I'm working on Fortress of Ice.
7/01/05. Friday. 114282. Oh, my, into a new month and a new quarter, and I still haven't done the accounts. I'm in trouble. The credit card that got fouled up in online payments (it messed up its draft thanks to their clerical error and didn't draft for 3 months) is going to draft bigtime in a few days, and we have to have the accounts in order. We came home to tv dinners---with the late skating schedule, it's the only way to manage. The Mariners game was wretched.
7/02/05. Saturday. 115384. Up early, about 5, a little work, and I decided to try to figure out why our internet is running like molasses. I have all kinds of checkered history with Norton software---my fault, I'm sure, and everyone tells me trust it and don't mess with it. So after much frustration in the fact I've been running for two months on very little security, I decided I'd better find out if I've got a virus in the system, so I purchase the new Norton Internet Security package and download. It worked great for several hours---but the system is still slow. Then it flashed some advisory up and we lost the internet. About that time Sharon called, having volunteered, dear person that she is, to help us with the storeroom. So we get the truck, load on, load off, and head out to lunch. Two candidates were shut for the holidays, but we had nachos at Panama Jack's, and then on home to watch our 4th of July celebratory DVD, 1776. If you've never seen it, do. It's lengthy, but absolutely great---a musical, with biting humor as well as serious bits. Sharon had to get on home---and we flagged early, the game having been another disaster. I still have no internet. Tomorrow I'm going to have to see if the main computer can get out, and if not, I'm going to have to confess same to Jane and see if she can make sense of it, before I start poking at the settings. It's helpfully kiboshed my Microsoft firewall, and put its own in. I wonder.
7/03/05. Sunday. 117888. The day set aside for office work. I got up early, set to work on manuscript, then hit the office and started clearing boxes and stacks, getting down to a floor, the rug, the cat, and the papers I'd put there last week. So I set about filing and trying to figure out why a certain company can't tell our bank routing number from our account number, and trying to file our business tax---the system ate it, refused to file, and now I've printed a check for them, if I can get a sane answer out of Washington Revenue. It says don't mail 'that form', but it's all I've got if it won't allow me to push the send button. I have to call them on the 5th. And the accounting program went to the internet for an update, crashed the update, lost my payroll data out of the 'print form 941' routine, and I'm just not real happy with our internet connection just now. I spent three quarters of an hour trying to reconstitute the payroll numbers. And I think I finally got it, but now it wants to print some alien form completely unrelated to any 941 IRS form I've ever used. It's gone mad, and I'm close behind it. I confessed to Jane about the Norton program; she was unhappy, I promised never, never, never to install another internet firewall without advising her (our IP)---and she rebooted the system, which promptly came up on my machine without difficulty (proving I need not have confessed at all) and immediately slowed to glacial speed, proving it's still screwed. I now officially suspect we have another bad modem, helpfully installed by our friends at Comcast. We plan to call Comcast about that. And what do I find when I do finally get back onto the internet, but that the my favorite team, the Mariners, have just put my favorite player, Bret Boone, on assignment, which means he's cut from the team. I take this extremely personally, not least because Boonie is probably a second or third cousin of mine, but also because I love watching him field. I'm not sure I'll take the same joy in the team as before, for one thing because I think this was hastily and shabbily done, to the best second baseman in baseball, no less, and one of the most popular players, to boot---while we keep on people...well, suffice it to say a glass of wine and one of my favorite calm-down movies hasn't saved this day. I've never followed professional sports before, and I suppose it is business, but this isn't right. My best to Boonie---I may get MLB Extra Innings just to watch his games wherever he ends up. And I'm not sure I'm that eager now to drive 300 miles over to Seattle and spend money to watch the team any time real soon.
7/04/05 Monday. 120382. Work all morning, and not too hot weather, considering it's the 4th---high 80's, but the air conditioning is keeping up with it. We celebrated the 4th by going to the local A team and having hotdogs and fireworks---a brief but beautiful show. We could have seen it from our back windows, but much better to be there, even if our team did lose.
7/05/05 Tuesday 120382. Back to the ice. I was absolutely worthless today. Maybe it's hotdogs to blame. We've resolved not to be out of sorts with the Mariners---the team's not at fault: the office is. But we don't think this is going to be a good move.
7/06/05 Wednesday. 122686. Did quite a lot yesterday. A book tends to be only 150,000 words, or less, so you can see I'm coming right along on Fortress of Ice. Got a haircut, and dashed back to get some errands run, among them getting the bird feeders set up on the back porch. We've gotten the loyalty of some goldfinches, and we're out of thistle seed, for one thing. And then I decided to doublecheck Mastercard and find out if they've fixed our ongoing problem, as the chap this weekend assured me would happen. Good thing I did. They still hadn't fixed the account number, and the payment draft went to our bank with the wrong number. I went through several tiers of supervisors this time, finally found one senior person whose name seems to rattle doors there, and finally got someone to agree we were right and they should refund all late fees (since March) and the supervisor is going to fix things. We've had bi-weekly calls from their collections people ever since June, having to explain again and again how the account is screwed up and their customer service people said it would be fixed in July. And I had a bet on with Jane that they'd call again tonight, since they'd sent through one more wrong-number attempt, even though I'd paid the bill already. We went off to skate---turned out we'd gotten lessons with both Joan and Lindsay, so I took my lesson with Joan and Jane with Lindsay. And I did the waltz jump 'off the wall' (in clear ice) with Joan to steady me, and I did well enough then she said she'd show me the toe loop...so here I am working on two jumps. Aren't I clever? It put a nice finish on a gruesome day. I'd gotten my combat adrenaline up while dealing with Mastercard, and was still vibrating, so we stopped by at Scotty's for dinner (behind a woman who kept her cigarette away from her dining companions by holding it back over our table space: words fail me to describe the classiness of this person) and went home. The goldfinches were grateful. And Mastercard called. The name of the Personage I'd talked to made an impression, and that call concluded cheerily: I'm sure we'll continue to get these until the information percolates through all the depths of their computer system. And I have a feeling that our case will become a staff-meeting instructional piece in their offices, before all's said and done. I think the notes (taken by over a dozen people) alone will be quite a volume. And I hope it is now fixed, at least at upper levels. I utterly collapsed, after that, and found myself dozing through the last of the wretched Mariners game.
Date: 7/07/05. Thursday. 126281. A lot of work yesterday. Probably the adrenaline residue from the day before. The feeder has not only attracted the American Goldfinch, it's drawn it what I think is the House Finch, a lovely fellow with a red poll, red throat, and red on his back. His mate is sparrowlike, but striped. They have a pretty song. The new feeder has problems, tending to dump millet: I think I may have to go to sunflower seed, which attracts a different batch of birds, a good contrast to the thistle seed feeder which the House Finches and Goldfinches use, and less attractive to House Sparrows, the little thieves, who tend to show up in flocks, push other birds out, and dump food on the ground during their squabbles: not that I'm against House Sparrows, understand: they have a right to a living, but they can eat Macdonalds, and do, like seagulls, and nest anywhere. I'd rather feed the birds that have a narrower food requirement. I at first thought that the others that showed up this evening were sparrows---but I think they're baby House Finches---they fly very awkwardly, nearly fell out of the tree, and finally landed on the female House Finch when she didn't stop eating long enough to note the one whose wings were tiring. Living in a tree top (third floor, with a really big Ponderosa Pine touchable off the balcony) is a hoot. On the skating front, the exercise today was pretty exhausting---the ice wasn't that good, typical for summer, and my back is killing me, result of bench seats at the baseball game, and exacerabated by a lot of turns and backward work. Even my feet hurt when I got off. Baseball: the Mariners must have put something in the water supply: they blew away the opposition tonight, 10-2. And I'm very ambivalent about it. The household: Jane, meanwhile, is trying to do the program book for the Jo Williams Memorial Cup, the skating competion, which is this Saturday, and nobody has given her the information that needs to be in it. She had it all ready to go, and no format info, and no lists such as were supposed to be provided. I told her not to say yes to this. I told her, I told her. Doing the website is quite enough. Note: I still have to get hold of the state government so I can send in our tax check---the website is still locked. I can't believe this.
Date: 7/08/05. Friday. 127911. Well, a fair bit of work in the morning. And off to skate. It's been a cold snap, the ice was harder, than it's been for weeks, and my feet weren't right---I noted I was producing a double track on the 3-turn, which means I was riding on both edges into it, not good; and this was frustrating. I did try to get over, and noticed my feet were slipping inside the boot, which has to be fixed. Now, mind, this is the day before Jo Williams and we have a lot of guest skaters all over the place practicing their routines, which means steely-eyed eight-year-olds bent on their path no matter what, combined with a couple of rank novices on the ice who had not a clue or the means to alter course---terrifying. And I'd laid my usual stuff at rinkside, my skate lace hook among them. Well, the hook was missing when I needed it---it had been light-fingered, not by your usual thief, but by someone who knew what to do with that odd little bit of metal. Well, I was annoyed to say the least. I hiked clear back to the locker room to use my spare, took care to lock the locker, and laced up hard there, since boots usually loosen a bit as you're walking on flat ground, and I didn't want to lose another skate hook, so I left it in the locker and hiked back. The boots were way tight---they bothered the flex that aids balance, and sure enough, on a backward crossover, I hooked heel against toe and went down---not badly: I landed on a crash pad, though on the sore hip. I was at this point too tired to get up easily, and finally, after a few more near-falls, decided to go back to the locker room and do some boot adjustment while everyone else finished skating. Now Jane has been working with a sack of fleece scraps, you know, the real stuff, sheepskin. And taking a page from her book (she's filled out her boots with it, and is quite pleased with the effect) I cut a couple of fleece insoles and tried them, not on the ice. This, however, felt really good, and I hope will solve the slippage without needing to crank the laces down so hard. So Monday I will try this out. The fall did help take a kink out of my back. This was good. And we spent the rest of the evening collating and stapling program books---thanks to Sandy at the rink, who got us a peculiar looking stapler (from Staples) that can staple the center of a booklet. Sharon came over to help us collate and staple, then went home, because she's competing tomorrow. We, sigh, aren't, due to Jane's bad knee: it's just no fun doing it without her to compete against: being the only tall person in a contest with five-year-olds isn't my cup of tea. And given my boot problem, it's just as well, though I could have passed the test. The reason for the boot problem I think is just cumulative: the more I've worked on the 3-turn and other edgework, the skinnier my feet have become, and the narrower, and generally smaller. I'm skating in an 8 1/2 C, and I think I probably need a B, now, or maybe an A, or maybe even an 8: I don't know. My feet now have little tiny muscles they never had, but they now have not a smidge of plump left, and here I am suddenly rattling around in the boots. Good thing they're not really expensive customs, because if this can't be fixed, I may have to change boots: I'm in Jackson Competitors, for those who know what that is: good, solid, with some nice high-end features, but off-the-rack and definitely less expensive than customs. And they've been wonderful, right down to this last week or so, when I seem to have dropped the last ounce of foot-fat and started sliding from side to side. Sigh.
Date: 7/09/05. Saturday. 129583. Wonderful chill, rainy day. We worked in the morning, and then began to ask if we had the energy to go over to the rink to watch the competition. Yes, we thought. And I was getting ready to go, while Jane was getting set to do a little backup on her computer. Zap. The laptop graphics chip bit the big one, so we think. At any rate, it wouldn't boot, it consequently couldn't be linked to the housenet to drag her essential (unbacked-up!) files to safety, including recent revisions, and it's time to panic. So instead of Jo Williams, we go off to CompUSA, where we do manage to get the Toshi to boot, with striped screens and a lot of flicker. We don't want to shut it down again. We propose to buy a 2gig thumbdrive, if the techs can get it to work, and by some miracle it does. So poor Jane has to stand there at the repair counter on a Saturday in CompUSA, with all the traffic and chaos, trying to recall what pictures, webpage items, novel revisions, and artwork might be stuck on a computer that might or might not survive the repair. It's always been iffy, that computer: it needs to be replaced; lemon doesn't begin to cover the things it's done, and we have hopes that it is the graphics chip finally going, and that Service will finally agree this is too major to fix and ship back. But whatever happens, after 2 hours of standing there in the sea of chaos watching a flickery, red-striped screen and trying to remember what files she's grabbed and what not (this was the weekend she was going to reorganize her files after several weeks of frantic creative work), Jane did exit with an expensive locket (the thumbdrive) and a copy of her files to take home, not to mention the persistent vision of stripes in her eyes. The computer went bye-bye and we hope one of its brothers will come back to us. We did go by to give apologies to Sharon for not showing up, then were too frazzled to sit and watch something as exacting as skating (more so when you know the finesses), and we took our shattered nerves off to the Valley, to Panama Jack's, ordered two drinks and dinner. The skies opened, it hailed, all the way up to near marble-sized, which for Spokane, which usually has styrofoam hail, is pretty violent, and then quit by the time we got out to go home. Meanwhile I do have the old Dell, and I finished yanking my files off it, so it is ready to work on (total replacement of the face of the computer, which means pretty thorough disassembly), but I realized that since Jane uses a touchpad, there's nothing wrong with that interface, give or take the keyboard keys that fall off and its universal refusal to come back after anything but complete shutdown. She knows those problems, can deal with same, and so there's no reason to risk that computer not surviving the repair process: she can use it until she gets her Toshi or a new Toshi, and I'll repair the Dell as I intended when she's through with it. So that gives her a reasonably good---well, at least operational---laptop to work on, and she's got her files, and all's fairly well with the universe. The Mariners won again. And we caved in and called it a night of what had already been a day.
Date: 7/10/05. Sunday. 130287. Work, work, work. Jane cleaned up the house. I sat typing. I did get a number of the tasks out of the way, like assembling things for the accountant and trying, still, to locate the state tax check in the chaos of the office. And the repair place called and needs a hard drive to Ghost to for Jane's Toshi, so Jane moved files, freed a drive, and we went blazing off again to try to solve the computer problem. We're going to have to make a post office run tomorrow. Not to mention the overdue bank run. Etc. We settled down in the afternoon to watch dvds and vegetate.
Date: 7/11/05. Monday. 132825. A bit of work and a run to the postoffice, to UPS, which was way confused about where we were, sending notices to our proper address about a package addressed to the old address...our UPS deliveries have been insane for weeks. And we stopped at a shoe repair place to get some middle arch supports for the skating boots. We tried same. Jane uses one of each size---feet are never the same; and I tried them and found they brace my feet too high above the proper axis, so that a little wobble sends the skate over on edge as if I were on stilts. I tried the skates with the supports, without, without one metatarsal support, and finally without again, and got very little done---but sometimes you just have to know if these things will work. The fleece lining does seem to be a good thing. It took me the better part of an hour to be sure, but I think I like it. Sharon came over, had supper with us, and sat and watched a dvd, after watching the repeat of the spring skating competition in Russia, while munching strawberries and cream. A pleasant time was had by all, I hope.
Date: 7/12/05. Tuesday. 134029. A better skate, at least. I did a very peculiar thing. I get confused, practicing the bunny hop, and often turn it into a waltz jump, which means I toe-pick down and walk over (at my stage) to rotate backward to a backward glide. This time I got so confused I rotated in the hop, and landed 180 degrees about, facing the other direction to a perfectly soft but bewildered landing. It took me a moment to know what I'd done. I don't plan to do that again soon. We got things to the bank, we got our paperwork in order, my tax form arrived, and life is in better shape. I got sunflower seed for the bird feeder, am offering both thistle seed and black oil sunflower seed (I'm told the striped variety is too tough for many smaller bills) and let me tell you, the place is popular and noisy. Regular residents are 5 House Finches, beautiful red in the male, striped brown in the females and juveniles; an occasional American Goldfinch; and now two Red Crossbills, who, contrary to what's posted on the internet, do eat something other than pinecone seeds: they fight for possession of the sunflower seed. We have California Quail on the front lawn, a robin, assorted House Sparrows. I think I've seen a Black-capped Chickadee, a White-breasted Nuthatch and a Northern Thrasher. As you may guess, I'm fond of birds. I used to have 15 feet of 3x5' habitat inside my working office, breeding exotic finches, but alas, I'm allergic to feathers and my best efforts couldn't prevent the escape of feather-dander, so they and some of their rig had to go to a good friend, who has them, a parrot, and a somewhat psychotic lovebird. Suffice it to say, I love the little beggars, and am delighted to have this huge pine tree outside, where, on a high, moderately wooded hill, I get an assortment of birds quite exotic to this former plains-dweller, with no feathers to sweep up. Cornell University maintains quite a nice online bird book, where, if you're curious, you can get images of my outdoor visitors, or just Google the species names, which will probably get you there.
Date: 7/13/05. Wednesday. 133829. Erasing and writing, both. The writing is going very well, and I'm stripping out outline in favor of finished text. Had a lesson today, and am working hard on the pesky step-off in the reverse direction, all of which means you're already going backwards, butt-first, and now want to turn around, right? so you reverse the lifted foot and step down onto the ice, which maintains your direction of movement, but switches your upper body about to face the way its going. Reversing said foot without going backside-over-teakettle as your other muscles overcompensate or strain, however, there's the trick. And after having done the whole waltz 8 pattern several times successfully, I started to skate over and get a drink of coffee. Boink! Toepick! I just stumbled over my own feet and, yes, landed on that poor hip again, undamaged, but too tired to get up off the ice. The right leg, the one I use for getting up, just wouldn't take the pull, and the summer ice is wet, and my hands kept skidding, for a thoroughly Mack Sennett moment. So with Lindsay's help and the advice of Joan and Jane, I hauled my tired self up, I got my coffee, then learned what comes next in the toe-loop, and Lindsay (I had the full hour with Lindsay, while Jane took an hour with Joan on the same ice) says that my reverse-bunny-waltz-jump-accident yesterday was actually a sort of a half-rotated Lutz. Like wow. That wasn't hard, granted it was only half of the rotation, and the landing didn't spook me at all until after I'd done it. I can jump and rotate, but I still can't do the Mohawk, while I can just about do the inside-3 off the wall, and only sensible caution keeps me from taking the Waltz Jump off the wall...I know I can do it, at least as a placid toe-to-toe walkover (I can do it as a hop, actually going an inch or so airborne), but common sense tells me two falls in four days is enough for the week, and this hip is getting sore. I fear this jumping business is going to be just too attractive---I like it, and edges, leaving the dancing to Jane, who has a natural grace and fluidity against which I look like the NFL on ice. I'm anxious to learn the jumps, which not only look flashy, but are a nice moderate adrenaline rush. But just lest I get too cocky, I'd now screwed up my head about the bunny hop beyond all hope---I kept fluffing it or turning it into a waltz jump over and over, until Lindsay and I finally got it straightened out, give or take a habit of double hopping on the left lead. I haven't particularly practiced it enough---it's kind of a kid's move, or so I mistakenly thought, but if it's foundational to other jumps, I think I'll be a bit more faithful in practicing it and getting it right.
Date: 7/14/05. Thursday. Back and forth so much on the writing there's hardly any point to a count. I'm doing quite a lot of filling-in-outline, for just the last of the book. There's going to have to be more to this story, that's for sure, but I have to bring it to a conclusion that satisfies, at least. On skating, hey, success! I actually can do the bunny hop free of the wall, no hands. For an adult, and a tall adult at that, it's actually a pretty difficult step. I repeated it a number of times just to prove I've got it, and I do. I think I could do it clear in the middle of the rink, but I have to watch my speed when heading into it. Being aware of speed is quite important at my stage: if I carry too much momentum into something that involves loft or a turn, well, it's a lot harder to keep one's center. I'm also getting a bit better in carrying a spin, however, and I think that helps on centering other things.
Date: 7/15/05. Friday. More of the same---up at 5:30 am to work, and getting quite a lot done. I did an exhaustive search for prior volumes of this set---at a certain time, before completion, I have to sit down and read the other volumes for consistency, and I found Dragons, but not Owls or Eagles. I may have to go buy a copy of each. Skating---well, it's boot problems, and another arrangement. I laced too tight, and fell. I'm tired of landing on my right hip. I'd like to fall left, please, for variety.
Date: 7/16/05. Saturday. Work, work, work, and I'm sore, really sore. I'm sitting in a nest of pillows, trying to pop whatever's gone awry back into position. It's bad enough I'm having trouble sleeping. The bird feeder is still a great success: the house finches and crossbills think they own it. Sharon was kind enough to lend me a couple of bird books, so I can check out various types, but I need to get my own: I found my Guide to the Northwest, but it's smaller than I remembered, and doesn't have many birds. We did see a critter on a branch: either a flying squirrel, which is supposed to be nocturnal, or maybe a disobedient baby gray squirrel: we do have a big one who shows up to munch pine cones, as seems, but whether there's a nest higher up I can't figure. There's about 15 feet of tree that's screened by branches. I'd think it would be pretty wild up there in a windstorm, if there is such a nest.
Date: 7/17/05. Sunday. More work. And I declared I'd had it, finally, with the pain, and decided to take a break and go shopping: that's fairly rare for me, but we did, at leisure, in the local WalMart. I picked up a suet feeder (summer variety: peanut butter, which won't turn rancid as fast) in hopes of more variety. And mostly just stuff and junk we needed. Jane mentioned that dread word, fish tank, which I admit has its attractions, but if a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money, a fish tank of our sort is a watery space in a living room where you do much the same. Hundreds of dollars. Many hundreds. I checked it out online to find out what's available technologically nowadays, and, yes, you can easily spend 800.00 just on a unit to stabilize the water quality. Oh, no, dear readers: we have a fascination for salt tanks, and we know what you can get into. At one point, back in Oklahoma, we had two indoor ponds (you know those flower planter things of brick, that never grow plants? Waterproofing, which can be painted on, and you've got yourself a pondlet) plus one 100 gallon reef, one 20 gallon reef, a 75 tall fresh, a smaller 30---they always start out as hospital tanks, in an emergency, understand, and then the fish dies or gets well, and, well, you have the tank, the filter, and all, and one of the fish you have turns out too aggressive or too meek for the community in the 75, so you rig it for that fish, and pretty soon your whole house gurgles, bubbles, and has to be scraped for algae. We not only found Nemo, we had all his cousins, and they multiplied, until, when we moved, we gave away half a dozen middling-sized koi, two saltwater communities, various Amazonian types, and creatures that hid in the rocks that we never did quite figure out. This sort of thing has twice started with the notion of having a betta-bowl on the desk, and every time Jane looks longingly at the bettas with their pretty colors, I snag her away from them saying, "No! Bad Jane! Bad!" Note: Mt. St. Helens hiccuped tonight. It's been doing this. And I swear the cam is showing steam from a second source, down in the big crack down the mountain, but maybe it's just dust sifting down from the upper vent.
Date: 7/18/05. Monday. 140899. The word count is creeping higher and I'm not even finished with the book. This is going to be a long story. Skating---well, down I went again. I'm still having boot problems: I've tried padding, orthothics, and just about everything, which changes the angle of the foot in the boot, and of all things, I was launching a forward inside edge figure 8 when a kid whizzed past, I aborted the move to avoid killing a six-year-old hockeyist, and was on a puddle, at the time---hey, it's summer ice. I attempted to recover the launch onto the gliding foot, over-extended, was in danger of doing the splits, not good at my age, and caught the gliding-foot toepick. I never have fallen forward---this time there was no saving it. I landed on my knees, but am so instinctively protective of my kneecaps, I just rolled as I hit, kind of like a fish landing on a dock: boink! I managed to twist just about everything in my body while bouncing onto, yes, the right hip again, and was so hyper with adrenaline I wasn't worth much thereafter: I'm not good enough to skate it out---all I can do is finicky finesse moves, and I was just too shaky and had strained a muscle, of all things, in my backside. So I gave up and sat out the rest of the session, about a quarter hour.
Date: 7/19/05. Tuesday. No time to work this morning---a drive to Pullman, for a much-desired chiropractic appointment, and it was both beautiful---white flowers and yellow blooming in the green and gold fields of ripening lentils and ripening wheat of various types (meaning varishaded green and varishaded gold) and awful---the allergies were so bad, they were putting us both to sleep on the road, and Jane was reading and conversing, trying to keep the driver awake, while yawning...An ice bag applied to the back of the neck helped. But it's a real road hazard: that highway has a lot of fatalities, some due to inexperienced or rash drivers, but there's also a high potential for allergic people just drifting off to sleep while driving. Dr. Mike stopped the pain, thank goodness, but we had a drive back through the same awful soup of allergens, and went straight to the rink---for a lesson with Joan. I just couldn't do it: joints are still loose, and the effort of the drive was just too much: I just had no energy left, and left the ice half an hour early. Jane got the whole hour with Joan to herself. I just couldn't do it. Thank you, by the way, to all the people who've written in on the survey: Jane is compiling things to go to her publisher, and we hope it will be a potent argument. The replies are greatly appreciated, and particularly so, the support she's received. She's very grateful. Her computer is still in the shop, and she's making do on the old Dell, which badly needs repair, but she hopes to get the data put together on it, and shipped to DAW.
Date: 7/20/05. Wednesday. 141387. Nasty heat, but nowhere near what the rest of the country is enduring, and we spend our late afternoons at the rink, where the ice is 29 degrees. Another reason to devote oneself to that sport---no wearing heavy hockey gear (I hesitate to tell the faint of heart how there are advisements posted that one should really have the equipment cleaned periodically to prevent fungus setting in)---rather flitting about in complete comfort, raising a light sweat. The youngsters are out in force this summer, many of them having worn no coat, and wearing jeans and tees, which are equally permeable to the wind you raise going about the ice---they come in with such naive conviction that, if it's summer, the rink will be warm. And they always look wide-eyed at those of us wearing lycra microfiber and wonder we aren't cold. No. We're not. But we're comfy. My ongoing problem is back, however: Dr. Mike fixed the hip yesterday, but the pain is back this morning---it was so bad it made it hard to sleep and interfered with my concentration while I was working this morning, and then when I got on the ice and executed a few small jumps, it stopped. I think, by the way he does the adjustment, it's sort of folding inward, and the jump might pop it the other direction: I don't know, but I was quite surprised---and pleased. That's a cure I can take. But I still truncated the ice session a little early: I haven't felt well, and Jane's beginning to suspect the diet pills---I'm beginning to think she's right. An allergy can cause aches and pains, and now she's getting them.
Date: 7/21/05. Thursday. 142386. Well, supposedly the hottest day of the year, but it didn't get that hot---only about 95, and the new apartment's air conditioner is keeping up quite nicely. My favorite ball player got a couple of hits for the Twins---that was good: Boonie's been in a terrible slump; the Mariners lost, bigtime. And my skating lesson went quite well: I was able to demonstrate the bunny hop in mid-ice with perfect aplomb; I took the waltz jump, with support, out to mid-ice, with an actual jump rather than the toepick-to-toepick walkover. And over all I did pretty well, except (I'm pretty sure it's the diet pills, which I have stopped) a little dizziness when I did the backward crossover in a tight circle for a fairly long sequence. I'm willing to believe that Ari's "what's unusual?" is satisfied by the diet preparation, so it's out. I've had to order copies of my own books from Amazon---I need to review Eagles and Owls (I have Dragons and Fortress) to be sure of certain things, and can I find my archived files? No. Of course not. They exist---somewhere. So I ordered some books, and had them shipped. I tried to do an address change. Have you ever tried to change address at Amazon? The creature never forgets. The books are urgently needed---one paragraph I've been reworking seriously needs the info---and are now being shipped to the old address. If UPS is on its toes, it may reroute, but what a pain!
Date: 7/22/05. Friday. 143288. A slice of routine. Work in the morning and skating in the afternoon.
Date: 7/23/05. Saturday. We took off at 9am, with Sharon, for a flying visit to Jane's brother's place in Seattle. I can only go so long without a whiff of salt air, and I had reached my limit this last week---so off we went, Sharon in the back seat, me driving, Jane reading from Crocodile on a Sandbank, and we reached the Seattle area in time for supper and a movie---Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We'd thought we were going to get supper at The Giant's Causeway, but it was after hours, and we ended up having Mexican food at Torero's---they do a great beef colorado and pork verde. After this, we collapsed, all of us declaring we'd get up when we got up.
Date: 7/24/05. Sunday. Up for the main day of our whirlwind tour---first off to the local airport, where Jane's brother Chip has a plane, a Sundowner, fully loaded with fuel: he was set for distance, not a crowd of passengers, but we shoved Sharon aboard with Chip for a tour of Mt. Rainier, and went back to the house to sit and vegetate, which was our order of the day. Sharon had a great time---got to see the places where she's climbed that mountain, got to take photos of other people climbing, the camp, the glaciers, and then downtown Seattle: she came back full of enthusiasm. We all piled into the car and headed for the local fair in the park, River Days, that precedes Seattle's Seafair, and we wandered about: we turned Sharon loose and I ended up searching for her: she'd gone out in a white shirt, and turned up in a pretty blue frock with her hair done up---courtesy of two merchants. She waved, or I'd have gone right past, looking for the white shirt. We then went downtown, and went to the Seattle Aquarium, this time getting to see the moon jellies in their walk-through tank, (it's sort of a circle, and you can walk under the arch) then shopped our way down the piers and met Sharon's daughter and friend (who'd been apartment-searching) for supper at Ivar's, a favorite of mine, right on the waterfront. Sharon lost an earring---second time she's lost earrings when she's with us: we feel badly about this, but we swear we're not collecting them. Sharon's daughter works at The Old Curiosity Shop, so we got a grand tour, and saw some very interesting items. I ended up with a cat statue that I'd eyed for two years, assuming it was hundreds of dollars: it turned out to be 26, and I just couldn't resist. He's a lovely little feline with eye-stripes, muted brown coat with stripes, staring slit-eyed into a driving wind, and just so comfy in his situation he makes you smile.
Date: 7/25/05. Monday. We drive home, again with Jane reading and Sharon in the back, with packages and way too much to eat---stopped at Snowqualmie Lodge for breakfast, then on again, and just as we'd hoped, arrived home in time for Sharon to get her car and get home and back to the rink in time to skate, and us to do the same. The cats were delighted to get home into a house which, despite the temperatures in the 90's, turned out to be cool and welcoming. We went skating---we were so tired we weren't worth that much, but we finished off the perfect weekend with a good time.
Date: 7/26/05. Tuesday. 144111. I'm still wishing UPS would get those books here. Meanwhile I'm making progress---didn't do a darned bit of writing over the weekend, and now have to recover my momentum. One worrisome thing coming up: Jane's got a doctor's appointment for Thursday which may head her for knee surgery, and none of us are happy in that prospect. She's being quite careful with it on the ice---which doesn't hurt it. But it's not right. Joan, meanwhile, has started me on the toe-wally as well as the toe-loop, and I'm able to do the bunny hop with quite some abandon out in mid-ice. The waltz-jump is nearly ready for prime time. If I could only get my backward edges just a bit better on-the-line, (read: unassisted) I'd be golden.
Date: 7/27/05. Wednesday. Up at the crack of dawn, because our younger instructor, Lindsay, is about to go off to college, and we'd agreed to take our lessons on her available schedule, which is on club ice early in the morning. I urged Lindsay to spend the bulk of time with Jane, considering she may be off the ice for a while if they decide on surgery, and then had a pretty good session---in spite of the fact I fell down---again. I was trying to straighten out a jump I'd made in the wrong direction, did it without calculating how much shelf was left before the glass wall of the rink, and ran out of shelf---which you use, when you're learning a jump. I ricocheted off the glass, hit on my other knee, the one without the bruise, and rolled. No damage. I got up and redid the jump right this time. We came back for the public skate, again because Jane isn't sure how much ice time she'll get after Thursday, and we went home quite exhausted.
Date: 7/28/05. Thursday. 145725. A day of looking for medical records, calling the insurance company, trying to get set up if Jane gets sent to surgery. We have to pay a ferocious deductible and, it turns out, 20% of the bill, very likely, so when Jane did go for her appointment, we had some close questions to ask. Yes, it probably needs surgery, and yes, there's a good reason to do an MRI first (a separate 2000.00 bill) because the less poking about they have to do, the better: knees don't come out of surgery without aftereffects. And how did she hurt her knee? Walking. Simply walking. We're convinced it's the most dangerous thing we do, since both of us have had injuries from that which bothered us far worse than any injury from skating. We then raced off to get some birdseed (the little darlings ate a full bag of sunflower seeds already) and to go to Sharon's official rink birthday party, at a Mexican restaurant, at which we ate too much, drank too much, and are now resolved to get onto the diet bigtime. We're right in blueberry season, but we think we're going to freeze some berries (they freeze well) and not have desserts until we've dropped at least 10 pounds.
Date: 7/29/05. Friday. 146738. Well, what did I say about reform? We went out to dinner with Dawn and Sharon, and weren't good at all, regarding the diet. But we had a great time. We skated, after a morning of work. I think Jane's relieved not to be popped straight into surgery, but I think there's ample reason to do the MRI once we settle the insurance questions---like: will they pay, and how much? When you're self-employed, as writers are, you really get hit by insurance bills: we're in that nasty period of old enough to have really high rates and too young for Medicare, and it's all our bill. It's a question, given our deductibles, whether it would be cheaper to pay for it outright. But we had a nice day, all the same. And we got Sharon's MP3 player to work. Our little rufous hummingbird showed up again, fyi, and the house finch young are putting on color apace. It must be all that sunflower seed.
Date: 7/30/05. Saturday. 147382. I slept late (read: 7:00AM) and got to work---we just stayed in and worked: Jane's trying to get back to work on Ring of Change, and I hesitate to disturb her. I'll leave the necessary officework until tomorrow. The book is going really well. Sharon lent me Fortress of Owls so I can check some things, and once my copy of Eagles arrives from Amazon, I'll have it all. The new coffee grinder arrived: the other one, while mechanically operable, has some nasty traits: the little trap opens up and blasts fine coffee from one end of the kitchen to the other, just for one; and the blades are getting dull. I splurged on a killer Kitchenaid number from Amazon that will contain the chaff and dust and actually change grind size when you move the dial. It's splendid, fast, quiet, and does, indeed, contain the coffee---if you launch espresso fast enough through the air it's rather like Mt. St. Helens dust: hard to find, hard to wipe up, and tending to hang in the air. What a luxury, not to have to mess with that! We spent the evening agonizing over major league baseball trades and watching disaster scenarios on the recorded Science Channel shows.
Date: 7/31/05. Sunday. 148234. Another late rising, and hard at work. About ten am, I decided to go do the long-postponed accounting, and it was disaster central. For one thing, if we open any mail from Paypal, Jane now tells me, it acts on our computers as a virus, and behaves very badly: I should not do that. I did. The computer display went crazy and the cursor ran about erasing mail, including our online bills, while loading things I only passed the cursor over. I punched the 'off' button fast. And came up again and got Norton Antivirus onto it. Well, it took down our housenet, broke the connections, and generally wreaked havoc. We then decided, however suspicious the Paypal letter may have been, my rayon clothing brushed the CPU, which had its cover off while I was trying to handle the mail---and it's very possible it was just a spark of static. We rebooted, rebooted the housenet, and things came up, but the internet is running like molasses in January. At least we proved not to have lost any mail, but every single time I went to do a bill or some such, my internet contact would freeze, or the thing would have to be rebooted---sometimes, dear readers, there really is coincidence, but twice is enemy action, as I tend to believe, and I'm not really sure where to lay the blame: on me, for being so stupid as to open that email, that's for sure. So I've waded through bills, shredded debris (I love our new shredder), and generally gotten all the bills accounted for, everything involved with the great Mastercard mess straightened out, and the bill paid, and all the interest and charges refunded...score one for persistence and an ultimately reasonable person up in the heights of the card company's admin. So I feel I've done a fair bit today, swimming against the internet's opposition. Another evening of disaster scenarios, super-eruptions and volcanoes and asteroids and such: I love planetary dynamics. By the way, take a look at St. Helens: it's still dome-building in its quiet, smoky way.
Date: 8/1/05. Monday. 150372. And all of a sudden, for no reason, I 'got it' re the 3-turn I've been trying to get the knack of since, oh, winter. I began to nail it predictably, on cue, and often, and equally all of a sudden, I began to make real progress on the Waltz 8. Amazing. I've been trying to get over on the single edge on that turn, and finally got it---due to, of all things, my shoulders, not my feet. If the shoulders are back, and way back, the turn works. I'm sure it's a different problem for everyone who attacks it, but for me, inevitably, my shoulders have had bad posture all my life, which is getting corrected, let me tell you. I was so incredibly happy with myself I can't wait for tomorrow. We had a package not left by UPS: I wish I could persuade them just to leave them at the door. I'm sure it's the books I've ordered. 'Harry Potter' did arrive: I think a woman who has done that much for reading should be encouraged, so I add my bit to her sales. And the style while aimed at the young is funny and quite charming. Try it if you haven't.
Date: 8/2/03. Tuesday. 152175. Great progress on the book, and I did get the books I ordered---Owls, which Sharon lent me, had part of the puzzle, and Eagles, which arrived today, had part of it. So I think I'm set, and I had remembered correctly. I posted some of my notes in the library against just this eventuality, which is a great help to me, let me tell you. And we had our lesson with Joan today: I had such a grand time: Joan was pleased with my 3-turn, helped me finesse the Waltz 8 (I need to lengthen the back-edge runout) and then she showed me a combination jump, tacking an extra turn onto the waltz jump, which I'm almost ready to take off the wall. I'm pleased to report that when I pick-in (drive the toepick down preparatory to jumping) I drive it straight and don't slash the ice, which is survival-positive. Jane had a really wretched skate: she's just at one of those pesky stages in which you're ready to make a breakthrough, but it isn't happening.
Date: 8/3/05. Wednesday. 153284. A hair appointment this morning, then on to the rink, for a lesson with Lindsay. Jane, I am glad to say, had a great skate today, and is just beside herself to get back and try it again. We, Jane, Sharon and I, all took Lindsay out for dinner, since she's on the verge of going off to college: we'll miss her. We're going to do a proper farewell dinner next Wednesday: this was a test run, and I think I can call it a success. I had a very good lesson, and actually ended up making myself sore in some very indescribable places, due to the stress you put on in the backward crossover. If I can 'sit' down as tight as Lindsay wants me to, the difficulty with the left foot vanishes, so I pretty well know what I'm doing wrong.
Date: 8/4/05. Thursday. 156382. Our internet is running slow, and I finally called repair. I think we need a booster on this line---way too many devices on the cable. Jane told me that she'd suggested it, the installer had pooh-poohed it (read: he didn't have one on his truck) and we've had trouble ever since its installation. Skating was a disaster: the drain had backed up for the Zamboni dump, and they couldn't run the Zamboni, so the ice was really awful. I tried skating and found patches of glass alternate with long patches of sandpaper---meaning scary as all get out. I nearly broke my neck a couple of times, gave up---to my great regret, a couple of kids I'd worked with on Tuesday showed up hoping I'd help them again, but by the time they arrived, I'd already de-skated and put on my civvies, so it was a no-go: it takes me half an hour to put all that on. Half an hour to drive, and fifteen minutes to get out of it...but I did talk to their mother about getting them lessons, and apparently there are skates being ordered, which will help them immensely: they're both ballet-trained, and have a phenomenal sense of balance, which means they'll pick it up like sponges. I'm not wanting to get too involved in teaching them even the basics, because I don't want them to pick up mistakes, which I'm sure I still make. Basic inside and outside edges is as far as I'll go before suggesting they get a real teacher. But they promise our ice is going to be back to normal tomorrow, and I'll see them then, and see if I can help them along.
Date: 8/05/05. Friday. 158371. A pretty good morning of work, and off to skate. At least there was ice today, but I hurt my hip yesterday skidding on the bad stuff, and working on it today, I flat had all control of my leg go out for a second or two---not a good thing. I'm going to have to give it some R 'n R this weekend: it's just a strained tendon, nothing serious, but when it locks like that, it's a pretty good idea not to push it too much. I've been practicing jumps a bit: not the best thing, and I just don't want to end up with an enforced off-ice stretch due to stupidity. So tomorrow, I'm not doing much. And today I spent much of my time assisting a few young skaters---not the ones I expected today. But nice kids. Some are too terrified to listen to advice: my favorite of the day was a young lad who pulled a wide hood over his head and persisted in skating inexpertly just about everywhere with not a clue what was going on around him. Someday I should do a photo gallery of really strange behaviors on the ice---including the fashion plate who showed up in gang gear, chains and plaid underwear, and literally lost his pants way past any degree of intent: skating does tend to make your waist and hips work a bit. On the home front, we did have to lodge a complaint, not willingly, but whoever has the car next to ours in the apartment lot has a hairtriggered alarm. We've put up with it for a couple of weeks, but it chirps if we open or close our car doors, or if we walk near it. It goes off if a heavy delivery truck drives past. Last night it went off at 2am, 5:30am and 7:30 am and we're just a bit out of reasonable patience. I believe whoever owns it surely can just dial down the sensitivity a bit, or take it to someone who can. I don't think we're the only ones annoyed by this serenade at all hours. The summer temperatures have been pretty normal for August, in the mid-90's, but the air conditioning in this new apartment is standing up to it, a very pleasant surprise. And the temperatures should moderate a bit next midweek, which will be nice. Went out to supper with Sharon, a pleasant hour, and then headed home.
Date: 8/06/05. Saturday. 157287. Erasing as well as forward progress. I'm closing in on the end. My re-write has brought me back to the last few events in the story. I'm liking this one. This is good. No skating today---a good thing: I'm quite sore from overwork, and when, yesterday, my right leg decided to quit on me at one point, I took that as a warning. So I'm being good, icing it, resting it, generally sitting still, with a moderate amount of housework---laundry and such, not to mention cleaning up the cosmetic clutter, which can proliferate without your quite noticing it's now taken the entire counter.
Date: 8/7/05. Sunday. 160111. Up again at the crack of dawn. That wretched car sounded off again last night. We're going to have to report it---again. I like to be a tolerant neighbor, knowing that all of us have little quirks, but whistles and honks and hoots at 2am are not within my tolerance. I'm a chronic light sleeper, and after being wakened, take forever to get back to sleep, and that car out there is beginning to get to me.
Date: 8/8/05. Monday. 163123. Still making progress. This is the quintessential bad hair day: it's frightening to look in the mirror. I have a salon appointment Wednesday, thank goodness. I didn't do much but work on the ending of the book, which is taking quite a bit of staring into space. This means moving scenes; I hate moving scenes. I confess it took me ten years of using a computer to discover that you can highlight-for-move with the arrow keys, rather than drag-and-drop, which has made life, oh, so much better (Quick, Jeeves! I know that moved paragraph dropped somewhere in this chapter---it's got to be here!) but I still hate the process. Scenes that get moved have loose roots and broken roots, just like little well-grown plants. They have to have bits clipped to fit the local facts in the new position, they have to have their tops fluffed (descriptive and time detail provided that hadn't been needed where they came from, and then you have to be sure that the set-up for them in their old position doesn't then become redundant: sometimes you have to go back and 'fill in the hole' to make it seamless again.) Meaning: 52-card-pickup in a novel is a nasty job, but let me say, for anyone who's tried writing, it's best sometimes to do exactly that. Rather than make, for instance, our heroes trek for days across a dull spot on the map to reach the Treasure Mountains, do surgery on the map, move the mountains closer (within the possibilities of geology of course) and don't invent superfluous incidents to fill time. It may involve scene-moving, it may involve redrawing the map, and it may toss a character completely out of the story, but there are times the outline just has to be folded together and stitched up. Outline, you say: in point of fact, I rarely have a clear idea what's going to happen exactly. Though I generally do have an outline, and though sometimes that outline has even been sent in to a committee and approved when the book is bought in advance, (not the case with publishers I regularly work with) I don't pay strict attention to it. And I have to do this process a lot during the course of a book. I write essentially in order, as you read it; but there are times that I have to do a little warp to relocate a bit that's mispositioned. Beginnings are often subject to moves. Ends sometimes happen without notice, especially when you're writing connected books and you know there's going to be another. Writing is full of surprises. And while you're always glad to reach an end, you're also dreading the white space that comes next, when you have to start with blank pages and make a new story happen. Should you wonder, I'm never 'between' books. I think I'd run mad in the streets. I have to have something 'next' within hours, literally, of finishing a book. I used to, quite superstitiously, write the first sentence of the next book before I'd leave my chair when I'd finished a book. Now I just do it in my head.
Date: 8/9/05. Tuesday. 164732. This turned out a busier day than I'd planned...we went in for our lesson with Joan, but appointments got confused and we ended up having Lindsay, too, on what will be our last lesson with Lindsay for a while, because she's going off to college in another city. So...we switched about, half with Joan and half with Lindsay, changing respective pairing at midway. And we'd promised to take Lindsay out to dinner, Joan couldn't go Wednesday, but would join us for a glass of wine, and it all worked out splendidly for dinner at Antony's, with the view of the falls. I ate far too much of that good sourdough bread, and ate my dessert, which comes with the dinner, so I was Not Good, but it was an occasion. We had a nice dinner. And wished Lins the very best of luck at college. And went home. Well, this happened to be our second dining-out in two days: yesterday we'd had dinner at one of our usual watering holes with Sharon (nachos---bad us!) and it turned out Sharon had left her credit card, so we will try to pick that up tomorrow after skating---I have an up-with-the-roosters hair appointment Wednesday for a major beautification, and the restaurant won't possibly be open at that hour, but we'll get it in the afternoon. On the book, still closing in on the ending. I got some major scene-shifting done yesterday and think I have the final form of the book in my sights.
Date: 8/10/05. Wednesday. Not a thing done: I had a lengthy hair appointment, running right into skating time, so a fast turnaround there---I broke my own rule and skated without the helmet, I was so happy with the hair---but I only did it until Sharon and Joan could see it. I figure it's really dumb to risk brain injury until I get the 'falling' thing completely under control---ie, being able to pick my landing spot. I'm pretty good at it, tending to land accurately on the crash pads, but after showing off the new do, on went the helmet. It of course crushed it, but, hey, it can resurrect. And my falls---well, I haven't landed on my head since June, and I've gone bump! at least 4 times, but that's not a long enough track record.
Date: 8/11/05. Thursday. 167389. Back to work, and a good day, except that Jane's blister (she has one on her heel, from the skates) was so bad we decided this would be a good day to lay out and get work done. That blister is deep, and just as well let it heal. And I swear, I'm going to commit mayhem if whoever owns that car that keeps beeping out in the parking lot doesn't dial it down. The beep goes at all hours. The siren goes off. I'm just ready to explode.
Date: 8/12/05. Friday. 172822. Nearly, nearly. I had a only so-so skate, which argues that my mind is elsewhere. I'm really getting close to the end, though there are some critical decisions yet to make. We were going to have Sharon over to dinner, and didn't: she had a ton of stuff to do, including family obligations. That salmon is still languishing in the fridge: we went out for chili lime wings, which I didn't have to cook.
Date: 9/13/05. Saturday. 182372. A good day of work, and just down to the last. Sharon came over for supper---we watched movies and had berries and wine, not to mention the salmon. I'd have hated for that to go to waste. We don't ordinarily skate on Sunday, but we're facing a week of no ice, so we're strongly considering it.
Date: 8/14/05. Sunday. 169075. Well, I've taken the surplus outline off Ice, and stored it. This is the 'where it's going next', because there will be another book. There has to be. But the current book is nearing completion. Against all odds, I got some meaningful work done today. And went skating. I had hopes with the recent low night temperatures (down into the 40's) that the ice would be hard. It wasn't. It was soft, and it snowed-up easily, plus had monumental death cookies---those lumps of ice like a speed bump. The rink is hosting a hockey school from Tuesday through Saturday of next week, so there's no ice for us---today and Monday are our only chances. And it was pretty scary. Several of our high-test skaters were out there trying to practice, because they have a test coming up, and there were a number of recreational skaters, plus some tiny beginners and a couple of adult beginners. Oh, that's a bad mix. Think of an airspace with several jets whizzing around among slower planes, intermittent with occasional pelicans. There is a brand of beginner who thinks the proper place to start is center ice. They come in all ages, and never seem to notice that this is not a good idea. No one collided, but we're sort at that awkward stage, Jane and I, of needing room to do our turns and backward edges, and most of what we dare do under such conditions is watch for the high speed skaters, try to pick a time when there's a minimum of neos, dart out, do fifteen or twenty feet of maneuver, and then skate back to the wall before the high speed guys come around again. Pretty frustrating. I don't feel I should get out there and claim a patch to work on---the kids trying to test after a week with no ice are pretty desperate, and they have enough to do dodging the pelicans.
Date: 8/15/05. Monday. No work today---we headed off to introduce Sharon and her aches and pains to Dr. Mike, and having all been crunched, we had lunch at the terribly sinful Cougar Country and headed back, reading The Mummy Case aloud, and intending to make it back to the city in time for skating. We did, but meanwhile Jane had pulled something in her back that hadn't responded to treatment, it wasn't better, and I'd just had that fierce day and night pain in my hip crunched, and it was feeling fragile---sometimes an adjustment does require a while to settle, and this one felt as if it just needed quiet and rest. So we went on home, leaving Sharon to skate on. We each headed for our respective bedrooms, were absolutely worthless the rest of the day---Jane thinks she's pinned down the cause of her back spasm: she'd tried to resurrect a pair of sandals that just threw her back into a bad angle. So those are going to Goodwill. Believe me, a pair of shoes can do that to you, especially when you've been doing adjustments. A little rest put things right. And! we got a phone call from out of the blue from Louise, our neighbor at the old apartment---we were terribly worried about her: the day we lost touch with her, she was facing critical surgery after an accident, back in June, and now we've made contact again! We're now current with some truly astonishing local scandal---with news about the old digs, and who's moved, and who's not. And we're trying to talk Louise into moving into this complex, which would be lovely---we like her a lot, and this, once we get the beeping car settled, is a wonderful place.
Date: 8/16/05. Tuesday. 170357. It's finished! I did a small summary for the art people at Harper, and then went and wrote the final two scenes. I'm pleased with the result. We're both feeling as if our rest yesterday afternoon has us in good shape. The hip no longer hurts, and it hadn't stopped hurting day or night for the last 3 weeks, so I'm happy---and I think being free of pain helped, being about to concentrate on the ending. Jane's back is cured by tossing the offending sandals---which were good sandals: go figure. We also had to run Jane's original computer disks in for yet one more try at fixing her computer---let me tell you, we're getting very put out about this, and dealing with a non-English repair shop (subcontracting from a major chain) that thinks a female voice means an owner who doesn't know computers and can't tell they're being given a runaround does not sweeten our opinion of the nationally advertised computer store whose warranty this shop provides. This repair shop is now trying to say they couldn't possibly have broken the lid, when we know quite well the lid worked when it was sent in and they couldn't have fixed what they claim to have fixed without removing the display screen, which is, yes, my friends and readers, the lid. We understand lid-latches are on order. Meanwhile the car alarm in the parking lot has produced one more protest. This is entirely unreasonable: it beeps off seven or eight times when someone tries to get into any adjacent car: we're talking about hundreds of incidents a day, every day. When a heavy truck drives up, the alarm goes off. It beeps all night when someone drives by or walks past on their way to their own car; it goes off with sirens and honks several times a day, often at 5 am, particularly when the car at the end simply backs out, and this is driving me to distraction. But in spite of all the nuisances, the book is done!!!! And in spite of all our resolutions about diet, we have a tradition of celebrating such events. I think I'm due one. It looks like nachos at Panama Jack's and some celebratory Chardonnay. We decided rather than take our accustomed long reading drive this time, because Jane's beginning to make progress on her book that we'd read at home, and see if this works.
Date: 8/17/05. Wednesday. More reading. And reading. And reading.
Date: 8/18/05. Thursday. Reading, reading, reading. And enter notes.
Date: 8/19/05. Friday. Still reading, while entering notes. Haven't done a thing but read until I'm hoarse. We're very antisocial this week---just sit and read.
Date: 8/20/05. Saturday. Finished the read. Jane approves, which always pleases me. I took to my room and started entering notes.
Date: 8/21/05. Sunday. Working on the edits, which requires concentration. When I'd begun to see letters dancing in my eyes, we decided to go over to skate, the first public ice in a week, and joined Sharon---the ice was really bad. Sharon fell. Jane fell. Sharon almost never falls. Jane rarely does. It would have been wonderful, if we'd had anything like an ice surface.
Date: 8/22/05. Monday. A wild scramble this morning, both of us bleary-eyed, and trying to get over to the Safeway to pick up Sharon, who's going with us to Dr. Mike's. We had a pleasant ride down, under overcast skies, then had our crunch---that hip of mine is being one of the most persistent problems I've had, but it is improving. We had lunch at Cougar Country (crunchy peanut butter and huckleberry malts!) and got back to Spokane in time to skate---which is not quite the thing to do after a chiropractic appointment, but we thought we had a lesson. Joan turned out not to show up---she thought it's tomorrow---but we skated, all the same. Apparently the Spokane Chiefs are using the ice for practice, and let me tell you, the ice was beyond bad, even after Zamboni-ing. Long grooves, bubbly patches (which act like tar on the skate blades, slowing you down fast) and then fast, glassy bits. I'm working on knee-bending, meaning getting way down, which lets you skate safely on the heels of your skates, which means you go fast, and should be stable, but there's a trick to it, and if you straighten your leg a bit, you're going over backward. Well, suffice it to say I hit a glassy strip on one foot, had the sluggish ice under the other, went up on one toepick, tried to reach for the wall, and hit the boards hard. Not what I wanted to do. Your legs kind of shake after an impact like that, not that I was hurt or even scared---I just got up, wobbled my way around and decided to go get a refill on the coffee. And Jane went down. At this point I caught our rink owner and hoped perhaps they might flood the ice tonight, so as to wipe out some of those canyons and pits, not to mention the bubbles. Dawn showed up, another of our adult group---we suggested she'd probably hit the ice, too, at this rate: I don't know if she did, because I headed for the locker room. And we headed home to nurse our bumps and bruises.
Date: 8/23/05. Tuesday. 174623. More editing. Lots of editing. And we patched ourselves up enough to get back to the rink for another try. Our Zamboni man had greatly improved the ice today---Jane's pretty sore, I'm only moderately so, but Jane really tore that shoulder loose. It had been somewhat restricted in movement, but now flexes all around, but she has whiplash from her head hitting the ice, and that seems to be hurting worse than the shoulder---intermittently. She's icing and heating in alternation.
Date: 8/24/05. Wednesday. 175282. Editing, and finish. Of course there was a last-moment panic: we have an HP printer, a big fellow, who's very fast, but who doesn't talk to the housenet. This means I have to send a manuscript to another computer which is attached to the megaprinter, not the one that's attached to the little HP color printer. Which means, since I didn't know that at first, I sent to the wrong one. But then I discovered that I'd apparently really SENT it---it was gone from my comptuer. The whole finished manuscript. This induces cold sweats. I didn't believe that would happen, but I went immediately to send a copy back. And I couldn't find the appropriate file there either. FInally located it, not where it ought to have been, [the monster computer has all sorts of drives and partitions, many with similar names] so I then tried to send it back, but somehow it wasn't talking properly to my computer. I decided to take the short route and go get the thumb drive to get a copy off, and then couldn't see well enough, even with my glasses, to find the confounded USP port. Burn it, Jane suggested, so I went to get a disk, still not seeing as well as would tell me I'd grabbed a music cd-r (I'm terribly farsighted, and the room is dimly lit)...so I tried to burn a cd. The desktop icon produced an expired burner, and at this point I was in a bit of a froth. Jane showed up, shooed me out of the chair, grabbed a proper cd and burned the file on, which I then took to the computer that's running the megaprinter. Well, it ran nicely. Printed. Meanwhile I managed to locate the 'missing' file in the tangle of nested directories, many containing copies of themselves, mirror into mirror, which is my notebook hard disk. So I'm working to get that situation rectified. Then the computer running the printer froze. Reboot. It wants to print from the beginning. We identify the proper start point and go again, shredding the misprints. We get another section printed. I think we're finished. Turns out it was frozen again. We finally got the full printout, and I'm going to send it in, but I have to get a box that's big enough. This is a thick book. We took our shattered nerves off to the rink, and had a pretty good skate.
Date: 8/25/05. Thursday. 828. I took a few hours off to laze about and read, but then decided to start the new Cyteen book, found my chronology, a thick book of dates and what happened when, and got a few ideas. The book is beginning...or at least the outline is. We went skating, and I finally, finally got my waltz jump off the wall---well, mostly. I can do it beside the wall, without touching the wall: the exit is still shaky, which is the reason for running it into the wall, so you don't fall down. But Joan, who'd given Jane a lesson, spared a few extra minutes for me, and pronounced the waltz jump a success, showed me how to do it on one of the hockey dots, and then discovered I can do a fair spiral (that's the one where you glide on one foot with the other leg as far up in the air as you can get it.) I've been practicing that. Joan was so pleased she showed me the backward spiral, and ran me all over the rink doing both. Plus I've figured out how to control that backward edge at least from a spiral, which is to point, of all things, your off-foot heel downward. Turns your foot out, rotates the up hip, which throws you onto an outside edge. Magic!
Date: 8/26/05. Friday. 2038. Still outlining. I'm at that stage of composition in which I shouldn't be allowed to drive, and apologies to the two drivers I scared on my way to the rink. Jane resolved I shouldn't drive home. I was hoping to go out to dinner with Sharon and maybe Joan, and under the impression they'd be there, but alas, Sharon had to work, and Joan, with no lesson to give, didn't come, so, sigh, I skated around---lots of kids on the ice. One bright spot: a new skater who's starting to come regularly, and who is quite a pretty skater, moved in from Montana---nice person. But remember all that spiral work? I had a muscle in the back of my ankle so sore I couldn't move my toes (a necessary bit of balance) without pain, not to mention the pain when I was using it. So I quit about half an hour early. Between nearly killing both of us on the way and a bum skate today, I was kind of glum, and we're out of tv dinners, mostly, which is all I've been up to cooking with the skating running so late---so Jane drove and we went out to Scotty's, the nearest watering hole to home. We weren't too bad.
Date: 8/27/05. Saturday. 5093. I'll be outlining for some time to come. Outline is easy, if the ideas are flowing. I don't even think about typing any longer---I think and the fingers move. Since I've typed since I was 10, it's a pretty automatic process, so in a sense I don't think about writing. I just think. The writing just happens at finger level. Worked all day, and in the evening Jane and I went out for a birthday celebration (mine) with Sharon and Steve...who treated us to a dinner cruise on Lake Coeur d'Alene; absolutely spectacularly clear, balmy night with the Milky Way in evidence. Prezzies. Cheesecake. I had a grand time. Thank you, Sharon and Steve.
Date: 8/28/05. Sunday. 5939. Slept late, worked and slept all day long---so much dust in the air (and much of it wheat chaff and mold) that eyes are watering and we're neither one of us worth anything. We didn't go skating today, though I sort of wanted to, but the leg is still sore and Jane's semi-conscious from allergies. I've been following the coverage of Hurricane Katrina---I tell you, I can understand taking tornados with a wait-see attitude before I dive for cover, because unless you're just unlucky enough to be right under the formation zone, you can pretty well dodge or take some protective action at the last half hour, but people with the funds, the advance warning, and the capability to evacuate who deliberately want to bet odds with a planetary storm that stretches from New Orleans to Cuba, and where you can't change your mind and evacuate at the last moment---that's not my cup of tea. Neither is rushing out to the beach with a surfboard under these circumstances....which makes somebody else risk his neck getting you out. Mind, you've got a perfect right to run such risks if you're doing it solo and risking no other lives along with you. But don't ask me to go risk my neck in a rescue. I do feel terribly sorry for the folk who didn't get the message or didn't understand it---not everybody's wired-in in this world, not everybody has a car, not everybody could get gas, and some got caught by circumstances. One chap wouldn't go to a shelter because they wouldn't take his dog, which I can understand him doing...personally, I think the shelter shouldn't turn some old guy away because he has a dog, or a cat, or parrot, or iguana, or whatever. Predators and prey will share a log in a flood, and cat-lover me can't see turning out the fellow's dog, no matter the sanitary issues or the racket in the shelter, so long as the critter is on a stout lead or in a carrier---because you know people aren't going to abandon a pet who's like a child to them, and refusing to acknowledge that fact is just turning good people away in risk of their lives. That story, if true, just rankles. Like I said about tornados---sometimes you just get caught, even when you do all the right things. The bad thing is---this hurricane season is just getting started.
Date: 8/29/05. Monday. 5939. We picked Sharon up at the Safeway and drove down for a chiropractic appointment: the wheat dust was getting all of us: I'd taken enough Benedryl that I could stay awake and drive, but after getting crunched, you often get sleepy. I drove back with two semi-conscious friends who declared they neither one could go skating. Well, I'm sure my leg could use another day of rest. The sky is just brown, interspersed with rain. And the IRS has sent a stern letter, saying they still lack a report I have turned in repeatedly. This is the fifth copy I've mailed them, but here goes again. Sigh. The news from New Orleans is not good. The levee failure is just the last straw.
Date: 8/30/05. 5939. Tuesday. Off to Seattle, to the Nasfic, the North American SF convention, cats and all. We arrived late—had dinner with Jane's brother Chip in the Irish Pub. Can't say much of event today...except what's happening on the news.
Date: 8/31/05. 5939. Wednesday. Met Serge Mailloux and Sue Krinard to go touring Seattle Underground, which is quite interesting. A huge fire destroyed Seattle back in the 1890's, and in the haste to rebuild, some merchants got ahead of other rebuilders who wanted to knock the tall cliffs down and lift Seattle above the mud flats. So the first floors of many buildings ended up underground, when the cliffs came down. It's a nice way to spend a couple of hours in Seattle, and it's interesting. Outside of this, I'm still watching the New Orleans mess. I cannot understand why the people in charge didn't realize that a class 5 storm that reached from Cuba to the Gulf Coast wasn't going to evaporate, and that the levees that hadn't been raised weren't capable of withstanding this kind of surge. There's also a question about the whole concept of levees that diminished the wetlands that have defended New Orleans prior to this.
Date: 9/01/05. Thursday. 5939. My actual birthday. First day at the North American Science Fiction Convention, the N.A. version of the Worldcon which this year is in Glasgow, Scotland When I agreed we were coming here on my birthday, I requested just not to be at the Nasfic on my birthday—I've spent ever so many birthdays sitting by myself at a worldcon or Nasfic, with nothing to do and no one in particular who cared, that I just have no inclination to be at a convention on that date. My computer is tied up while Jane tries to work out a graphic she needs for the business cards she forgot to bring. That's been a hassle---CompUSA's vaunted repair service has had her computer tied up for 6 weeks now, if we're counting correctly: they keep declaring it's fixed, and it comes back still screwed up; so she's having to borrow mine. Can you understand how terribly destructive this is for a writer, to have their computer endlessly put on hold? Jane's about at the end of her rope. But we went shopping in the morning—Jane declared my black corduroys to be a sartorial disaster area, and mandated I not go about in them under civilized circumstances—and then after a glum afternoon of watching events in New Orleans (I am still appalled at the pace of rescues) we went off to a nice restaurant. I ate too much and drank too much, but no one graciously minded.
Date: 9/02/05. Friday. 5939. We all wish we were in Glasgow, but Seattle is nearer. And it's a good dealer's room, if ever so much smaller than a regular North American Worldcon. We shopped. I weakened and bought the Hat I'd seen. It's, ahem!, a pirate hat. It looks pretty good. We're staying at Jane's brother's place, where the cats are residing, and it's a lot cheaper, needless to say, though we will miss some things—like late night parties.
Date: 9/03/05. Saturday. Well, Someone saved me by buying the Coat. Now I need plumage for the hat. I had no panels today. Jane signed up for all the sex panels (Sex in Science Fiction: Does it Sell?) Etc, which are always late at night, in deference to the younger attendees, who don't need to be there.
Date: 9/04/05. Sunday. 5939. The real 'last day' of Nasfic, the last day on which we'll have full attendance. Jane and I had brunch with old friend Beth Meacham, editor of Tor Books, a pleasant hour. I was on the 'Scum and Villainy' panel, wearing my pirate hat, and Jane and Sharon showed up with the matching coat, bless them, in a second shipment from the company responsible, and also got some plumage (black and gray, with a peacock feather for accent). It's a neat coat, heavy twill, and I can't possibly justify having it, but I do enjoy it. I think the peacock is quite appropriate.
Date: 9/05/05. Monday. Monday morning at a Nasfic. No Bret—Bret's gone home. Various folk have gone home. Sharon and Jane and I have soldiered on—way too much party, and we only had one panel, one of Jane's, and then gathered up some friends and had supper at the 13 Coins opposite SeaTac airport entry. I heartily recommend it.
Date: 9/06/05. 5939. Tuesday. Well, we scraped ourselves out of bed and got home...started out, having celebrated all that we can stand, and drove with Sharon as far as her place. Nice weather, no complications, except that sagebrush is in season and our allergies were all protesting. Early to bed, after snacking on the leftovers from the 13 Coins in SeaTac. Found that the public skate has been moved to 9:30 am, so we're going to have to scramble. And found out that one of the documents I mailed the IRS was 2003, not 4, so that's a do-over. Sigh. The cats are glad to be home, are sprawling (to the risk of our life and limb) in all their favorite spots. The birds are out of seed—I replaced that. But no birds showed. Little ingrates.
Date: 9/07/05. Wednesday. 5939. Up early and off to the rink. The birds are back, this morning, after one scout came in and went to the flock. The ice was glorious—but no Sharon. We called to find out that (note: when we took Sharon home, her cat Emily escaped out the door) Sharon had heard the cat wanting in at about 5 am, and went out, mistook the top step and did a three step tumble to the flagstones. She's contused and has a cut knee, and in general is not in great shape. She says she's going to skate tomorrow. We're dubious. I hope that knee doesn't lock up tight after that kind of impact. We offered to bring her takeout chicken, but she says she's doing fine. We came home to try to get things sorted out. On a sad note, I learned today what Jane hadn't wanted to tell me late last night: that our friend Michael Sheard passed away: we'll miss him a great deal—British actor, Admiral Ozzel in Star Wars, among many other roles. We had such fun at Midsouthcons...and he was such a kind and good man—it was no small tribute to his skill as an actor that he could go from jovial fellow to outright scary villain in a heartbeat, and back again with a twinkle in his eye. He wrote a delightful series of books about convention-going, and if you ever got a chance to meet him, you know what a wonderful person we've lost. Jane had a note to call the computer repair people, and they've blown out another video board in her computer and now will delay again while they order yet another board. Next step is an angry call to CompUSA.
Date: 9/08/05. Thursday. 8028. Had a lesson with Joan, and Sharon was back, a little bruised, but ok. And I made a sort of breakthrough on the skating front. I learned a kind of obvious but important truth, that if you are on one edge and drop the opposite hip, you're leaning into empty space, and you will fall---a real incentive to pay attention to that detail. I'm beginning to get the back inside edge---was doing just fine until I had a chunk of ice accumulated on my blade that slipped underneath it---that was an exciting moment---but I stayed up. And I'm beginning to get better posture (read: better control) on the 3-turn, which means it becomes light and easy. Sharon came over for lunch, and we've declared we're in a 3-person race to drop some weight. Which means reform of the recent debauch at the convention. And we got the news that we were exposed to whooping cough at the convention. I was planning a trip down south soon to see my mother, but now that will have to be delayed. I can't risk bringing that to her. It takes 21 days to manifest, so I have to be sure we're not going to take it, and we have to be where we can get medical care if we do. I understand the person who had it didn't discover what he/she had until after the convention, and had no idea he/she was contagious...I do suspect I was near the individual, because I recall a person with an absolutely unremitting cough. I'm in good shape, so is Jane, but we just aren't taking any chances. If we start coughing, we hie us to medical help, and I'm going to get the description of symptoms from our friend Sharon, plus exactly when one becomes contagious, so we don't give it to everyone we know. Sigh.
Date: 9/09/05. Friday. 9081. Well, it was one of those days on the ice. I managed to go down twice---read: sit down, once because I went out from the concession stand (where my skate blades had warmed a bit) and went straight back to practicing the waltz jump. Warm skates slip faster, especially when the ice is hard, as it was today. I swung my free foot to pick-in with the other, and the foot that should have gone pick-down went whoosh! forward with the swing of the free foot. Bang. At least I fell on the left hip instead of the right, which is getting tired of being the landing-spot. And, playing around with one of our juniormost skaters, I got up on tiptoe, showing out and goofing off, stepped onto exactly the same patch of ice and, whizz! there went that foot! Bang. Same hip. Exactly the same spot on the ice. Thank goodness for crash pads.// We did consult re the exposure to whooping cough (pertussis) and I do advise if you know you were exposed this weekend, get thee to medical treatment: there is a simple course of antibiotic that can help if you consult your doctor fast, before it develops. No fault of anyone at all---just one of those things. It's important to know you were exposed and get to a doctor before you have symptoms. This is not something you want to catch. //The weather's shifting: we're having blowing dust, to be followed by rain, and we're looking forward to the first raindrops. The rain will settle all sorts of malaise in the air.//I continue to be appalled by what I hear on the New Orleans front. I hope that everyone is taking good notes, because this is going to deserve some serious sorting-out, and people should be held accountable. The fact that this is a coastal area with limited ship approaches through the maze of the delta, and the fact that all roads terminate here, sort of starlike, with the center now gone, add up to some uncommon logistical difficulties, but the people-movement has been hampered by rules and regulations meant for ordinary situations, and a misplaced notion of 'protecting' our rescue people from the risk they came there willing to run is beyond ordinary bureaucratic incompetence. If I, as a passerby, help some injured person on the highway and make a layman's medical mistake that worsens a situation, I should not be held liable, though I would be extremely grieved to have done it. But if I hold myself up to be a surgeon, and set up practice, and take money from people for this service, and harm someone under the deliberate pretext that I know what I'm doing, I should---and would---be held legally liable for harm done. Unfortunately the rules that govern the practice of medicine without adequate skills and licensing do not protect us against officials without the education to do what they're appointed to do, but when a person accepts control over life-or-death situations, and says he can do the job---well, there surely ought to be a law, but there isn't, unfortunately. The best we can do is ask how they got to be in that position, and rectify matters as high up the chain and as far down to their appointees as needs be.
Date: 9/10/05. Saturday. 9281. Entry early today---I'm working hard, and need a break. The promised rain didn't arrive, though cooler temperatures did. The birds are singing nonstop out by the feeder, fighting hard for perches, which argues they think colder weather is coming; and indeed, the National Weather Service site forecast discussion says there's another wave coming down. So winter may have started. Mt. St. Helens has a snow cap this morning. And is still steaming.//No skating today: I'm not really sore after yesterday, just a little achy in the arms, where (twice) I reached for the wall to save myself (and still fell).//We're both on heavy doses of antibiotic, and ordered to eat to cushion the stuff, 4x a day. Thank goodness for deviled eggs and Atkins candy, or we'd be very sorry about our diets. I've actually lost the weight I'd gained just before my birthday, and the weight I gained celebrating my birthday, and am entering more acceptable territory: see: science fiction diet. So I'm not taking this two week course as an excuse to eat four major meals a day. Couldn't get all the medicine I was due: I'll have to go back to the pharmacy today when they get a new shipment in. But better this, let me tell you, than the alternative.//And while I was out yesterday, I had the most appalling vision of male fashion, let me tell you: absolutely gorgeous young gentleman above the belt, lots of tats and a sleeveless white tee, and this indescribable pair of denim pantaloons below, which hit his slender lower legs in the most unfortunate way. Guys, guys, guys, take it from us gals: if you're going to wear something very blousy below the waist, hemline, hemline, hemline! This chap looked like Adonis above and my sainted aunt Maud below, as the hem hit him just on the underside of the calf---except she'd never have gone for the white socks and sneakers; and, having a lady's figure, auntie would have looked more hourglass-like, not like an upside-down apple-on-a-stick. Clearly the young man had spent considerable money on the look---but never, never go for baggy trousers and a hem that falls mid-calf. Middle of the knee or just below the kneecap, at max, will produce a far more flattering line; and wear sandals barefoot, if you're trying for the sexy Islander look. You aren't obliged to just accept what comes off the rack: a friend, a ruler, a pen, and a pair of scissors will solve the problem...one doesn't ask for an actual hem, but that can indeed be achieved with a simple push of a foot pedal: just keep the fingers out of the way of the needle and go slowly. No white knee-highs, please, on either gender: few of us have perfect legs, and white just glows in the dark. In the male fashion-disaster category, I once watched a young gangsta type take the ice in full kit: he had purple paisley undies, which of course showed at the top, lots of chains, down to his knees---by some miracle, none snagged---and baggy pants that obscured his skates. Those naturally tripped him periodically, with the result that the pants at last went south, leaving a vast expanse of paisley in view. A full fashion tragedy on ice.
Date: 9/11/05. Sunday. 13929. Quite a good day. When you're doing the follower book with people you know, the outline goes so much more rapidly. I haven't done much but sit in front of the telly and write...I do write with the telly going: it's background noise, the sort of thing I can flip off if something annoys me. No skating today. I'd like to, but I've been doing so well (never mind falling down twice in one day) that I really don't want to screw things up by getting out there with baby skaters and hockey folk. I need to work cross-ice, and daren't for fear of taking out one of the little people who think the object is to totter out to center and stand there. I just need to be able to work end to end and go backward, and that's just dangerous when the ice is crowded: I can look where I'm going, but little guys don't, and they're so short you may not see them. So I'm just staying home and working today. The antibiotic is making me feel like a slug, anyway, but I'm just going to have to put up with it. At least the weather has turned quite cool and rainy, which always brightens my mood---I love sleeping in cold breezes, and I got a good night's sleep last night, me the insomniac. A little disgusted: I've been reading the Harry Potter books, which I have enjoyed---hey, I taught highschool for ten years: the humor does not put me off. But I thought there was one more book out than there was. So I'd hunted until I realized I have read the last one available, and will have to wait a year for the next. On the topic of young fare, if you've not tried Lemony Snicket (the movie), do: it's entirely bent, and fun: it may scare the kids but it's great for grownups; the books are fun, but near word-for-word the movie dialogue; Harry Potter is quite a lot of fun: I'd feared it would be that one thing that puts me off kids' books and mainstream: choppy grammar, hashed-up baby sentences. But it isn't. Quite readable. I could do a discourse here on the proper way to use who and whom, which is violated throughout, but it's probably a copyeditor's fault. I've had copyeditors try to 'correct' my correct usage into an error, too, so I'm not going to blame Rowling for what someone may have done to her prose.
Date: 9/12/05. Monday. 14503. Onto the ice, feeling rather like a truck has run over me---both of us in this condition, thanks to the antibiotic, again. We, the two of us and Sharon, took off for the chiropractor after skating, and this time Dr. Mike made a try at the lower back---I think this has been needed for a bit, and part of why the right hip hurts: it hurts all the way through. But after Dr. Mike has worked things over, it doesn't hurt for a couple of days, which is better than we started with---relief measured in hours. So I think we are making progress with it. I can say pretty categorically that I'm in better shape now than I was when I was in my late thirties, never mind that pesky 40 pounds I want to drop---I'm still working on it, but the huckleberry-peanut butter shake I had isn't the way to do that. I'm still, by the way, getting the birthday cards and felicitous remembrances from Shejidan (the website), and it was so very nice of you all to do that. Very much appreciated.
Date: 9/13/05. Tuesday. 15382. A lesson. I was in marginal shape to handle it; Jane wasn't. She's been dizzy as can be. But the good news is that Joan has finally ironed out some of my worst problems with the backward to front step-off: I'd been trying to handle it with a gold-level turnout, you know, the sort you use in a spread-eagle turn, and that bad hip just wouldn't do it. Joan points out that the turn I need isn't near that sharp, that I've got feet more of room, and need just to do a proper rotation of the head and arms to do it easily. Amazing! If I can just nail the waltz-8 and get my backward outside edge, I have a fighting chance of passing the pre-bronze adult test before New Year's---well, if I can find somewhere to take it before New Year's. I'm quite excited about this. We had another round with CompUSA, as their repair people are now claiming that the holdup on Jane's computer is a fan which is on order. They've replaced the screen with the wrong screen, blown 3 logic boards, probably a video card---I can't remember, then claimed the hinges not working wasn't their fault (you can't replace a logic board without having the top off), then agreed, well, yes, they'd replace the hinges, which had to be ordered, and generally Jane's been limping along on my old Dell, on which we haven't performed the requisite repairs, because I'm not sure of getting it back if I blow the install: the old Dell has a new keyboard and palm-rest waiting, but in the meanwhile is shedding keys, including the mouse control, has a non-functioning trackpoint mouse, a marginally functioning touchpad, and generally you have to close the lid carefully to prevent losing key-faces: not Dell's fault---Ysabel laid scratch on the keyboard while I was using it, when Efanor gave chase, and very few keyboards could withstand Miss Cuisinart. But it's also pretty rocky to try to work on, and Jane's been two months without her computer while CompUSA tries to get it fixed---her Toshi gives off electrical snaps, quits, develops lines in the display screen, the hinges fall shut on your fingers, the fan makes a sound like a spoon stuck in a mixmaster, and this is, thus far, the standard of 'fixed' this repair service has delivered us.
Date: 9/14/05. Wednesday. 16842. More skating, and Jane is still dizzy. Sharon, our resident medical person, said that ear needs attention, and she was right. About half an hour of aggressive treatment and the ear is clear---probably the first time in several years it's been completely right. This should make life more pleasant. We went out to Panama Jack's, and discovered that the place has been sold, the interior is going to change (a total mistake, as it's the most comfortable bar in the Valley) and worse, that they've revised the nachos, which were the only authentic nachos in town, to something with cheap chips, unfrito beans, and a scarcity of cheese. They're now on a par with the nachos you get at the ball park, you know: the ones they drip liquid cheese onto. We're quite disgusted. We're going to have to go on a nacho search. Sharon dropped by for a bit, but what with the antibiotic, I'm still feeling as if a ton of bricks had dropped onto me. I've been turning in at 9, and getting up at about 7:30. Way much sleep.
Date: 9/15/05. Thursday. 17393. Jane has a habit of staggering into the office on waking and checking e-mails, and in this case, we had one from Sharon giving the new pre-bronze adult test pattern. Waa! The core element of the current test is called 3's on the line, meaning a series of 3-turns on alternating feet in wide lobes down one of the hockey lines. The rumored change (because many adults at pre-bronze have found that test a bear) was going to be, we thought, the waltz-8, which is a figure 8 starting from the waist of the 8, with an outside forward right edge to a 3-turn, to a left backward outside edge, to a step-off forward, and another outside forward right edge to a repeat of the pattern on the left foot, etc. Well, what they gave us looked to involve the dreaded Mohawk, in which your feet operate like one of those balls-in-a-row toys that goes click-click and keeps swinging when started...only a single swing and knock-forward to a foot change, but horrid on my bad right hip. If this was the case, I was suddenly facing not being able to complete the pre-bronze test until and unless Dr. Mike can get that hip to fix itself, because if I step off at that particular angle, the whole leg is just apt to shoot pain like a knife and quit, paralyzed for a second. Again, waa! I was in real despair. And this is not a rumor: this is actually what's been passed by the national board, as the test we have to pass. Well, say I, as we head for the rink, I'm just going to have to do it somehow, if that's really the transition in those moves. So we called Joan asking her to meet us at the rink, and Sharon and Joan and the two of us pored over that diagram trying to figure out what it's asking for. It was a poser for a bit, as Joan skated through it herself several times, and then she began to conclude it's not a Mohawk they want, it's only a stepoff, and the transition in the middle is a front cross, which looks like a quick way to head injury when you look at it. I was still dubious. It goes like this: an inside 3-turn, rotation to a step-off forward, outside 3-turn to a backward inside edge, step to a backward outside edge, and then a forward cross (while going backward, which looks scary, but actually isn't) to a step-off to the side, etc. In short, I could do it---slowly, but on my own, after a few run-throughs, even including the front cross. So I felt better immediately. But the news is that this test has only just now been publicized and takes a year to take effect---so in spite of being able to do it, I'll be tested on the 3's-on-a-line, which I can't currently do, and which I suppose now has to be the area of concentration for the test. I'll learn that; I've nearly got the waltz-8; I can do this new pattern, or will be able to. And then I suppose I have to look not only at the pre-bronze test, but at the bronze test, because I'll probably have elements from it I can pass, too. I suppose it would be possible to pass the pre-bronze and bronze the same test session, theoretically---I wonder what the other elements are, because I'm working on jumps, which are ever so much easier than that pesky Mohawk. Well, certainly a better day than it started.// Then I took the car in to have its oil changed (we drive a Subaru Forester XS, successor to another Forester: we love this car) and our dealer gives it a good go-over at this stage of its life. It turns out to need new tires for the winter and it turns out to have a strut leaking something or another---hydraulic fluid, I suppose---and needing to be replaced. Well, thank goodness for a good extended warranty: that strut and the labor are completely covered, so that's on order; and that item just about paid for the extra warranty. That will get fixed next week, and I've known the tires were likely to need replacing: 45000 miles on dealer's-special tires is about time for that item, so that was in the budget. I'll get all-weather tires for the winter, which will be better than I started with. With a Subaru's standard all-wheel drive and all-weather tires, we'll be in good shape. I've also been looking at the hybrid cars, just out of curiosity, but until the gas mileage on the hybrids increases, it's not really going to be that great an improvement on a Forester, which is an SUV that gets about 26-28 on the highway, and the hybrids claim 40. So I think the hybrids have another improvement or so to make before that becomes totally economical for us---though we're an in-city 18 mpg, and 40 in the city, if they can do that, might be attractive---when Subaru does its own hybrid. They're rumored to be doing that, originally by designing their own power system, probably now by buying the system from Toyota, which many others are also doing. [While I'm waiting on the oil change, I can't help walking around the showroom and just looking, but I still like the car we have. The only thing that could halfway tempt me is one of those Thule luggage storages, but we're still fitting everything (and the cats) into the main compartment with no visual obstruction.] At any rate, we're now up to snuff except the strut and the tires, and that gets done early next week.
Date: 9/16/05. Friday. 18327. Hard to get up this morning. I made it out of bed by 7, brushed Ysabel (she demands that as her right, every morning before I have coffee, and she knows it's a bad day if I'm in too much of a rush to do that), then worked a while, and by 9:30, fell over into bed, as just too limp to move. By 9:50 Jane's calling the up-and-out, because she wants to do some insole cutting out of that sheepskin we keep in the locker, to pad her tennies...because we're not only skating today, we're going rock-clambering. The skate was combined wretched and good: I was quite dizzy, inner ear stuff, and every time I'd turn, the rink would keep spinning a second or two. Not bad enough to interfere, but enough to dissuade me from extended sequences. I practiced the pattern from yesterday, then, because everything you learn reinforces older patterns, I went back to my waltz-figure-eight, and actually got that better than I ever have, solo...taking a Sudafed helped with the ears---I think it's allergy. And I had moved the large potted plants out of my bedroom in the theory that they could be at fault with that. But still a little dizzy and short of breath. This happened to be Laurie's last day at the concession stand: she's been there 12 years, and she's the source of all those good lattes and such. We stopped to give her a card from all of us adults, and invite her to the Friday lunches we have.// Now, I was wearing my snow hikers [Land's End, and insulated] because I can't wear ordinary tennies, and these have enough room on the lower foot---because Sharon's husband Steve had offered to take us rock climbing and rappeling at the local park: the name of the place is Minnehaha Rocks, by the Spokane River dam, an area of spectacular, quartz-heavy granite that was exposed about 13,000 years ago by the Spokane Floods [or Missoula Floods, for those of you from Montana]. Unlike the smooth round granite boulders I grew up with in the Wichitas, these are fissured, diked, and cracked, and have some handholds, which I find interesting: feel around a bit and you can find secure places for your fingers...and while the rest of me is pretty soft from couch-sitting, let me tell you, the fingers are in good form from all the typing, give or take long nails. Well, we learned about carabiners and rappel devices, put on the harness, and went up to a shallow, low slope to do a rappel. The big thing is backing over the edge in the first place, but the essential thing seems to be looking downward to plot your course, then as you start down, planting your feet wide and sitting down [over the edge] into the harness. My first trip down I managed to bring my off-hand too close to the rappelling device and collected a mild pinch, which Sharon and Steve inform me can be quite dangerous: dangling a hundred feet up with a fold of skin jammed immovably into that device would not be a good experience. Our second try was at a 50 foot vertical cliff, and that was a bit more daunting...a little scary on the way down, because I was strength-challenged in trying to do this with one hand, was using two on the rope, and keeping my hand out of the device, but just barely---Steve was calling out corrections, and I was a little dubious I could do it otherwise. But the next time out, Steve told me keep my second hand on the rope leading into the device, and this proved the charm. I could walk down the cliff at a good walking pace with the rope running quite smoothly through my hands, and a feeling of perfect control over the process. It makes a big difference to know that a very good climber [Steve does really big and technical climbs] has set up that rope with redundancy---if one connection to the rock at the top had totally failed, there was a second strong connection to stop any fall, and Sharon was down at the bottom with the bottom end of the rope: if either of us had been fools, gotten confused and let go of the rope, she'd have stopped our drop by yanking on the rope from down there, which would have braked the drop pretty quickly. When you know how this is rigged, and that the rope isn't going to break or come loose above, all you have to do is hold onto the rope that you're paying through the device---well, and keep your feet on the wall you're walking, which is where good cleated soles come into play. Then Sharon and Steve showed us the climb up the same cliff---which we left to them: they're fast and graceful on the vertical ascent of the rock [which the casual eye would think a virtually sheer face of granite, but where they quickly found hand and foot holds], but with muscles already feeling used, [having tired ourselves considerably by bad technique in the first two of our 3 descents] and not knowing what physical strength might be required, we decided we'd leave this to the real climbers this session, though I'm anxious to try it. We'd have thought walking backward off a 50-foot cliff pretty daunting when we started. Now we're willing to do that, no hesitation, and our next step is, I'm told, going down an inward curve, where we have to dangle a bit. And climbing upward; I'm willing to do that on the same cliff, though I'm not sure I'll make it all the way up---I think I can. Jane's still having to protect that knee: neither of us is willing to do anything to cripple ourselves for skating. But this rappelling thing is fun. I recommend it---if you have an instructor like Steve. I came out of it able to get into the harness and actually connect to the rappelling rope myself, but I would not attempt to rig the attachment to the rock yet. You can get people to teach you. You just have to find them. Physical strength is good, but it's like pulleys: if you're rigged properly and have good equipment and good instruction, your greatest effort is about that of hauling a shopping cart over a threshold. Also, if I'd stranded myself halfway, there was already another rope rigged, and Steve could have been down that cliff to help me unstick myself. That makes two connections on the rope attachment, a person below who could brake, and a person above who could reach me if I got jammed 25 feet down. That's four backups between you and Murphy's law, which rarely strikes three times in a chain: there were no fools in our group, and an expert was doing the rigging. I'd do it again.//We all went out to dinner---Sharon, the scoundrel, grabbed the check, when I'd meant to do: we owed that, for the lesson---and we discussed their new computer, and then went home and collapsed early, having had a pretty good workout today.
Date: 9/17/05. Saturday. 18327. I don't know how much writing I'm going to get done today---but I am doing the blog early because there's a topic I want to handle that I've been meaning to do for several days, and I will, below. Housecleaning today, not much writing. I'm not at all sore from yesterday, but I can tell I had a workout. A whole lot of fun. Today, it's a case of trying to deal with accumulated clutter: I've reached the decision that there is absolutely no need to hang all my clothes just because I own them. The seasonal things are going downstairs in storage. The things I actually wear can hang. Perfect sense with limited closets---perfect sense with very large closets. Amazing what you can find that you don't need. And now on to the topic of the day.// Romans. The latest spate of HBO movies and the Empire series and Discovery documentaries---all of which usually require antacids to cope with. Jane asked a question of me which kind of hit home, which is how all these doctors of this and that discipline can get on air and make statements that raise profound objections from me. And this is what I realized. When I was a Latin scholar back in 1962, I did a research project that subsequently got lost---but it was a good one, and if anyone out there wants to duplicate my work and publish, power to you: it needs publication. What I did was this: I read the whole body of Roman literature, including that which resides in Greek, searching up legal cases and laws, even those embedded in fiction or poetry. I'm not kidding: it is a possible task, particularly if you speed-read well: skim in your native tongue [translation] and then zero in on items that need to be read in the original language for the nuance and exact terminology: on that matter, it has to be in the language, because that exact wording is significant. I noted down in each case a) the year, b) the crime or lawsuit or law that was passed c) the outcome: i.e., was it prosecuted, was it ignored, was it settled, or, in the case of a law passed, what was the incident that prompted it, and how was it enforced---in which branch of the legal system was it supposed to be enforced, and what was the access of the average citizen to invoke that law? Was it later modified? Then d) trace the evolution of the Roman legal system, citing which branches of the legal system are active in what kinds of cases, as of what date, and the evolution of legal systems and concepts of civil and military law, with particular landmark cases, and the evolution of individual rights. For instance, the evolution of the status of the Roman emperor is not as a king, but as a commoner given veto power to protect commoner rights against the aristocratic senate; lawyers weren't paid; slaves could own property and had protected rights to buy their freedom; women could own property in their own names and initiate divorce; a foreigner in Rome who became involved in a legal case had the right to have his case judged by the MORE advantageous law, that of Rome or that of his native country; nobody would stop a person who wanted to leave town rather than face a judgement [he just couldn't come back]; and Romans weren't arrested: they were handed a summons for court and expected to show up like gentlemen, so long as their clan would vouch for them. There was no imprisonment for crime. There was penalty, including up to fourfold restoration to the victim. The meaning of 'capital' punishment is not execution: it is loss of 'caput': citizenship; etc., etc. The reason for the creation of the Senate was to mediate the clash of clan interests: that is why it was necessarily an aristocratic body: the heads of clans were the senators. But it was balanced by the election of the tribuni plebis, who were commoners who could veto ['veto'---'I forbid!'] an action of the Senate. They could not enter into the Senate building, but sat at the door and listened, and there was no override of the veto of one of the two. Also, interfering with either of the two on the way to a Senate meeting was a capital offense. And if a person was convicted of, say, murder, and sentenced to be executed, one Vestal [a body of 30 priestesses] could prevent that execution by showing up. A gladiator who got the 'thumb' from everyone in Rome plus the Emperor himself was spared if one of the 30 Vestals said let him live. And human sacrifice was not permitted in civilized times: the priests got out on the Tiber bridge and tossed 9 straw figures into the river every spring, which probably says they originally weren't straw, and that act hearkened back to really ancient, ancient times, but no Roman after 700 BC remembered a time when they weren't straw. There was one incident involving human sacrifice as late as 89 BC, I think it was, but the historian involved was quick to point out that those were country people acting in a lynch mob, and it certainly wasn't anything regulation or condoned by anyone. The writer found it highly unusual and shocking. Gladiators? Well, that was different---but laws operated there, too, it was a profession, of sorts, and not just anybody could end up being a gladiator. Gladiatorial games began because of a religious ceremony among the Etruscans---it was a form of sacrifice, the only sort that did continue (again, it was the Etruscans [a tribe that lived in the area before the Romans, who used to rule the Romans] who had the custom, but the notion was that the winner had the favor and forgiveness of the gods. The Romans never did like the notion of killing helpless people as a punishment for crime, but justified the games as a morality play, sort of like Saturday night wrestling, in which there were good guy gladiators who were cheered and bad guys who were booed, there were reformations of character and dramas, in which finally someone would work his way to redemption and freedom---no, we moderns would never buy into that kind of show, right? The Romans invented the stadium and professional spectator sports, and in their way probably paved the way for reality television, which, pardon me, we will have a hard time explaining to our own descendants, as we watch a chap fall into a fire and get seriously burned while we eat dinner...but, anyway, back to my point. The knowledge I gained from that study of the laws and their observance tells me that not only is current popular thinking about the Romans flawed---scholars and commentary on the air cites as fact, for instance, Petronius' Satiricon, which was outrageous satire; or Martial, which was, again, satire---by the nature of satire there's truth in there, but it's some future archeologist taking the Simpsons as gospel. No more dare you trust any ancient commentary on public life---there's an agenda there, generally mentioning only those things that support the writer's view. The ancient histories tend to be a bit more honest, but not infallibly so---opinion gets into it. If you want the fabric of Roman life, look at the laws. And I wish someone would. Sorry, I can't help you; my professor took paper and notes, and they're were lost for all time. Someone will just have to do it all again, but I think it should be done.
Date: 9/18/05. Sunday 19473. Working while Jane runs some copy functions on the main computer, where the accounts lie. Sigh. It's the only bottleneck in the household, when we both need that computer: I think I might transfer bookkeeping over to the second desktop, if it can talk to a printer. I'll have to see about that, because this is a very frequent problem. Yesterday I went tire-shopping and got 4 new all-weather tires for the Subaru: big difference, immediately. The old ones were worn out.//Another point on the ancient world: I've heard for the umpteenth time how impossible it is to move pyramid blocks. Let me tell you one that, if any of my old students are reading this blog, should jog memories. My classes met that challenge when a drilling pipe supplier gave us a half ton of pipe welded into a pyramid: I had just tossed out the surmise that dust and grass itself can be quite a good lubricant for a skid, and that good old Oklahoma mud [red clay] is slick as glass when wet. We were all going to meet in a vacant lot and pull this creation: some fifty-odd of us. Well, the marching band pulled one on us: they drafted most of our guys for a special practice, which left me about thirty American high school students, most of them female, and a half a ton weight with a couple of big hemp cables to pull with, on a grassy vacant lot. It did start to sprinkle: this was in our favor. But here we are: we try to pull. No joy. The thing wouldn't budge. Wouldn't even quiver. I then suggested they chant and pull in unison. It not only budged, it sped: the commotion started a rabbit from cover, and the pyramid pullers gave chase with the pyramid at a dead run. They ran around the lot, pursued now by a local news crew [two enterprising students, one Isis, one Osiris, had boarded the pyramid, in full Egyptian regalia, and were waving a toy whip about with great verve, to the delight of the camera crew.] Then they ran our pyramid across a ditch, and one corner of our weight went down and jammed into the muddy bank. I came over to inspect, suggested everyone simulaneously do a lifting pull to the side, hard, this time. The hard pull broke the cable. I suggested a less hard pull, once it was reattached, and up our pyramid sailed, out, and over the ditch, and around and around the lot again until everyone was willing to concede we had refuted Chariots of the Gods quite handily. My point: I'm not sure people with pen and paper can tell you how hard 30 people can pull by magnifying the pull of one person times 30. When living effort hits the cable, with the minuscule adjustments 30 pullers apply to the situation, it's just different: there's an intelligent adjustment to the angle and kind of weight going on in the heads of thirty pullers, and until the people who make these pronouncements try that weight with a good lot of athletic lads who know how to pull in unison, I don't think they can adequately say what can and can't move.//A piece of whimsy: I was also struck by someone decrying how they couldn't draw. Let me give you a short how-to: 1) draw an egg, about the size of a real egg. Make it have a larger and smaller end, just like a real egg, small end down. 2) bisect [divide exactly in two] the egg crosswise [left to right] and vertically [up and down] with a light line. 3) on each side of the vertical centerline, divide that crosswise line into 3 equal portions. Call them A, B, and C, then D, E, and F. 3) bisect the bottom half of your egg crosswise yet again. 4) turn your paper sideways, and draw an egg around B and another around E. 5) turn your paper normally again and bisect the bottom of your egg crosswise one more time. 6) draw an upside down egg [large end down] from the first crosswise line to the second crosswise line. By now you should realize that B and E are the eyes, your vertical upside down egg is the nose, and the bisection below that is the mouth. Practice adding eyelids and pupils and refining the nose a bit, add a bottom lip. Voila! Get a carton of eggs and practice drawing faces on them, trying not to make all of them pretty. You may not be Rembrandt at this point, but if you can draw a human face you can figure out other more esoteric things to break down into eggs and circles. Finishing Tips: people's eyes show only the bottom half, not the whole iris, unless startled or angry. 2. drawing the eyebrows tilted up means surprise; in a v downward means anger or concentration 3. drawing a mouth: concentrate on the bottom lip. When the bottom lip's right, the top bow is easy to add. 4. The bottom of the nose is sort of like 3 tiny side by side eggs, a big one in the middle, half hiding [overlapping] two littler ones to the sides. 5. Erase the lines that don't need to be there now. 6. Practice, practice, practice.
Date: 9/19/05. Monday. 19473. Well, a very busy day. Remember the problem we had when our online autopay credit card payment didn't get drafted for, oh, about 4 months, and the credit card people, who had, in sudden indignation, started giving us collections calls, ended up apologizing to us and refunding all our late fees and interest? Well...they fouled up all over again again. Just after our adventure that took us to the administrative levels of the credit card organization, just after all the apologies and refunds from high-ups, the card [who knows? maybe in response to our problems with their system, among others] has now totally revised the way it drafts payments, and has been drafting only the bare minimum for the last 3 months, while we, looking at our bank account, thought we were doing quite well. Now we have a scramble to get funds in there to make one massive payment to clear that card---which necessitated, we thought, a trip downtown to consult with the bank. It turned out we had the funds if we scraped it out of savings, but what a pain! And then we had to go to CompUSA about Jane's Toshi, which has been in the shop for 2 months, while she uses my poor battered Dell---and here we had quite a different story. We had bought one of those service policies on that machine, and after, repeatedly, a very poor performance from the shop they sent it to for service, and after we had done absolutely everything they recommended to get that machine up and running, and to protect data---CompUSA stepped up to the plate and refunded the original purchase price of the machine as a store credit for the purchase of a new computer of our choice, and this only one week from the expiration of the policy, on a three-year-old computer. We were getting quite frustrated, but CompUSA management handed us the full purchase price, no prorating, and Jane gets a shiny new top of the line Toshi, which they are ordering, so she's happy, though facing reloading everything and getting used to a new machine. Skating was rushed---a real belated scramble to get on the ice, and then a need to get home and get documentation on that computer and take it 20 miles back across town to CompUSA to get the paperwork done on the refund, which, let me tell you, we were anxious to have finalized. After that we stopped to have supper at the mall; I finally decided I absolutely had to have another pair of daily wear shoes---the sandals I've been wearing exclusively since spring are putting pressure on the wrong spot on my feet, and may be contributing to a bit of back pain....one thing skating does is muscle-up your feet and change the way you carry your weight, and I think I need something a little flatter. We ate too much, came home and Jane's declaration she was going to take a nap turned into total collapse: I didn't see her for hours. She was pretty tired, and I think way pressured about that credit card and the computer business. But at least she'll have a computer that doesn't lose keys or explode in snaps and pops. And we can pay the card. So all's well with the world. My apologies, by the by, to anyone who's written to me: I have over 200 letters backed up awaiting answer, and that's going to take me a bit. I'm going to start whittling away at the stack, starting with the oldest.
Date: 9/20/05. Tuesday. 19473. Well, another day, another mad scramble...I spent my morning, instead of writing, getting the accounts in order, getting the state tax done and mailed, getting bills paid, including that monster credit card bill, three months' worth at one swipe, and then we had a skating lesson and a party on the agenda. We had to be in two separate places for hair appointments after skating this afternoon, but Jane's car wouldn't start---dead battery---so we both took the faithful Subaru, dived down to the bird store, got the seed I needed, across to the bank, to make the tax deposits, and then on to the rink, where everything was a bit at 6's and 7's. Our normal rink for the season, #2, was a mess; we were directed to rink 1, which had only had a handful of learn-to-skaters just leaving it, but were told if the hockey team showed up for practice, we had to go back to 2, which was by then cleaned up; the team did show, as happened, except that one misdirected hockey player had started in practicing on 2, and the team headed for 1, but by then our new ice was...well, what the big hockey players can do to ice is a bit of a minefield for us, when we're practicing new maneuvers. But we still had a good lesson. I was having trouble hitting the 3-turn in center ice, though I could do it along the wall, not touching the wall, but just crazy that this was happening. Joan took a look at the situation, declared my problem was my back hand, yes, hand!--- which I was flipping. Well, I knew that was wrong, but I was having trouble straightening it out. Turns out the reason it wouldn't straighten was that I was rolling the shoulder over and in, which meant the turn couldn't work. Get the arm back, keep the hand palm down, ram that shoulder way back into perfect posture, and the turn not only works, I get a smooth run-out from it. Hurrah! This solves my waltz-8 problem, so that I can start working on the waltz aspect, the 123, 123 business of rhythm in the shift from one foot to another. Jane had a similar breakthrough: seems her backward problem involves the fact she's one heck of a dancer, and quite limber in the middle: tell her 'lift the hip,' and the hip not only lifts, it rotates back, which is too much balance-shift to the rear. So she's doing exercises to stop that 40-year habit, and is happy as can be: a new computer should be here tomorrow, and she's got her personal key to the backward gear on ice.//After skate, Jane dropped me at my salon and she went on to hers. We got out, respectively beautified, near 5pm, stopped to catch a bite to eat, changed clothes at home, and dived back across town to the Roberts Mansion, a historical house in Spokane, which is also, I understand, a b & b, and quite a showcase of 1889 furnishings. Our friend Laurie is starting a jewelry business and was having a sales party there, so we of course had to support this effort. Sharon showed up. Joan did, along with Sandy and other folk from the rink, and there was champagne and quite a lot of things I shouldn't eat, but did, including one piece of fudge, for which I'm sure I'll pay: I didn't know it was fudge when I took it, and I always feel badly discarding a fancy sweet, so I ate it. Yum! We left before we spent too much money. Now if only the missing car part shows up tomorrow, along with Jane's computer, life will be amazingly organized.//By the way, and on a much grimmer note, with one more hurricane barreling down on populated places, I'd like to pass along a suggestion that was sort of tossed off quietly on CNN: in any evacuation, it might make sense in the case of children too young to remember their family name to write same in ink on the child's hand, just in case there's any accident that separates child from family. Name of parent, social security number, whatever would aid in reunification. It occurs to me that writing owner's id info on, say, the inside of a pet's ear or wherever else there's a spot of thin hair, might be a good step: Ysabel and Efanor carry microchips, which a vet can insert, that enables any vet with a reader to detect them and get our names and addresses. That information should be kept current through moves. An ID bracelet isn't a bad thing, but those can be lost or removed. If you have a medical condition that might render you unable to communicate with a doctor in an emergency, writing that info including name and next-of's and medical allergies on your own arm might be a good thing, if you're in a place where these things might be lost. When composing an emergency kit, the sort of thing to grab going wherever you have to go for safety, don't forget your medical records and photos. Meanwhile we're trying to get organized to go down to Dallas, right into the middle of Rita...we're supposed to leave tomorrow. A hair appointment, and, after a frantic scramble to get home and get into something acceptable, supper at Scotty's, because we're supposed to go to a jewelry party: our friend Laurie is starting a jewelry business, is kicking it off with a party and sales event at a historic B&B in Spokane downtown, right near the old apartment. We were afraid that if we got there hungry, we'd eat far too many bon-bons. Which we did anyway, alas. We're reaching a point where reform is necessary—got to get back on the diets.
Date: 9/21/05. Wednesday. 19473. Good skate. We're packed. We're supposed to be on our way to Dallas, but Hurricane Rita is looking to create problems down there, and we got a cautionary call from Sharon and Steve, saying we'd be crazy to rush down into uncertain weather, uncertain gas supply, and the chance of peripheral tornadoes. More than that, if we get down there and get stuck with no gas, we might also end up taking a hotel room somebody needs more than we do, so, thinking it over, we've resolved to let this situation sort itself out. And my computer just lost this entry, so it had to be retyped. I hate it when the net glitches.
Date: 9/22/05. Thursday. 19589. A little more progress. I've gotten the credit card situation straightened out, gotten to the bank, gotten the bills paid, and sent essential e-mails. Plus we're still watching the weather in Texas; I'm trying to get some work done, but there's something about being packed that just puts everything at sixes and sevens. The cats are looking at the suitcases with real suspicion.
Date: 9/23/05. Friday. 20382. We had a good skate, and checked in with Sharon, who's going to be holding down the fort while we're gone—special introductions to all the potted plants, and the bird feeders. I've got enough seed to hold the little bandits. We're looking at the weather report, meanwhile, and find that the hurricane is due to hit tomorrow. I've checked gasoline availability, and price, in advance. We figure if we can drive further, but skip a hotel night each direction, we'll make up the added gas cost. But we want to get a look at the weather before we do.
Date: 9/24/05 Saturday. We had a nice prep for the trip—actually went skating on weekend public, which is potentially rough, but it was all right. We had last-minute things to buy, but we didn't get the car packed, which we'd intended to do: all the baggage is sitting in the hall, but all the last moment things have to be done, batteries charged, coffeepot washed, etc. Meanwhile the hurricane has hit, and is behaving with more speed than forecast. It doesn't look as if Dallas will be involved in the storms. Mum says even the rain dodged east, and their heat persists. I've proposed we go ahead and go, because in the time it takes us to drive down there (and watching the weather) we should be all right, and the way things are shaping up, we won't risk taking any essential hotel rooms. But we are going to go fast and skip one hotel night, that first easy stage, in which we usually stay at Rocker, near Butte MT. We're heading all the way to Casper. The harder driving will save us enough to make up for whatever gas prices we meet.
Date: 9/25/05. Sunday. 20382. Well, we didn't get away on time: we'd planned to take out way early, like at about 5 AM. It was 8:11 AM before we got everything in the car and got away—but I needed to stop for a latte: I don't drive well without enough coffee, and I'd washed the coffee pot, sans coffee, before leaving. So, coffee'd and supplied, we headed out, not for our usual destination in Butte, MT, but on to Casper all in one day. The weather was good, the new tires were a real pleasure: better traction, better control (Toyo All-weather) and we made good time, but we'd forgotten to reckon with crossing two time-zones. We began to figure that out, too late, that while we were going to get to our hotel in Casper, our favorite restaurant was going to close before we got there. In a burst of ingenuity, Jane ordered takeout to be waiting for us at the bar, laid down a credit card, and that gave us another hour, in which only the bar would be open, but our food would be waiting for us. It was still close, but we arrived in time to sit at a bar table and have barbecue. Then we went to our hotel, checked in, and collapsed.
Date: 9/26/05. Monday. 20382. On the road at a respectable
local 8:04, off to Jilly's Beans for latte, then on down the road to Raton NM,
our day's destination. We're doing all right. All the conditioning for figure
skating is paying off in greater stamina for this long drive. And noon is a good
time to drive through Denver traffic: we blazed through in fine form. Not too
much to say, except the promised rain didn't happen, and we found our motel in
Raton just fine, though the young manager was on the verge of quitting, and
things were a little crazy. I also, on a quest for a restaurant open tonight,
[everything seems to close on this day in Raton] located a restaurant that I've
been trying to find again for thirty years—the last time I was here, I was
traveling solo, and followed a truck to a neighborhood opposite a school, and
the best Mexican food I'd ever had—no one in the place spoke English at all,
which can be a good sign. It was closed, curse the luck, but should be open when
we come back. I really look forward to that.
Date: 9/27/05. Tuesday. 20382. This time we actually took to the road 7-ish local time, and headed for Dallas and down into the heat. It's a long haul, down roads that have actually gotten much better during the years we've been doing this, but it's still a hard drive, and we're now in the land where we have allergies. We keep the car windows shut—not least because of the heat, which in Dallas, is about 100 F, a cruel shock, when temperatures in Spokane are about 60 F. I tell you, it's like opening the door into a blast furnace. We've not been sleeping well, because the airconditioning just isn't handling the night time temperatures. The cats have both managed to be carsick, each, for the first time ever. We hope this is not an omen. We managed to miss our turnout for our usual hamburger joint on the way through Wichita Falls, and decided to treat ourselves to a de-buzz and sit-down at a fancy restaurant before heading on to visit Mum and my brother, who had already eaten. We arrived late, but at least human, and settled in, had a nice visit, and headed to bed, exhausted.
Date: 9/28/05. Wednesday. 20382. I'd like to get some work done, but I had to get up early to get Mum to a scheduled doctor's visit, which turned out to take a couple of hours. We did go skating, at the Plano TX rink, which proved a long car ride is no good for balance...I was pretty rocky. We both were. My brother's still at the office, as they're on the tail end of a project, and so we just hung about the kitchen and living room when we got back and chatted with Mum, except a little shopping trip. Dinner out—David was able to join us late, out of Dallas traffic.
Date: 9/29/05. Thursday. 20382. The weather is cooler today. Still no chance to work, and not much chance to sleep late: another skate in Plano, and the ice was brittle. I managed to take a fall—caught the inside gliding foot while I was doing a forward crossover, and hit, splat! Knocked a 4-inch divot out of the ice with my toepick. I think I hit a pit or deep grove in the ice and dropped a toepick into it, just a little injudicious rocking forward, a bad habit of mine on the crossover: that'll teach me. I'm fine, however. Another dinner out. I figure to give Mum a holiday from cooking, but it's certainly not helping our diet.
Date: 9/30/05. Friday. 20382. Still no work done...and I was completely worthless on the ice, precisely, of course, when Mum, at some discomfort for her, had come to rinkside to watch. Lucky I didn't break my neck, I was so bad, and I was outright embarrassed. But David's office, affiliated with Microsoft, is throwing a huge launch party for the new game tonight, and at some little trouble to him, we have invites. We scrounged up some clothes—we hadn't come prepared to be elegant. I decided a black long-sleeve tee combined with a really posh scarf could cover any sin, so that, with olive green cord jeans, was my outfit. I borrowed black shoes from Jane---still informal, but then this is a computer operation, so dress will vary considerably. And it was quite a show, I can say. Room after room of elaborate piratical and 1800's military sets, wandering players, free food and drinks in every nook and cranny, the new game to view, music, and even a carnival pirate ship ride.
Date: 10/01/05. Saturday. 20382. Well, everyone got home safely from last night, and we had to take off at the crack of dawn—I didn't wake David, but we had a short breakfast with Mum, and we hit the road at 8-something. The clear skies that had seen us into Texas and through the last several days had deserted us: it was ozone, bad ozone, a milky haze over everything, and a real struggle to keep the head clear. We traded reading and driving to be sure the driver was alert. Even the cats were surly. We made our usual stop at the Whataburger in Wichita Falls, and that place was in meltdown: some alarm was going off, the restroom was malfunctioning, the floor was slick with grease, they were trying to mop and left the handle in the path of the entering public, right in the doorway, the person trying to take orders was on her first day and couldn't get anything straight, the buns weren't toasted, the meat was cold, the cheese was unmelted, and it was, in short, disgusting, when it's ordinarily one of the best burgers in the USA. We rolled onward, and, struggling to stay awake in the bad air, reached Raton, where we looked forward to that restaurant I'd looked for so long. It was still shut. We'd found that the owner's brother owned another restaurant in town, and a trip there turned up the worst Mexican food I've ever had, anywhere. If I didn't know it had come straight from a can I'd have been scared to eat it. We got a bottle of wine at a supermarket and tried to recover our nerves. The airconditioning wasn't working well in the hotel, and the room had been sprayed with something we're allergic to. We're running the air filter we pack, but it isn't helping.
Date: 10/2/05. Sunday. 20382. On the road at 7:10, and we've now struck Raton from our list of places to stay. It was excruciating. We gave a more favorable look at Trinidad CO, as we passed. Trinidad might be more pleasant in a hotel on the hill, just as you come in from the south, where the wind is going to be clearer and more free of allergens. We again made it through Denver traffic with no trouble, and this time reached Casper WY with enough time to have a decent sit-down dinner at our favorite barbecue restaurant, which is no longer named Banjo Bob's, but is the Sideline Sports Bar. Same wonderful barbecue. We walked back to the hotel, decided to turn in and get an early start in the morning. But then the night turned strange. The airconditioning wasn't adequate here, either, on this cusp of the hot and the cold seasons, so we opened the window wide. Efanor leapt onto the sill to look out, and saw something outside that spooked him badly. Ysabel jumped up to the sill, I think, to help him, or to see what had just bottle-brushed his tail...and he turned in a panic. What Efanor and Jane and I all saw was a lynx-like streak leaping into our room from the darkness of the window: we all thought a stray cat had somehow gotten through the screen, and what really counted was that Efanor also saw it that way, and attacked said cat—which was, in fact Ysabel, who was completely shocked and angry. It was an amazing optical illusion due to the dark and the car lights outside, and Ysabel was absolutely outraged to be violently attacked by her housemate. We got them separated, put him in his cage for his own security, and kept them apart for a half hour; but Ysabel still wasn't ready to forget the incident: she pasted him one, or was trying to, as he put his nose out of his cage, and he couldn't figure what he'd done wrong. Hadn't he rescued Ysabel from the intruder? Wasn't he a hero? We nabbed our respective cats and stopped another fracas.
Date: 10/3/05. Monday. 20382. We kept the cats, though both loose, separated all night, Efanor sleeping on Jane's bed, Ysabel in mine, and no-cat's-land in between—which meant waking up constantly to be sure they didn't mix it in round 3. But by morning the cats were both sane again, like two miscreants trying to remember what they did on that bender last night, not quite making the connections, and still puzzled. We were exhausted. We took to the road early—peace and tranquility in the car, give or take a deep wound on my arm during the night—Ysabel had wanted to sleep under the covers in case of sneak attack, and she was jumpy: a noise, and she ripped my arm a good one. Now they were good friends again. We began to meet weather on the drive, but only rain, a lot of rain at first, and beautiful cloud: you're driving on a plateau that has you right up under the clouds, while the morning sunlight lights the rolling hills underneath. Then by Billings, and especially toward Bozeman MT, we had snow: snowy trees on either hand in the pass, and an absolutely lovely landscape of roiling clouds and mountains around us. We just refueled, thankful for the new non-slip tires, and kept going, but the allergy that had hit us in Raton was taking its toll, and we by now were stopping for any carbohydrate hit we could get to stay alert. We began to be quite miserable, my back began to seize up, Jane had a sore throat from that stuff we now are absolutely convinced was a glycol disinfectant illegally used at the hotel in Raton, and I had an intermittent cough. Misery. But getting back away from the sagebrush (which we blame for some of the haze in Texas) and into the high cold piney woods, we began to feel better and more alert, and while we kept trading off drivers every hour in the early part of the day, by the time we hit Idaho, we were both clear-headed and beginning to lose some of the flu-like discomfort, no longer needing the carbs to stay awake. We came into Spokane in a light rain, in time to find Sharon had not only house-sat for us, but put the place in order (and left us a Texas gunslinger cutout to confront us as we came in!) And she came over to share a glass of wine and catch up on the gossip. A delightful welcome home. The only downside was finding a bombshell of an e-mail among the several hundred waiting for me. That has to be handled tomorrow.
Date: 10/04/05. Tuesday. 20382. I had some fires to put out early this morning, e-mails had to handled, and the crisis is handled. I hear Billings is now snowed in and roads are shut, which indicates we were very lucky on the weather. We went to the rink, but my back had totally seized up from the drive, almost locked while I was getting out of bed this morning, and I couldn't skate, no way. I just went over to the store across the street and got groceries, a bunch of Bengay pain patches, and a pair of pants to replace the ones I ripped on the road...plus a denim coat to replace the one I left with Mum, and then, well a couple of other items. I was bad. I spent the rest of the day in bed with Bengay patches and ice, and the back is a little better this evening, but Jane called Dr. Mike's office and made an appointment for tomorrow: both of us are feeling it—we think the combination of bad air in Texas, the glycol exposure in New Mexico, and the long drive all set us up for problems due to sitting still for 3 successive 12 hour drives. Whatever the cause, we conclude we need help.
Date: 10/05/05. Wednesday. 20382. We got up early and took off for Pullman and Dr. Mike's...about time: my back hurt so much last night I could hardly get to sleep. He straightened us both out, and since we've both put on weight during the Dallas trip, we skipped our usual hamburger and malt at Cougar Country, as we skipped our respective lattes and chai on the way down: we just blazed a trail homeward—back to the rink, actually, and after the record-rotten skate I had in Plano on Friday, and the fall the day before that, I was able to get my feet on ice the texture and speed of which I know intimately. It helped. I was able to get back to work on my turns, and if not get back where I was before I left, at least to make a good downpayment on that situation. After, I returned one blouse size M and got the size L [Gloria Vanderbilt runs a bit small on blouses, at least for me]—and then I'd done a little internet research on mattresses yesterday evening. I've spent the last two years on a sagging futon and then, an improvement, an air mattress, but since most of my back problems disappeared on real mattresses during the trip down [before they manifested bigtime on the way back] I decided to go get a good basic mattress—the fall royalty checks have come in. Best prices were at Sears, and I picked out one that made my sore back feel good—a real good time to go mattress-shopping, when your back is sensitive. So I'll have that in about 10 days, and I'm looking forward to it. Beyond that, we came home, we resumed our strict diet, and I'm hoping to get this weight I picked up during the trip back off in a hurry.
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