front, front, front, and w-a-y across the path of your left foot—so far you fall over onto its inside edge, while the right foot slides under you, completely over on its outside edge, practically to the boot resting on the ice. After which, still in a deep kneebend, like a crosslegged curtsey, you lift the outstretched left foot upward off the ice, retract it, and repeat, energetically---which is a motion about as scary as a jump. This is also how you really gather a dangerous lot of speed—so I'm instructed to do a two-footed glide between strokes, to avoid going much faster than convenient at the moment. I was sore afterward. I fear I sort of pulled something. We stopped at Petco, next to the rink, to pick up catfood before the felines went on strike—and Jane bought a betta. A Siamese fighting fish. Understand—the last time Jane bought a betta, it ends up being a small tank, then a bigger tank, then 500 gallons of salt and fresh water and a pond. Did I mention she also bought a mini-tank? Meanwhile the magnesium is likely the answer with the big tank. It's still dropping, so I added some buffer, but it's not nearly as rapid a drop as before.

5/8/07 Tuesday. 90621. Still limping after the session yesterday, and a muscle on my upper leg has periodically decided not to work at all---just cuts out on me. Sciatic problem. Too much strain during the stopping maneuver. I decided not to skate, though Jane went ahead to the rink, and instead to print out and work that way, off paper which means I won't be going 'forward' in the count until I input, but there's just some things that you can't do if you can't readily flip between pages—like watch out for continuity. The tank is doing pretty well, but still dropping a bit: more added buffer. Meanwhile Yuki the firefish has turned up with a cloudy and lacerated eye. I can't figure it, except that he tried to jump out, and really skinned himself up. Can't catch him, nor do I have anything to treat it with: it's good water, and he should heal, is all I can say.

5/9/07 Wednesday. 90621. Laid off skating again today. The leg just wouldn't work right, even walking across the floor. I am, however, getting a lot of writing done—I'm handworking, right now, doing pencil edits on the actual printed copy, which is going very well. I haven't been this happy with a work session in a long while. The firefish is some improved, still ailing—I think the rascal did try to jump, and scraped his eye during his struggles to get somewhere. It shows signs of healing.

5/10/07 Thursday. 90621. I decided I could skate. This was a mistake. I went to the rink, kitted up, got out on the ice and got about 15 feet, skating pretty normally, even cautiously, until I got a little back on my right heel—ordinarily just a little body shift and you recover from that momentary mistake. Not this time. The right leg didn't answer, muscle just wouldn't react, I tried to save it with my left foot, and no joy. I went down wildly, on my rump, foot flying in the air, classic pratfall—I may have hit my head, but with the helmet, hard to say—I was too busy making sure my arms didn't hit the ice. Bad fall. Steph was out there teaching a lesson to a little kid, the only other person on the ice at the moment. If there hadn't been witnesses I think I'd have lain there a bit to let the ice numb it, but with Steph interrupting a lesson to find out if I was ok, I felt obliged to wave, say I was fine, and get up, which hurt, proving I was ok. I tried to go on and skate, but I was just way shaky, and decided if the leg wasn't going to answer reliably I'd just better get off, so I did that, and went on and informed Jane. So I dressed for the street and tried to get a magnesium test for the tank, but Petco didn't have one, so I got the car washed instead, and then Jane and I drove over to the Valley to the fish store and got the test, plus three peppermint shrimp. I got to talk to the owner, Kevin, and son Chris, and was able to confirm that I'd done things correctly [finally] with the reactor. Yes, I can just open the lid while it's running and add some more lime to make up for what painted me and the floor and walls. We came back via the Latah Creek Winery, where we picked up a mixed case of the Semillon and the Sangiovese, and Scotty's, where we had supper. After which I wasn't worth much at all for a while. I had a nap, finishing off the afternoon. Then Sharon dropped over yesterday evening, and brought us some housewarming gifts and cards from various people at Shejidan: bless you, dear readers, you didn't have to do that. You're very, very generous, and rest assured, the items will find places of honor in the new abode—very felicitous places, indeed, adding to the kabiu of the house, and we thank you extremely for such thoughtfulness.

5/11/07 Friday. 90621.Didn't skate today---obviously. Yesterday evening my hip was way sore, and the whole upper leg was swelling, and this morning, while it was a great deal better, I'm still feeling it on the stairs and whenever I sit or stand up. We had agreed to take Sharon to the airport—she's flying to Seattle this weekend for her daughter's wedding shower, a happy event, for sure, and we hope she has an excellent time. We stay-at-homes simply worked, wrote, unpacked, and unpacked more boxes. We're still hoping for the roses to arrive. Can't wait. The lawn is starting to show the effects of fertilizer, which is good—half of it is green, the other half pretty yellow. The firefish, by the way, is totally himself again, except that the red firefish, that Yuki usually chases, [Yuki's a purple], declined to chew his fins while he was ailing, and now the two firefish are getting along pretty well. So far so good with the kalk reactor: it's maintaining its water level, its stirrer is turning slowly, as it should, and it's only backsiphoned a little past the check valve. I do now have a backup valve that I can install in the loc-line instead of the 'funny hose'. And I'll do that if I get any more backsiphon. So it's Friday. TGIF. Frey'sday. As an odd aside, you know where the days of the week get their name? Sun-day, Moon-day, Tyr's-day, Woden's-day, Thor's-day, Frey's-day, and Saturn's-day. How Saturn, a Roman god of the prehistoric, got in that list I'm not sure. But the front end of the week is the Sun and Moon, the middle is Norse, and we finish up with the god of prehistory. Go figure. The Romans didn't have weeks—they divided their months into 3's, first section up to the Nones, then to the Ides, then to the Kalends [first] of the next month. The Nones fall on the 9th or 11th depending, the Ides on the 13th or 15th, and the Kalends on the first, just to keep it neat. So if you're on April 30 by our reckoning, in Roman reckoning, you give the date as “pr. Kal. Maiae” or “pridie kalendas Maiae,” “the-day-before the Kalends of May.” Then May 1 is Kal. Mai., and May 2 is “a.d. viii Non. Mai.” “Ante diem viii Nones Maiae.” Or—“8 days before the date [of the] Nones of May”—and it is reckoned as 8 because the Romans counted the day you start on as well as the day you end on. So when you read any Roman reckoning of time or distance, you have to remember that habit. Just thought you might enjoy that little tidbit. And speaking of dates: I work two ways: sometimes I update the page directly, working on line. Sometimes, when I'm going strong with the writing or when I'm superbusy, I keep a running, messy log in my word processor, that sometimes gets a little bollixed up when I move it over to the webpage and put it in the format I use over there—pure laziness and haste on my part. A week of April 17th is probably way too much, even for a good day.

5/12/07 Saturday. 91541. I didn't do much but work today. Jane wanted to go out for breakfast---we did, to the local Shari's. I don't know whether the recent attempted kidnapping in that restaurant may have slowed down traffic, but it was delightfully wait-free. [A certain regular customer apparently went off the deep end and tried to make off with one of the waitresses: ours is not the sort of neighborhood where you expect your waitresses to be made off with. Shall we say the customer was no pro and the police took action?] After that, we just settled in to work for a bit, well-fed and comfy, skipped lunch---how could we eat after that monster breakfast? And in the afternoon Jane took to the yard work again. She's really missed having a garden, and I applaud the efforts, but I am no gardener. If it were left to me, the arbor vitaes would still be standing in the flower bed and we might have dug a hole in the back yard for roses. Instead, we have plans on the drawing board for two new sidewalks across the flowerbed faces in front, two new beds there, with roses, and the Japanese garden with koi pond in back. Myself, in utter shame for sitting indoors, and in a much more practical and immediate vein, I declared war on the area where our hired lawn crew doesn't go, around the garage, where ragweed is growing knee high. I took my new weedwhacker and minced ragweed until my arms were tired, which at least assures our area won't be producing pollen. I still have to do the inside of the fence---we have a kind of mound at the back of the back yard, in the ell of the garage rear, where the ground rises quite abruptly, and where mowers can't reach. We get such a good deal on the lawn that I'm not about to raise a fuss about the little patches they can't get to with mowers, so I'm going to get that area too---plus figure what to do about our sagging fence: our fence, which is vertical boards painted barn red, is in excellent condition everywhere but there, where it sags inward. Ultimately I think we'd like to get some of that artificial fencing, but that's going to be pricey---and not this year. So we'd better fix the fence. I figure a run of angle iron on the back ought to help it. For the rest, the tank tested near perfect this morning, indicating the chemistry is finally settling down after the addition of the kalk reactor. This is good. And since I began to get the skin-crawlies---probably being sprayed by ragweed juice---I showered head to foot and settled in to work again. Supper---supper was one of Jane's favorites, and it's dead easy: here's the recipe. Chicken, the part of your choosing, skinless, totally coated in curry powder of your choosing, and I mean really coated: you can't really get too much. Fry with olive oil [we never use anything but] until done. Then, and here's the good part---add a package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, lite does just fine, and continue to cook, turning the chicken often. This creates a cream curry sauce that has a little edge to it. Serve with Fresh Express Asian Salad Mix, and you've got our dinner. The chicken takes 20 minutes to cook on medium heat. And that's it: even if you don't cook, that one's easy, and it's foolproof. We settled in to watch a disgusting baseball game---one of our fans grabbed a ball away from our third baseman---and that just set the stage. We switched over to watch Dark Shadows, which is our latest fascination. Amazing how well the story holds up, after all these years, despite some of the earliest special effects tried on tv, and occasion muffed lines...this is pretty close to live tv, as it was recorded. And it ran for years and years, so there's a lot of it to watch. The sore hip is still sore, but not so sore I need medication, I decided. So we'll see how it is in the morning---more important, by Monday morning when I go back on the ice.

5/13/07 Sunday. 92271. Just worked and sat around until the ballgame: heck of a ballgame between Mariners and Yankees---you know what side I'm on. Jane had gotten Mariners peanuts...and Pocky...and we sat there, shelled peanuts, and watched some really good baseball. Everything going ok with the tank. And outside of that, not much change around here. I'm still achy from the fall, had the leg try to quit on me again. I think I'll stay home tomorrow and give it one more day.

5/14/07 Monday. 93764. I did stay home---I hit a really critical scene in this book and just had to get through it, one of the major turning points. Meanwhile the doorbell rings and it's this guy looking down on his luck wanting to haul off the trees, which I let him do and paid him---too much, Jane informs me. I'm horrible about being a soft touch. I've been stranded and hungry in my life, and every time I see somebody trying to do a little honest work for a buck, I go all idiotic and don't add well. Ah, well. I hope he gets gas for his truck out of it. The hip is pretty good today: I'm pretty sure I'm going to go back on the ice. We didn't get the roses that are supposed to have come, and tomorrow the tiller is supposed to arrive, and we're going to be at the rink---that's the reason I hate getting packages. The UPS always comes when we're out, and we have to trek after it, which now is 20 miles across town. Oh! And the latest on the street front. We live on the crossbar of an H made by Maple and Ash. They've had Ash shut for some repairs, have it mostly open, but the 2 H's above us have their cross bars shut. We're supposed to get around reason to own an suv with good suspension. And now---now the state highway people have shut down half the lanes on I-90 which is the main alternate way to get from here to there, and closed all the downtown exits to Spokane, except the first and last ones---which will really confuse any out-of-towner. But the exit on our end of the project they have left open is...Maple! Which the city has plowed up to bare dirt for, oh, ten blocks at least, and which is the other side of our H. And when they get through with Maple, they're threatening to plow up Ash, which they just fixed, north of here. I tell you, summer in the NW, when every agency has its own secret street repair plans, and no agency clears anything with any other, is just murder. And of course all the people in RVs come out, going to Priest Lake and the Palouse and Loon Lake and Okonogan and Seattle and Lord knows where, headed down I-90, right through our construction zone. It's such fun!

5/15/07 Tuesday. 94458. Took 20 minutes to kit up and went to the rink, skated 30 minutes and began to feel nauseous and overheated, and decided I wasn't having fun. The good part is that I got my feet back on the ice and my leg held up. The bad part is there's something obnoxious going around and I really don't want it. So I came back home, got rid of the sparkles and put on my roughouts, then went back after Jane. I got behind one car that couldn't keep its lane, and three others that couldn't get up to speed and took twice as long to make it back to the rink as it took to get home---part of it being the half-mile detour. Jane hadn't had a good skate---the ice was pretty foul in spots; and so to commiserate and because I felt rotten, we went to Shari's [the local all-day breakfast place] and had pancakes, way off our diet, but I still feel a little queasy. The Mantis tiller came---Jane sat out in the lawn putting that together; and we can't wait to use it. And I called the sprinkler guy because our lawn crew knocked a head off---our new sprinkler guy has some problems, first being really foggy as to where we were, though he'd been here only two weeks ago, and this house is pretty obvious, being on a corner on a major road; and then telling us to call him back in the afternoon. When I did, he said he'd already been there and there wasn't a head off. Well, I'd told him which head---the one by the pretty obvious stopsign---and he claimed it's not off. Which it is. Then he wanted to sell us a new set of sprinklers on that side, oh, for about 400.00; and when I checked on the state of things in the front yard, he'd taken the cover off the access panel and left it, so when the sprinklers cut on tomorrow, they'd have fried the unit and cost me a couple of hundred for that repair, which I'm sure he'd have done---if he could find the house. Oh, I am not pleased with Mr. Sprinkler Guy. We are getting someone else, who will show up and be able to find a sprinkler head by a stopsign. Meanwhile we're hand-watering that quarter of the yard. And the roses didn't come. I was promised they'd be here Friday or Saturday. Well, they weren't. They weren't here Monday either. The GrowQuest phone system was down again. I called their other number, which they gave me to replace the number that won't work. It was busy. Then on answering system, the way it's been Friday, and Saturday. And about 4 or five other times I've tried to reach them. They call me at noon, when I'm at the rink; or if I'm home, they don't call; today I left a fairly exasperated message to the effect I could only be reached in the afternoon, and finally! got a phonecall from the young lady who does phones...who said, no, it hadn't shipped yet. Well, it would ship next week. When would it be there? Well, Friday or Saturday. That's what they said the last time. I tell you, if it wasn't that I want that World Peace rose so much I'd tell them forget the order. So I'm being patient. I tell you, between the rose shippers and the lawn guy, I'm about ready to yank heads off, but I'm being very nice on the phone. So there. Had quesadillas for supper, still not feeling like eating much, and am watching the ball game between the Angels and Mariners. Our young pitcher, Hernandez, who was injured, is back after rehab, and doing great. So far so good.

5/16/07 Wednesday. 95831. I laid out of skating again---still with that nausea that's troubled me the last several days. And then I figured out what the problem was. Jane and I have breakfast at the dining table lately: we resolved that we need to get back on the vitamin regimen, and I have orange juice and coffee for breakfast liquid---not water. I'm supposed to drink a glass of water with those pills, and I haven't been doing it. Stupid! But after flooding my system with water, which in contemplation, made me a little sick at my stomach, rapidly made me feel better. Ha! So I'm glad to figure that out. Meanwhile I took the car to get the oil changed, ended up deciding to have them flush the radiator too, since summer's here---but boy! JiffyLube is getting on my bad side with their urging to change the battery because it's a quarter down---hey, guy, that thing's under warranty from Les Schwab down the block, and it's a better battery than your 99.00 job. D' you think I'm nuts? No, I don't want you to muck with my transmission fluid: this is a Subaru, with all-wheel drive, and do I trust you guys more than the dealer? No. Do I want to call my insurance company and let you guys fix a rock chip you had to use a magnifying glass to find? No. I'm waiting for a big one, and I'll get it all done somewhere other than the lube place. And do I want you guys to do a Rain-X application to my windshield? Hell, no! You used a substitute last time and nearly killed us all: your cheap substitute fogged up our window on a snowy day as we were on a particularly nasty transit of Snowqualmie Pass and we've done everything we can to get it off our window. But JiffyLube is just down on the next arterial, so I'll use them for what they do: oil. And, that done, I went up to Mead to feed Sharon's kitties for her. After which, let's see---Jane got the locks fixed on the back door; I got some writing done; the concrete forms for the pathway arrived; and I mightily resisted the urge to ask Jane to go out for supper. I cooked a really sinful [but not on Atkins!] shrimp dish---angry shrimp, as per Justin's order at the restaurant---ah, but you'll read that later. Recipe: cooked, 50-count tail-on shrimp, sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil, liberally dusted with 3 tbs of Spice Islands' Calcutta Heat spice, then you add Philadelphia Cream Cheese, as per the other recipe, and cook until it makes a sauce. Serve with a Fresh Express Asian Salad side, and there you have it. The hip is getting a bit better. I'm hoping I can actually skate tomorrow. And! there are a couple of flowers I've been wanting to lay hands on---one of them a South Seas rose, which I haven't been able to find: it was my father's favorite, and I always liked it; and the other was his favorite iris: I'd just like one in my garden for sentimental reasons. It's a Wabash, a purple with a white crest, and I'd thought it was long extinct from the market, but I found it! Dad always moved his Wabash iris wherever we moved, until we lost it on the move to Oklahoma City. He never could find another; but the wonders of the internet---I have located them, they still exist, a classic oldstsyle tall iris bred in 1936; and I'm going to order one. A good find!

5/17/07 Thursday. 96218. Went to the rink all kitted out, and the ice was just crap, deep ruts every which way, and it's just too hard to come back from an injury without skating over corrugated cardboard. So we consulted each other and decided just to do a little grocery shopping across the street and go home, change clothes, and go do the fishy things that need doing. I needed a new Alkalinity test, which is one you dare not be without, and a bit of live rock, to make some additional shapes in the tank, to fill out the amount I need in the pod-generating refugium, and so on; so we went off to the fish store, past the incredibly bollixed up traffic on I-90---remind us to take Francis and the woodland drive next time! And we ended up getting a coral: the tank is good enough for montipora, and they had a really great montipora capricornis on a well-corallined [purple crust stuff] rock. So we went off to Scotty's for supper, had some hot dogs neither of us much cared for, the chef's surprise of the evening, and it was so bad we stopped by the Dairy Queen for a banana cream pie Blizzard---oh, we were bad. But we didn't have supper. We watched Tivo'ed things, mostly, and gave up and went to bed. I at least won the Caesar IV scenario I've been battling for a week. We won't skate until next week, because they're prepping for the ice show, in which we're not skating, being way too busy, and there won't be good ice until next week. Wonder what color they'll spray the ice---some times they blue, and so on, but this is only if they're planning to take the ice down in August.

5/18/07 Friday. 96855. Got a bit of work done and then we had a meeting with, yes, a life insurance this case a mortgage insurance agent: figured it was only prudent. So we got some coverage. Which took quite a while. We did a little yard work, I cooked supper, and Ysabel's been drinking out of the flower vase on the dining table again. That cat and I are going to have to have a talk. And you know those salad spritzer things Wishbone is adverting on TV? They're not bad. We found out one of the reasons we've not been losing weight is twofold: the nightly bottle of wine---we've switched to Scotch, for after dinner; and our salad, which is pretty calorific. So the Salad Spritzer products are mostly flavor, very little in the way of fat or calories, and they're not bad. I mean, sure, the salad dripping with dressing is appealing, but if we want to lose weight, we've got to make a little adjustment. So, insured and all, and me on the next scenario in Caesar IV, we settle in for an evening of edifying Dark Shadows reruns on DVD.

5/19/07 Saturday. 100850. I had an absolutely great day. Sometimes the characters start telling you all they know, and this was the most fabulous day of writing I've had in 15 years. Jane and I are both saying this house is so good for us. It has sealed windows, storm windows, and a killer filter on the air conditioner, and the air is dust-free, and so-o-o good. That was the great thing. We didn't either one do the things we have on the list, but hey, a day like today is worth it. Meanwhile the tank is having electrical problems: city code says we have to have a GFI circuit on the lines down there, but they keep blowing off, and if it happens on a day we're not here, it can kill the tank, suffocate the critters. I'm going to have to call our electrician back and see if he can fix it---one of our GFI's simply won't reset at all, and I'm not sure if the fuses aren't heavy-duty enough or what. If he can't make it work better than this, we're going to have to do our own or something I just can't have this going on. Supper tonight: salmon coated in Durkee Chicken and Fish seasoning, fried in extra virgin olive oil, served with: salad with Salad Spritzer dressing---we each have our own: our tastes differ wildly in this department; plus fresh blueberries European, ie, with Philadelphia Cream Cheese liberally sugared with Splenda---try it, you'll like it. And we've settled in for an evening of tv; I've literally written myself into exhaustion, and can't wait to get at it tomorrow. That feels so good! I did order the irises today---including dad's Wabash, and a number of gorgeous ones. We were going to get gasoline for the Mantis, but we were having such a good day that fell by the wayside. Sharon meanwhile is at a Continuing Education seminar, so we're missing Sharon, we didn't hear from Joan, so we just lived like campers today and got work done.

5/20/07 Sunday. 101302. I really should be doing the accounts. I hate doing the accounts, and the writing is flowing amazingly well---Justin and Grant are in fine form; so is Ari; and the heck with the accounts. The tank remains cobbled together belowdecks---I've got a cord running from the plug that works through midair to the skimmer, and have plugged the topoff pump into another outlet, while the refugium lights have to go---somewhere. I can't remember where I put it, but it works, so it's connected. The whole rig is suspended in mid-air across the doorway, so I left the light on down there so one of us doesn't blunder in after laundry and take out hundreds of dollars worth of equipment. I hate GFI's! I suppose they're great if they keep you from overloading a circuit, but the very nature of this equipment is that everything is going off and on by means of timers, and it creates spikes the GFI doesn't like at all. And I want to concentrate on my manuscript, period. We finished the evening with a reprise of the former menu, and sat and watched the critical disk of Dark Shadows with the episodes I missed, oh, around thirty years ago. Poor Jane---she has to suffer through it; but I love this old show.

5/21/07 Monday. 103281 Went back to the rink, where they've just had the ice show, and the ice was great, fast, and hard, and incidentally covered with sparkles---all the sparkledust that fell on the ice during the performance has frozen into the ice, and makes the ice sparkle. Both Jane and I were a little short of breath today---something must be in bloom, but it felt really good to get moving again and feel my edges settle in with some authority. We quit early, because I've called Chad the electrician to come and fix this thing in the basement. I can't have the power going out like that---it could kill the tank, from suffocation. I also stopped by the arena and got our tickets for Walking With Dinosaurs, the Live Show---which---we are so lucky---is going to be in Tacoma, then Spokane, for the first two cities on the US tour. They haven't announced where else it will come, but if your city has a good arena, it's a possibility: they have a website. Check it out! It's run in Australia, and will run in the US for two years. This is concurrent with MAC's [our museum] exhibit of Sue the T-Rex, which we haven't seen yet. And Pirates of the Caribbean is about to hit the theaters, ditto the new Harry Potter movie, and Jane wants to see the current Spiderman flick, so we may bestir ourselves and do some theater going. I got our dino tickets early: row one, right next the show. I l-o-o-ve dinos. I can't wait for this. And the writing is still going great...and no, I still haven't done the accounts. Life is good!

5/22/07 Tuesday. 104107. Work, work, work; the accounts go begging while I get through this. Forgive me if I write awhile...I'm starting to be dangerous while walking down the hall---mind elsewhere. Outside of that, we laid off the ice and took a trip down to the chiropractor, who did a good job straightening out the back, which was definitely messed up from the fall. We always have those good hamburgers and blackberry/peanut butter shakes, and always repent on the next day. And they were good! But we bought a gas can, a 1 gallon can, down in Pullman WA, and the guy at the counter was just berserk with desire we buy a gallon of gas to fill it, even though we were filling the Forester---so, all right already, we'll buy the gas. And of course---the can isn't fume-tight. So we wrapped it in plastic and drove 70-odd miles back home with the roof open so we wouldn't asphyxiate: note to self: do not buy cans of gas 70 miles from home.

5/23/07 Wednesday. 104107. Well, inevitably, things slow down. I did get on the ice, with a much steadier leg under me, and that was good. But getting home---sometimes I look around and ask myself how we're ever going to get through all these boxes. And why, since I'm stalled for a day, I don't just get in there and do the confounded accounts. Because I'm thinking on the book, and if I go do numbers I lose everything. I detest taxes and accounting---it makes me forget what I'm doing. If they'd just take a flat rate, I'd be happy, and I'd have more time, which no money can buy. Grump! Meanwhile they're redoing the ice in rink 2, and things are a little neglected here and there. We had a small party---Sharon came over for the first time in a while, and we had a little get-together. I needed that...well, maybe a little less of that than I had. But it was good, all the same...I just wish I'd been a bit more moderate.

5/24/07 Thursday. 104107. I didn't stay long on the ice due to way much celebration the day before: steadiness just isn't there. And I didn't get any useful work done. Bummer. Can't afford that sort of thing. I'd rather skate, thank you. Definitely I'd rather write. I'll remember that next time I'm inclined to over-celebrate an un-birthday.

5/25/07 Friday. 104382. We had to get up way early to get to the rink because of them redoing the ice and rearranging schedules between rinks 1 and 2. Today is our day to have rink 2, but at 9:30am, instead of 11, and that's too early to ask me to function without coffee, which wasn't going yet, either, at the snackbar. So I skated a while, then got off because the leg was hurting and I don't want to undo all the good Dr. Mike did. Besides, there were several guys headed out with hockey skates, which just rip up the ice and make us problems. So I decided I'd done well, and it was time to quit.  Then Sharon came into the locker room and reported Jane had taken a fall, but had laughed it off. Laughing it off means nothing, with Jane. I was headed out to see about her when she came limping in rubbing her shoulder and generally in a not-too-comfy mode. Seems she got to talking and her skate blade froze to the ice. Or the ice shavings that adhere to our skates froze up on her blade. She skated off, and the ice-lump sent her down on her knee. So we iced that and got her home. That's got to be a new one. So we took it easy for the rest of the day.

5/26/07 Saturday. 105056. Well, in honor of Jane's invalid status, and the fact she's been working her tail off for a week while I was having a blazing fit of writing, I declared I'd fix breakfast on weekends plus clean the kitchen. So I did that. Jane ate breakfast, then declared herself up to gardening despite the sore knee, and I'd been out there laboring, oh, half an hour trying to clear 2 square feet of flower bed of weeds---unsuccessfully, due to rocks and hard ground. So we fired up the Mantis and took after the flowerbed. It's interesting---you work it by dragging it backward while it tries to go forward, and it will remove lawn, or anything else in its way, down to a depth of 4-5 inches. I chewed up the scenery and she raked and we got a 10 by 5 stretch of bed done---a foot of which had been thick lawn that morning. The thing spits potato-sized Washington rocks with ease, and only occasionally gets one stuck where you have to work it out. It's amazing. We're both in love with this machine. It hops like an excited skunk when it hits a root, but outside of that is easy to control.

5/27/07 Sunday. 105056. A storm front is coming, but we worked on the yard until my right arm gave out---the elbow took quite a jolting from fighting it through the lawn, widening that bed---the Mantis does buck. Jane took over after I retired, and got another foot carved out. Sharon was supposed to come over, but is up to her eyeballs with the impending filial wedding. So Jane suggested, as if we didn't have enough exercise, we should go to the discount store, pick up a composter she wants---a composter! for gosh sakes! I can't believe we're that suburbanite. But it makes more sense than throwing weeds away. So we have a composter. We resisted the banana cream pie blizzards at Dairy Queen on the way home and were very good. It still didn't rain.

5/28/07 Monday. Memorial Day. 105823 Jane decided to get up and go after the flower bed again, but it was raining. I'd been up since 8, working on the accounts, and had just sat down for a breather, when I heard Jane call for me...a rarity. I immediately got up and asked where she was. "Mud room," she says, which is a 5x8 room with some steps that leads to the back yard. I opened that door, and there's Jane lying under a pile of boxes and boards that had formerly lined the walls, and my first thought was she'd broken something. She'd missed a step while carrying boxes out, and her arch had skidded over the step edge, and she'd hit the tiles as the stacked paneling and piled boxes fell atop her. No, she said, she was all right, just bruised. Which apparently she is. She insisted on getting up and going out and running the Mantis for two hours, widening the bed further, tilling it, working in Preen [which prevents seeds from germinating], and generally turning our project into a real rose bed. Now the lawn crew has finally shown up after a week and a half. So the lawn gets mowed, on a holiday, no less, but it's been real hard, with the rains, to get things attended, and they were way behind---our grass was getting taller and taller. We're looking positively civilized here.

5/28/07. Tuesday. 105823. Doing a bit of research, and collecting things. I don't announce my long trips online for simple security reasons, but switch to the word processing record for the duration; and we're about to head down to Dallas for the long [since last summer] postponed visit with my Mum and my brother David. We've finally gotten the house in order, at least enough to leave, and we've found a time when Sharon, bless her, can come over and look in on things. It used to be an 11 day trip. We've found a way to shave off the two stays at Rocker MT, which used to be our first stop. We drive straight from Spokane to Casper, a 12 hour drive, 13, if you count losing an hour, so this will be our longest day. Then from Casper to Las Vegas NM is another hard day, because we have to take I-25 through the Denver metropolis, but Las Vegas is worth the effort. We used to stay in Colorado Springs, or Trinidad, and have the last day pretty epic, getting down to Dallas, but the Las Vegas stop is way nicer. It's up in the mountains, and the little restaurant there is amazing. I'm getting anxious to check on Mum and see how she's doing.

5/30/07 Wednesday. 106182.Tried to skate, but I didn't stay: it was just too rough, and I'm a little achy from all the work. They're busy putting new ice on rink 1. And Jane's sore, from her fall. So we sort of packed it in. Meanwhile the work is really starting to move, so I'm not doing much but keying text.

5/31/07 Thursday. 107831. Turn about, we went into to feed Sharon and Steve's kitties, the redoubtable Kate and the elusive but sweet Emily...a minor thing for us, compared to the job Sharon's taking on. I'd like to get to the beauty parlor before the trip, but that's not going to happen, so I just applied another dye job and that's going to have to do. I did manage to find a copy of Cyteen, which was boxed for the move. Jane put me onto it when she reminded me I'd packed my room in red 703 boxes, color coded for easy finding. It's amazing what slips your mind once you're in a new environment. I went on a red box quest and bingo! Found it.

6/1/07 Friday. 111828. Still just real bad ice—not worth it, to get shaken up on what feels like corrugated tin under the blades. We have finesse things we're working on, and it's no help to get sore from the jolting of running over the equivalent of bad road. So we went to Lowe's and bought, silly us, a couple of roses. And mulch, to protect the roses from the sun and evaporation.

6/2/07 Saturday. 112107. A lot of yard work—Jane's gone into overdrive trying to get the place ready for us to travel. And Sharon came to get checked out on the tank equipment, since she's tank-sitting for us. This is the first time she's dealt with a big skimmer and a kalk reactor—which make the tank much more automatic than before, but which give you a little worry if they should malfunction while I'm gone. I've written her three pages of instructions and she has my cell number.

6/3/07 Sunday.113291. It never fails that right before I head on a trip, the writing starts to pour out, and I have my best time. And I end up not wanting to go. But the reports out of Dallas have been iffy—for a few days two weeks ago I kept expecting every phone call was going to involve my Mum going into the hospital; but she does seem better...I have a feeling my trip down being postponed because of the move weighed on her, though she'd never say it. So in this case I'm anxious to get down there.

6/4/07 Monday. 114199. The old process of getting my feet back under me, back on our regular ice—new ice, at that, which is strange. It's like skating on water—in the sense that the markings are hyperclear and you can see every trace you put on the ice as a clear opaque line on something crystal for about 2" down. And of course it feels different. But I'm faster at adjusting than I used to be. I used to think it would be the height of skill to be able to step onto the ice and take off without laying hands on the wall, and now I can do that. Work is still going well. But now I'm having to face the fact I'm on the road again real soon.

6/5/07 Tuesday. 115212. Skating again, and doing pretty well—though I tried to break my neck. Got too darn cocky, just standing by the wall, and rocked back on my heels for some reason—caught myself, and bruised my arm and back nastily, saving myself from a fall which would have been actually easier. But once you grab at the wall, and try to hold, you risk hitting your face if you just turn loose, so I held on and sprained about everything, just before a long drive.

6/6/07 Wednesday. 116192. D-Day, the sixth of June. We'd thought we were going to go skating this morning, but we just couldn't do it. There were too many loose ends. Jane got out in the garden and planted the bucketed roses we had, I stuck the lone iris into the ground not by plan, but by where it'll get water, and we did washing and packed. I fixed the fish tank, trying to have it ready for Sharon—you have to understand, her daughter is getting married next weekend, so she's doing this as an extreme favor for us. We ran Jane's betta Shoka and the fuschia plant down to Joan to keep, to take some of the load off Sharon, and turned in early, hoping to get off in good season tomorrow.

6/7/07 Thursday. 116192. We got underway via Shari's for breakfast—the longest day of driving. We hadn't used the GPS for months, and somehow some of its programming had gotten glitched. It decided that Motel 6 in Casper WY was 'home,' and that was confusing. It took us several miles to convince it that was our destination, and meanwhile we had another interesting event: the course down I-90 eastbound took us through our old neighborhood. Now, Ysabel is frequently vocal when we first start out, but she hadn't settled, and with Jane driving, she'd ended up on my lap, increasingly restive and distressed. Within 100 feet of the Pines ramp, which used to be our turnoff, she began panting, hyperventilating, and having great distress. 100 feet past the Pines ramp, and outbound, she sucked it up, got herself calm, and settled down into my lap, finally quiet. You think cats don't know where they are on the road? You think cats don't have any opinion about the house you live in? The cats love the new place. Ysabel made her opinion of the Pines Street apartment quite clear, I think. So onward and outward, and we're reading Cyteen, the first book, so that I can refresh my memory on details. This book was pretty well how Jane and I ended up living together—years ago, we were already correspondents due to her work on the Gate of Ivrel graphic, her project, and I was coming to a convention [Rustycon] in the Pacific Northwest, in her town—so she offered me a place to stay the night before the con, and though I generally have the most extreme misgivings about such arrangements, I was pretty sure it was ok. It was beyond ok—her brothers were charming, Jane was fun, I loved watching her work on the drawings, and she talked me into reading Cyteen, then just started, to her while she worked. Her comments were so insightful and helpful, I couldn't give this up—when I got back from the con, I started calling her every evening to read her the day's work. 800.00 worth of phone time later, she moved south and took up an office and the upstairs of my newly-bought house on the lake. That was in the 1980's. Can you say—memories, as we re-read the book in question? Lot of water under that bridge! Meanwhile we'd run into problems with the GPS. A long stop at Haugen [the 10,000 silver dollar bar, which is a tourist shop of the first water] was confusing, because the arrival time on the GPS seemed to take into account the time zones. So we thought. As we got closer to our destination, however, we realized that the time was still Pacific, not Mountain, and we were going to arrive after the kitchen had closed at the restaurant [Banjo Bob's] across from the motel. So we phoned the restaurant and ordered a takeout to pick up after the closing, because the bar stays open. We were quite relieved we'd found that out. And next time we'll set the time zone to reflect local ETA. Jane drove like a bat to get us there only 15 minutes after closing, and that was in twilight in pronghorn country, so she was pretty tired by the time we got there. But that is the best BBQ in the universe, and we retired to a good sleep in our favorite Motel 6 Casper hotel room, # 101, right by the office, where offloading is easy and the cats are happy. We've resolved that on the way back, we're going to gather rocks for the Japanese garden we want to do in the back yard. I'm told it's legal if they're not on private property, in a reserve, or placed there by somebody who paid to have them put there. So we figure rockfalls at the edge of the road are fair game. We just need to pull off far enough not to pose a hazard, and spot the good stuff in time to stop.

6/8/07 Friday. 116192. Left out of Casper, with Jane driving. We got through Denver traffic without too much fuss, then, even better, through Colorado Springs, which is under general construction as usual, and usually is a traffic jam. We were smarter this time...traveling in the same time zone...and knew we were going to make Las Vegas NM in time for supper. The restaurant there, at the Inn on the Santa Fe Trail, is a neat don't say 'cook' here. It's 'chef.' And it's good. The rooms are wonderfully comfortable, you're at 6300 feet elevation, so it's never that hot, the little air conditioner manages, and the southwestern character of the place is charming.

6/9/07 Saturday. 116192. We took out of Las Vegas NM at the crack of dawn, with the complimentary breakfast and a reservation for next Wednesday night. I drove, set the GPS for Central Time and Dallas, and off we went. Had lunch at the Whataburger in Wichita Falls, where the cats got their first taste of Whatachicken since our last visit, and proceeded on to catch a supper at the Whataburger in Dallas, before heading on to the house to put in our appearance. Mum is feeling better—David had warned me she might not want to go shopping on this trip, because she's been a bit under the weather, but she's anxious to go, and has her agenda. Younger niece was there for the evening, and for tomorrow...Lord, she's grown! She advises we're going to have to change our nickname for her, because she's too tall to be Littlebit.

6/10/07 Sunday. 116192. A quiet day around the house, just visiting, sitting and talking and watching the ballgame. Jane and David got to working with his graphics program, and there was no sound out of the upstairs all afternoon. Littlebit and Jane turn out to have a shared interest in anime, which became a bit of fun. But outside—Lord, it's hot! We're used to the upper 60's and low humidity, and over 50 percent humidity and 95 degrees is killer! My hair [curly] has exploded, and everything we own is sweaty.

6/11/07 Monday. 116192 Big shopping day. We took Mum out looking for a dress to wear to my elder niece's wedding, which is imminent. We lucked out. The very pricey store near the house is changing stock, which means that they're selling off their old stock at a deep discount. So Mum got a really nice outfit for not very much, and also a pair of shoes that are much easier on her feet than what she's been wearing. I wanted to get a pair like them too—those Z-form velcro straps that are much kinder to the top of the foot than laces. Like Mum, I have a very high arch that makes tennies a real pain: my foot goes to sleep because laces cut off the bloodflow. Thank goodness my skating boots have a thick, padded tongue that protects against that. We had dinner at the Texas Roadhouse, picked up dinner for my brother David, who was staying at the house trying to get some work done. And we visited my elder niece, her fiancé, and Mum's new great-grandbaby, her first.

6/12/07 Tuesday. 116192. I took Mum to the doctor—I'd suggested a prescription I thought might help her current ailment, and she was very anxious to go to the clinic, which was off in Allen Tx [if you know Dallas, you know that the sides of Dallas are just packed with smaller cities like Allen and Plano, and Frisco and so on.] So my brother David wrote down the address very meticulously and I took the card and fed it into the GPS. We ended up turning left at McDermott Parkway—I was sure it ought to be right, but no, we're supposed to go left to 400 East McDermott. The addy turned out to be the Allen police station. I decided, well, we were on the wrong side of the highway; I drove the other way and reset the GPS. No joy. It complained. I went into a nail shoppe, to ask directions—is every nail salon run by people who speak only Thai, except about nail polish? This is the second time I've had to give up and go next door. I've got to stop asking at nail salons. Sweet people, but my command of Thai, alas, doesn't even extend to 'hello.' So I said thank you and went next door to the quintessential NY import pizza guy who definitely speaks English and knows exactly that 400 W McDermott is the police station. But McDermott changes to Main Street after Austin. Ha! So the GPS wasn't wrong: it had just delivered me to the only 400 addy on McDermott. I went back to 400 E Main, and there we were, a finesse David had never had to cope with because he doesn't use a GPS. So Mum got her prescription, and I took her shopping for makeup. Had a nice dinner at the Texas Roadhouse, spent the evening—my niece is off with her uncle at Six Flags Dallas, and David's pulling a near allnighter at his office trying to make up the time he spent on his guests, so we watched a little of the NBA finals—Mum is a basketball fan, then checked in early, to get some sleep. We're on the road early tomorrow.

6/13/07 Wednesday. 116192. We left out at the crack of dawn, drove pretty hard to reach Las Vegas NM—Dallas traffic just never stops—had lunch at the Almost Last Whataburger at the Edge of the Universe [Wichita Falls TX—yep, there's one in Amarillo, but it was too late for us.] We ran into some welcome thunderstorms, which kept that fierce western light from being too bad. I drove. And we made our dinner rez by phone, and kited in 10 minutes early. We had a marvelous supper—and of all things, we happened to eat inside [we never do] and happened, somehow, to discuss occupations—there were only a few tables occupied that evening, a lone gentleman, and us, another couple that left, and an elegant-looking couple across the way. Turned out the gentleman is a black and white photographer, who shows his work; and when we reported our own occupation, it turned out that the lady at the table had worked for years for George Lucas and knows the genre, oh, quite well. We traded cards. We're going to check out each other's websites, and we had a very nice back and forth conversation. The solo gentleman at the other table turned out to be a science fiction reader, too, so it was quite an odd and enjoyable evening, all on the chance of rain and our opting to eat inside for the first time. You just never know.

6/14/07 Thursday. 116192. Up at dawn, and off for the first Village Inn we can locate, near Pueblo CO. But we stopped in Raton Pass to carry through on our idea of collecting rocks for our Japanese garden, and picked up a big foot square rock. We decided to name them and label them for origin, so that was Carlos, a suitable Spanish name for Raton Pass. We drove on for Casper, where we didn't call early enough to get our favorite room, but we were comfy enough. On the way, we stopped at the Scottishly named Glendo WY, and picked up a lovely pink quartzite rock from a stop we made—we decided it was Ian; and then across from Banjo Bob's, we picked up a whitish quartzite we call...yes...Bob.

6/15/07 Friday. 116192. Woke up at 6 local and we just packed up straightway and started out. Breakfast at the Village Inn in Casper, and onward to Sheridan and Buffalo...stopped between Billings and Bozeman to pick up a couple more rocks, [Bill and Boz], then again close to Missoula to pick up Missy and Zulu, a green serpentinite sort and a beautiful red-near-purple; then found that vein of serpentinite-like stuff again the other side of Missoula, near Haugen MT, and picked up several more slabs. I drove, Jane read, and we cruised on into Spokane, after a call from Sharon—I got the alkalinity report, and gave my opinion for adjustment, and it sounds pretty good, after all Sharon's been through. We reached Spokane, stopped by Scotty's Bar for our Friday night hamburger, and got home—the cats were so glad.

6/16/07 Saturday. 117281. Home again and waking in my own bed in nice cool air. I'd thought I was going to get some sleep this morning, but up it was at 8 am Texas time—6 am here, thanks to Ysabel, who wanted her brushing. I worked all morning. We got in touch with Sharon, who kept the tank for me—and she'd battled that sinking magnesium to get it stable again. It was great. Morning light showed a tank shockingly overgrown with algae, but Jane took that rock out, toothbrushed it, and I installed it in the sump to live for a while until that algae dies out. Meanwhile I'm anxious to enter the stuff I head-worked during the trip and the reading.

6/17/07 Sunday. 119379 Father's Day. This is always a remembering day for me. I lost my Dad back in 2001, on 9/12...that was a hard time, not made easier by the fact 9/11 gets replayed over and over and over on the telly on that date. Getting down to the funeral in Oklahoma was a nightmare, with all transport bollixed up. And in my own opinion the kindest thing for people intimately affected by 9/11 would be to have a national day of something or another, but quit rerunning the footage on the news and start focusing on how people have rebuilt since. My own feelings about the news services, as a sometime historian [I used to teach it] are highly mixed. And I don't blame the reporters, who are like geese after feed, but the news directors, the Suits that run things and decree what's going to go on the air. Anyway, enough of that glum thought. My Dad...for those of you who've read Cuckoo's Egg, Duun is sort of my take on him, a really remarkable man. I miss him a lot. I don't go to the cemetary; he's not there. I just don't get the sense that he is. I was there at the funeral and visited there once after, and that's that. Jane lost her own dad a year later. So we have a habit of going out to dinner on this day, having a drink in their honor, and telling stories about them. Her dad was a flight instructor, pioneer aviator in Alaska and Washington, a horseman, a lot of things. My Dad was an office guy, a weekend fisherman, a would-be farmer, a guy who built an A-frame house with his own hands, who survived on his own for his early years, with no dad nor mum in sight, and who loved my mum steadfastly for all his life. One of my keenest memories is him taking me fishing in the predawn hours with all the guys from the office, the only kid allowed to go, and him setting me on a rock near the water in the dark, fixing my line for me, telling me not to clamber around and fall in [algae makes those rounded granite boulders slick at Lake Lawtonka]. And if I did, he told me, he wouldn't drink the lake to get me back. I laughed. I was about 6. And I only fell in the water once in those years, fortunately when it was warm and sunny, and I told him I'd gotten myself out because I knew he couldn't drink that lake.

6/18/07 Monday. 123821. Back to routine, or close to it. The rink is over to a new schedule, which puts us at 4pm today—a weird time for us to skate, after 2 years of doing it in the morning. But we went out to a post-skate dinner, had a good time. And the delay let me get some major stuff entered. The roses still need tending, but that's going to have to wait. And those roses I ordered? Not a word from them, nor from the irises I ordered. Is every plantseller online a space case?

6/19/07Tuesday. 132276. To the rink late again, as I get into the swing of writing. I have so much to enter since the trip. Pardon me if I'm not having a life right now, just trying to find myself in the book.

6/20/07 Wednesday. 133111. Joan has this notion I should improve my edges. She's been chasing me with this notion from before the trip, and Sharon's word on the topic is, “She's got the idea you can do edges. Your life is over.” She's not far wrong. You know the concept of speeding around a corner on smooth ice on one foot? Add this one: cant your blade over at a 45 degree angle, either to the inside or outside. You'll curve, bigtime, you'll curve and the ice will go 'ripppp!' and you'll then switch feet, before you fly full circle, and do it in the opposite direction, changing feet again before you hit the hockey boards. I'm doing this—a lot. Plus the elementary 'bubble,' a simultaneous push out with both feet and then a pull inward—works going forward or backward. Babies do this. Joan wants me to do it with the blades canted at 45 degrees inward. Agh!

6/21/07 Thursday. 133616. I'm nearly too sore to walk. I chickened today. My legs are sore, and the hip I've been favoring is pretty uncomfortable. Joan, poor thing, is having somewhat the same pain, but hers is worse, and not from doing baby-moves on the ice. I sure hope hers improves soon. Meanwhile we're on the road again tomorrow, doing some more reading of Cyteen, and we're packing—trying to find—ugh—our dress clothes. We haven't used those since we moved. Where shoes are that aren't tennies or muffies is anybody's guess.

6/22/07 Friday. 133028. And off we go to marry off Sharon's daughter, who is getting wedded in Seattle. We'd thought about going over on Thursday, but we needed it for packing, being not so ready as we'd imagined we were. The cats were resigned—Efanor was even civilized and walked into his cage instead of running us the usual half hour chase. So we got on the road in good season, and I actually found a pair of heels. We beat Jane's brother Chip to his house by about an hour, and then we took out to a Mariners' game—we were playing Cincinnati, and they gave a welcome home for Junior [Ken Griffey], who has never stopped being a popular player in Seattle. They were so friendly they gave the subsequent game away—it was, bar none, the worst game we've ever been to, well, for the Mariners. It was great for the Reds. I just had my customary Red Hook Ale and a Major League hotdog with sauerkraut, which can console me for a game like that. We got home way late.

6/23/07Saturday. 134421. Breakfast at Tommy's, who makes the best corned beef hash in Renton, and then home to get organized for the evening wedding. Thank goodness for GPS's or we'd never have found the hall. Mind, Sharon has been here all week long, attending Bride's party, not, I suppose, the Groom's party, and the Rehearsal, and the Rehearsal dinner and one party after the other. They're a cute couple, and they had a very nice evening—harp music, a brief ceremony, during which the groom's younger brother fainted—poor Sharon had to miss the vows on an errand of mercy over by the evergreen hedge. .We thought it was just late arrivals ducking through the bushes, but no, poor lad, it wasn't. After that the bar opened, not just hors d'oeuvres, but a full buffet dinner, all the good food anybody reasonable could drink or eat, lovely decorations—an evening like this could actually reconcile me to weddings. You have to understand, my parents eloped, didn't tell anyone for a month, and finally admitted they were married—they sort of urged us kids to do the same when the time came. Informal, you could say. And I of course dodged the whole thing until first my roommate, Holmes, and then my brother got married. But this was a good wedding. A really good wedding. So we went home pretty content, and Sharon stayed on to deal with the aftermath and then attend a Present Opening Party in the morning—the woman has party skills, I'll tell you!

6/24/07 Sunday. 135162. Had breakfast with Chip in the rain, which had tastefully held off until after the wedding, and packed up the confused cats and headed home, more reading. I drove. We'd intended to pick up rocks in Snowqualmie Pass, but it was pouring and slick, the traffic was insane, and we were just too tired to do it safely. So we kept traveling, got home, and turned in early.

6/25/07 Monday. 135930. Back to the rink. Sharon's exhausted. And she's going to have to go work Wednesday for a no-sleep marathon at the ER. That's cruel. We're entirely worn out and we were only at the Reception. Plus we owe Sharon a really good dinner for saving our fish.

6/26/07 Tuesday. 136261. Trying to practice the really deep edges. And I overworked again. This just flat takes developing some muscle, but it's to the good: at our age, the more you can pack on hard muscle, the harder your bones are, the less likely you are to break something, and the more agile you are. I look around me at people my age and am very, very grateful I took up skating. I'm back doing my waltz jumps again, can do the toe loop almost not touching the boards [a chicken-out catch-hold during the turn]...if I do it as a walkover. The inside 3 turn is scarier to me than the jump, which is odd, because the outside 3 is a piece of cake for me. I also outside 3'd into a tight back spin, which Sharon tells me is actually a legitimate move and fairly hard. Funny that I don't feel unbalanced on the outside turn, but do on the inside, which probably says that I'm not keeping the free hip rotated outward on the inside 3—if you rotate it inward and fold in on yourself you can make yourself crumple and lose your balance. So I bet that's what my problem is. I'll have to work on that.

6/27/07 Wednesday. 137184. I chickened again. The leg is still hurting. I took out to Lowe's to buy a barbecue grill—this may sound like a non sequitur, but I'd planned to do that this week, having done my research online and asking around amongst those who grill. Part of our diet is eating at home instead of out, and part of that is having good flavorful but not sauced food. So in lieu of kitchen remodeling, I get a grill. I thought I might go for propane, but that turns out to offer less flavor, but more speed. I'm fast enough. I went for a charcoal type, a Brinkmann grill at Lowe's for 169.00, and managed to get it home in a box: took two guys to load it. Jane likes to put things together: she's got a good one. Meanwhile I've got to get charcoal and figure how to make this thing work.

6/28/07 Thursday. 138009 Poor Joan's been from one doctor to the other, and we had a night out to make her feel better. It's hurting a lot. But a French Martini at Tecate's is a good cure for the miseries. I've learned to stick to Chardonnay. The weather remains cool and somewhat rainy. I wish it would stay like this.

6/29/07 Friday. 138581. We had a real short skate. The ice was awful and made my leg ache. I went over to the store and got some meat for grilling...Jane went ahead and had a lesson, which made me sorry I hadn't stayed, but not too sorry. Jane was going to put the grill together tomorrow, but it was good weather, so she opted to do it, and I helped. Which is a good way to learn the rig. I'd also picked up some 12 minute matches, slow matches, etc. as well as ordered a charcoal starter, as recommended. So that will be good. And just after we'd put the grill together, all sorts of mayhem erupted in the skies—a real hard rain and some straight winds that took down power poles every which way. We, fortunately, just looked at the nice rain watering our lawn and had no notion part of the city was looking to its roofs. That's unsual for Spokane, but I hear it's a La Nina year and things are a little crazy. Ah, well, next week is the 4th, and it seems the weather is going to get warmer—like pushing 105 next Thursday, when it's been a mild 72 degrees most days until then. That's cruel.

6/30/07 Saturday. 139412. Up at 6, an hour late for me, and at the book hot and heavy, a really good working day. Meanwhile Jane opted to do some fix-up around the place, and decided to paint the bathroom, of all things. Which looks great. She used that blue that hadn't worked in the living room—it's what I call swimming pool blue, and it's the only thing in the universe that could go with that green tub and make it look proper in there. Jane's activity made me realize I'd better go downstairs and see to the saltwater mixing I need to do in order to do a water change, as I need to do: way overdue on that. Like a month. The tank, however, is looking good. I handled a little cyanobacteria outbreak [looks like red slime] by turning the lights out for three days and now have them back up again in a nice clean tank. And I barbecued for the first time—the 12 minute match [look for Diamond brand, in the picnic supplies area of your grocery] was a great success. I laid down a floor of briquettes, then the match with the lightable end visible as I mounded more briquettes over it, and touched off the match with a lighter. It took instantly, as you expect a Diamond match to do, and seems to be paraffin with sawdust: it kept burning and smoking—the bad part of it—but not noxious smoke and not real fumy. Inside an hour [I got distracted with the book again: I'd intended to start cooking after 20 minutes] it made perfect coals, all gray with glowing red inside, and cooking was great. Having a crank to raise and lower the coalbed is wonderful, and the thermometer is an asset. So is the porcelain-coated iron grill, which will be easy to clean, and the pullout ash bed. I think I made a good choice in this grill. Now we're watching the Mariners win a game, and I think we'll call it an evening with that: it's been a long day.

6/30/07 Saturday. 140611. Working hard, mindful that we've got company coming in this week—the reason of Jane's repair-it mania. We're picking up and cleaning up, since we've decided to host a barbecue at the end of it all. It's amazing all the detail that comes up. Meanwhile I made yet one more call looking for the missing roses and irises. And tried to clean up the fish tank. The weather is approaching gruesome. It's forecast to be miserably hot next weekend, when we want to be out and about. Bummer!

7/01/07 Sunday. 141225. Working, and cleaning. Jane's painting is ultra-spiff: the bathroom actually blends with that horrid green tub, via swimming pool blue walls, and what now looks as if we'd planned it. The tank is looking up. I've ordered a tailspot blenny to replace the one we lost in the move. I'm writing a lot, and I've decided I like the grill so much I'm going to use it just about daily.

7/02/07 Monday. 142168. Skating—back to the rink. I'm really battling a sincere problem since Joan came down on me about getting over onto the edges: I can't get my left foot to go over as far when I do just a simple slalom on inside edges around the rink. I can't figure whether my blade is still out of line—recent fix on those—or whether it's my ankle not responding. But I've learned in this sport that if you can't pull the trigger to make a move, there's something about your balance that isn't right, and I can't figure it.

7/03/07 Tuesday. 144091. Skating. I'm really puzzled as to why I can't get my feet to match. Meanwhile I'm writing, and Jane is painting and polishing and working hard to get the house in shape. I feel guilty, but I've got to get through this scene before guests arrive.

7/04/07 Wednesday. 145287.Getting ready. Lot of food buying. We laid out of skating and hit the aisles at Costco, and I don't know how ten people can eat all we bought. But you never know. We're both cleaning up now.

7/05/07 Thursday. 146821. Skating. People are starting to get into town for Shejicon, and we're going to have to get to work tonight and pull a last few things together.

7/06/07 Friday. 147281. Trying to work in the morning now that we're all ready, but we have a date to go skating with the Shejicon people—Sharon has organized absolutely all of this, and it's amazing what all she has on tap for people to do. It's 107 outside, middle of a heat wave, and one of the best things to do is go skating. Not so many takers on that, but some, and nobody broke anything. And in the evening a very pleasant boat cruise with the's where I get my reconstruction perhaps a little off because I can't remember totally how the chronology worked, reconstructing this after the convention ended on Sunday, but I'm pretty sure the cruise was Friday, and we made haste to get there—not realizing how much of a problem parking was going to be, but we made it to an adjacent lot, and got to the boat in plenty of time. It was a perfect night on the water: the extreme heat of the day made the nighttime high mountain lake pretty pleasant without a coat, though I brought one, and we sent runners ahead to get two tables on the top deck, which we proceeded to sit at and guard through the evening. Roast salmon and all you could eat. Very nice. We hadn't opted for all the hiking about and visiting of things downtown—it's a wonder people didn't expire from the heat. But we were certainly up for the boat ride. We were somewhat dubious about the canoe trip in blistering heat—we're neither of us sunflowers: more nightblooming cereus. Our summer activity is in the indoor rink in 32 degrees. But we received calls from Sharon's husband Steve urging us to go, and we'd gone out after skating and bought special clothes for hot weather, and we found hats...well, we were leaning toward going, though we've never done two-person canoe.

7/07/07 Saturday. 148029. We decided to go canoeing, dressed up, covered to the knuckles in light fabric, with hats, coiffed and made up; and set out to follow the map we had from the convention packet. Ha! The map, prepared by Washington tourism, showed a put in and take out and the Little Spokane River, but what looked like a 15 minute drive from our house. The dastards left out not only a few streets, but several miles of streets, and many miles of country road, didn't show the curves, or the hills, or the winding course, or the intersections as they were: it was a good 45 minute drive if you'd known where you were going, and there was something about arrival at the take out where we'd leave our cars, but according to that map—well, it was all backwards. We finally found the place the canoes should go in, but we had to go to the other end of the course—and passed the canoe-truck on the way. So we U-turned and chased after it, arriving back where we'd been, and leaving our car there—we had a pretty high charge of adrenaline, were nearly an hour late, and managed to get a canoe, but were too fried to ask for good instructions, and surely too fried to ask anybody to put up with us at the pitch of adrenaline we'd achieved in the great canoe chase. So we took off, me, total novice, steering, and Jane as bow paddle. We did ok, but Jane was having to work hard, because the Little Spokane has as many kinks as an agitated snake, and some fairly fast water coupled with sandbars, snags, and moose. So off we go, passing one canoe, which had overset—we couldn't help, so on we went. The guide was to follow us all and help the stragglers. We weren't making much progress, were paddling mostly on the same side of the boat, and spent a lot of time slowing way down as I'd just jam the paddle in and pivot. Jane was ready to kill me, justly so. So we fussed our way downstream, and got up against another snag—I grabbed a waisthigh branch and held on, keeping our canoe upright, but Jane went in the drink, and floated downstream nearly to the end of the snag, having lost hat and flipflop sandals. I steadied the canoe, and she got back in: we'd saved our canoe and both paddles. Now, mind, there was something I should have done, long since, and should really have done at this point: tie my little carry bag with my carkeys and medicines onto the boat. No. We were so agitated I forgot to do that. Read on. And on we went—far better canoers in our group had caught Jane's hat and sandals, so she got those back, and I asked our guide, who had come up with us, how to steer. We got a little info, which had us not paddling on the same side of the boat [Jane was right] and on we went, making some speed now. We saw herons. A moose, wading along the side of the river. Merganser ducks. Various birds panicked by Jane and me swearing at each other. The moose looked bored with our stupidity and left. But we were still afloat, and doing better. Then...[ominous music here]...we came to a bend where a really big tree was down across the river, leaving only a narrow chute of fast water. Two other canoes were ahead of us, and we backed water to give them room, then decided to go for it. About this time another canoe came round the bend pretty fast and preempted us again. Now, what we should have done and didn't, was back completely to the bank, reorient, and come at it from a lower, near the bank line where we could catch the current as they had. We didn't. We were already moving, we thought we had the current, and we went. Wrong. We got swept sideways into the snag, Jane went over [bow is more vulnerable to this] and the current kept pushing me under a limb, and I had no choice, with the canoe tipping toward the current and filling: I went in, holding onto my paddle and coming up—well, that cussed life preserve rose about my ears, my hat was jammed on tight, down to my ears, and I looked like a pile of refuse when I came up and tried to reorient. Jane, above the water, had lost me for a moment, and was afraid I was under the log. But I was hanging onto the branch that had tipped us while other people were taking pictures. Ha! And I tried to free our canoe, but the confounded branch was bending down and trapping the canoe, while my damned Teva sandals floated! Here am I with my butt toward the current, the sandals floating my feet up on the other side of the canoe I'm bent around, and it's a major struggle against their buoyancy and the current to get faced around so I can try for the next branch. There's an actual danger here—getting sucked under the log and snagged in its branches—so I'm not letting go of one branch for thunder, not until I have the next, and I'm worrying the tree is old and rotten, and if a branch goes, it could get nasty: I'm thinking about shedding the cursed life preserver before it gets me caught—except those damn sandals I need to get rid of too. Meanwhile Jane has gotten onto an adjacent sandbar and points the way to safety. She has her paddle: I still have mine—half my troubles, because it floats, too, vigorously—and the canoe begins to slip free as I leave that branch. It's headed for her. I've got the branch and paddle in one hand, try to keep my hat on, try to herd the canoe in Jane's direction, and the place where I am is bottomless and strong with current, dark water. So I reach one branch and another, the canoe is free and Jane intercepts it. I reach her, and we stand on the sandbar and combine our efforts to rock water out of the canoe. About this time the guide shows up, and her companion [one of our own] advises her there's something orange under the water. Now, I'm already mourning my car keys, but that is my bag, snagged well underwater. So I work my way back there, standing on submerged limbs, and try to reach it, just barely touch the cord, but the cursed life preserver won't let me quite grab it. The guide [and everybody else] urge me back, so the guide helps us get our canoe run up on the bow of hers, flipped, de-watered, and then hauled to the bank and relaunched on the sandbar, so we can get back in...still with our paddles. The guide promises to get the bag, so off we go. We're actually doing much better, give or take being soaked. Jane's lost her sandals again, but someone got her hat. My hat, which I'd saved through all of that, blew off as Jane yelled we should veer, and we veered, but the hat was gone never to be retrieved. We were pretty tired by then, and our makeup had washed off, and so had our sunscreen, but we made it to the pullout, and got ashore. Someone brought Jane's sandals, which had ripped, the force of her going in was so violent this time, but she still hopes to glue them—they were her favorites. And the guide had been about to give up on my bag, saying there was probably nothing much in it, but our friend said keep after it, and when they hauled it up and saw car keys they knew retrieval had been a good thing. I was very glad to get them back---I do get the prize for 'stupid' in having that bag unsecured---, and the clicker even worked, when we got back to the car. That evening we met two others of the convention-let who had come in late, old friends of ours, as opposed to new friends—when you try to drown together, you bond, fast. We went home, showered and redressed, and went out to the Steamplant Grill, which is an old steam plant, you got it, and then we went on home, exhausted, and took plenty of Advil, which Sharon, the one responsible for this trip and the convention bags, had cleverly included in convention supplies.

7/08/07 Sunday. 148029. The next day, Jane was too sore to move...which points up how greatly she'd suffered in my perpetual braking the canoe and her having to drag it into motion. She was incredibly sore. I wasn't. We'd rowed on that river for something over two hours, and she'd done the equivalent of paddling a loaded barge upcurrent...but she forgave me, and we laughed about it a lot. And I got the coals going and we had a very nice barbecue, with the help of Sharon's husband Steve. It was way too hot to be totally comfortable, but wasn't as bad as Friday—we partied and broke the pinata, and there were really nice gifts from the convention—thank you all. And we said our good nights. Dawn dropped by after the dust had settled, enjoyed a little barbecued hotdogs and such, and then we just collapsed and turned in.

7/09/07 Monday. 148029. Skipped skating. Waaay too much party. My balance wouldn't be good and Jane's too sore to walk, let alone even contemplate landing on anything.

7/10/07 Tuesday. 149291. Jane went skating. I had a headache that wouldn't quit, which could be the amount of sun I got after the hat went overboard, or could be the box wine, or the amount thereof, but I wasn't a real happy camper, not happy enough to be taking the ice, anyway. I stayed home---and we received an unhappy shipment—a little tailspot blenny we'd ordered online came in, and his packing melted and he'd died of the heat. I was real upset, and called the company and informed them. They say they'll ship another.

7/11/07 Wednesday. 150201. Still with a nasty little headache, but I got back on the ice, working on balance. And went home and cleaned up the house. We found we'd lost a purple firefish---just disappeared, and we can't find him anywhere.

7/12/07 Thursday. 151358. Had a hair appointment in the morning, when we were otherwise going to go skate, but a good thing Jane didn't go—because the replacement blenny showed up, unscheduled, again overheated, and Jane had to drip water in slowly and get him cooled down. He looks ok, but damn! That makes me furious, that they risked another one during this heatwave with only one ice pack. I am really glad, however, that he's ok.

7/13/07 Friday. 152191. I'm still working on that persistent inside left edge business—should be able to knock that left foot clear over with an ankle bend to the inside and it'll go when I'm standing still but not when I'm skating. And good friend Dawn came up with a real good observation, that I'm not quite balanced, not quite down with a knee bend the same on both sides. So I hit out trying that, and found a subtle problem. My leading, first foot is the right, and on it, I can sit back on my butt with my weight over my skate but back a little, as I take a curve and muscle and the knife-edge of a sharpened skate can hold my line, but in the transfer of weight to the other foot, I'm leaning forward, which makes it impossible to rock that foot to the inside—that means I can't hit the curve properly and am on the front of my blade, not the inside rail. So if I don't lean forward, but shift my hip to the left, and trust strength of leg to shove that skate over to the inside 'rail' of the blade, and hold steady, I am suddenly hitting a rhythm and 'ripping' a curve on one side and the other. It felt so good I didn't want to stop. But naturally I had to.—Then that evening we went off to the Latah Creek Winery 25th Anniversary Wine party, which was interesting, and we bought some cases at discount, to have in our wine cellar—read, area of our cool basement opposite the laundry area and near the sump. But the temperature is right and it's mostly dark.

7/14/07 Saturday. 153219. Work all day and then we took out for the fish store because one of Jane's fish has either jumped the tank or quietly died of old age—there's nothing aggressive in there—and demised. They didn't have a replacement, but we tried. We had supper at Scotty's, and came back in a really good rainstorm, with lightning and wind. The rain, we need: 2700 lightning strikes in the region spawned some 20-odd wildfires. Sharon was by then out in the ER dealing with firemen coming off the lines and giving them fluids. We just had supper under a pall of smoke, and the local mall blew a transformer, had a small fire, and had to evacuate. While some 5000 customers were without power on Spokane's South Hill. [We're the north.] It was one of those patented Spokane weather events.

7/15/07 Sunday. 154464. Just working, working, working. We were appalled at the ball game, when Ichiro took a shot to the knee three days after he signed a 5 year deal with the Mariners. It was nasty looking. Hopefully he's all right. We watched Dark Shadows for the rest of the evening, and turned in early.

7/16/07 Monday. 156555. And we skated, and I got home and got to work. I write from 5:30 am until skating in the afternoon, and work some in the evening, too. Ichiro is ok: he was back on the field.

7/17/07 Tuesday. 157281. And back to the rink. I don't know what's the matter with my feet. I just can't get my left one to steady down or turn on the outer edge, but Joan's getting suspicious of the alignment of my blades. Re the Domestic Partners thing, we did tell a select few friends—amazing how many of those friendships have gotten to revolve around the rink. Sharon—poor thing—has been working shift and shift since the great party, and we're hoping we'll get her back, so we can all celebrate when we do get the cards. Hey, Sharon! We've still got your barbecue folding table!

7/18/07 Wednesday. 159212. More skating. More writing. It feels so good. I'll tell you, it's so good when the writing goes well. This book is going to be huge. It may have to be split. But it will be what it has to be.

7/19/07 Thursday. 161723. And on it goes. Skate and write. I'm reading to Jane in the evenings, and that's the way we used to do things: I read, and she laughs at all the right places. Life is good.

7/20/07 Friday. 162810. And we keep going. I'm making steady, good progress. If anybody knows what I said Sam's Maria's last name was, I'd be every so grateful. I've looked for it up and down. I also got an attack of sanity and instead of buying a pricey calendar, I've just made some squares in a matrix and am filling it out by hand. The book begins in 2424, in March. And when I checked the perpetual calendar, 2424's days of the week exactly match 2007. I think that's cosmic, or something. So all I have to do is know what day it is—not quite as bad as Dekker, eh?

7/21/07 Saturday. 164108. Honestly, I'm working hard. I don't think I even bothered to dress today—just stayed in nightclothes, writing my little fingers off. I did one thing: I went out and grilled 20 pieces of chicken. Served two, bagged the rest. Each evening they'll appear in different guise. Barbecued. Curried. Italianed. You name it. Every night a different flavor, served with salad. We're dropping weight on this regime and we're mostly sticking to it, unless we're too close to Dr. Mike and the world's best hamburgers and shakes. And, big fanfare here, I found a document online I'd been looking for: Washington's passed a Domestic Partnership law. And for two people who own a house together, this is a very good thing. Our relationship may be that of two businesslike writers sharing a residence, but our ownership of our domicile is a potential legal nightmare if one of us should step in front of a truck. But what really tore it was when Ysabel bit me to the bone on the finger and I went to the clinic, who parked me in a room with an IV, and I couldn't reach my purse [and phone] for the next hour or so. Jane meanwhile tried to call the clinic, and thanks to the good old privacy laws our Congress so thoughtfully provided us, she couldn't even find out if I was there, if I was in the hospital, or where I'd gone. We're informed if you're injured in an accident, it's the same, and if she's the person with legal authority to make medical decisions [and vice versa] and they won't let her through the door, well, with a Domestic Partnership she and I each carry a card that says they have to treat us as empowered to have access. So that's a big deal. Won't work outside Washington, but it's protection here and guarantee here. And heck, we've been together for over 20 years. I think it's time somebody recognized the fact. So wish us well, and another 20 or twice 20 years. We're mailing the thing, with the registration fee.

7/22/07 Sunday. 165018. Ditto. Writing and working and writing and now, very little cooking. I'm trying to catch up for the time we lost during the weeklong party.

7/23/07 Monday. 166102. On the way to skating, we stopped to try to get that Partnership agreement notarized. It's written oddly. The notary filled out one copy, decided she'd mistaken who went in what blank, and fortunately we'd run off another one. So we did that one. And after skating—working hard on my edges, which just aren't working right—we called the county clerk's office and tried to get him to decipher which version we ought to mail. We drove to the post office and did it, on his best we figure we're now official, for what it's worth. We plan to hold a party for our best friends at the local bar when we get our official certificate. I wrote. Worked. What more can I say? We got a call regarding did I still want the trimma gobies I'd ordered. Well, yes, that's why I ordered them. So back they went on order. And I wonder when I'll see them.

7/24/07 Tuesday. 167481. Had a lesson with Joan. Joan has been looking critically at my blades for a while, and we concluded the left blade needs to be set forward a sixteenth of an inch. So I went to the pro shop, got some materials, like a veggie skewer [wooden] and some screws. This is a big deal: the blades are so carefully positioned. This is going to change things. But I spent a lot of the session back in the locker room with a veggie skewer [you stick it in the holes that are left when you take the screws out, apply glue, and break it off in the hole, to fill it—screwdriver and hockey tape. Joan came in and helped, and we got it set. So I screwed it down—not only screwed it down, I started with the toe—I've had two pairs of screws not in, because the boot curls a bit at the toe. I'm jumping, now, and this needs to be flat. So I screwed in first there, then flattened it to the heel and screwed in. Tested it gingerly, and nearly pitched on my nose. I didn't think the flat would matter that much.

7/25/07 Wednesday. 168011.One of those days. Today is the big test of the new blades, and I'm trying to 'feel' the edge and the proper orientation. Now, it's strictly against the rules to wear hockey gear during public session, but sometimes there are exceptions made for young skaters needing padding. Well, it also obstructs their hearing and eyesight. And this dad out with his daughter and son was paying attention to the son at the moment, but not the 6 year old daughter, in near full kit, who decides to use the line I'm on and go backwards suddenly without looking. I warned her. She didn't hear or see. I'm on an outside edge, on one foot, and get the other down and brace. She plowed into me, bang, below the knees. And down I go, right on the hip Dr. Mike just worked on. Ow. Re-ow! Sure, I'm fine. I got up, got the post-impact shakes out, and skated on, but it did damage. I'm more worried it knocked my blade askew, because I'm shy a few screws.

7/26/07 Thursday. 169191. Sore. Can you say sore? We laid out of skating and hied us down to Dr. Mike—who won't be there on Fridays. So this is our chance. And Jane's back has been killing her for days. So we got crunched—or re-crunched. I'm just not able to take the ice this afternoon. Then—are you ready for this? We get the word via internet that the long-awaited roses are finally en route. And will arrive—tomorrow.

7/27/07 Friday. 170154. Jane stayed home to deal with the roses, and I went on to skate, to meet Joan and try out the new blade arrangement—again. I'm still somewhat sore, but not as sore, and the blades are working so well Joan has now begun to get onto me about posture. She wants me to lean back. That's what it feels like. It isn't, of course, but just one quarter inch too much tilt and you are going down. Bigtime, down. Backward. As you can see, however, I'm making good progress with the book. I got myself a copy of the final Harry Potter book: if one more person tries to talk to me about it I'm just going to kill them out of hand. And by the time I got home, poor Jane had received the roses—including the “World Peace Rose” that we have been trying to find for 7 years, and they all must have been packaged weeks ago, pale foliage, split canes—but we'll pull them through. There's “Just Joey”, a pale apricot/peach that is to die for; and the redoubtable “Tropicana.” We have the bed being invaded by grass so one of us needs to haul out the Mantis and chew up some ground. But both of us are ouchy and that thing is like wrestling an alligator when you're trying to strip weeds out, not just till.

7/28/07 Saturday. 171111. It's just been hot. Way hot, but it's getting better. I'm less sore. But the roses are sitting out there in the 5 gallon buckets Jane put them in, looking like guilt, and we've just got to do something soon. Did I mention I got my Medicare card? I'm now officially a card carrying old person. I plan, however, to be immortal, so this will be a bad bargain for the government.

7/29/07 Sunday. 171626. Well, I'm making progress—on the Harry Potter book. Still haven't seen the new movie. The roses are still sitting out there in the front flower bed. And I let Jane talk me out of going to the fish store yesterday, but today they're closed, so I'll have to wait until Wednesday to get new salt, since my old salt has become a brick. I could carve a statue of Lot's wife, but that's about as much as it's worth. And I need to do a water change. I'm not happy with the lights, either, and it's time to change them, so I've been online in the fish forum trying to ask questions about HQI ballasts and metal halide par ratings. There are things man was not meant to know.

7/30/07 Monday. 172177. Back to the rink, for another lesson, more about straightening up, but it's a lot easier except for one thing: I had 4 screws on each sole-plate near the toe of the skate that weren't fastened because my toes curl up, on these new boots. Well, when I reseated the one blade, I screwed the soles flatter, pulling them down to meet the sole plate, which makes jumping safer—you don't want your blade to pull out when you're landing. So I'm skating flatter-soled than before, which makes me feel doubly that I'm falling over backwards—but I'm surviving, and the enfant terrible with the hockey gear is not there today. The roses still sit outside, and I've got to do something—Jane's really, really having troubles with her back, but Dr. Mike is beginning a course of treatment that should get the back much, much better.

7/31/07 Tuesday. 173283. Back to Dr. Mike for another crunch. This one hurt. But it's amazing: the thigh muscle on the side I landed on has been way sore, and the good doctor pushed on the tendons and, b'golly, far less pain. We got our usual milkshakes [huckleberry is in season, mixed with crunchy peanut butter] creamed our diets, and drove home. Rested for a while, and then I couldn't stand it any more. I went out and attacked the flowerbed with the Mantis, just after having my back adjusted. Jane showed up and helped me rake out the crud and the rocks, and we just left the tools out front—in spite of living on 2 arterials, the place is remarkably pilfer-free. Tomorrow I'll put the roses in.

8/01/07 Wednesday: 176189. There wasn't any skating today, since rink 2 is down for resurfacing and rink 1 has to accommodate the hockey folk and the figure skaters and the public skaters. It must be all hockey today. Or the club has something going we don't know about. But we could use the time at home to write, so we're doing that. Jane got the roses before I knew what she was up to. So I made the run to the fish store, got new salt, new lights, a Reeflux 250w 10000k mh, for those of you who know how to read that bit, which they swear to me is going to be both a little blue [good] and strong enough to get our corals growing [which they haven't.] I also got another highfin goby [stonogobiops nematodes: google it] and a candycane shrimp, to replace the ones that flat disappeared. And another purple firefish to replace the one that went mysteriously missing. Our sump is not a good place to go missing, for fish that go over the edge and into the hoses—we've got it defended by every form of net, grating, needlework canvas, etc, known to man, and the only thing we can figure is that they got through it somehow. But the new guys are in and happy. And the roses are in, and tomorrow—yep, we're going back to Dr. Mike to get re-crunched, hoping he can free up Jane's back, which is a major, major bit of crunching....ahhhh, just looked at the tank, and the stonogobiops nematodes have taken to gamboling in the actinic lights, now that the metal halide has cut off. You have to watch the mh lighting: when new it's going to be way strong, so you have to cut the photoperiod back to avoid sunburning the corals. So it's short days for the tank, long twilights, and I hope the corals will start growing again.

8/02/07. Thursday: 176189. Well, off to Dr. Mike, and wasted, physically, the rest of the day. We called Joan to beg off skating, so we're going tomorrow. Today we just lay around under the influence of muscle relaxants, but the leg that's been eye-crossing pain for the last two days is feeling good, and Jane says he's making progress on a back problem she's had since January. Good for us. I finished Harry Potter, in the hours I was too dim to write my own stuff, and enjoyed it. And I wonder how Rowling is doing: big letdown to let go of a series that's occupied your life. For her sake, I hope she can ditch the publicity schedule and get back to the keyboard soon---there's nobody more miserable than a writer who's not writing. So I wish her luck and a new book, fast. And when we made our run down to Dr. Mike, to our shock and distress, he's retiring. We're really going to miss him. He's the guy responsible for putting us together so we can skate. I was starting to walk with a cane on long walks, and in quite a bit of pain; and then we started going to Dr. Mike, and now I'm literally working on the toe loop. We're just really hoping the guy who's taking his practice is going to be good.

8/03/07 Friday. 179222. Skating, of course; and back to work again. I'm doing some outlining work, and beginning to map out how this book ends.

8/04/07 Saturday. 181773. Noticed the Rainford gobies weren't doing well—we've been so busy we haven't been monitoring the tank as we ought. I've been buried in the book, Jane's been monofocused on hers, and we have just been dropping food in, and trying to encourage some algae because that's what these guys eat, but there's so little algae in our tank it's been a problem.

8/05/07 Sunday. 183889. Made a flying trip to the fish store, hoping to get an algaed rock—forgot it was Sunday, and I'm afraid my miscalculation of the time is going to be finis for the poor little guys, and I feel so badly about it: I'd have had a chance if I'd just showed up yesterday. I stopped by PetCo to get some spirulina algae flake as a poor substitute for live algae. We're trying to special-feed the little guys now, and no joy. I'm afraid we're going to lose them.

8/06/07 Monday. 184920. We've tried everything to get these fish to eat, and being a reef, we can't catch them, or we'd put them down into the sump where there's all sorts of algae. We do as we can, and we're trying to get them to recognize the flake as food.

8/07/07 Tuesday. 186012. Working hard, getting a lot done. I'm beginning to see the end of this book not too far off.

8/08/07 Wednesday. 188113. Lost the little gobies. We're very sad about that. We think our tank is just too clean for them.

8/09/07 Thursday. 191281. Working hard, doing some accounting—found out I forgot to mail in the tax payment. Ooops. There's a nice penalty. I owe it, however, no question.

8/10/07 Friday. 196023. And more writing.

8/11/07 Saturday. 200182. I got the iris in that have been sitting in the living room for weeks: thank you, my friend, for sending them, and they are now in, on the edge of cooler weather which will not bake them, and they'll get plenty of water and growing time before the winter. It didn't take as long to do as I feared. Jane's laid up with an iffy back---it's having spasms, and it's up to me on this one. But I've planted many an iris, and I know how to do this one better probably than she does.

8/12/07 Sunday. 203611. Worked long and hard, as you can see by the word count.

8/13/07 Monday. 204021. Off ice all week because the rink has only one sheet of ice and is hosting a hockey school. Long 2-day appointment with Dr. Mike as we try to get Jane's back straightened out. Met the new guy, who shows promise. We really enjoy our trips down to the best hamburgers in the NW, with huckleberry shakes; so we're really hoping this guy works out. And we're going to miss Dr. Mike as a friend, too, that we won't get to see hardly ever, under circumstances of we just won't run into each other. We'll miss his jokes. And getting a hotel so we could stay overnight for tomorrow's appointment—that was interesting. Turned out it was orientation weekend at the college, in a small college town: we found one last overcharged room with lights that were obviously done by the owner's brother in law. You had to turn on a succession of switches to turn on the telly, and if you forgot and tried to turn off the hall light, the telly went off.

8/14/07 Tuesday. 204828. Second half of our appointment, and Dr. Mike, with the new guy, managed to get a sacroiliac crunch that did marvels for my bad leg. It was amazing. Several pain points quit hurting all at once. I drove home with an ice bag; Jane rode shotgun. And when I got home I found the tank's kalk reactor not working—again, which meant the tank was screwed on its calcium balance, and needs hand-dosing and testing while I try to get this stirrer to work and get the powder in the bottom kicked up and properly dissolved.

8/15/07 Wednesday. 205151. Still trying to futz the reactor at 5am. I got it running a while by having the top of the stirrer off and hand-shoving it to get it into motion, but then it stalled. I dumped all the sloppy white-wash water and get the stirrer bar where it belongs, then fed it all back in, but I don't know how much this is going to work. And the tank will be losing calcium and I'll have lost all the ground I've gained with it. Arrrgh. And I spent a lot of the day trying to get new glasses, having lost my main reading glasses somewhere on the trip. I have to pick them up tomorrow.

8/16/07 Thursday. 206721. Now the skimmer's having problems, too. I went to the hardware store to get a ball valve to try to fix that line and slow it down, which seems to have worked, then made a flying run to the fish store after another reactor stirrer, which means sloppy kalk all over the floor yet again—Jane's going to kill me; but I have the new stirrer and it is running: I have most everything running. Amazing! The water even tests as good. Of course then I found my old glasses---they'd been in my room: says I should do some housecleaning. And the new glasses didn't work well: turns out they set them for reading a book with your nose in it, not where I read, which is against my knee. So those had to be redone. We did go to see Harry Potter—enjoyed it greatly. I have read the last book, but Jane hasn't, so I have to keep my mouth shut on everything past Order of the Phoenix.

8/17/07 Friday. 207029. The skimmer isn't functioning so well, even yet—this is the little box that shoots a hard jet of water into water inside the box to stir up a froth that collects in a cup, which you pitch. But I think I've found the real deal with it: the inflow hose for the skimmer is so soft, it's bending and letting it suck air, so it's losing a lot of power to the water jet. I fixed that and now it's working as it was designed to work, finally! Thank goodness. And back again to get my glasses, which go actually work, and are an improvement on the five year old pair I've been using.

8/18/07 Saturday. 208282. Cooler temperatures have blown into town. I'm so glad of this. I don't do hot weather well. I ought to barbecue dinner, but I just haven't got it in me. I'm working hard. We've got the annual Sharon-Steve-CJ birthday bash cruise tomorrow so I have to make progress.

8/19/07 Sunday. 208282. We took the Coeur d'Alene out onto Lake Coeur d'Alene, crossed to the St. Joe river, and went up it for 3-4 hours, in the misting rain. Did we stay belowdecks? No. We took to the upper deck in the rain, got soaked, saw beautiful islets—everybody was reminded of Shiuan—while most of the rest of the passengers stayed below and played cards. Ha. We had a far better cruise.

8/20/07 Monday. 208919. It's still raining, and it's such a relief after the August heat—though Jane's really suffering. She didn't say so, but her back seized up on her from the chill yesterday, and we're hoping Dr. Mike can put her to rights. We did go skating—the rink was filled with Canadian college students on their way north—including some Danish students who were really good skaters. We then went over to Joan's place, had some wine, cheese and sausage, and helped her pick out paint for her living room. We went out for supper, and by the time we got back I was feeling really sick---I don't think it was Joan's sausage---, so I turned in early.

8/21/07 Tuesday. 208919. Vitamins. This stuff [Alli] that I'm taking leaches vitamins and minerals and I had run short, ergo the slight nausea last night. I took some about midnight and shortly afterward began to feel better. We went to Dr. Mike's, and Jane thinks her back is now on the mend, which is good. We drove home and collapsed—had a call from my mum, who's been quite ill, and I didn't know. Turned out when we went to Harry Potter a few days ago, I turned my phone off. Big help I am. Bummer. I'll call her tomorrow and tell her what happened. Tomorrow we'll be back on the ice---didn't think it was too wise today; and after getting crunched, I am just not up to writing the scene I need: nasty stuff gets loosed in your system, and mostly you want to sleep. Did note throughout the Palouse, most of the wheat and lentils are in, so I'm glad the farmers got their crop one: one bad note, an elevator burned in Pullman, meaning at least one fellow's whole year's crop was destroyed. Being a farmer is hard enough---but grain dust is terribly dangerous, and they think the ventilation fan seized up and sparked the fire. As dangerous as gasoline when it saturates an atmosphere inside a granary. Hope he has at least some insurance on building and contents.

8/22/07 Wednesday. 209976. Called mum, and she's doing a bit better—was really seriously ill, while my phone was off. So I'm glad that's the case, that she's better, but I feel badly about missing calling her. We skated in the afternoon. Typical summer skate: the kids are all out of school, and the ones that do know how to skate endanger all the others. Parents who won't think of putting their kids on a bike without a helmet send them out on the ice that way in a pushing, shoving mob.

8/23/07 Thursday. 207022. Skated, on bad ice, in another mob scene—it's so frustrating. But it's exercise, and bad ice at least teaches you to keep your balance no matter what's going on underfoot—I routinely skate on stuff that would have had me clinging to the wall when I first started. And I got some work done today. Did some outline erasing today, which accounts for the reverse word count.

8/24/07 Friday. 209919. Work, work, and skate and work. I've decided we've got to do something different with our diets than we've been doing: never mind the spate of birthdays coming up—we have to do some improvement in what we're eating; and even though Atkins works for us, it doesn't work if you make exceptions and have one solitary piece of bread—throws you right out of fat-burning, and you have to re-condition for another week or two. So, no weight loss. Jane and Alli aren't getting along well [the weight loss drug]—it does for fat-soluble vitamins and such, and that's getting to her. So that is going to have to stop. So I decided, heck, back to stew. I can cook it in the crockpot, toss things in, not worry about tending it, and that'll do for several days when I don't have to cook. So I got a bunch of veggies. The frustrating thing is that we're both allergic to onions, we're not tolerating garlic well at the moment; and Jane can't have anything native to the Western Hemisphere—that's pretty well what it works out to. If you have persistent joint pain and you're not native American, look at your diet. That means we have to get all corn, most peppers [jalapeno is ok, for some reason] tomatoes and all their relatives—out of her diet. So that really limits it for stew. I wondered if turnips could sub for potatoes in a stew. We'll try. They may be too strong. We, ourselves, went out to the Swinging Doors to get their very good chicken, which is moderately within the diet; but at least I'm prepared to cook, given time to put it together and once I haul the pot out of the basement.

8/25/07 Saturday. 210583. And more work. I need to go to the fish store to get some supplies, but this isn't happening. I made a shorter run to Petco to get what I need. We had to pull the purple firefish out of the main tank—easy to catch: the poor thing had been harassed by the red firefish to the point he was at the surface plastered against the intake. We put him downstairs in the sump to recover. Firefish are like that: purple had gotten a faceful of bristleworm spines and they had gotten him in the gills, so he was in a bit of trouble, but nothing that should have bothered him. But his roommate decided he was objectionable for being slightly defective and decided to do him out of all food and chase him whenever he appeared. This had gone on as long as it could without killing him when we saw our chance to get him out without unstacking all the rock, disturbing the sandbed, blowing the chemistry, loosing lethal bacteria from the sand and killing everything in the tank. This way, we just dipped the net in and I had him. He's up and swimming in the sump.

8/26/07 Sunday. 212721. Working. Lost my focus for a bit, and am doing some cleanup, getting it back. Another round of Swinging Doors chicken, but I will get the stew's just not ready yet. Purple is doing well; probably eating every amphipod or copepod he can find down there. He's eating well. I've got to take him back to the store and I think even Jane agrees having two firefish isn't working.

8/27/07 Monday. 213108. Skating is still late in the day. Made the stew [recipe: meat, dried beans [14 bean soup mix], water, low heat. Add: raw green beans, raw baby carrots, raw celery; and salt, pepper, jalapenos [canned], and cumin, sage, and cook all day. Makes a real good stew. And you can have it any time you want it until the pot runs out. We're both allergic to onions, as aforementioned, and Jane isn't reacting well to garlic lately, ditto potatoes, tomatoes, and corn, so that's out; so our mix with the heavy spices and jalapenos makes up for that. You can crockpot shoe leather and after 8 hours of cooking, it's real good.

8/28/07 Tuesday. 213108. Went to Dr. Mike again...he's making slow progress on the backs—starting to work on Jane's lower abck, and that is going to do her a lot of good. Had dinner at Cougar Country, and a malt—great diet, eh? But we're going to be feeling better soon. And you can lose weight on stew if you have only one standard bowl and limit what you put in it.

8/29/07 Wednesday. 214821. We went to see Sue, the T-Rex, who has been on display [the traveling exhibit] here in Spokane all summer: she's about to hit the road again, so we knew we'd better get over to the MAC [the museum] and get a look. Excellent exhibit. Of the 20-odd specimens of her kind extant and mounted, I've seen about 4 or 5, and she has a special interest—for one thing, she's more complete than most; for another, she was older than some—a number of broken bones that healed during her lifetime: very plain to see; and just a neat, neat exhibit about a dino with real personality and a visible history.

8/30/07 Thursday. 216184. Skating again today—endless kids. You risk your life if you get out and try to do edgework with crazy people careening about who have absolutely no idea themselves where they'll veer next. You can get seriously hurt; and we had some of the more obnoxious parents, dads who just couldn't get it through their heads that if their hockey-padded darlings get hit by one of our faster figure skaters they may suffer really serious injury—I mean that the kids may: the one they were running across the path of is nothing but bone and muscle, and would probably bounce if dropped. But here are two hockey dads out there egging their miniature kids in full gear [they're not supposed to wear it during public skate] on to race across the rink right across an advanced skater's pattern. The hockey tryouts are coming—the parents have lost all common sense; but when a tall figure skater, on blades that can remove a finger, is going a good 20 plus mph, probably toward 30 in some passes, and they, at 3 feet, veer right in front of her, well, it's no thanks to the parents the kids didn't get hit, and if it got hit, it wouldn't be the figure skater that got hurt. Would you let your five-year-old race crosswise in front of Lance Armstrong on a downhill? S-a-a-ame proposition. The gal in question may turn up in Nationals: she's that good.

8/31/07 Friday. 217815. Skating again—with not much better result. But at least it's better than yesterday. Discovered Jane's fighting fish hasn't had his filter changed, poor old guy needs clean filter, so Jane went off to get new filter—and ended up bringing back a little [juvenile] female betta. Way young. This fish is too young for the market, in my own opinion. But the male betta won't hurt her. Bettas are pretty laid back, actually, except with other same-gender bettas.

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