Date: 10/06/05. Thursday. 20382. So many things to catch up on. I'm trying to get back to my work, but emergencies keep happening. And we're still suffering from that glycol encounter: that stuff gets absorbed into bodily tissues, I swear, because I'm still coughing and still have a gut ache. Jane's no better. On-ice, it went a bit better. Joan worked mostly with Jane today, who's close to nailing the backwards moves, and who needed extra time, but I did get a few minutes, reminded Joan that, no, I've still never taken the inside-3 'off the wall'---that's the inside-edge version of the 3-turn: it's a spooky one, because it's so easy to over-rotate and spill yourself onto your backside on the ice. So she gave me some pointers to stop that over-rotation: position, position, position. I could do that to 'Fiddler on the Roof.' Anyway, we're still trying to drop the weight: I'm succeeding: Jane isn't. This is tragic.

Date: 10/7/05. Friday. 20783. Hurrah. A little chance to work and get back with my outline. Things are going very well, in spite of continuing symptoms---had a fairly decent skate, all told, and ducked off with Sharon for a lunch at Tomato Street: we invited her over to the house, and sat and watched an anime, and were going to have dinner, but Sharon had to get home to do some work.

Date: 10/8/05. Saturday. 21288. Still making progress, and worked hard---every time you leave your work for a few days, it's a real bear to get re-settled. Writing isn't something you can just dive into occasionally and flip through and go with: I'm really good at recovering my place after an interruption---my early writing career was fraught with hospital stints for gravely ill parents, public school teaching and other jolts to the system, and I learned if I was going to survive on my advances, I had to learn to absolutely clear my mind of everything that was going on around me and about me and just recollect where I was, piece by piece, and moment by moment. I learned to set mental markers for where I'd been and what came next, and that stood me in very good stead when I started onto the convention circuit. But as good as I am, I still have to decompress for a few days after getting back off the road, and road travel is less disruptive than air travel, because at least there's a sense of continuity of time and place. Conventions, family visits, even a vacation (vacation? What's that?) is prone to wipe everything I was doing. I never outlined: I learned to do so in self defense, because there are too many things about this business that will totally screw up your memory of where you were. But even that can't replace the creative energy that drains out of you in a crisis, and any disruption, be it a convention or another kind of trip, means about four or five days spent recovering your place. You can batter yourself at the situation or you can relax, water the plants, take care of what piled up while you were gone, and still---four or five days later, the ideas will start to flow again. The depth of concentration this art takes is pretty well manic: I recall when Lynn Abbey was sharing our digs, and we set off a fire alarm by accident---yellow-slickered firemen in full kit were running down our home hallway past Lynn's open door: she was plugging away at her computer, and only eventually did she turn around to give them a glance and ask us, as we appeared to apologize, if there was a problem. No, we said, and she went back to work. That's the kind of concentration I'm talking about. When it's disrupted, it's like losing a piece of your body. //And I went out to do a bit more work on Jane's birthday present. She never reads this blog: I could probably say what it was herein, but I won't take the chance. Just about the time she establishes a pattern she violates it, so I intend to keep the surprise surprising. Suffice it to say I'm pretty smug.// I cooked dinner in the theory Sharon was coming over, but she was a bit under the weather---and dinner kind of went south, as cooking can, too, when I'm just in off the road, so she was smart to duck it. I'll try to do better tomorrow. We were going to do the accounting, but Jane's recovering her concentration, too, and I won't distract her with the bank accounts.

Date: 10/9/05. Sunday. 21831. Some days you just have to make an early entry: the bed exploded. Remember I'd just bought a mattress, which isn't delivered yet, and the Aerobed just deflated on me last night: I'd thought it was low because of the trip, and disuse. I added air. At 2 am it flattened, dumping me and Ysabel onto the platform of the platform bed. I reinflated it. By 6 am, it had flattened again, and I clambered out of bed disgusted. I first blamed Ysabel's claws, which are epic, but I'm not so sure now. The hole, which we found not where I thought it would be---at the edge, where Ysa-kitty might have clawed it getting into bed---but dead center, on a forming-seam that makes part of the tufting, in a spot deeply protected by a synthetic-feather-topper---inclines me to believe the bed is flawed, though I've used it for two years. Miraculously, we found a patch kit {Jane offered hers}, and I have accordingly patched it. We'll see how well this works, or if I have to spend another night on a rumpled pile of bedding and plastic on a hard board surface.//Outside of that, I've gotten some work done, attacked the accounts, paid the annual medical insurance, and think I'm going to sit down and play Solitaire for an hour. I deserve it after last night.//Sharon came over---she never had seen Harry Potter, so we remedied that.

Date: 10/10/05. Monday. Columbus Day: felicitations to my Italian-American readers. Re the native American protests of same---I think it's high time we had a major holiday that honors native Americans---a day to respect and appreciate these diverse and complex cultures, to hear their languages, their philosophies, and their histories, which are ongoing and important to collective human wisdom. I think I ought to write a congressman or two.//Manuscript? 22733. And the bed held up. Mail and all was shut down, but we weren't, of course. Really back in the swing on the Cyteen project, and going great guns. We skated---and I made some good progress. The back outside edge to a forward inside stepoff has sort of eluded me: it's a very basic move, but it requires really committing to that outside back edge, sort of like balancing on a cliff and being very accurate---but with Joan's minimal help, I actually did it in balance and found out what 'right' feels like: that's the biggest deal in any undertaking, be it writing or skating or hitting a baseball. Once that template of 'feels right,' or 'looks right' gets into the brain, then you can get back to that point. I'm anxious to practice again.

Date: 10/11/05. Tuesday. 23332 to 2938. Well, never get too smug in progress. I had a very positive phone call from my publisher, who, yes, quite reasonably, wants Cyteen, but wants the third Foreigner book before year's end. I don't know if I can do that, but thank goodness for outlines! I can set aside the 23332 words of the outline for the Cyteen project [also for DAW] and scrape together my notes for the 9th Foreigner book. Hence the big switchover. I went off to skate and didn't get the concentration I needed. I didn't fall, but it wasn't utterly good, either. Sharon's been under the weather, I'm still coughing, and while the air mattress is still holding, it keeps over-expanding and throwing its sheets and mattress-cover off. I have the vision of the thing blowing up like a round ball and then deflating in a puddle.

Date: 10/12/05. Wednesday. 9035. Scraped together more bits and notes, which is why the Foreigner 9 outline is going so fast. But it's feeling good: you just have to have a good attitude on these things, and I plan to enjoy this book: THEN I'll get back on the Cyteen book, which is well-outlined, and those readers waiting for it won't have too much longer a wait---sorry, sorry, sorry! I pedal as fast as I can. Meanwhile I had to call back to Dallas several times today: my brother David had surgery on his sinuses, and I wanted to be sure he's ok. He is. Uncomfortable, but perfectly ok. [If you have his number and have to communicate with him, cards would be nice: his phone is ringing off the wall, and he really shouldn't talk much for the next few days.] Meanwhile, more so-so skating: I'm doing a backward spiral exit from the waltz jump, and leaned too far forward, thus proving I can indeed put palms down on the ice, which equals doing the same on carpet plus 3 inches depth [height of the skates]. Shall we say, these joints haven't stretched that far in 20 years, or possibly ever? I don't think I could have done than bend when I was 10. Ice, ice, ice: remedy for overextension, not sports location. Caught the baseball game 2 between the White Sox and Angels: that was amazing, to say the least. Jane, who really knows the rules, is more definite than I am on the question, but it sure looked confusing to me.

Date: 10/13/05. Thursday. 10938. A bit of work: still pulling bits and pieces into the outline. And thinking. Any of you who happen to recall the names and duties of staff at Malguri could certainly save me some double-checking. How's that for a hint of what's going on? Meanwhile, a little scrap of a lesson on the ice, and I'm making progress, but not as fast as I'd like. And the bed continues to disintegrate, which isn't helping my sleep. Looking forward to Saturday. Mt. St. Helens is acting up a bit: the earthquakes look like a sine wave pattern, at least in magnitude and frequency, like the thing is breathing. Nothing threatening thus far, but if I were camping near there, I'd sure keep an ear to the radio and the USGS.

Date: 10/14/05. Friday. 10938. Friday. 10938. I didn't get a thing done: Sharon dropped in---she'd just had dental work done, and was in the neighborhood, so we drove to the rink more or less together. And Joan found 15 minutes for a lesson for me, after I was already so tired I couldn't think straight: I'm always joking with her, because I have a basic left-right confusion, from childhood, but today I was really bad, and Joan decided to launch into me about posture, which I think has improved to the point where she is dissatisfied with the remnant of my bad habits. No old-ladyish bending forward: I'm to have the backline of an Olympian, thank you, or die trying: Joan taught Olympians, and I'm now in her crosshairs for good and all until I mend my carriage and posture. No flipping of the trailing hand during maneuvers. I'm going to try wearing my half-pipe hand braces to stop that trick, and I'm going to order an upper-back brace and do my work with a child's ball between my back and the back cushion: that will get the shoulders working. And it's all to the good: I'll be much better on the ice when I'm standing properly. Had lunch at Tomato Street, and then went down and gathered up some spare memory for Jane's computer, and a copy of DungeonSeige II, which I had seen played, and which looked great. It black-screened on Jane's Qosmio, and my high-end Latitude. We're just so pleased. I tend to think it's hardware acceleration at fault, but a game that black-screens two different  new computers is not on my good list at the moment. Not only that, it left artifacts on my machine, and probably on Jane's. It messed with my display size parameters. I'm going to reinstall it and try the hardware accel slider, but if that doesn't fix it, it's going back. Suggestions are welcome. I'm not anxious to start playing with video drivers for a brand new computer: the last time I ran into this, it wanted to use a more primitive driver, not a more modern one, and I wasn't happy with that either.

Date: 10/15/05. Saturday. 14584. Up and at 'em, and trying to get the accounts straightened out---and lots of mail from people upset about the change of novels I'm working on. Have patience, have patience: this is going along very quickly, and I hope to keep everyone happy---there's an outside chance I can be finished by Christmas: I don't put absolute faith in it, because nothing ever goes that smoothly, but I hope so, anyway, and know I'll at least be well along by then, and I have no conventions to go to, which are a real detour off schedules. I'm hoping to get some sleep now---the mattress came. Of course one of the lads downstairs decided to move today, and parked a U-Haul right at the entry to the building, so I watched my delivery truck cruise the outer road back and forth in confusion for some few minutes before I got the expected phone call: it is a bit of a rabbit warren here, and no, there's no back way in. The truckers were quite happy to learn all they had to do was dump it at my third floor door: there's no mattress to take downstairs. Jane and I wrestled it down the hall. And it's very nice. A Serta PosturePedic Emerald II, which is just about what I need. And Jane is looking at it and considering what she wants to do about her mattress. I think the fact I'm working on posture has made me much more conscious what abuse I was taking from my sleeping habits. And I'm straighter and more muscled than I used to be. I did miss the Spokane River Cleanup day: the mattress arrived right when we should have been helping Sharon and the eco-clubs clean up the river recreation areas, and I would love to take home the prize for weirdest thing found (last year went to a giant Barney plush doll, while I thought Jane's leather bank deposit bag was pretty good) but alas, we were providentially detained, and I have a mattress! I'm cooking spareribs for dinner and the penalty is having to smell them baking from 10am on. But if they turn out like the last, I'll be happy. Consult The Science Fiction Diet for the recipe. Even someone who's never cooked at all can do this one.

Date: 10/16/05. Sunday. 16785. Well, Ysabel was a bit suspicious of the new mattress, but we both slept better---like hours and hours without waking up. My lower back feels great. The upper back---well, I pulled a kink in my left shoulder, which is gradually working itself out: I think maybe getting the lower back straight threw it off. Sigh. Penalties of age, I suppose. I also ordered a shoulder brace yesterday, one of those whole-upper-back affairs that may help get the roundness out of the shoulders for skating. Also I'm used to sleeping on cold air in that Aerobed mattress, and Jane, who was last up, didn't crack the patio door, so the place was warmer than usual: I'd have liked just a bit more chill, thank you, considering I have two comforters on. But over all, the new mattress is a success. It's great to be able to move without bouncing Ysabel and waking her up---a sleepy and irritated cat is not a pleasant companion.//And thank you all for the suggestions---a combination of maneuvers has fixed the game. 1) backing off the hardware acceleration slider, via Control Panel. 2) downloading the patch from the game site, 3) turning off Norton Internet Protection for the duration of game play. The last seemed to do the trick: the game simply will not run with Norton up. I plan to advance the slider again, and see if I can get away with that. Norton is a wonderful software, but sometimes it protects us too much, and it is like an octopus, with tentacles into everything. And what did I do with my day, but play games. I figure I'm due a day of that. We were very bad: we went off to The Mustard Seed, a really nice local chain of Chinese restaurants [hint: they will do filet into a stir-fry] and shared 3 entrees and a vegetable---but being Atkins, we ration the rice to a spoonful or so.

Date: 10/17/05. Monday. 5653. Stupid, stupid, stupid: I was really quite amazed myself at how very fast this was all going...I know that I'm capable of it: I wrote Cuckoo's Egg in two weeks from start to first draft, but that was after being bitten by a Brown Recluse spider and being hyped on the Medrol they gave me to counter the venom: I didn't sleep more than an hour at a time for those two weeks, and didn't leave the house or turn on the telly. 16000 words? Was I dreaming? Or shall I just say I mistook the character count for the word count? It says something about my addled state of mind after the switch in books: it's been one of those sets of days in which, when I've misplaced my coffee cup, I look in the refrigerator just in case... But, since I had the intelligence to realize that, I may assume I now have my wits about me, and I am quite content that, while it's going well, it's going at a human pace. Outside of that embarrassment, a really productive day---in spite of the video game. Worse, we discovered that we can both install the game, and as long as we have the disk in at start, we can remove it and the other person can start up. This is fair. If, say, Bill Gates...can lend one of my books to a family member to read without having to buy a second copy of the novel, we should be able to lend a disk within the household. On the other hand, it means Jane, who is devotedly learning Japanese---she always wanted a second language, and has discovered she loves Japanese popular music---has acquired another time sink. But it's a good game, with a good story in it...Dungeon Seige II. Skating went really well---one of those days when the ice was great and the boots were laced just right. I'm going all the way around the bottom O on the Waltz 8, sometimes the full 8, and I'm beginning to feel the rhythm in it; my crossover was working, which felt great: I'm getting contact with my edges and control of my speed---that's a maneuver in which you can gain far more speed than you know what to do with, at my stage, and learning to control speed is a good thing. We had a fairly rara avis show up, in that vein: a speed skater---older fellow, with absolutely beautiful form, and knowing as little as I do, I'd about bet he's competed seriously at some point in his life. He's a real joy to watch---gains great speed with the most graceful economy of motion: he was asking about our rink size and we had to say, alas, we're a few feet short of regulation hockey size on rink 2. Rink 1 is the larger of the two, but public skate doesn't use it during the winter. He has to come quite a way: from Coeur d'Alene ID---but I hope he does come in on occasion. With myself, I'm sure that Joan's advice about my shoulders was the key to a really good session: I'm consciously trying to get the shoulder girdle braced back and down, sort of like trying to extend imaginary wings, and get a curve in the back. That means overcoming the 'turtle' effect older folk get from too much sitting at keyboards, and that's a big one: completely realigning the way the neck meets the shoulders. I don't know of any other sport that makes you---not gently suggests---makes you evaluate how you stand and then goes on to correct that stance: this is a good example. If the shoulder girdle is correctly aligned, there are some one-footed turns you can make---and not otherwise. Not to mention coming down gracefully in a jump, etc. When I started this, I was in the X-sizes, and now I'm routinely a 14 and an M, aggressively headed for a 12, [due to my height, S will never be an option] and a major part of it is just straightening the back and getting muscles tuned to scarf up the fat that had gathered ---ahem---about the waist. I didn't pay a penalty for the Mustard Seed event: I should have, but didn't. Can't get away with that twice. Sharon came over. We watched Shall We Dance? and Strictly Ballroom, which are fun movies; and we borrowed jumper cables. If we don't get Jane's car going, she'll have to miss skating tomorrow, because I have a dental appointment. I have a bridge that's coming loose, and that has to get fixed---I sure don't want to have it go next week, when we're celebrating Jane's birthday.

Date: 10/18/05 Tuesday. 5656. One of those days. We're trying to get Jane's car going. Her door lock turns out to be broken. I did however have a really good skate: I'm really working on back posture and I've taken to using the halfpipe wrist guards, which remind me to keep my elbows straight and not to let my wrist turn. This is a major point, in doing turns and backward edges. We had lunch, then took out to do a little necessary shopping, so we have something to eat in the house. And Jane took to the highway, running to Coeur d'Alene and back to charge up the battery. She has gotten it to start on its own, which is hopeful for the battery. I took the chance to do a little last moment birthday preparation while Jane was out. She doesn't regularly read the blog, so I'm free to say that.

Date: 10/19/05. Wednesday. 5656. Jane went out to start her car---having to get to the rink, while I, alas, had to get to the dentist. She'd had an iffy lock yesterday: we wondered if weather could have cracked it. Wrong. She'd left the other door open so she wouldn't get locked out of her car, and the broken lock was no fluke: the thief came back and made off with her cd player-face, from the car, and her cd's, which are mostly new age and Japanese, not the sort of thing the average thief would enjoy. There was absolutely nothing else in the car. So Jane went off to the rink, and I went to the dentist to have that crown reseated. And I had the dental visit from hell. The dental assistant is a new one---new to me, at least; and she was still learning where things were, and she couldn't remember to keep suction going while she was trying to find things on the counter: that was the first problem. The worst: apparently the new dental painkiller incorporates epinephrine in the mix, probably as an accelerant. I can't take that drug: it sends me higher than a kite, and is actually dangerous to me. They didn't tell me, and when the painkiller began to take effect, I was experiencing a racing heartbeat, dizziness, and was shaking uncontrollably. I couldn't even hold my jaw steady: it took me, the assistant, and sometimes the dentist, to keep the jaw from tremor while they were working. It took an hour and a half to glue a bridge back in. I was shaking, on an emotional edge, and had bloody spots in my mouth from misplaced suction and jabs of the instruments. We now have that drug on my chart as a 'don't-do', and I didn't end up in the emergency room, though at one point I was considering aborting the appointment---after the bridge was removed, however, I no longer had that option; and more annoying, the personnel there still didn't seem to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. But by an hour and a half, I was down to hand-tremors, and I was able to drive. I still got home before Jane did: she'd been shopping. I'd dutifully put on dinner, but I couldn't eat it, nor had much appetite, and my mouth was swollen and full of sores. I was wretched all evening, still with tremor at bedtime.

Date: 10/20/05. Thursday. 5656. Again, no chance to get any work done: we had to get Jane's car to the mechanic before we skated, and I still had the tremor in my muscles when I took the ice---my knees were shaking, my hands were shaking, and I chilled badly. I managed to take my lesson, and got some good things accomplished with the back edges, but by the time we got off the ice, I announced I wasn't cooking, couldn't face food, except maybe pub food, and for some reason when I thought of the Irish pub we'd tried to go to, that was closed for a party, I thought of corned beef and cabbage, and that for some reason was the only thing in the universe that appealed to me. I was cold, and wretched. We went off to shop for stereo and car alarm, and then to the pub, O'Dougherty's, which turned out to be a find, and there was indeed corned beef and cabbage. It did hit the spot, and I finally got warm, but I still wasn't worth much for the rest of the evening. I'm really having second thoughts about that dental appointment I set up for next month.

Date: 10/21/05. Friday. 5039. Erased a duplication. When I'm moving scenes around, that sometimes happens. Progress is happening. I erased a lot. We went to the rink: I had another lesson: I'm wearing a slight back/shoulder brace I picked up, and it does help. That won't be permanent, just until I get my feet under me, and believe me, when you're doing backward edges, posture is so important. And I am beginning to get the backward insides to behave, at least on the left foot. //We had another scramble with Jane's car, this time picking it up and getting it to the alarm/stereo dealer so we could get that all put in. So Jane's car is now alarmed, and glows in the dark---glows so that she feared she'd left a light on that might run the battery down, but it's just a very bright LED. Which, pardon me, is a whole lot better than the sort that beeps and annoys the whole neighborhood. Meanwhile I've been following the news, and getting rather incensed: California has a 16-year-old murderer and a mother throwing her children into the ocean. What's wrong with this picture? We so value parental rights that we won't remove children from the care of a mother who's letting the voices in her head tell her what to do, and now pundits on the evening news wish they had the death penalty available for a 16-year old who at 13 lost a sister in an accident and has been on a destructive spiral ever since? Nobody wanted to mandate the kid get meaningful help before he snapped and murdered an innocent woman. The mother in the other case was apparently taken off her antipsychotics and sent home with kids in her care and voices in her head. The condition of mental health care in this country is abysmal. Yes, some patients need to be examined, even hospitalized against their will long term until they're safe to be in charge of themselves, let alone others. The US Constitution was never meant to prevent a person from getting medical care they aren't able (due to their illness) to know they need, and if you can't cure the problem, don't tell me it's a person's right to have more kids, or to get out and disappear onto the streets to self-medicate with alcohol and die in some alley some cold night. Talk about following a principle over a cliff---the Constitution should apply only to adults in full possession of their faculties. The Constitution and governing laws should indeed limit and regulate the appropriate behavior of persons [like mental health caregivers] acting in custodial capacity, and come down with full force on anyone abusing custodial responsibilities. Likewise civil liberties should not be used to turn the ill and mentally helpless out onto the streets to be a danger to themselves and others, and 'others' should definitely include their own children, present and future.

Date: 10/22/05. Saturday. 5778. Thank you all who answered my question about Malguri staff. A good number of my books are in storage, or at best highly disorganized, and it's very good of my readers to do that favor for me, or I'd be hunting through boxes instead of writing. I'm making progress, and meanwhile trying to clean up for Jane's birthday party Monday. I swear, stuff sits in the closets and multiplies, and trying to pack things into containers where you can still see what's in there is time-consuming and 'spensive: then those have to be ported down to storage, and put where they can be's like fixing fence on some giant ranch: you get through and the part you started with needs fixing, and on it goes. We decided to get to the rink this evening, with Sharon: evening skates can be pretty chaotic, but it was better, and I'm better: now the hockey wannabees have to judge I can make sudden reversals and don't tootle round and round, so they do a better job staying out of my way. The real hockey players are in control of their stops and I don't worry about them: it's probably good practice for them to stay out of our way. But the ice still gets chewed to snow, which is really bad for us to skate on. We dropped by Tomato Street after, and then went home to collapse.

Date: 10/23/05. Sunday. 5882. Erasing and going forward. I'm still cleaning, and I had to go buy food for tomorrow's supper/birthday party. I'm keeping Jane pretty well on her diet, so birthday 'cake' consists of fresh strawberries and whipped cream, only mildly sinful, and better if I could have found blueberries, but not in this season. Work, work, work, and still trying to get the place tidied up: the new mattress of my bed and the new coverlet on Jane's produced more fluffy stacks of not-used-now linens, and finding a place to put them where they're safe is a pain. I'd like to keep using the pillow-topper, but the sheets aren't deep pocketed enough. The pillow-topper may end up in a duvet cover. Watching hurricane Wilma barrel down on Florida, and called Lynn to ask about the recipe for what Jane would like for her birthday dinner: she doesn't have it either, so I'll punt. Lynn says they expect to lose power. I hope she doesn't get a foot of rain on her roof.

Date: 10/24/05. Monday. 6237. I'm working on an atevi account of numbers 1-15. Amazing how many details never get included. But I should perhaps include it in an appendix.//But most of all, today is Jane's birthday, and we are so happy that the folk of website Shejidan got together to send her cards---delightful, delightful. I so enjoyed mine on my birthday, and she was so surprised and pleased. Thank you all. She received a book explaining Japanese kanji, a box with a tile top with her Stephen and Wesley illustration, which Sharon had had done---when I walked into her room this morning, I found she had slept with both book and box. And she got a contribution toward a saltwater aquarium: we have so missed our massive aquariums---and what I predicted has come to pass: coral culture no longer relies on destructively collected specimens. People learned enough to get even stony corals spawning and growing rapidly in aquaria, and hobbyists sell and trade 'frags,' or small snips off their growing specimens. It's my hope that in a period when wild reefs are endangered from various perils, including war and warming, hobbyists and major aquariums may help save and reintroduce threatened species, returning them to the wild---unlike mammals, corals once 'released' can pretty well fend for themselves, if they're in a good habitat. Around Florida, for instance, people are rebuilding reefs, and may their tribe increase throughout the world. Healthy reefs, healthy fish, healthy oceans, healthy planet. It's all connected. Our previous reef aquarium, even primitive as it was, had some successes: a leather coral which we propagated to another tank, coral that spawned, though the filter system of those days sucked up all the little coral-critters and nothing came of it. Various mushrooms: we were good at those. And button corals. We sold them or gave them away to our reef shop, and for all I know, they're still growing and healthy. So we have hopes that we can at least sell enough specimens to pay for the supplies that grow them. I actually succeeded in surprising Jane, who says she had a most extraordinary party [Sharon joined us] and a string of marvelous surprises, not least of them the cards from Shejidan.

Date: 10/25/05. Tuesday. 6610. Back to routine, and hard at work. We were going to go to supper with Joan---met her at the rink for a lesson---and I've begun to get a little notion what's wrong with my runout backward where the move requires me to keep my feet close: backward extension or spiral, no problem, but fully upright stance in a backward runout is just really scary. Turns out the skidding tail of my skate that happens when I attempt a step-off from a backward edge is due to not getting over on the edge. And not getting onto the edge has a lot to do with having my hands too far from my body and too high. A little work with that was a help. Jane's having similar troubles. She's about to try moving her skate blades a little inward to see if she can get a bit more rock to the outside edge. This is futzy, and there's a limited time you can mess with the screws on the blade plate without compromising the boot, so this is pretty major. Meanwhile Jane and Joan got together and decided Sharon [who's snowed under by work] should come too, so we were to do supper if we could get hold of Sharon, but Joan had an appointment and had accidentally left her cellphone at home, and Jane had left her phone at home, while mine didn't have either Sharon's office number or Joan's cell number; so we ran around getting those numbers, and meanwhile had decided to go to the aquarium store to pick out Jane's system. Well, we got hold of Sharon, who it turned out couldn't come, so we called Joan and left a voicemail saying 'let's just go,' and continued on to the store, which was closed on Tuesdays. Sigh. And then we heard from Joan, who'd gone ahead and had supper, in the utter confusion. At this point we decided to go to the nice little Irish pub for supper, nachos, which they promised they did well. Wrong. They didn't, and the 'taco' meat was really spiced for Irish shepherd's pie; they left off the jalapenos, and we made the mistake of eating it. Wrong again. By the time we got home we were looking for stomach aids, both of us had a gut ache, Jane's face was flushed, and I had a racing heartbeat that was shaking my whole body: my bangs were trembling in time to it, odd to say. MSG? we ask ourselves. No, wrong reaction.  'Meat tenderizer'? Jane asks. Bingo. I remember the reaction: I had it once upon a time ten, fifteen years ago in a restaurant after a steak. That stuff should be illegal, and ground beef that needs tenderizer must have started out mummified. We are shaking the dust of O'Dougherty's from our feet and not going back. The stuff is dangerous. Our malady lasted through the night, though thank goodness my pulse rate calmed down. So it was not the most productive day of our lives. We're going to try for dinner with Joan next week and try tomorrow for the aquarium shop. We still haven't heard from Lynn Abbey, who was on the edge of Wilma, and we are assuming she's ok, but that phone and/or electric is out. I hope it's just the phone: a writer in the modern age who's deprived of electricity is a most miserable and frustrated soul. We don't want to overload phone resources down there by calling, but after another day or so we will try.

Date: 10/26/05. Wednesday. 6678. We're trying to get cleaned up after the birthday party---boxes and paper proliferate if unwatched. I had a major success at the rink: I've begun to get that backward runout---I can do it, oddly enough, if I clench my fists as I do the 3-turn: it seems to stiffen the shoulders. Hopefully I'll get past that necessity before Joan sees my method...tensing the shoulders can be done without fists. Jane, however, is having a day: she's become convinced her blades are 'off', or at least that one is. We tried spotting them from behind, and indeed, the left blade seems skewed a bit, or her foot is, which means probably it's the blade. A close look proves that the heel of both her blades aims a little differently than mine, and that her left heel has a 1/16 to 1/4 inch skew in it. If you've only used rental skates, which are generally bradded-on blades, that can't be moved, you get luck of the draw. But our skates have screws in the blade-plate that hold them to the boot sole, and these were mounted at the factory, with several adjustment-slots that were supposed to be aimed properly before the rest of the screws went in. Either Jane's stance has changed or these blades never were right. We're investigating a blade remount.

Date: 10/27/05. Thursday. 7903. This time Jane's bed exploded, trying to become a beach ball: one of the interior baffles must have given way, with the result that you couldn't even deflate the thing more than 2/3s of the way. So we bundled it up, found the receipt [it's only from August] and took it back to Linens N Things, who were amused, and made no fuss about replacing it. Ice time was a disaster; the rink drain froze shut, which meant staff couldn't use the Zamboni, and we skated on warty ice {this happens when drip falls from the beams overhead and freezes] and in company with two non-communicative people who weren't the most observant of patterns...she says politely. We quit early, resolving that Jane's skates are going to need some revision, and that we can do it ourselves with a screwdriver, but we didn't have one, and that was going to have to wait. I was achy---we both were, from something in the air. We also reached personal-frazzle point with the clutter level in the place: a lot of things have found their way upstairs that should be in storage, and the kitchen is a disgrace. So after agreeing that this is approaching unacceptable, we set about cleaning and removing bric-a-brac that doesn't need to be taking shelf-space at this point. We're just starting in the dining area and working our way through the apartment, revising the storage choices that seemed logical when we moved in, and trying to use things more efficiently. The place already looks better, and we're determined to have it in apple-pie order before we start moving furniture to accommodate the new aquarium. Dinner at the Alpine, which is the new-management version of Panama Jack's, and half-raw fish and chips isn't my idea of an improvement. Not to mention a Caesar salad with candied lemon peel strewn over it. I don't care if I never go back. The flavor was indescribably bad. Jane, however, liked the fish {her piece was done} and thought the lemon strips were just lovely. We will have to discuss this.

Date: 10/28/05. Friday. 8384. Trying to clean up the place---beyond clean-up: certain things have to go back down to storage, and we're trying this time to put them not into cardboard boxes, but into clear Rubbermaid containers---I insist on that brand, having bought a number of others which last about one season before cracking. Rubbermaid costs more, but not in the long run. I've never had one of those break. And we want to be able to see the contents, or at least generalities of the contents. Our garage has bare rafters: I'm thinking about getting some plywood sheets to lay across, to enable use of that dead space. Friday skate was again a mess: the drain is still frozen and the hockey ruts are like canyons out there. It really hurts when you hit one, just wrenches your ankle sideways, and of course there's the usual couple recreational skaters on hockey blades who haven't a clue that they're creating problems by skating across the one patch of clear ice you've been working on...I do try not to think vile thoughts, but the result of their passage is just maddening. Jane's left her bad skate at the rink to have the holes filled, so she can reattach the blade, and what I saw when the blade was off [a warp in the sole] indicates to me that a key part of the problem may not be in where the blade was set, but in a defect in the way the upper of the boot was attached to the sole: that is a problem for Jackson Ultima [the skatemaker], and we are going to have to contact them. We were so tired at the end of the day we didn't go to any of the 3 Halloween events we could have gone to.

Date: 10/29/05. Saturday. 8827. Working and cleaning. I'm sorting all the random boxes of odds and ends. Our life seems to fit into a handful of categories: 1) Crafts and hobbies a) sewing b) art c) other. 2) Tools a) electrical b) mechanical c) deck storage. 3) Computer gear. 4) Video. 5) Clothes a) mine b) Jane's c) Goodwill. 6) Papers a) manuscript b) receipts and tax stuff c) correspondence. 7) Books a) reference b) pleasure c) our reserve copies. First the cut into 7 piles, and then boxing by sub-categories. I now have a stack of organized boxes instead of disorganized boxes. Next: labels. I intersperse boxing with writing with playing my current video game, in endless cycle.

Date: 10/30/05. Sunday. 10183. Xerox yesterday and you have today, except we decided to go out for nachos, a grave dietary sin. Jane's trying to get manuscript printed and mailed, and the printer always shows up glitches when this happens...or runs out of ink. We ate too much, and Monday I'm getting the makings for some better dietary choices. Too much sameness.

Date: 10/31/05. Monday. 10485.  Early work. And necessarily the preparation to get Jane's manuscripts out the door [DAW wanted fresh copies after revisions] and the preparation to drill new holes for Jane's skate both left garbage over all my freshly cleaned living room. Sigh. You clean it and there it goes again. But now there's one more thing to do, which is the letter to Jackson. Public ice was good, but immediately a school party showed up, with thirty kids, half of whom could skate well enough to be a nuisance and the other half of whom kept falling down and hurting themselves: very few helmets, several banged skulls. Jane meanwhile attached her own blade and reported that her balance is immediately improved---miraculously improved, but it can't be perfect, because it's important the blade go between the big toe and the next, and to achieve balance in that boot, it has to be aimed differently. Joan said it was very badly screwed up and offered her support in talking with Jackson to try to get redress for this problem. Jane is upset that she's worked so hard and thought it was all her fault all this time that she was having balance problems...and now is going to have to break in one more boot set. And Sharon is back from a trip west: we've missed her.

Date: 11/1/05. Tuesday. 10552. Lesson with Joan...Joan is really hitting me hard with posture corrections. Throwing your shoulders back while going backward on one outside edge is on the one hand counter-intuitive, until you realize that leaning backward while going backward is a lot like leaning forward while going forward, and you're more stable when you do. I am sore, really sore. I'm still trying to get the house organized: Jane's birthday present is forcing that. When you move in a large item of furniture, you have to move things, and when you move things, you can either shift them or organize them. In an apartment, the best answer is 'organize', which is why I love apartment living: no more letting useless clutter accumulate around us because we have room for it. We don't. So we get boxes and organize, and it feels so good. Someone wrote and asked me when Pretender would appear: answer: we've seen the cover proof. Those usually precede the galleys, for proofing, and publication is 2 to 6 months after the galleys, usually.

Date: 11/2/05. Wednesday. 10831. Progress on the outline is slow. But each word on the outline represents a lot more words when it expands. I've gotten to the end and am now filling in details. Jane's taking pictures of her skates to e-mail to Jackson Skates to see if she can get the company to stand behind its product: we have two pairs of skates, bought on exactly the same date. Mine are perfect. Hers are a mess---not broken down, but impossible to balance on the factory-set point, because both boots incline toward the inside of the ankle. And a coach who used to coach Olympians says it's one of the worst misshapes she's ever seen. Jane's spent the better part of two years trying to compensate for the lean, and now that she's on the level, she's beginning to fly. And we like the company---we take the view that this was a fluke, and the question is whether they will understand that a beginner who can't identify a defect should get some extended consideration for that fact: Jane figured it out when she got good enough to know how her feet ought to be. So if they do give Jane some redress, we'll stay with them for more skates, and I hope they do, because mine are great.

Date: 11/3/05. Thursday. 10985. More slight progress. And a new slight hobby. We're taking apart a tired old skating dress to get a pattern, and I begged to do it. My eyes are too bad close-up to allow me to stitch, but I can still wield a scissors, and there's a certain pleasure in sitting and snipping while watching telly. And when we got to the rink, we discovered adult hockey folk on 'our' ice. I go to Tim, the rink owner, asking where we're supposed to be, and discovered that our other Spokane rink has closed its doors, selling its space to some manufacturer, and we're absorbing the Chiefs and Flyers practice sessions. So the public skate will be on rink 1, the larger rink, today. I feel very badly for the Valley skaters---they're going to have 20 more miles to drive, besides just the sad fact that that rink wasn't making it, and a bunch of people probably will give up skating now that it's harder to get there. And it's such a wonderful thing to do for yourself: I can't recommend it enough. But we'll make the Valley skaters welcome when they come: we're Valley, ourselves, since the move, and there's a route that's a lot better than the more obvious one, [which, for any reader who is from Spokane, is Argonne to Bigelow Gulch Road which becomes Francis. That speeds the trip considerably, and avoids Division's lights.]  Meanwhile I'm working on the back edges. And consequently I'm lying to myself on the ice: to improve my balance on the aforesaid backward edges, I'm telling myself that Joan is standing there yanking my offhand shoulder back. Works wonders. I shrug one shoulder back, and what was a straight line becomes a big arc back toward the hockey line. On my pesky 3-turn backward exit, I tell myself I'm not heading into a 3-turn, I'm about to do a spin (moves are similar, but you have no inclination to lean on a spin) and that works: I stand straighter, tuck my tailbone as I should, and all of a sudden I'm staying on one foot for the exit instead of making the death-dive to the other foot for stability.//After skate, we went to the aquarium store to pick up our light [a really major piece of equipment if you're growing corals, with two huge ballasts, and fans to keep it cool, and so on, and so on. We got a lot of the peripheral equipment, and the sump, and ordered our aquarium tank. I'm leaning toward having someone maintain it at least through the set-up phase. I've done it myself for a reef tank, but equipment has changed so that I don't want what I do know contributing to an expensive mistake. Cheaper to learn from someone who knows how to set up and maintain this new kind of equipment. What's different since the 1990's? No tank cover, higher evaporation, metal halide lighting, which has to be 9 inches above the water and protected against splashes; no filter, but a protein skimmer and a sump full of seaweed; and growing and trading specimens to increase variety in the tank. Simpler, on the one hand: more complex, in that you're really working with a biological system instead of fussing with chemicals. Calcium. 'Live' rock, meaning rock with microorganisms. And patience. Stay tuned.//Oh, and did I say galleys follow cover proofs? Last night galleys arrived, with a return date of Nov. 16th, so that should give you a heads-up that publication is in the offing.

Date: 11/4/05. Friday. 10985. Everything is stalled on the current Bren book while I re-read the last one [well, to me, the last one] and correct errors. Since DAW has taken to using my computer files, at least we don't have to worry about typists whose first language isn't English making creative re-interpretations of my text. Now I'm only trying to track down significant copyediting changes---I don't like the system that doesn't show you the changes on paper before they set them, and they can be subtle and silly. I try to keep my bloodpressure down while doing this. At least this copyeditor doesn't try to muck with 'may' and 'might' and just accepts that I know what I'm doing with those---nine tenths of Discovery Channel and ninety-nine one hundredths of CNN don't know---Lord! And Ms. Rowlings, bless her for her books, hasn't helped thousands of schoolboys master who-whom...either that or her copyeditor is the same one they tried to foist off on me at another publisher, who tried to 'correct' my language. [FYI, He Who Must Not Be Named ought to flex with usage just like 'he' to 'him' and if the Who were not with a passive verb [Be Named] it would flex, too---independently of the He, be it noted, because 'He' is not, not, not part of the Who clause...howzzat for a quick grammar note? Think of a ( enclosing the 'who' bit and excluding the 'he.' All who-clauses are parenthetical and behave under their own grammatical conditions. As for 'may' and 'might', if you don't know the intricacies of the 'condition contrary to fact' rules, the simplest way to be right is never to use 'may' in a sentence about the past---and never use 'might' in a sentence about 'now.' {The man said he might go to Paris. The man says he may go to Paris. Both sentences are equivalent. And grammatically correct. The problem with may-might is that it not only flexes in time, it flexes in reality, as well. So you can say 'Sally might go to Paris' and 'Sally may go to Paris' and both are correct, but the second means the possibility is more real. If that boggles the mind, just stay to 'may' to match situations in the here and now, and 'might' in situations in the past, and you'll always be right. 'Nuff said.]//On the skating front, both of us being on fairly correctly aimed skate blades, we're having a great time, and my work on the back edges is suddenly paying off. The whole key was the shoulders. From absolute unsteady terror and the need to hang onto my coach's hand while arcing onto a backward edge, then to the imagination that Joan is back there jerking my leading shoulder back, and now to a rather pretty fantasy that, in order to use those all-my-life unused shoulder blades in the positive way they need to move for balance skating backward, I have to imagine wings, really big wings, oh, about eight feet of wings on a side. If I'm going backward to the left, the left shoulder has to flex as if I were opening a large feathery wing on that side and moderately stretching it: as I finish the arc, the other side takes over to complete the S, and the rather lovely wings, thank you, can do little twitches to keep me in perfect balance. A chain of S's is the pattern I'm doing, backward, one foot to the other across the hockey line, the bend being where I change feet. When I said early on in my study that figure skating is the closest thing to free flight you can achieve without jumping from a plane, I had no concept how true that is. I've found what shoulder blades are really good for, and the posture battle on the ice is paying off just in sitting in a chair: back muscles are active that never in my life have been routinely used, the middle is developing muscle, and the weight is taking a dive. Or it was until Sharon joined us at the Mustard Seed, a very nice Chinese restaurant---way too much food. We watched Harry Potter 2: Sharon hasn't seen many movies over the past number of years, and we're remedying that. She also helped us move furniture to accommodate the new tank, thank you, Sharon!

Date: 11/05/05. Saturday. 10985. Absolutely no writing getting done while I get the galleys proofed for Pretender. For some reason, a good many sentences are lacking spaces between the period and the next sentence. These all have to be marked. Two of my pages are missing: I'm sure they exist,  since the numbering accounts for them...I rip seams, proof manuscript, and blast goblins to keep my sanity. This goes on dawn to dark. Not much fun.

Date: 11/06/05. Sunday. 10985. And on we go. Galleys are not as much fun as reading a book. You have to focus down for minutiae and broad-focus for details and coherency, and if you make a correction, particularly if you want to make a last minute change, you have to count letters and make sure it doesn't mess up paragraphing or pagination. Pain, pain, pain.

Date: 11/07/05. Monday. 10985. And more galleys. I'm nearing the end, thank goodness. Went skating, the one break in the day---and nearly a break of another kind, thank goodness it wasn't. Sharon was on the ice, taking a lesson from Joan, I was helping another adult skater, Jane was trying to recuperate from mis-set blades, and we had a few other folk present. The ice was glorious, after a few days of not-so-great. So in spite of the fact I'd been working hard on drills, I stayed longer than I should have. And Jane fell down---just caught an edge on a simple move. Unhurt. Well, I was getting mortally tired, and on a 3-turn, on which I've never fallen, I went down hard and landed on my left hand. I was so shaken I didn't quite know what had hit me, but I knew it was a bad fall---and as I later reconstructed it, it amounts to a much higher-class accident than a simple oops. I was trying to get my shoulders back on the backward runout from the 3-turn, and of all things, being really tired, I didn't go as far as I wanted, due to exhaustion---and, due to exhaustion, I let my disgust prompt me to stand straight up. Bang. Because I was exiting a 3-turn and had my left hand back and my right hand forward to check all momentum on the spin [if you don't, you do spin] when I went down, I had my left hand still back, and not only back, there was no way for me to pull that arm forward, because my whole body was going backward, rear-first. Thanks to the crash-pads I didn't hurt my tailbone, but I really did a number on my hand, which I think broke my fall---it stressed the fascia that hold the wrist together. Ice and a halfpipe wrist guard I use for safety on some moves have rendered it immobile. And Sharon, our resident medic, looked it over closely, and is relatively sure it isn't broken---I'm sure she'd like me to get an x-ray, just to be sure, but I don't think I need it. And it was, may I say, a pretty high-class accident, a whole lot better than stubbing your toepick or letting your feet get ahead of you. I was still in pretty good shape when I got to Dr. Mike: I had a chiropractic appointment, and that was a good thing, as happened.  We picked up Sharon's skating stuff at a shop in Pullman, and Jane ended up buying a new outfit, too.We met Sharon back in Spokane for Chinese, delivered the purchases, and then I went home and caved in. One thing that does happen when you have a bone injury: you can't get warm. I remember this from when I broke that arm back when I was 7. And I've nearly frozen to death all the rest of the evening.

Date: 11/08/05. Tuesday. 10985. I spent a relatively comfortable night---slept in the wristguard, and the hand's swollen, but fingers are fine. It's mostly around the wrist. Just a sprain, I think. Ysabel was distressed about the wristguard, and kept waking me up worrying at it. But I'm pretty good: pain free until I challenge it. More wonderful galleys. More missing spaces. And I went back to the rink---had a lesson with Joan: she was determined not to let me fall on that wrist, which meant she held onto that hand, which hurt, but, hey, I didn't fall, although curiously enough I nearly did on the first 15 feet of skating today: and I'm cold, terribly cold, constantly. I'm not sore or stiff to speak of, thanks to the crash pads, just the unfortunate wrist. The lesson went pretty well, all considered, and I'm working on some new things. But I'll be wearing this wrist-guard for a while. I take it off to type, but the hand swells, so I can't leave it off too long at a stretch, or I'll have trouble getting it back on. And I'll wear it on the ice for maybe the rest of the month, to be sure it's totally well before I risk it without. Nice thing about the half-pipe guards is that if you do fall, your hand can't get trapped: you're going to skid on the hard plastic palm, and the wrist can't flex: if I'd had it on when I went down, I wouldn't have gotten hurt, but hey, I don't fall on my hands as a rule, and I don't intend to duplicate that one. I'm resolved to quit when I get stupid-tired. //We voted today---a lot of questions on the ballot. This was our first time to vote at the new place. But we were on the rolls, despite Jane's two fruitless requests for her voter card. The area round about is getting really pretty: we have a view of the mountains on two sides of us, and the trees on the higher mountains are frosted today, and we hope for more snow. It's a beautiful sight up there. And I know the ski lodges are going to be happy.

Date: 11/09/05. Wednesday. 11291. I'm essentially through with the galleys, although I haven't mailed them yet. I'm still making my mind up on a few issues. I'll be in time. I got a little work done on the outline, trying to recover my story for this book. Galleys always throw you: you have such deep concentration on what you're on, and then you need to completely recover concentration for the prior book, and now you're jerked back to another time and place---it's very upsetting. No wonder writers have the reputation of being emotional lunatics when it comes to galleys...["You thorough-going dastard! I meant that comma to be there! How dare you question my judgment?""What did you do with page 21?" "I never make mistakes! I've never been mistaken in my life!"] The wrist is ever so much better. I only remember it when I try to lean on the hand, and of course I wear the wrist brace while skating, just in case I fall. Skating was difficult today: ice was wretched. The only thing you can practice when it's like that is deep knees and staying on your feet. Jane is still battling blade position, and we are negotiating with Jackson to try to get them to stand behind their product. This is not going well. We still haven't heard from them.

Date: 11/10/05. Thursday. 11668. Slowly. And a very frustrating time on the ice: the bad fall shook out some of the things I'd most recently learned, which I have to recover, and Jane's beginning to realize that her boots are not only mis-made, they're not holding her foot the way they're supposed to: one of the problems with trying to fit boots on a beginning skater is that where a more experienced person would say, "No way that's supposed to let the heel slide sideways," a beginner doesn't know better. What you accept in a pair of shoes is far distant from what a pair of boots has to do, which is to hold your foot in a firm, all-over grip that doesn't hurt and that translates every tiny muscle twitch into a balance correction or an edge. Well, a call to Jackson proved they got the letter, but we're not getting much encouragement they'll do something about it---and 'something about it' has to translate into 'replace the boots.' It's not the money: it's the principle of the thing, because the fitter was following their manual, for starters, and it didn't discriminate between heat-moldable fitting and non-heat-moldable fitting, which is their fault---and believe me, Jane had rather do anything on earth besides break in yet one more pair of boots. Break-in, which can last months at our level, hurts, slows you down, throws you off your training, and generally delays taking the test we'd like to get out of the way before the rules change yet one more time. We're about a year away from needing stronger boots. If she gets new boots now, it's going to be a doubly-hard break-in problem, because Jane's not jumping yet, and can't, until she gets blades aligned; but it's particularly annoying to have to buy new boots that are going to be set aside a year from now, and back to---it's not the money. The next level of boots we're going to need is more expensive, particularly for Jane, who has some foot problems: she'd like to have one more year of wear out of boots that should be fit for our level and not have to overbuy at this point to avoid discarding perfectly good boots she just laid out money for and just broke's a real pain. I'm sort of at the same level, beginning to think what boot comes next for me, but not ready to go there, and not anxious to break in new boots either. I really hope Jackson comes through.

Date: 11/11/05. Friday. 12039. Skating was pretty iffy. I didn't have any energy. But I'm alternating outlining with last-moment galley work, and that's done. I tried contacting DAW, but played phone tag with the person I need to talk to about the galleys, and it being Veterans' Day and a weekend, trying to get anything done is nearly impossible. I'll have to see to it Monday, and phone in the changes in the old way: "Page three, paragraph 6, third line from the bottom, where it says "Dark and smarmy night"---should be "stormy", etc." It's slow, and expensive on the phone bills, but not as undependable as the mails. Jane had a very unsatisfactory conversation with Jackson, who hadn't acknowledged her letter, and now the person involved is going to consult higher-ups, but we're now thinking that if she's going to have to break in new boots anyway, maybe she'd be better off breaking in the ones she's going to have long-term. I'm pushing going to Vancouver, to a shop called Cyclone Taylor's, after a famous Canadian hockey star, that has Harlick, Graf, SPTeri, Gam, Wifa, and Jackson, all in stock so you can try them on---and that's something I'm interested in, too. I'd like to know, when it comes down to me getting new boots, that I can ring up a shop and give them a size and have them shipped. Right now, I'm not sure I'm staying with Jackson: depends on how they perform with what we're sure is a defect. But when we looked at the weather, which earlier weather reports had said would stay clear, it isn't. Heavy snow will fall in the Cascades.

Date: 11/12/05. Saturday. 14832. I'm actually writing real text now on the new Bren book. Outlining may continue, but I'm about done with Chapter 1, so I'm officially started. Weather in the Cascades remains dicey, heavy snowfall, and I'm watching the pass reports. If you wonder what our passes look like, check out on the web, and you can see the live-cams of our various passes, day and night.

Date: 11/13/05. Sunday. 15396. Work alternated with that pernicious game. We mostly stayed in and just plugged away at our various bits of work. But I began to think tomorrow might be a good weather-window to get to Vancouver, so I took the chance, late, to get our papers organized, and emailed DAW the galley corrections in a lengthy letter, so those would get there, got the tax deposit in order, and found out that the downtown second branch of our bank has a window open at 8, which would let us do our business there and get moving.

Date: 11/14/05. Monday. 15396. A wild day, and we wish we'd brought the camera. We decided this was the day to make the trip to Vancouver, and we took out at 8, ran by the bank to turn in the tax deposit, then onto I-90. We took that as far as the Wenatchee cutoff, took an amazingly scenic drive up to Hwy 2 [this valley should be on tourist charts: the basalt formations are truly beautiful, wavy columns rising hundreds of feet, beside the river] and so up through Wenatchee, Wa, and on toward Stevens Pass. Unfortunately, somewhere beyond Rock Island, we ran into a wreck, a bad one, on the curving two-lane, that stalled all traffic. A lot of people were turning around: we didn't know where else to go: our map showed no alternative. So I got out of the car, hiked back to the nearest big rig to ask the driver (a man with a CB) what had happened. Wreck, he said, but nobody knew what to do. So after a few more cars turned around and disappeared, and more police showed up, I hiked forward within view of the wreck---looked as if someone had head-on'ed with a rock hauler, and there were pieces of a smaller car scattered far and wide. I was able to ask a state trooper how to proceed, and received word of an alternate route to Leavenworth, where we could pick up Hwy 2 beyond the accident. So back I went, and we turned around. By this time, the local sheriff had shown up to direct traffic back at an intersection out of view of where we were sitting, and we went across the bridge and around a winding route to Levenworth, where other traffic was now being routed. One of the reasons we'd gone via 2 was that on I-90, Snowqualmie Pass was partially blocked by a rockfall [in September, two unfortunate women were killed when an earlier rockfall came onto the highway, and now there'd been another, raining refrigerator-sized rocks down onto the road, with more likely to follow---so we weren't the only people relying on Hwy 2, and it was bearing more traffic than usual]. So when Hwy 2 was blocked, that was pretty major for the state transportation system. But we did make it through to Leavenworth---and if you visit Washington and like the Swiss Alps, that is the place to go: the whole town has that theme, and the mountains above look the part, snowy and beautiful. We'd like to have stopped, but had no time: we ate a diet bar apiece and kept trucking. The snow had fallen in Stevens Pass, about 5-10 inches of it, and the road was still clear, but the roadsides and up to the mountain peaks were picture postcards, tens of miles of picture postcard at every turn, evergreens coated in snow, rocks showing their geometry under snow layers, deep ravines and misty peaks. We came down bound for Everett, Wa, now back into 40 degree weather and light rain, and managed to sort our way through the interchanges to get onto I-5 north, headed for the border, and about half an hour behind our itinerary. So I moved as fast as possible---all the trip, Jane was reading her latest Ring book, which is nearly finished. We crossed the border in a line of only 5 cars [at Blaine, this is good] and headed for Vancouver as the sun declined. The store, Cyclone Taylor's, was to close at 5, so we proceeded by the instructions we had, which were to take 91. Now, I-5 becomes Provincial 99 in Canada, but take 91, we were told---unfortunately, 91 has two branches, and we took the wrong one, and ended up where all signs were in, I think, Korean. We called the shop repeatedly, receiving directions that took our wildly flying car from there to the airport, down the wrong road, illegally U-turning onto a road that would let us turn back, onto another that the shop thought would get us there, as the sun declined further. We finally located Oak Street, followed it, and just at dusk located the shop in a tiny, space-challenged parking lot it shared with several other businesses. But the shop owner and his staff were marvelous. The owner, himself a figure skater who has competed among Canada's best, helped us personally, and Jane got fitted in some skates. They didn't have any big enough for me, but they stayed forty-five minutes past their closing to get us seen to---Jane's still need some additional rigging, but we agreed, and they'll ship them as soon as they're ready, so they'll arrive sometime next week. They're the new Graf hinged boot, which, unlike the Jackson, has no screws or other mechanical adjustments. It's like an oxford with a heavy-armored anklepiece sewn on, but able to flex toward it, the whole arrangement tensioned by traditional laces, but providing the forward flexibility that prevents knee injuries. They aren't cheap, but they'll be marvelous, and the depth of padding in those skates makes the Jacksons feel downright naked. Marvelously comfy for Jane. We left the shop, with instructions for reaching a Keg restaurant near the border---we'd planned to stay all night, if modifications could be done that way, but there proved no use in that, thanks to heat molding, and we took out toward the instructed restaurant, had dinner, and then discovered it had no "on" toward 99. Wandering the back roads on instructions from the restaurant, we finally got on track to the border, and headed for Jane's brother's place down in Seattle, a couple of hours away. Jane took over driving: I'd had two glasses of wine---and we made it down to Seattle, thank goodness on the opposite side of the road from bridge repairs that had traffic backed up for miles. We made it in, had a quiet sit-down with Chip, and then crashed.

Date: 11/15/05. Tuesday. 15396. Drove back home from Jane's brother's place, completing another 'reading' leg...Jane's reading lasting as long as her voice held out. We didn't get through: we're going to have to read at home over the next few days, but that's harder---the distractions don't give us the same concentration we can get while moving. We may have to find a destination. Sharon came over to welcome us home, and we had supper at Scotty's---I just wasn't up to cooking, and almost falling on my nose. And we had some sad news: a dear friend of ours had lost a pet of many, many years with her, and we called to offer condolences. She is doing the positive thing and will very soon get another companion, which is good for both the kitty who needs a home and the person who needs company. Ps. Correction on that wsdot URL. should do it.

Date: 11/16/05. Wednesday. 16842. Just too tired to skate today. Jane's skates won't get here until at least Friday, and her Jacksons are still, well, what they are. So we just stayed home and worked, and started cleaning up the place. It's amazing how the least project explodes Stuff all over the place, and the trip to Vancouver was no exception.

Date: 11/17/05. Thursday. 17381. A moderately good skate for me, but I'm baking my skates tonight---they're heat-moldable, and I've lost all spare padding in my feet: all bone and muscle, now, and re-heating them and letting them mold to my feet may help the slight wobble I've begun to detect in my own. Jane still hasn't gotten any satisfaction out of Jackson. We're still waiting. Their position is that their warranty is 6 months, and ours is that the defect was of such a nature that it couldn't be detected in six months of wear: our position is that, despite the legal justification of their warranty limit, they might replace these boots as a customer relations gesture. Thus far, we're still waiting. Jane's got a tracking number on her Graf boots, and they are shipped, and should be here tomorrow.

Date: 11/18/05. Friday. 17283. Erasing and writing. I'm still just exhausted. The weather has been unremitting fog just about since we got back, and it's actually more smog: we're better off, living on a height as we do, but the air is just bad, and that doesn't make anyone feel too energetic. But! Jane got her boots, and they're as wonderful as she remembers---except Joan wanted to examine them before we put the blades on, and Joan decrees that the old Ultima Mirage blades from the Jacksons are a quarter inch too short. Jane's just terribly frustrated. She called Cyclone Taylor and ordered the ribbon blades she saw up there: they're gorgeous, super-light, laser-cut, looking like Art Deco sculpture rather than skating blades, but they don't have the 10 1/4" blades in stock. They'll have to be ordered. Another two weeks until she can get on the ice in her new boots---read, new skates, now, since both boots and blades will be new. Sigh. I understand her frustration. We did get a call from Lindsay, our junior coach, who's back in town for Thanksgiving, and we hope to get to see her sometime next week. Meanwhile Jane has to put the blades back on the misshapen Jackson boots and tough it out with padding for another two weeks. Jane's bringing her Jacksons home to re-bake in hopes of some relief, but they're too far gone for that to help much.

Date: 11/19/05. Saturday. 18199. Cleanup. I finally got the stack of boxes cleared out from beside the kitchen door, just things we moved that need to have a place to go. Our new aquarium should arrive next week, so we have to get the place for it arranged. Amazing how much stuff we still have even after finding homes for so much of it.

Date: 11/20/05. Sunday. 17380. Erase and write, erase and write. I'm literally writing 'into' the outline, ie, the outline, under expansion, becomes part of the text, but a good deal of stuff has to be excised as I write forward. It's how I organize a life that is so far from a mountain cabin with complete isolation: I get phone calls, I have appointments, and things happen...I did go over to the aquarium shop, only to find that they forgot to call to be sure the tank is scheduled for delivery. Sigh.

Date: 11/21/05. Monday. 19121. I just didn't have the energy to take the ice today, but I did it anyway, and had a good time. The boot-baking helped, and I'm having a lot easier time finding my edges, which means I'm a lot more steady on my feet---I can find a hockey circle and practice chained 3-turns, which is a nice feeling of freedom and glide, where one turn used to be a scary proposition. Jane found out her blades are about 10 days away, and it's going to be a long ten days: she's very frustrated and can't wait. Sharon showed up at the rink, and we had lunch at Scotty's and watched the third Harry Potter movie, so Sharon will be caught up for the current one. Beyond that, there wasn't much life in us. The air is still bad---it just happens in fall: the next front through will scour all this out, and they're beginning to model that happening this weekend, which will be the end of it, after which we'll all feel better.

Date: 11/22/05. Tuesday. 19276. Well, our aquarium stand came in, but we have no tank. I love ordering things during holidays. I was supposed to have a skating lesson with Joan---Jane swears she's not taking another lesson on bad skates, and there is still no word from Jackson, who seem to hope we'll just go away. But Joan called the rink: she managed to throw her back out, and is pretty miserable, so no lesson for me. I just practiced 3-turns until I was dizzy. And holiday plans are revised: I'm going to cook Thanksgiving dinner, and I need to do a little shopping; but right now I'd do just about anything to avoid going into a supermarket---for my overseas readers, US Thanksgiving is a time for vast family banquets of traditional North American ingredients, many of which are not friendly to the Atkins diet. One eats to the point of pain, sprawls in front of the television watching football, and renews ties with relatives who have come in for the feast---the meal is usually prepared by the matriarch of the family, with the assistance of younger female relatives...and as families age, but still wish to retain ties in the loss or incapacity of the matriarch, the duty of the feast is often passed around among a circle of kinfolk. As a holiday, it has a great deal to recommend it---but we, being a very small household, isolated from relatives, tend to keep it modest, and we don't want a lot of food left over. So I intend to do a modest curry (not very North American) and Jane will add a traditional green bean casserole, with strawberries for dessert, no pumpkin pie.

Date: 11/23/05. Wednesday. 19183. More erasing and writing. We'd decided that skating was just going to be too crazy, so we laid off today. We spent the day just writing and working. They keep promising us snow, but it turns up only on the mountains around us.

Date: 11/24/05. Thursday. Thanksgiving. 20382. Up earlier than Jane, at least, to get the chicken on, which takes all day to cook. Jane got a call from Cyclone Taylor [it's not a holiday in Canada] saying they have her blades and are shipping. Hurrah! We spent the day in our separate rooms, working, playing a round or two of video games, and working again, until the aroma of chicken curry began to get expectant behavior even out of the cats, who became extraordinarily affectionate. For Thanksgiving celebration, we still ate too much, but not of bad things, watched telly, and acknowledge ourselves very glad for good friends, time to skate, and the fact we don't intend to attend the Friday official opening of Christmas shopping season, which will be the traditional madhouse. We're still hoping for snow. And the rink may be open tomorrow, but with Jane on bad skates and me practicing edges, it's not going to be pretty: every school is out, and there'll be a lot of beginning skaters.

Date: 11/25/05. Friday. No work got done. Early in the morning, the doorbell rang, and lo! Jane's skates showed up. We're amazed. They expressed them. And now we have to go to the rink, get the Grafs out of the locker, and take them and the blades to Joan, who has survived the holidays with a sore back, doing the matriarch thing, and who wants to see the boot/blade combination seated properly before we get them on to Larry, who'll attach them and sharpen the blades for the first time. This is a very important operation. Well, Joan was waiting for us with Thanksgiving leftover pie and wine, and we committed all the sins we avoided yesterday: we mated the boots and blades first, pre-wine. Then on to Larry's, to drop off the skates. My brief visit inside the rink getting the Graf boots out convinced me that, no, we didn't want to be on the ice today: it's half an inch deep in snow created by scurrying little blades.

Date: 11/26/05. Saturday. 22700. We worked, worked, worked. Jane's terribly anxious to lay hands on her new skates, but we're not anxious enough to risk a Saturday skate on public ice---not wanting to attempt new blades in a mob scene. So we worked all day---I tried to straighten out accounts: everyone knows how that's a favorite job---and in the evening, Sharon came over, hoping to admire the new boots. Well, they're not ready yet, and Larry's not at home. We decided to go to a restaurant near Larry's, hoping he'd call, but he was still out, and we had to give up. We watched a movie and gave up for the evening. Monday Jane will have at least a brief lesson, assuming we locate Larry and the boots, and I'm sure we will. I have every hope that our missing tank will show up, too, so we can get the aquarium started. And the snow we were promised for Friday has been successively promised for Saturday, Sunday, and now Monday. The neighborhood on the hill in the distance got snow-coated. We didn't. We're still waiting.

Date: 11/27/05. Sunday. 23122. More work, and trying to sort out the accounts...I'm a bit better about organization than just after the move, but I swear, the office breeds boxes and stacks of things. I'd love to just bundle things up unexamined and pitch them into the dumpster, but I have a feeling we'd be looking for whatever-it-was in a week. It's threatening snow. We love the snow. And we did get Jane's boots and blades mated up and sharpened. Thank you, Larry.

Date: 11/28/05. Monday. 24281. The whole city is a picture postcard---snow thick on everything. Our driveway and the downhill are a bit interesting, but our faithful Subaru is pretty surefooted. One momentary nervous moment at an intersection---but the automatic braking works: I'm still not convinced it replaces human skill, but Jane's tested it in a parking lot and swears it is actually better. We did get to the rink. Jane's taken to the ice on new boots and new blades...this is scary stuff. It means knowing enough to be out there doing things that the new balance makes risky. Meanwhile I've baked my boots again and tightened up laces as tight as reasonable to try to improve my edges. From Jackson? Still no word.

Date: 11/29/05. Tuesday. 23728. Snow, still: things are absolutely coated in it, and it's gorgeous. The hills around us are all snowy trees. Numerous roads are closed, but the view is wonderful. And my camera has just gone on the blink: I hope it's the batteries that are defunct and that I won't have a repair charge on it.  As for winter driving, we don't go out until the parking lot has had a few wheels over it, so we're being careful, but the Subaru is doing very nicely on the icy down-road. I had a lesson today: Jane's still iffy on her skates. I'm working hard on backward balance on the edges. And on the Waltz 8 pattern. I am gaining on it.

Date: 11/30/05. Wednesday. 24211. Making progress. Jane's still having troubles with one boot, but at least it's no worse than it was. Some skaters have to take painkillers while breaking in boots: it's a real test of moral fortitude, I'll tell you. Every step is a calculated pain. We did leave a little early: the ice was rotten: there was a stray skater on rentals, which must be the worst blades available: they chewed up the ice worse than a bevy of hockey players, and I nearly did a face plant during a left-side spiral---that's the one where you're on one foot for a long, long glide, with the trailing leg as high as you can lift it. I hit one of those ruts, dropped in a toe pick, and did quite a creative recovery for about ten more feet. And Jane's in some pain with the new boots, and we had to get some food in house, what with the snow being quite thick, and of course we've been waiting until the absolute worst day to do it and carry a dozen sacks up an icy rise and up three flights of stairs. Cat litter, however, is a must. Meanwhile our tank finally came in and we're making arrangements. We also, and finally, heard from Jackson Skates. They now assert that they will only work through a dealer.  You know---they could have mentioned this, oh, back when we first started communicating with them. We're annoyed. We will do things their way, which we could have done weeks ago.

Date: 12/1/05. Thursday. 25806. Up before daylight, and the writing's going well. And you know, this skating business is very strange: you start envisioning what you can do on a given day, and some days you turn out not to have the nerve to try it, and then...well, like today. I began to think about that spectacular pick-plant yesterday, then began to think, you know, that pick-down thing is what I do in the waltz jump. Then I began to think through the waltz jump, which I do only right along the wall, to enable an emergency grab. And while driving to the rink, I start telling myself I could do that jump much further out. I could turn loose of the wall totally, and trust my balance in mid-ice. Where it takes nerve is just telling yourself you're going to rise onto one toe-pick while moving forward: that's the big thing, trusting yourself to check that momentum and redirect it in a tip-toe turn. Your momentum spins you onto the other toe pick and down onto the blade, suddenly headed backward, smooth as silk, if your balance holds. And today felt like the day when I actually got out onto the rink: fair ice, not great ice, but good enough patches to be secure, and my head suddenly straight about what it needed to feel like. I tried it six inches from the wall, then a foot, then three feet, and I got it---my first 'jump' in mid-ice. I did it a lot, just to nail it down. Jane, however, is still suffering from a sore spot, and the ice got worse: I hit an ice lump in mid three-turn, fortunately in good balance, and didn't go down, but after that acrobatic recovery, began to decide that after my success with the waltz jump, I really didn't want to end my session by falling down, which can just mess up your confidence for a day or so. So I quit while I was ahead, and we just went on home, so that I can do the same tomorrow, given decent ice and no birthday party groups during public skate. Jane's baked the offending boot, and hopes that it will be better tomorrow. [Heat-moldable boot: put in the oven on a towel and cookie sheet, then insert foot and lace tight while it cools. I hope she gets some relief from it. But she loves her new skates, and the Jacksons have indeed gone off to the manufacturer, who may or may not come through with a replacement: stay tuned.] Meanwhile another winter storm is on us, and it's going to be exciting again in the morning, but this apartment complex is good: they had our maintenance out with a snow blade the first day, and today there was gravel laid down on the big slope---we're impressed. They provided a cannister of chemical and a snowshovel for our unit: at the old apartment, we always had to go beg one from the manager and ended up doing it ourselves [mostly Jane did it] because we were in a unit full of older folk who weren't able to. We approve of this attitude.

Date: 12/2/05. Friday. 26327. Again, up before daylight, and Jane and I held some little debate as to whether we'd skate. I wanted to: I want to practice the waltz jump before it gets hazy again. Jane has a scene she's trying to write: it's a hard call. But I promised we'd clean house tomorrow and get ready for the aquarium and the Christmas tree, so we went---fairly good ice, and a fairly decent skate. Jane's boots are doing better. And she is. And I was able to recall the jump, even taking a little further chance and putting a smidge of energy into it, for bit of loft. Fun! Afterward, Sharon declared she had to get the oil changed in her car, and we needed to, not to mention Rain-X'ing our car windows: let me tell you, it makes a big difference. We've got about half a foot of snow, and a little more sifting down. The truly timid and desperate are venturing out to drive at 45mph down I-90...on dry pavement. But I suppose if they're really not used to this...After we'd both gotten the oil changed, we went on to the mall for late lunch, it being by now pushing 2pm. We stopped by the cosmetics counter in Macy's to get some makeup, and on to Chili's for supper, and here's where we made our mistake. I ordered nachos. You know nachos: crisp chips smothered and rebaked with cheese, chili, jalapenos, tomato bits, and beans. Well, what came back were limp little tostadas done in a ring: tostada: a theoretically cheese-covered chip with various of the above. But these were limp, and late, and mostly cold. Jane's lime chicken had no spice, the potato was abysmal: I think Sharon's steak was all right, but the service moved at glacial speed, we had to get up and get our own water, while four and five 'greeters' hovered around the entry and while the bartender discussed the impending smoking laws with several patrons: did she notice we were out of chips, water, and etc.? No. We self-served. When the food did come, it was, well, as I describe above. And no bill. We served ourselves several more rounds of water and waited for my second drink. It didn't come. Jane gave up and went on to Nordstrom's. I stayed with Sharon to pay the bill. The bartender tried to give me the second drink: I declined, demanded the bill, and paid. The bartender claimed staff hadn't shown up for work. Well, it seems to us that 'greeters' could at least man a water pitcher. I declined their offer of some comp cards. I've no desire to subject myself to rotten service twice. We should have gone to the Mustard Seed, across the mall corridor. Next time we will. By the time we all got out of there it was full dark outside, and we were only starting our foray into Nordie's Rack. I did manage to get a pair of galoshes-like black boots which look much better than the Lil Abner style hiking boots I was having to wear with a fairly tasteful black outfit. That was such an improvement I put them on immediately. Sharon bought shoes. Jane bought shoes. They tried on clothes. I began to feel ill from the nasty supper. And at this point we all declared we'd had as much fun as we could bear and headed home our separate ways. I took some stomach remedy  and hope that will help. Neither of us is feeling too well.

Date: 12/3/05. Saturday. 28731. Well, writing, cleaning, and doing the accounts. It's still snowy, and very pretty out, but the parking lot is a sheet of ice, and going to the aquarium store doesn't look as attractive as the idea seemed yesterday. At least I'm not sick from last night's supper. We're just staying in, and getting some necessary work done---a friend called. I got in touch with my family in Texas. I'm just staying in and staying warm.

Date: 12/04/05. Sunday. 28928. Accounting. Cleaning. We did, however, get the tree up---it's one of those fiber optic affairs, very pretty, and it ran about, oh, ten minutes before blowing something. Sigh. We're going to have to get to the people that sold it to us and see if we can get this unit fixed. One of the bad things about malfunctioning Christmas ornaments: they're always out of warranty when they blow up, by the very nature of what they are. The place looks much nicer, however, and we've done a little rearrangement in the living room to give ourselves a bit more space. Our dining table is a round base with a glass top, and that means it's great for apartment living. We just lift off the top, roll it behind some large piece of furniture, and use the base as an occasional table, which means we do have a good place for a full length tree. If only it worked.

Date: 12/05/05. Monday. 29112. Doesn't seem that I'm making too much progress, but recall that I'm erasing outline as I go. So it is running right along. Cajeiri is involved. That means I just don't know what will happen, not predictibly. The lad often surprises me. And skating went quite well: a surprising number of people showed up despite the icy roads and cold, but they were well-behaved sorts, and we had a pretty good practice. More, Jane's skates didn't hurt today, so she's finally able to get down into her boots and use her edges without wincing. My own re-baked boots are getting laced tighter and tighter as I work on my small jump, and on that eternal waltz 8. Sharon was there, and we went out for lunch. She thought of coming over after her hair appointment, but it was just too late by the time she got free. We sat in and watched the Cup of Russia competition. We do like the new judging system: it means skaters paying more attention to the artistry and connecting moves, not just running from one end of the rink to the other and jumping as often as they can.

Date: 12/06/05. Tuesday. 30338. The tree is still waiting for lights, and the cold has settled in: it's going down below the teens during the night. Spokane held its recall election and recalled its mayor: that made the national news. And we had a skating lesson: Jane had her first on her new skates, and it went very well: she's elated. My own lesson---I tried to demonstrate the waltz jump for Joan, and naturally fluffed it several times. I finally got it right, when I was nearer the boards. Funny, I'm not a nervous sort when it comes to showing off---but having a witness just adds one more channel to my overloaded brain, just a little distraction, and I forget to do essential things, like swing the free foot, which means no lift. Don't know what I'll do when I have to test in front of judges: probably it will go better, because they're not right there on the ice with me and I'm not listening for instructions while I'm in motion. I say I'm not a nervous sort: I'm not, now, but I used to be such a nervous nellie when it came to any sort of performance I would agonize for weeks over a simple classroom memorization or oral book report. To all of you who suffer from the same, it can go away...given enough practice to make the bit routine, and the simple realization that the audience doesn't really care a tenth as much as you do and probably isn't paying attention anyway. Anyway, things went better today on the ice: I cranked the laces tight repeatedly---funny how even a tiny jump makes you really conscious of any slippage in the boot---and the edges behaved better in consequence. We really need to get to the hardware store and check on the tree, but Jane's on a critical scene, so home we go. We may end up with a New Year's tree, but writing comes first. Postscriptum: Well, the ice was so incredibly bad---it's below zero at night, and the ice, which was deeply rutted, also had pressure ridges from expansion, and I think the rink had rather thought no one would show up. It was so hard it wouldn't hold an edge, Jane's feet hurt, we were chilled to the bone from not being able to get up any speed, and just as we were leaving in despair, the lone speed skater (who comes in from Idaho) nearly wiped out and came by to ask what was the matter with the ice. He never falls, and if he couldn't hold his edge, it was bad. So off we went to try to get the rotating wheel and light of the fiber optic Christmas tree to work. We went to Lowe's and the very kind electrical salesman ran a tester on our stuff, proving the problem lay (we hope) in the power adapter---but they didn't have one of the right specs. So we went to Radio Shack. They didn't have anything but a 24/12 and we needed a 24/12.2. But they recommended a place called Radar Electronics, some distance away. I looked up the situation on the internet, and wondered if a computer laptop adapter might do it. We gave up at this point, and decided to check tomorrow.

Date: 12/07/05. Wednesday. 30552. I spent most of my morning trying to get my Christmas shopping done---online. It ended up on the phone, because the major chain in question had a shopping basket that kept losing items, doubling items, then claiming it didn't have any such in stock, anyway. After half an hour I decided I'd better get help. The trick is to call the help desk for the internet, which gets you better prices [by far] than the catalog ordering people. So that's done. But I had to scramble to get ready for the rink. It was -5 degrees last night (when it gets that cold we close the windows at night) and we knew the ice might be bad, but we bundled up in alpaca and microfiber, and off we went. The ice this time was beautiful: the rink had outdone itself, perhaps realizing there were people apt to show up despite the weather, and it would have been lovely except for my getting something in my eye, which I just could not shake. But we did have a fair skate: Jane's feet are still hurting---once that bone gets bruised, it takes a day off the ice for it to settle down---and we skated only for an hour and then left to try to get the electronics we need. The computer adapters proved to be a no-go, too low voltage. So we tracked down Radar Electronics, which took a visit to a car wash (we needed it, and they had a phone book) and indeed, they had an adapter that only needs us to wire it. We can snip the barrel connector and lead off the old unit and tie it onto the new one and we should have lights. We hope. Meanwhile the cook (me) was on strike and we went looking for a restaurant---our old favorite, Panama Jack's, has been taken over and turned into the Alpine, and I detest their menu. So we located Boston's, near the mall, a sports bar which proved to have really good food. We came home, and by this time, collapsed. We'll put the wiring together tomorrow. Here's hoping. We'd really like to have our tree work.

Date: 12/08/05. Thursday. 31381. We discussed taking a day off and getting things attended to while Jane's feet recover, but we went, and the ice was, again, lovely, and we actually had a pretty good day on the ice. We're trying to straighten things up in the house, but right now the front hall and main hall are absolutely lined with ornament boxes. For some reason the stack of Christmas boxes in the storeroom had totally fallen over. And to my total bemazement, I had forgotten that we still have one storeroom on the west side of Spokane: I thought we'd cleaned everything out, but, no, we hadn't. I begin to wonder if we could just dispense with everything in there, but no, they're business records and probably some of our missing ornaments, not to mention boxes and boxes of books. I just can't wait to move that mess. It's going to take a truck, no question. We found a new restaurant not far from us---really good food: Boston's, not to be confused with Boston Market. This is a good find, since they do have things on our diet.

Date: 12/09/05. Friday. 32811. Good skate, and have I mentioned the city is still under six inches of snow? It's so very cold in the rink I've been wearing a fuzzy scarf over my head and then the helmet, not to mention two pairs of gloves. If it gets any colder than this, I'm going to put on the ribbed fuzzy tights along with the other two pair. I'm lacing tighter and tighter, and spent the session doing very tight little arcs, outside edge into the wall, shove back on an outside back edge, skate forward on an inside arc---rebounce, repeat for an hour and a half. It is helping stability on that edge: boredom is replacing terror. This is actually good. It makes you relax, and relaxing on an edge is an improvement, since you can only do it when you are centered. One problem with learning this sport when you're adult is that precision matters from the get-go, because you're so tall---and I'm a tall adult: if I lean, it's not like a seedling leaning, it's like a redwood tilting: the chance of a fall increases. But you make small moves, you slice out segments of a routine and practice those six feet over and over til you're stable, and you don't fall. We have picked up more ornament boxes and Jane has borrowed an 8 foot ladder from the apartment service manager. Sharon came over after skating, and we went out to Boston's again, then came back to trim the tree...and wire up the transformer we got from Radar. We decorated. We plugged it in. It ran for, oh, about five minutes, then blew out. The main wiring is shorting out the transformer. So the tree is officially dead. We put violet lights on the bottom half and kept decorating. It's not going to be the tree it was, but hey, it's a tree and it has our ornaments on it.

Date: 12/10/05. Saturday. 32811. You'll notice there's no forward movement at all. Jane's battling a scene that's been eluding her for a week, so we talk in half phrases and only when necessary. I decided one of us had better get started on those huge stacks of boxes, so I traded out the spring sitabouts for the winter ones (we missed summer): we have too many sitabouts, so we have them grouped by seasons. And I got at the bills and receipts, and produced a fat stack of envelopes to go out. I got the ladder into the living room, no mean feat, and moved all the furniture about so we can reach the ledge we want to decorate. The stack of boxes by my bedroom door is head-high, but those are the ones going back down to storage, either empty or filled with storables. And we found out that the box that had tipped over during the summer and hit the floor is one with one of our most beloved ornaments, which broke. Jane spent the evening gluing him together. Sharon phoned to say she'd bought us two strands of purple lights to add, which will help our poor tree. Meanwhile I spent quite a while on the internet figuring out that last year's halogen fiber optics have been replaced everywhere (except one company) by LED fiber optics which claim to last and run cooler and quieter. Hmmn. But everyone on line is sold out of 6 foot trees, which tells you something, too. Oh, did I mention that when our halogen tech garland was ready to go up, the fall had broken the halogen bulb? We're just so thrilled. And it's a different size than the one we bought when we thought replacing a bulb might fix the tree. I think I'm ready to go over to a different technology on this fiber optic business. It's beautiful when it works, but works is the operative word. I'm exhausted, and so far everything is broken, inoperative, or half decorated. We refuse, however, to be bummed out on this: we have a lovely place, never mind the ladders and boxes, and our ornament is glued back together, and so is my family heirloom sugar bowl that got knocked off this summer, plus we've found a lot of one of our flower fairy ornaments that also broke: if we can find her other hand and half her foot, she'll be perfect. We need a strong light to search the storeroom floor. What a day! But it's gorgeous outside, thick snow still on the trees after a week, and more forecast.

Date: 12/11/05. Sunday. 32811. Still trying to get the decorations up. The day was freezing fog, but by 10am the roads were driveable and the trees were beautiful---one weeping, white-trunked birch was an absolute picture in frost. Postcards. We got the bulb replaced, had lunch at a little hole in the wall named Dave's Bar that turned out to be one of those rare places in Spokane where there's a long waiting line and the menu is posted on the wall...we finally got a table, and the food was good. The bulb worked, the garlands went up on this ledge we have along the side of the living room, along with two miniature trees, and we have decorations. Jane's very good at that sort of thing. My own first solo Christmas tree was a potted sprig of a Norfolk pine with four red balls and two strands of plastic beads left over from one of those bead curtain, one clear, one green. Jane's creations look like department store windows. Our tree is still half lit, but we're on the track of another tree, which will at least arrive in time for next year. I spent the day cleaning house, trying to put things up, and stacking the boxes Jane emptied. And, yes, friends, I do note that I need to archive the blog again and shorten this, but I'm not coordinated right now, and stand a chance of losing something. There are times when I'm skilled with files and times I have story taking up part of my brain and this is one of the latter, so I'd better get to work.

Date: 12/12/05. Monday. 31262. Erasing and going forward, I promise. When Cajeiri's in a scene, you just don't know what he's going to do. Outlines only work so far, and then improv takes over. Skating was cold---while searching up Christmas ornaments, I found our winter clothes, notably my leg-warmers, knit and quite snuggly. For those of you who do knit, it's a quick project and a result that can be used either as impromptu sleeves or leggings. Cast on 40 stitches [that's my size, and I'm tall and solidly built], knit and purl for the ribbing a distance of, oh, a little shy of two fingers' width, then straight knit for a distance about equal to the distance between anklebone and top of kneecap. About the time you enter ankle territory, lose a very few stitches, just enough to make the ankle somewhat tighter than the knee, and the last distance should be ribbed the same as the top. Bind off. Match sides and stitch up. It's real fast: you can probably do this at a sitting, and if you own a knitting machine, you can probably run them up for your whole Christmas list in one evening. You could probably also do this project on circular needles, but it's so small that's a bit of a pain. It's a good excuse to use up wild yarns, or to use wool that you're [in more intimate contact] allergic to, and for those of you who live in cold climes, it's a good way to get to the office without frostbite and then slip them off to reveal nice hose and put on your office shoes. They'll also go over jeans, or under them, and for anybody who has to be out in unpredictable cold, they're good for sleeves as well, then can be shed when you're inside. You can make hoods and collars the same. Suffice it to say, with these on over two layers of microfiber tights, I'm feeling no pain.

Date: 12/13/05. Tuesday. 33120. Erasing a bit and writing a bit. This is a critical section of the book. I don't think I'm going to make it to the end by Christmas...but it is going pretty fast, considering. We had a lesson today. We worked on back edges and back spirals, and I'm exhausted. Back spirals are actually less scary than forward ones, since if you fall, you'll go down gently forward and only have to avoid your knees, and also you can bend over. Forward ones require a high leg lift while keeping your torso upright and your arms balanced, and if you hit anything [like a frozen lump or a rut], you'll go down forward, too, but you'll be in a far more exposed fall. I worry about doing it when there are little kids on the ice: it looks like something they could try to imitate, and it's a sure dental bill if one of them goes down trying. But Joan wore me out. Sharon was there, and we had a chance to socialize---Sharon's just been doing herself in with work.

Date: 12/14/05. Wednesday. 33212. My brother's birthday. I gave him a call at his office, and he's doing well. And I decided finally to give Cyclone Taylor a call and find out if possibly they've shipped my skates: it was supposed to take two weeks, and there's been no word. They say they'll check. It remains quite cold, in the single digits at night. The drive to the rink goes through a high area of rime-frosted pines and rolling hills, and it's just gorgeous. Jane's still putting up Christmas decorations, and one of the garlands that is out of reach since we returned the apartment's ladder went out, just failed. We're so disgusted. We did order another Christmas tree, but it may or may not get here in time.

Date: 12/15/05. Thursday. 34332. A fair morning of work, and small progress. The air is quite cold, everything's frozen, and 18 degrees F is a heatwave. I'm wearing leg-warmers at the rink, it's so cold. Usually the microfiber and lycra is warm enough. And I had a bit of a lesson, and a good one. Jane was supposed to have one, but she took a chill and had to get off the ice. Sometimes if you stand too long, and get cold, that's the safest thing to do. We're still hauling boxes. But we did get our gifts mailed, and I got a call from Canada to say my skates are shipping: they came in the very day after I'd called to inquire. So out they go. I've ordered some Coronation Ace blades to go with them: I figure if I'm getting a fancy boot, I should upgrade the blade, too. And I'm just hoping they fit. Oh, I'm so looking forward to it.

Date: 12/16/05. Friday. 34332. We were supposed to be up at the crack of dawn to go skate, because the rink owner has graciously let us use rink 1 for a lesson while our usual, rink 2, is inundated with school parties. And I did go, but Jane's got a sore foot---she thinks from long sitting and working with her foot tucked, but in case it is from too many edge-runs, she's sitting today out. And Larry and Terry are both working on full-ice patterns, and a completely empty rink 1 (the larger) is just irresistible for their practice, but I'm working on cross-ice patterns, and I'm just too lazy to dodge. I decided to go home after my lesson---Sharon couldn't make it to the revised time: she'd agreed to work. Jane wasn't there. So I had nobody to talk to and no room to skate safely without disturbing one of the others, so I just left. And after that I didn't get much constructive done, either. I want to clean the house, but I haven't the energy. My skates have made it to Seattle. I'm really hoping UPS might be on their holiday schedule by now and just might deliver them anyway. I did, however, get a look at the cover sketch for the new Fortress book, and it's gorgeous. Tristen on Dys, and very beautiful. I'm very happy.

Date: 12/17/05. Saturday. 34332. Saturday, the house is absolutely a mess, and I haven't got the energy to get in there and move the boxes. It's quite cold outside, but we've had days of air stagnation, and I really feel it. Jane's car is dead---the battery, at least, and we need to get it started, and that means...well, my skates are in town, but I can't get at them. They're going to be delivered Monday while we're at the rink, and while we have a party afterward, and that means I may miss my window to get them until Tuesday---aaagh. It's going to be complicated---the shipping weight on UPS tracking is only listed as 5 pounds, which worries me...I hope it's more than just the boots. The blades are supposed to be coming, and I'd almost think the blades were that heavy. But there's not a thing I can do. I fear I've played more Solitaire today than gotten anything useful done. I just don't feel like moving.

Date: 12/18/05. Sunday. 34332. I'm just in no mood to do a thing, and when I'm in a funk like this is no time to try to work. I tried cleaning house, but in so many boxes, with no place to put them, I'm just baffled. The tree is going to come on Tuesday, so we may have to redecorate that, there are ornaments all over the place, and I'm just...well, facing change, I think. It's odd that the new boots issue has sort of crept up on me, but I'm kind of at a crossroads in my skating, on the verge of going off-wall on a lot of things, and here this chance at really good boots and blades came up before I was really ready for it---I know it's going to pose a risk of falling, possibly of having to re-learn balance, etc., and yet---what if they're really, really good, and they'd help? And I'm burning with curiosity to know what really good blades are like. I'm not exactly a youngster, and even in trying to get through the pre-bronze and bronze tests, there's the thought that at my age, if I don't do something this year, I'm not getting any younger. When I'm older and more brittle is no time to put myself in brand new, best-level boots and risk taking a crash---so maybe this is the right time to do it, and just fling myself out there and hope to stay on my feet. I just don't want to age out of all hope of getting through to a competitive (adult) level, and I want to establish a boot-blade level that can serve for years, and yet the time I tried these on in the shop they were both good (flexible) and painful...and they've made these off my pattern, a larger size than they usually have, with a narrow heel for my foot width, and if these don't work, I'm going to be really downhearted. So there's a lot of semi-depressing stuff going on in my head, including the chance of really hurting myself so I can't skate, if I'm a fool, and I really want to get this settled and done with before the holidays, when the rink shuts down and people scatter and I can't get the new blades seated and sharpened. Jane's car's still down, but I got jumper cables that should reach, and maybe that will give us the ability for her to go on to the rink and me to stay behind and wait for the boots. Joan's birthday is tomorrow and we're taking her to Anthony's restaurant for lunch, after skating, but I could stay for the delivery and then catch up.

Date: 12/19/05. Monday. 34332. I didn't get a thing done in the morning---I just kept hoping for that truck. But when I proposed to Jane that she go on in her car---she said she'd rather wait with me because she's on the tail end of her own book and wants to get it finished. So we waited, Jane getting productive work done and me stewing, and stewing. A knock at the door produced a certified letter---from the IRS, wanting about 45 dollars unspecified as to reason or explanation, nor even whether it's due on a 940, a 941, or the main return, so I don't even know where to log it? Frustrating beyond measure---and can you imagine how much the government spends on certified mail for 40 dollar returns they could have gotten by mailing out a simple letter asking for the money? And we got down to time to go to lunch, and still no skates. Sigh. So we went off to Anthony's to meet Sharon and Joan and had a lovely lunch: the falls beyond the big restaurant windows were snowy and beautiful. It turned out Sharon had given us the same figure-skate lights we had gotten her, for Christmas. We had a laugh out of that. We thought we'd been so clever. And when we got home the delivery still hadn't been there, so I settled in to wait some more. Finally, after dark, the skates came, and I put them on, cold as they were. Wonderful fit. I heated up the oven and did a little molding, and they feel good. The blades are Wilson Coronation Ace, and they're bright and shiny, and now I'm hoping Joan can mate them up with the boots (establish the line) tomorrow and we can find Larry and get them mounted---that would let me get a little skating on them before Christmas. Now I have no more excuses. I have to get to work. The book is at a critical turning point---another reason I haven't wanted to touch it when I'm in a funk: now I'm all bright-eyed and should get some useful work done tomorrow. I'm not usually like this, but this is a special case, and I'm so anxious to see if I break my neck or if they're wonderful. I'm inclining toward wonderful. Here's hoping.

Date: 12/20/05. Tuesday. 35181. It was just too crowded to get much skating done---public sessions when the kids are out of school are just a riot of small and mostly desperate people. Larry managed to get a lesson, staking out the center circle and doing finesse on very snowy ice, and Joan watching like a hawk for random missiles---but for my session I just snagged Joan to get the blades mated straight to the boots, and she pronounced the boots straight and set the blades in tape and pencil. Then I got them to Larry, who will take them home to his shop and do the work. We kited on home to get Jane to her keyboard so she could get finished, but the tree came. The tree itself isn't as pretty as the one we have up, but we decided to try the new tree's light kit on the old (and decorated) tree, which, using sports tape to bind the LED unit to the base, worked like a charm. We now think if we can get some more LED kits, we can resurrect the fiber optic garland. Any of my readers who have defunct fiberoptic trees or the like, that have a large fiber optic base, these kits can be had from the vendors of the new LED trees, and they're potent enough to light a six foot tree, but generate no heat, have no huge electrical unit, etc. They're quite the wonder, and they can resurrrect the trees that by now must be going out at a phenomenal rate, to judge by our household. It is now sparkly and beautiful. And we got a call from Larry, asking if we could do him a favor: we live about five miles from him, and he got called to work tonight, to get home at about 5AM. Could we pick up my skates and several other people's skates and get them to the rink. Sure. The catch? The other skates need to be there by ten AM. Well, we can do that.

Date: 12/21/05. Wednesday. 35181. Up at the crack of dawn to get organized and get to Larry's to get the skates to get to the rink, and we did indeed make it, freezing rain and all. Our only skid was atop Larry's street. But the rest of the streets weren't too bad. We reached the rink and I got my new skates on---just dying to try them and pretty well convinced that I'd likely fall, badly, due to unfamiliar footing. Well, we were there and it was an hour before public skate, so we took advantage of it---and I took to the ice in the new boots. Initially I kept to the wall, and found my left foot scraping a bit---but when I'd go onto it and glide, it would start to glide true, which encouraged me to believe that maybe I've had a little warp in my left boot in the old pair. So I persisted. Within about 20 minutes I was off the wall, going quite nicely, with no scrape, and starting basic moves like edges and turns, even a little walk-through waltz jump (not all the screws are in, on the blades) and the boots are marvelous. I'd ever so much wanted to know what it would be like to skate in really professional boots on really good blades, and thought I'd never know, because pro boots are generally so incredibly hard and stiff a skater of my skill and age would never get them broken in---so stiff they're downright dangerous for a pre-novice skater, but these Graf 4000's advertise no break-in time, and they're right. The difference between them and the Jackson Competitor is night and day---or as it seems to me, the difference between doing everything on a narrow balance beam and working on a broad, forgiving floor. The stability of the Grafs is just amazing---the one time I did go off balance, getting onto my heel, I could recover; the moves that require balance were just amazingly steady. And light---doing a crossover with these superlight boots means your under-foot just flies and you have to watch it. A spiral---easier, because you're only hefting a slight weight in that boot. And you can bend your knees immediately, with all laces laced. The only thing I do notice is more movement in the heel, since the inside of the boot is more like that of an Oxford with a high, armored collar stitched on, and the heel does move, but apparently without harm. I had a marvelous time, and edges---edges took hold with amazing force: the boot allows such sensitivity of the bottom of the foot as to where you're putting pressure, and yet grips the whole foot in such close contact that a little muscle move within the foot itself can shift you onto an edge---just amazingly more sensitive than what I've been using. I was absolutely delighted. When two busloads of school childred arrived somewhat around the normal public skate starting time, however, we quit the ice while we were ahead. We had lunch at The Mustard Seed (really good Chinese) and headed home, but Jane proposed a movie, before all the holiday fare leaves the theater, so we did. Lovely day.

Date: 12/22/05. Thursday. 35281. Our writing schedule is suffering a bit in the pre-Christmas rush, that, and the fact that our rink is absolutely crowded with skaters---this is very good for the rink and we don't mind a bit, but boy! are we spoiled! Tim, the rink owner, is very kind to his regulars, and has let us go on early, and has hunted around to find us bits of ice time between other sessions on smooth ice---we owe him for that, I'll tell you. So we've been going in early this week, and skating before public ice---with both of us learning new boots and blades, this is a good thing, I'll tell you. But it means leaving early in the morning, and that means getting up in the dark to get some work done beforehand. I learned one thing on these hinged boots---lace the top tight, or risk breaking something. Because they do flex, the last thing you want is being out there with less than a snug lace. Also, these new Wilson Coronation Ace blades are faster than my Jackson Ultima Mirages, no wonder, at four times the price---and they do tend to travel faster than I do if I don't watch what I'm doing. I haven't fallen, but I made two heroic recoveries, shall we say? And speaking of Jackson, we finally 'heard' from them re Jane's warped boots. Recall that after weeks of trying to contact them and going through various departments, some downright rude, we were requested to go through the dealer. The boots went in to the place they requested, and they paid absolutely no attention to the problem---which is with the upper portion of the boot. They simply noted the blades had been moved. They resoled the boots, reattached the blades, and sent them back, still visibly warped. Not only that, the persistent shooting pain in my hip, which had gotten so bad it would freeze me cold in the act of getting up from a chair, has notably all but stopped since I started skating in the Graf boots, and I'm not utterly sure my old Jackson Competitor boots, bought the same day as Jane bought hers, aren't a bit skewed, too---shall we say we're not pleased with Jackson's response to Jane's problem, and I'm now beginning to wonder if the switch to Graf boots, though expensive, may have saved me some serious, even sport-ending future problems. The Grafs are still comfortable on the second day of break-in, though I did get a blister and a worn spot today: it got started because I didn't get the lacing right, and now I need a Bandaid, but that's the limit of the break-in pain, which is a phenomenal degree of comfort for brand new boots. Note to any other older skaters: if you think you're too old now to break in new 'top of the line' boots because you don't do high-level jumps, give the Graf 4000's a look, and consider the physical cost of skating in boots that aren't as straight or supportive as they once were---like my sore hip. The Grafs are half to a third of the weight of traditional competitive boots, you can do any jump in them, and they sure make spirals easier. There is no break-in period: they're supportive, but they flex, they don't have the obvious look of other hinged boots, and if they don't fit, Graf is willing to accommodate individual customers: I have a narrow heel and broad ball of the foot, and they were able to create that combination in a version of their stock boot, for no extra charge. This company will get our return business.

Date: 12/23/05. Friday. 36848. Clearly I'm not going to be through this book by Christmas, but I'm past the hardest part. And we decided to go skating despite the fact it's the day before Christmas Eve and the rink was a madhouse---we did get our early time in, got off when it got crowded, and went over to Fred Myers' across the street---Jane's Christmas present didn't arrive, and I wanted to be sure she had enough things to open on Christmas---she told me no, forget it, it's ok, but it isn't, so we agreed on splitting up inside the store and I had fun just going about and nabbing a bunch of little things that she'd like but never buy while she declared that we're violating the diet on Christmas and she's baking cookies, so she got the makings while I was otherwise engaged. I've just realized this puts me in a bit of a bind for cooking the roast I bought, which takes all day, but I think I can cook it most of the way on Saturday and finish it on Christmas. We're now much more cheerful: we were really morose on Thursday, and conclude it's the melting of all our beautiful snow---it's a regular 40 degree heat wave out there---but we got boxes to the storeroom and all, and we're spiffing the place up to a much greater degree. We're spending the evenings watching "Dark Shadows" on DVD, which is a blast from the past, and a good yarn; and Jane is really determined to get her book finished before Christmas, even if I'm going to be far short of the mark. We're out of tape for packages---I made do, wrapping hers, with brown shipping tape rolled into dots to hold the paper from the inside---

Date: 12/24/05. Saturday. 37281. Well, a little progress, amid last-moment decoration and cleanup. We got a couple of last moment packages in the mail, went after one, and mostly stayed in and worked. I'm almost through the sticky spot. The furniture is back where it belongs and the floor is swept. This is good. We had a few family phone calls.

Date: 12/25/05. 37281. Sunday, Christmas. I was the first one up, and I cooked a big bacon and egg breakfast, turned on the Christmas carousel, and waved the smell of breakfast toward Jane's room. Sure enough, she was very soon vertical and cheerful, and after a large breakfast, we set to prezzies. We had such a lot of fun and nice things, thank you, our friends. Jane got lots of Japanese CDs and a jeweled box, and I got, among more sensible things, a Roboraptor, which occupies our kitchen and goes ferociously berserk while the dishwasher is running. I love it. We got Age of Empires special edition from my brother, and warm clothing---everyone south of us now envisions us freezing up here in the ice and snow, even if our snow is all melted, alas. Sharon and Steve dropped by and had more packages, and we sat and had Champagne---we knew we'd bought that bottle for a reason. It was a lovely Christmas, with the tree still working, the other lights that did work all going, friends dropping in and calling on the phone, and over all, a good time was had by all. Note: Ysabel and Efanor took initial alarm at the dinosaur, which growls and snaps and hisses and stomps about, but after a little observation, they decided it smelled like a vacuum cleaner, which does not scare them, so they just step around it on their way to the food bowl. They're convinced it cleans their floor, thank you, so it can stay.

Date: 12/26/05. Monday. 37281. An early-morning session at the rink, and I'm really fighting the lacings on my new Grafs. It's a precision operation, but when they're right, they feel good. We're neither one of us on the top of our form. I'm helping Jane at the moment: we serve as each other's first reader, and I'm going through her manuscript making notes. She'll return the favor on mine when I get this near the end of mine.

Date: 12/27/05. Tuesday. 37281. I'm not making much headway with my own manuscript, but I'm making progress on Jane's, so that counts as work. We had lessons today, and the skate went really well---I'm still iffy with the edges, and Joan won't turn me loose on the 3-turns, but she had some very helpful advice, and then worked the daylights out of me on spirals, forward and backward. No, don't envision beauteous lines---but I'm determined at least to get the trailing leg horizontal to the ice going forward and maybe a bit better going back. It's scary, because the new boots are more 'lively,' picking up unintended speed, and yes, I can skate faster than I can handle, even in a straight line, on these blades...I proved that yesterday, but didn't go down, thank goodness.

Date: 12/28/05. Wednesday. 37389. A little work, and more than that on Jane's. Note-taking is kind of a forward and back kind of operation: I keep going back and making other notes on notes on notes. We're getting an hour on the ice mostly to ourselves, during this holiday session: public sessions are incredibly crowded, and we're working with new boots and new edges, and the rink owner has been very kind to his regulars, letting us take the ice any time its unused...we're jumping all over the clock, day by day, but we're very grateful.

Date: 12/29/05. Thursday. 37389 I'm fairly well worthless except on the ice today---too much Solitaire, trying to get my head in order, but the barometric pressure has hit hurricane-style low, Jane has a headache, and I'm courting one. The succession of 'Pineapple Express' rain showers that have come across the west have been pretty well non-stop. I only wish it were cold enough to snow, but the nature of the Pineapple Express is that it comes out of the deep Pacific, where snow is not a feature. So we're wet, but about in the 40's. It certainly beats what's going on in Oklahoma and Texas, which is heat, heat, heat...and fires. Meanwhile, Jane's Christmas-now-New-Year's present showed up, hurrah, but hers to me begins to look like a no-go. I'd admired a certain sparkly stone at the local jewelers', and she'd wanted to get it for me, but it turns out way too expensive, three quarters the price of my skates. No way. I'll consider some other sparkly, like maybe blue topaz, which I like a lot, too, and which does not cost the rent money...entirely unreasonable for something I could lose taking off my coat. (No, no, I know about stops on the backs of the earrings, and I'm a great believer in them, but I want a stone I don't have to worry about.)

Date: 12/30/05. Friday. 37389. One of our old club regulars showed up on the ice---good to see her. And we're wishing Sharon could be here, but she's locked into work, work, work, all week. I've gotten the knack of getting the boot lacings right: I'm shoving hard sideways to the outside just after the prelim tightening of the laces, and then lacing down: this gets my foot down to the side: my high-arched feet are pretty straight-sided up the insides, and they tend to go too far in that direction. Forcing the other tilt means that when I do lace up, the foot is set much more accurately on the axis of the blade. Result? Instant improvement on the edges. I'm also beginning to recover the deep knee bend I had before the other boots began to develop some problems, and that means way better on the back cross.

Date: 12/31/05. Saturday: 37389. New Year's Eve, and still working on Jane's reading. It's going very well. This is a good story. And came the evening: we got sparklied-up and headed downtown to have dinner with Sharon and Steve, at a restaurant with a grand view of the downtown falls, which is just glorious with all this rain. Steve headed home afterward, having no taste for ballet, nor do I, quite honestly, but they promised me champagne, and came through: the event is Ballet and Bubbly, a recital of a very good ballet studio (or two: I wasn't clear on that), which was quite impressive... The only downside was the music choice, which was of the modernist bent---not my cup of tea. But we got Sharon home to Steve, and went home ourselves---Jane got her gift, she lamented the earring I didn't get, but it's just a matter of time til I find something, we concluded we'd already had enough champagne for the evening, so we're going to save it for New Year's Day; and we watched the ball drop on telly---the umpteenth repeat by the time it's the hour on the west coast, and why they don't show the big fireworks at the Space Needle instead I don't know, but they didn't. All in all a remarkable year, 2005, one the world won't soon forget. Here's to 2006, in hopes for peace, compassion, and sensibility in the world's affairs.

Date: 1/1/06. Sunday. 37389. New Year's Day, and kind of a peculiar one. We usually sit and watch the Rose Parade, while having a nice BIG breakfast, but we'd overeaten last night, weren't hungry, and, it being a Sunday New Year's, the Rose Parade, and we suppose, the game, are postponed until tomorrow. So we worked, and cleaned house a bit, watched skating, and generally lazed about. I'm still reading.

Date: 1/2/06. Monday. 37389. More reading. The Rose Parade was on, but we opted to get to the rink, and by what I hear, the Rose Parade was very damp. We just wanted to get back on the ice, and I'm working seriously on perfecting the lacings for these boots and getting a clear edge---this entails skating a line of arcs and bending over and looking at my tracks trying to see whether there are two grooves in the single blade track (bad) or one (good.) And afterward, we went over to Freddy Myers to see if there's any word from the jeweler about the stone I'd like to get. Well, there was, but it was bad. Seems what I've found is a peculiar stone that is quite pricey if at highest quality. Worse than diamonds. But they do have some perfectly sparkly though large stones of inferior grade that I can afford, so, well, I ended up with a pair of earrings for my New Year's gift. They're a---get this---papararadzhe sapphire, artificially made, though they occur in nature. They're fire-colored sapphire. Which is my birthstone, and I've never much cared for the blue ones, so I suppose it's apt. A broad backing enables them to stay in place as they ought, and I'm doing a little hair trimming to let them show. I haven't worn earrings in years.

Date: 1/3/06. Tuesday. 37389. I can sleep in the new earrings. This surprises me, particularly as I haven't worn any for a long time. They're not uncomfortable, but because they are good earrings, I keep reaching to be sure they're still there and that the backing is tight. Skate went well: work on the lacing tension has helped a lot. I walk around bowlegged to get my feet shoved over to the outside in these boots before tightening up, which will help shape the boot, and which improves my access to the edge, and all is well. I'm still reading, making lists of names in a pretty book Jane got for Christmas: such records are valuable, believe me. I'm going to do one for the Foreigner books.

Date: 1/4/06. Wednesday. 37389. An absolutely splendid skate, a little bit of a lesson---Joan's been working hard with Larry, who has a test coming up, and he's looking very good. He's trying for gold level, which is the highest. And it's about time for me to get my blades completely screwed down, so I can get back to jumps. I'm still reading and making notes. It's what we do for each other, and notes with an outside eye are really incredibly valuable. We got Jane's car running, and took both cars today: her beloved car, which she calls "Wesley" for reasons those of you who read her books will understand, is prone to go down during freezes, but it runs beautifully when it's up and going. Mechanics love this car: it used to be black, but it's painted dark purple, has all the emblems removed, has sweeping hatchback lines and a little flip of a spoiler, and is a bit of a mystery to mechanics who try to figure what it is: also, it has a bit motor for its size and roars quite convincingly...I think if she ever sells it, she's going to sell it for more than she paid for it some years ago.

Date: 1/5/06. Thursday. 37389. I had a dental appointment this morning. After the nightmare of two visits ago, I was worried about this one, but it went very well---except they shot me full of painkiller, and although we finished in time for me to get to the ice, I was still a little woozy: I don't get along with painkillers. I had the Subaru, Jane took "Wesley", and I just laid about and ate things that didn't challenge my jaw, while continuing to work.

Date: 1/6/06. Friday. 37389. Worked this morning, then got kitted up, and actually on the ice, an hour long process, from home to the ice, and decided after about fifteen minutes that I was not only not fit for a lesson with Joan (Jane had gone first) I didn't belong on the ice in the first place: things are still going around a bit. I really hate painkillers: they just don't leave when they ought to. I figure if I did fall, it wouldn't hurt as much, but I could still break something, so I got off and hung out at the snack bar. I did decide that it's time to give the skates to Larry to have the screws that can be attached, attached: the very toe has two more screw holes available in the blade plate, but a new boot settles slowly onto the plate, and the toe is still a little curled upward: he may not be able to get that, but there are 4 screws in, per boot, and there are 6 more Larry can get in, because the boot has flattened out that much, and I'm sure of the blade placement. So I left that with him, then came home and fell into bed for a while. We had tickets for Stars on Ice down at Spokane Arena, (they were all rehearsing at our rink) and we had supper at Boston's and went downtown. The show was great---we're about the first stop on their winter tour, and Berezhnaya took a spill on a throw jump, not the only one to either pop a jump or lose footing, but no damage done, and her recovery, watching her gain her feet while she was still sliding across the ice, was as remarkable as any jump, in my book. It was Alexei Yagudin, who did his "Snow" number et al---he never misses a jump; Todd Eldridge, whose "Bolero" is really something to watch, beautiful edges; Kyoko Ino and John Zimmerman---their over-the-head throw lift is heart-stopping, particularly when you're near it---Robin Cousins; Jason Dungen and Yuki Sato, whose quiet edges are just incredible; Jennifer Robinson; Sale and Peltier, newlyweds; Sikarulidze and Berezhnaya, who did the "Chaplin" number---we were across the rink from Sharon and Steve and Joan and her husband, and finally cellphones and a wave (not during the performance!) got their attention to us: we were in the third row from the ice, center ice, Joan was about the same on the other side, and Sharon and Steve were right on the ice-edge. We met afterward to compare notes and walk out to the cars together: quite a lovely evening. I used to be in excruciating pain, even in my youth, from long sitting in auditorium-style seats, and had taken a tennis ball, a little trick which, placed between sore point and seat, can relieve the pain---but since I've been skating, I'm so much stronger I sat through the whole thing without even needing it: my back is that much stronger. We also discovered, Jane and I, that being that close to really perfect ice gives us not anticipation of the performance (which is there) but a keen desire to be on it. That was such pretty ice, in the arena. Our only complaint was the degree to which they crank up the heat: people come in bundled against the January night, and they turn the heat up to August. We were way too warm, and Jane bought a sleeveless tee to survive. I just sweltered, having worn furlined boots: nothing was going to help my situation. We stopped by Scotty's on the way home, ate too much, and turned in on arrival.

Date: 1/7/06. Saturday. 39795. Finished at least the initial read on Jane's mss, then returned to my own: there's a degree of separation when I'm working on someone else's problem that lets me switch back and forth: I could never do it on two of my own. We both agreed we'd overeaten last evening, we were both up a pound, we were both disgusted, and I got online and ordered another diet book: I think we're ready to make some change, and since I'm the cook, I'm the one that's going to have to implement it, and I don't want anything too complicated. At this point, I think we're down to "portion control." Jane wants to try the South Beach Diet: I'm afraid it has too much bread for me to lose on it, but hey, it has small portions, and that's a good thing. I may buy a bunch of it and see what happens. I'm the one who did the Christmas letter this year: Jane's so absorbed in her book I just throw her food and she heads back to her room and her keyboard; she and I did spent half an hour stuffing envelopes before we ran out of envelopes. She informs me I used last year's pictures, but hey, I worked half an hour getting those images to transfer to the letter. I refuse to change them, so there. We watched one episode of "Laughing in the Wind", a DVD we just got from Amazon, and went back to our respective keyboards. BTW, if you like Chinese drama, like "Crouching Tiger," check this one out: it was a TV series, volume one is out, the cinematography is stunning, and the story is top notch. Fascinating characters, and very handsome people, male and female. It is subtitled, but it's worth the effort, and the voices are charming. You won't believe the convolutions this plot takes.

Date: 1/8/06. Sunday. 43281. Well, I'm getting a little work done on the Bren book: a little time away for head-clearing was good. But Jane meanwhile has come down with a wretched head cold after two days of headaches, and I'm afraid I'm going to take it. There's so much to do this week, and I'm so behind, I can't afford this. This may be one of the years when the Christmas decorations come down in June. It's a pretty non-eventful day, otherwise (I can use a few) as it continues to rain for, oh, about the 20th straight day. I feel for people down in Oklahoma and Texas, with grassfires everywhere. It's very bad down there, and meanwhile we're growing gills up here.

Date: 1/9/06. Monday. 44382. I got up with a sore throat, tried to get dressed for the rink, and discovered I'm dizzy. This is not good. Jane looked in, asked if I was going to get ready, and we discussed whether to just call it off for the day. She's feeling better today, which gives me hope this is temporary. I took Theraflu and continued working. We had our first appointment with Dr. Mike since his surgery, and we drove down for that, through snowy hills (if you get above 2500 feet, there's snow all around: our apartment, unfortunately, is about 500 feet too low, though we're seeing a few flakes. If all this water had come down as snow, we'd be shoveling until next year.) We violated our diet, came home and collapsed, me with more Theraflu, and early bed: like about 6pm.

Date: 1/10/06. Tuesday. 45731.A note: I'm feeling better this morning. Still have the tickle in the throat, but I'm hoping I'm steady enough to get to the rink today: Joan's not there this week, so there's no lesson, but I'd like to get my feet on the ice. Larry dropped our skates by yesterday: unfortunately he says my boot soles haven't flattened enough yet to screw down, so that's a disappointment: I daren't jump until the rest of the screws are in, for obvious reasons, but since Jane's were ready, and got all their screws, I suppose it won't be too much longer. Back to practicing edges, assuming that I can skate today. I feel a little feverish, but I have some knitted legwarmers in the locker, and if I wear those and keep moving, I should be able to tolerate the cold. Postscriptum: I did get to the rink, and was warm enough, but still having a little trouble with the ears---meaning that I could stand still and the rink continued to move. I finally gave up about thirty minutes from the end of the session. /And we discovered to our distress that after waiting all this time to get our reef tank set up, the poor chap who was going to do our setup and maintenance has gone out of business, which means we've got a tank we haven't got the strength to get up the stairs, we've got---oh, 600 pounds of water and a hundred of rock to get up the same stairs, plus the stuff won't fit easily in the car, plus we have to cut pipe and do plumbing and daren't have any sort of leak on the third (newly carpeted) floor of an apartment. We're quite distressed, and are questioning whether we can do this at all. Meanwhile we've decided to switch over from the Atkins diet to South Beach, in the theory that Kraft is making food for it---and discovered after we made the commitment that our usual grocery has stopped carrying the South Beach products. It's just one of those days. Plus my hairdresser called: we apparently wrote down differing appointment days. Then, trying to get a leaner sort of meat on this new diet, I served up some London broil I got from Costco, and Jane and the cat that had begged a bit of the steak spent the night throwing up quite violently. I think the stuff had a tenderizer on it, and I don't feel too well either. I should have stayed in bed this morning.

Date: 1/11/06. Wednesday. 45731. No progress. I felt lousy, had a marginal headache, problems with my ears, and had a full day scheduled...I did get to the rink, spent half an hour dressing and getting skates on, got a perfect lacing, took to the (gorgeous Zamboni job) ice, and found after about three strokes that I wasn't going to be very good. Halfway around the rink, I hit a slow patch of ice in anotherwise perfect surface and nearly pitched onto my nose. That patch shouldn't have fazed a week-old novice. Reading the situation somewhat muzzily, but having instincts of self-preservation, I headed for the sidelines, got Jane's attention (past the MP3 Japanese rock she favors) and told her I was going on to the hair appointment, too dizzy to skate. We'd taken separate cars today, and that was OK, but she was (justifiably) worried about me driving. "No choice," I say. I de-skate, re-dress, and head out by the back streets, slowly. I decided that stopping to have lunch (being way early for the appointment) would be a good thing, and might steady my knees. It did that, and I headed on to my hair-person's new digs, which I'd never been to before. I had fair instructions: at the light near TJMax, next to a Mexican restaurant. Well, the Mexican restaurant I thought it was had a vacant store next to it and the people in the nail salon next to that didn't speak English---I don't speak Thai, either, so we were sort of at an impasse, but it was pretty clear that wasn't it, either. There was however another, tiny Mexican restaurant in a small strip of buildings accessible only by a potholed back alley across the intersection. So I went there. There was a New Age salon there which might contain a hair salon. But nobody answered the door. And nobody responded when I walked in and stood there a bit. At lunch, maybe. I did find the restroom, and passed (not compos mentis, I tell you) right by the salon sign, on the way to the restroom and back. I then spent the better part of an hour searching the vicinity and asking (logically) at a beauty supply shop if they knew "Candis." I finally got directions from the owner of her former shop, and it was indeed the New Age place where I'd been, so I drove half a mile back, down the alley, and just walked in and sat down. About a quarter hour later someone came out of one of the rooms and confirmed it was the right place. Candis was out, and she returned, oh, about three quarters of an hour after that, but a little early for the appointment. By this time I really wasn't feeling well. It was a long appointment, and I did hold of Jane, who'd gotten home, and she'd talked to Sharon, who was having a wild day at the office. I was (while getting my hair worked on) trying to get Sharon, which took 4 tries---I couldn't hold on as long as the 'hold' was at her office. Finally she called me, and called in a killer prescription---seems what I've got is epidemic in the area, and it's bacterial, hurrah for that. Candis had already had it, so when I began (during the session) to realize I was really sick, I didn't feel too worried about her taking it. I called Jane again, we agreed on going out for supper when I did get home, and I wasn't even going to go upstairs, just phone from the parking lot, because climbing the stairs once was going to be work. She found her keys (finally) and we decided to go by the pharmacy to pick up my prescription first: good thing. We made it to the window 3 minutes before closing, and I got my medicine. Dinner out, and I was so sick I couldn't taste much. The cough was by now a chest cough, and nasty, and a headache (which Sharon had asked if I had) was blossoming into a hellish headache. I headed straight for bed when we got home, and spent a really awful night with blinding sinus pain, headache, and cough. As I write this, I'm improved and upright, and the chest tightness is relieved, so the medication's working fast, but I feel awful. Skating is right out today. Work is not likely to be productive. Did I mention Jane lost a dental crown during dinner? I at least knew our dentist had an opening for Thursday where I'd canceled due to my cold, so she phoned the messaging system---as of this writing, she got in, and is getting herself glued back together. This and yesterday have not been my two favorite days of the week, thank you.

Date: 1/12/06. Thursday. 45731. Well, Jane got glued together, I had my third pill off the little card, and Sharon arrived, packed for Rustycon over in Seattle. We got out on time, at least, and headed out into uncertain weather. It was fine until we hit Vantage, notably the Ryegrass heights, where a wet sloppy snow had come down: we traveled on back down into rain around Ellensberg, and so on until we began the climb up toward the Cascades, where it turned to snow, of course, and then to a bit of ice---corrugated ice on the roads. The highway patrol, via the website, was urging people to form a lane and just keep going, traction tires advised and no over-sized vehicles. Most people did as requested: a few, notably crazy people in very large trucks and Ford Explorers, decided they were too good to need to fall in, and we passed at least six of them wheels-up beside the road, two nose-on against the snowbank, accompanied in one case by about four cars they'd probably taken out on the way to the snowbank. Our gallant little Forester with its all-weather tires just kept going at the steady speed of the line and we never even spun a wheel, just purred right along, though it slowed us down a bit. The only trouble we had was after dark. We'd let Jiffy-Lube apply their "just as good as Rain-X" window treatment, and it isn't just as good as Rain-X. After dark, with the glare of headlights on a woodland route, it turns water to a light-reflective film, and proved a real terror. Now we're trying to figure what solvent can remove it without damaging our finish, and we're going to replace it with Rain-X. The con isn't until tomorrow: we're staying at Jane's brother's place. Had a nice supper and watched the US National Figure Skating competitions until we were just too wiped to stay up longer.

Date: 1/13/06. Friday. 45731. An auspicious day, well, for atevi, it is. One more killer antibiotic, and my stomach is really rebelling. We had a nice breakfast, left Ysabel and Efanor to entertain themselves at the house, and headed to the con. It turned out the panels we'd been told we had were canceled (I think the con had lost a little room space) so I just hung out in the bar, ran into Betty Bigelow and others, and just sat and chatted. The bar proved to do a very creditable nachos, so we had that. Other than that, there was absolutely nothing for me to do, and I felt like hell, anyway. Just too much effort to put one foot in front of the other, but at least with the antibiotic, I'm not spreading it around. It poured rain---it's been raining for 26 days straight in Seattle, and we'd had trouble parking the car at the hotel: they're about to be demolished next month, so the staff is doing the best they can under the circumstances, but no one at the desk was in a mood to be helpful---and the automatic machine that takes your credit card wasn't printing the receipt you need to put on the windshield, so here I stood in the driving rain, soaked, with wet hair, in about 40 degree weather, trying to get the cursed thing to work---Jane had had her own bout with the parking, and I'd volunteered to go see to it---and it still wouldn't give me a receipt, so I got the number and called the company: nothing but a robot. I tried going inside to the desk, and did manage to mail the two crumpled IRS envelopes I've been carrying about since Thursday, but they just walked off when I tried to ask about the parking system. I was frozen, wet, and thoroughly p'o'ed. I went back to the bar and shared and Irish coffee with Betty. Sure enough, despite my call, when we went to leave, the parking fairy had given us a ticket for illicit parking. We watched some more of the skating and headed for bed. I had a headache, a cough, and a stomach ache. What more can life offer?

Date: 1/14/06. Saturday. 45731. We had the same trouble parking, and now the hotel has put all parking offlimits "except hotel guests," which we aren't, technically, but we're on panels, and we're on advertising, so we went to the hotel desk, actually got hold of staff, and Jane gave one of her better arguments: we got a parking slip out of it, and we're letting the hotel handle yesterday's. It's still pouring. I was soaked just getting to the hotel. I had an early morning panel---worse, it was on education, which raises my blood pressure right off. Jane and I have made a pact: if I ever get another education panel, she takes it: she loves them. I break out in a rash. I'd tried to get to the dealer's room beforehand, no go; I tried again, discovered there was nothing I really needed, and headed for the bar to sit. It turned out to be the big game between Seattle and someone with an Indian theme, and there was no doing anything else but watching that: you couldn't hear yourself think. Had a pleasant sit with Betty's David, and had one more panel, a round robin thing that didn't work...Then we headed home, via a Mexican restaurant, and watched the main day of the skating competitions.

Date: 1/15/06. Sunday. 45731. We headed out early for Spokane, since a major storm was in the offing. This meant skipping the two panels we actually wanted to be on, but safety comes first, especially with animals traveling with you...we breezed through Snowqualmie with no trouble, ran into fellow conventioneers at a reststop: Debbie and Daren Fredericks were headed home with a sick daughter. We had (tada!) a traveling nurse practioner, who looked the child over and cued them to take her in to medical care asap. I do hope it wasn't Whooping Cough. We went on home, had supper at Boston's, and went our ways. Sharon's Steve had been out skiing all day; she headed home; and we folded. Meanwhile the news from Snowqualmie only got worse all night.

Date: 1/16/06. Monday. 45731. Snowqualmie is now a parking lot with lots and lots of cars stuck. We're so glad to be back safely on this side, and any conventioners who got caught on the wrong side of the mountains are probably still up there. The situation at the pass is complicated by a holiday weekend and a ski lodge at the top of the pass: that can combine with a heavy snowfall into quite a situation. We went on to the rink, and Joan showed up to give Terry a lesson. Sharon was there. So were about 30 recreational skaters of varying skill levels, about 3 fast and 27 creeping about---a lethal cocktail for a skater trying to practice backward curves. I had a pretty decent skate, all told: at least I got my feet back under me, and was able to tootle about a bit. The new diet is working: we've even managed to make the no-cholesterol eggs palatable. The secret is non-fat cream cheese scrambled in. It probably replaces everything they took out of the diet eggs.

Date: 1/17/06. Tuesday. 45023. Well, at least I'm writing again. Amazing how much time you can lose with one convention: it just takes it out of you, and you have days trying to get all the threads back and the writing moving again. About 5 days plus the duration of the convention is what it costs. It would be different if I attended incognito, but dealing with older books while I'm working is just deadly. If I weren't a meticulous outliner and old hand at this it would be even worse. On the other fronts, things are suddenly looking up. One: the aquarium guy sent an e-mail saying a friend of his was taking over. Hurrah. Two, the clothes I ordered have been found and will arrive tomorrow. Three: the writing is starting to move again. Four: the weather has turned cold again. Five: I'm through with the antibiotics and starting to feel human. And Six, I had a pretty good skate, even if Joan didn't show up (I'd expected a lesson) and the ice was perfect and the holiday was over. Ps to several readers who've worried because I only have four of the 8-10 screws in per skate: this is normal. I don't jump high, and 4 screws will take a waltz jump just fine. If I were doing the triple Lutz, I'd be worried, but it's no problem at all. The worst that could happen would be messing up a screw-hole by letting the blades wobble, but I check them often to prevent that developing, and I'm just not putting that much stress on them.

Date: 1/18/06. Wednesday. 45482. A busy day---catching up on all the things I was doing pre-convention. I did get hold of the chap who can take care of the tank setup, and that will happen. The clothes arrived. The main outfit, a jacket, didn't fit---I'm pretty long-waisted, but six inches too short is unreasonable, especially since it was also about 4 inches too large around the ribs. Well, I console myself that I'm skinnier than I used to be. Skating---We made contact with Joan, and had a good lesson. Joan has started me working more seriously on the toe loop, which is a curious sort of jump...the waltz jump is sort of a flying turn, a quick reverse of direction: you bring the free leg back, then swing it forward, rise on the pick, rotate, pick on the other foot and settle, headed backward, with 1/2 rotation. The toe loop involves an inside 3-turn, reach the free leg back without turning, pick-in, rotate to the outside, loft, pick-in a second time, turn, and settle: it's reckoned as a full-rotation jump, with a punctuation in the middle, as t' were. This adds up to a jump that (except for that somewhat unnerving blind-backwards initial pick-in) is just about the same difficulty as the half-rotation waltz jump. I'm rather excited by this notion. The waltz jump is getting more natural with practice: I occasionally forget whether I meant to 3-turn or waltz-jump, at least in slow speeds---on one level they're not alike, but the initial move (except the leg swing) is, and they get crossed up in my intentions at times, but never in a dangerous way. And I'm fighting that right-footed outside back edge: it's all not getting the left hip up---I'm falling off to the inside, and until I commit and throw my weight over there, it's not going to work.

Date: 1/19/06. Thursday. 45482. Started out this morning trying to clean the place up, get some of the Christmas decoration down, since the chap's going to come by to figure out the tank. Jane joined in, and we decided we'd take the decorations down and box them. We had a fairly good skate---Jane took a spill, but not a bad one; I managed to improve that right foot problem headed backwards---flinging myself onto that lead hard is the answer; and then I did a kind of startling thing. I skated over for a sip of latte, and where I usually loop out and come around to the ledge to take the cup with my right hand, I just flipped off a waltz jump on the spot and without thinking about it---pop! just a baby one, but a neat, quick reverse that brought me up to the ledge going the convenient way. I was startled as all get-out when I realized what I'd just thoughtlessly done. Now if I could do it that confidently out in mid-ice....// We took out straight for home, to take down decorations and get ready for the visitation: and the chap showed up not just to estimate, but with the tank and all, because it was the time he could get a helper to get that tank up the steps. So it's a good thing we did sweep up---the sweeper ate something, so I'm going to have to take it apart: fortunately, it's a Dyson, which is easy to disassemble and you can always extract whatever it is, but it's a pain---I also managed, when the phone rang, to trip over a hip-high stack of ornament boxes. Brilliant move. Fortunately nothing broke, not me, not the ornaments.//And we set the tank in its new home. It's going to be beautiful, but the sump tank is too big for the stand. I said it would be, and Jane said it would be, and there we are: once we had the tank and the stand and the sump all in one place to try to fit it together, it is definitively too big. But it's in, though dry: it can take a few days to adjust to the ambient temperature before the water goes in: not a bad thing; and the new sump tank is ordered (that's the tank down below and out of sight that holds a light, a load of weed, and provides a buffer and nutrients to the upper tank, as water circulates to it and up again through pipes to the outflow in the upper tank.) It's an elegant bow-front 54 gallon black-framed tank with a black stand, and it will be a beautiful addition to the living room. We're really looking forward to this. Sharon, bless you and Steve, we have got the thing upstairs, so the difficulty is solved, and all is well without an intervention with ropes and tackle. We're really looking forward to the tank---looking forward, that is, in the glacial way reef tanks develop: a month for the water to stabilize and the system to cycle, and become ready for development: if you don't take it slow, you can really foul up a system, and the operative word is 'foul.' Nothing worse than a tank-crash, meaning an ecological disaster in your little biosphere. But we're old hands at this, and we'll not put anything but live-rock and sand (live rock is rock that has been soaked in salt water and allowed to become populated with microflora and microfauna. It can also mean rock collected from the wild, but neither coral nor rock at this shop is wild-collected: it's all reproduced by hobbyists, much better way of doing things, and much less problem with things turning up that you don't want in your tank, that can proliferate into problems.) We'll add specimens very gradually. We'll have a few fish---but mostly corals, all reproduced from frags, ie, bits broken off growing pieces and sold by hobbyists. Needless to say, with all the cleaning and fussing about we did, work didn't get done today, but now that the place is neatened up, and we have the pretty tank in the corner, we're happy, and I'm in a much better frame of mind to get some work done tomorrow.

Date: 1/20/06. Friday. 45830. I got a little done, but the morning seemed to be too short. Possibly it's due to the amount I've been sleeping---12 hours a night, since I caught the bug and spent nights almost without sleep. I'm feeling better, but in the evening, often before 9pm, I just want to fold up and go to bed.//We hied ourselves to the rink at the usual time, but grew concerned because there was no Sharon---we finally grew so concerned after Joan showed and hadn't heard from here, we left the ice to get a phone. Calling Steve, of course, was the magic charm: she immediately walked through the door. We called Steve back to say we'd found her, and all was well: she hadn't known the public hours had gone 30 minutes early in January to accommodate a college class on the ice. Had a cute family on the ice---a half dozen kids plus mom, newly moved up from Northern California, and very nice.//And word was out that the press conference launching the Spokane activities leading up to hosting the US Nationals was to be downtown. Our information was very confused, except that they wanted bodies down there---at first we thought on the downtown rink, but then it turned out to be at the downtown megamall. So we went, adding Sharon to the troupe, had lunch at the Sawtooth, a pricey restaurant, then found Casual Corner next door was going out of business, with 50.00 blouses down to 7.50. This could not be ignored. Jane struck, and got jeans and two coats, one leather; I got an outfit for a song. Sharon, however, held out for Chico's, and ended up with a fancy-clothes jacket of red velvet, on sale at half. Mine sort of subs for the clothes I'm having to return; everyone else was extravagant. (Grin.) And then, of course, the press conference. The two other clubs (We're Lilac City FSC. The others are Spokane FSC and Inland Northwest FSC) had shown with coaches and in full dress. Two of our gals had, no coaches, and the club president, and we'd have shown up in full kit if we'd had any advisement to do that. Well, Jane had her sparkly jacket, and had that on; Sharon had her LCFSC jacket; I was in civvies. But Jane and I are veterans of the public appearance game: Jane persuaded our kids out of the sweats, headed for the organizers, did the intros, and I did the same on the other side of the gathering. I will say our kids looked good. So it turned out to be a good thing we came after all: you pick up a sense of how things work, going to the sf conventions, and being old hands at that, we applied it. So we headed home, delivered Sharon back to her car, and, home, watched a little telly---Jane's joke present of "Hercules", a DVD, the Hallmark production, turned out to be a Lion's Gate offering, and quite well done---drank enough Scotch to get the buzz out of our system: public appearance work always cranks up the adrenalin, and we both turned in early, with the intention to do the other half of the public relations thing tomorrow, at the downtown rink. This means going after our skates: I'm not sure about full kit for the downtown rink---where to leave your clothes and gear is a poser, down there, with the whole place open to anyone who walks up. And considering the pigeons in the rafters, I'm not sure I want to risk my new skates, but we'll see.

Date: 1/21/06. Saturday. 45830. Jane's crunching on her book, and I hadn't the heart to disturb her with the Christmas cards, which have to be put on The Address List, and filling out envelopes---we're late, but we're still trying. I had then a 5 inch stack of bills and circulars to wade through, including the To Do Taxes folder, which I had to start...I'm determined not to be behind the deadline on taxes this year. I sat down with my second cup of coffee for the day and realized if we were going to make the downtown festivities we'd better scramble, so we did. We went to the rink, got our gear, headed downtown, parked, hiked over to the Ice Palace, and watched a colleague from Pullman risk her neck on spectacularly knotty and lumpy ice...there's got to be something wrong with their Zamboni. The netting has dissuaded the pigeons, but a determined few have managed to score hits on the ice at the eastern edge. And there were death-cookies out there the size of Kansas. Kudos to all the skaters who did programs and lived. I skated very modestly and slowly, with knees bent enough to skate through said cookies, but even so, one got me---I was skating along minding my business, and wham! my right skate hit something that slammed it aft...fortunately my balance was set and I simply caught my balance on the other foot, but I'm sure glad I wasn't on a long spiral: that's guaranteed dental-work. We had a nice time, even so---Mayor Hession's wife is a nice person, and a skater; we had a lengthy and pleasant round or three; and we decided after the first hour we'd had all the fun our joints ought to take. We de-skated and headed for Riverpark Square, which is a mall with the usual suspects, site of the aforementioned sale at CC. We picked up some things we'd thought about overnight---I mean, she said, doing her best diva imitation, how can you resist a blouse for 9.75? Then we buzzed past Chico's sale, which wasn't as deep, but I got a nice sparkly top for a third of its original price, and Jane now has to purge her closet. Ah, me: I don't shop often, but when it's cheaper than making it, it's hard to resist. We had lunch and headed home to collapse. It's been a full day. I'm making some progress.

Date: 1/22/06. Sunday. 47821. We're recuperating from the ice yesterday---my back hurts incredibly. I've stuck one of those Icy Hot Patches on it, even if I know it's going to rip my skin off getting the thing off---Bengay patches are ever so much kinder, but we're out of those. The pain is from the jolting we took skating on corrugated ice, no question. I'm getting a little work done, and a little cleanup, but I'm so sore I can't rest, and Advil and MSM hasn't touched it.

Date: 1/23/06. Monday. 48172. The back finally popped back into alignment, that or the menthol patch did its work. I now have very irritated skin where I ripped the patch off, but the general relief is marvelous. I was about ready to make a flying visit to Dr. Mike, but it's solved itself, and I actually got some sleep last night, as I didn't Saturday night. The diet is doing well---I'm headed generally downward, and if I do the cooking instead of eating out, it really goes down. I'm officially lighter than I've been in years and years. On the skating front, getting onto smooth ice was---well, not quite that. There was a scheduling crunch at the home rink, so we public skaters headed out onto unZambonied ice the little tykes had just left, and it had some major rough spots...I decided it was a good thing to practice 3-turns on the rough edge near the wall, figuring that it was a confidence builder: if I could turn on that rutted mess, I could turn. Unfortunately Jane found a raised patch about the size of a trolley-track that diverted her gliding-foot skate at high speed, wobbled it, and sent her straight into the plexi at the corner. She hit face-on, and has a bit of a mouse. She said the ice didn't hurt at all when she went down, but the hockey boards hurt. After that experience, we decided to leave for the day. We rather hoped we'd get our tank set up this evening, but there was no word from the chap who's to do it. I suppose the sump hasn't come in.

Date: 1/24/06. Tuesday. 49648. The work is picking up again: I'm getting my rhythm back after the dual whammy of the sickness and Rustycon; I'm making progress. And likewise on the rink: the ice today was double-Zambonied and near perfect. Sharon came in, and had a lesson with Joan, and we just practiced, Jane on edges and turns, me on that pesky back outside edge---going backward on a curve. I got a circle of ice unto myself and began figuring out why I can do it as a runout from the 3-turn on the left foot, but not the right, and the answer is angle. I began doing my waltz-8 pattern, but instead of putting the free foot to the fore after the foot-change, I'm putting it behind as I do after the waltz jump (no connection to the waltz 8), and all of a sudden I have a runout. It's posture, no question. And after finding out the balance point on that foot, I can then put the foot anywhere and get a back edge. So I began trying to solve the problem on the left foot, and all of a sudden, after about 40 minutes of work, turning into that run again and again and again until I was near dizzy---there it was: an edge, a turn, good balance going backward. I had the spot; I had the feeling; I did it repeatedly, and just about the time I ran out of ice-time, I was doing it pretty consistently. I have a lesson tomorrow. I've promised Joan a lobster dinner if she gets me to do that pattern gracefully, and I'd better start saving my pennies. I did promise Joan I'd knit her some leg-warmers like mine: she's always cold on the ice (she's very petite) and I know these would help. This meant resurrecting my knitting skills, so I got a booklet on how-to with some needles and some cheap Red Heart yarn. She wants black---not kind on my eyes, but I got it started, and finally remembered how Gran taught me to cast-on (index finger method), which is ever so much easier than anything in the instruction book. Zip-zip-zip---I have my measurements. I need 36 stitch-rows if I can get the yarn to loosen up. Unfortunately the needles I have are skinny, and the yarn is 'hard', meaning it doesn't want to be loose and soft at all. But about 4 tries produced a perfect knit---except that it's the general thickness and sturdiness of a horse blanket, and I'm wishing I had needles the size of snare drum sticks; I think I'm going to have to find the box that has my good needles---and just as I write this I recall why I use flat needles instead of circular---the ankles are so small that you just can't use anything but flat needles. For those of you who want to duplicate this project, it's easy. Choose a yarn that will take a bit (but not a whole lot) of abuse. Measure your ankle, measure your calf, measure from anklebone to the top of the kneecap. (That gives you enough poof when the things are worn below the knee.) Cast on enough stitches for either the ankle or the calf (depending on whether you'd rather increase or decrease at the end) and rib-knit about an inch and a half for the start, then flat-knit until you reach the other end of the project: rib-knit another band to finish, finish off, stitch sides together to make a tube: voila! A leg-warmer that will turn your shins into a heat-factory for your bloodstream in the bitterest weather: cozy comfort. Black or brown will make them look like boot tops. Colors are your choice. They will fit over jeans, or under. Dancers often use them clear over their knees: the ones I prefer fit like knee socks. Unfortunately as a fashion statement, it's a gal thing, but guys could well put them (in some suitably manly color) as an adjunct to socks, under rather than over clothing.

Date: 1/25/06. Wednesday. 51203. I wish work would just zip along to new things. Sometimes I feel as if I were standing's good, but slower than I want---a month slower, for that matter. Ever since the convention, to be sure I don't lose touch with the book, I'm simply editing from the beginning and inserting the kind of details that make the book cohesive. It's writing, but it's more like correcting. //Skating: I had a  brief lesson, and I am so close to getting both the waltz-8 and the back edges. //After skating, we went yarn-hunting at Michaels, hoping to find something a bit nicer. I did find it, but it's a lambswool-acrylic blend, which with Gran's cast-on method, is difficult---the needle doesn't want to pick up the slip-cast: it's too blunt. So I got a regular yarn-sewing needle to pick up the yarn so I can knit the first row, stitch by stitch. I've ripped up and cast off so many starts---I hope this one takes, because the first row is a bear to get started---after that, it's light and easy as can be. Joan wants black, but I figure I can give her texture, so I'm adding in a fuzzy stripe (in black) periodically, and some in-out bands. For those of you who don't knit, knitting has only two stitches, period: knit, and purl. in knitting, you stick the needle through the loop toward the back, and in purl, you stick it from the back to the front. These two make all the ribbing, chains, nubs, indents, outdents, etc. that exist. Even cable and popcorn---a matter of snatching stitches off the needle into a kind of holding clip, then transposing them with a twist and reintroducing their stitches to the main needle: that's why when you learn to knit, you can watch telly or carry on a conversation, especially while doing flat-knit, which is one row of knits, one row of purls repeated ad nauseam. Your fingers can feel which one you're doing and you don't even need to look at it too carefully. Of course, teaching your fingers to keep the needles tilted up so you don't let all your work slide off and unravel takes a little bit of dot-and-carry-one kind of concentration, but that becomes automatic too. The world was amazed when Rosey Greer took up knitting (footballer, huge hands) as a kind of calm-down mantra, but it's true: you don't need tiny clever fingers to manage it, either (as you do with tatting and other things I've never managed.) I can't crochet. I've learned well enough to crochet a rose and a bit of lace, but the patterns just won't stick in my head, and a dropped crochet stitch for me is a disaster. With knitting, even if you blow a stitch and found out way too late, you can sneak back with a needle and a loop of yarn and patch it so no one will ever know, and you can rescue a dropped stitch if you see it and get it right back on the needle if you pay attention to whether it's supposed to be a knit stitch or a purl (front or back). And you can pick up color simply by snipping a thread at the edge, bringing another in---or, in the case of 3-color knit, you 'carry' a color thread from one area of use to the next on the back side...being careful, of course, to let it swag a teensy little bit, so if someone is putting on the, say, sweater, they have enough stretch to get into the garment. The main thing, dear readers, if any of you are meditating going to a learn-to-knit site and trying this, is to get cheap yarn for a learning exercise, pick a light color, which will let you see your stitches (variegated is fun) and above all, keep tension extremely light: the thread passing through your fingers should be light and loose as juggling a down feather, not hauling or forcing at any point. The size needle you use plus the size yarn you use governs the density, 'hardness' and thickness of the item. There's a difference between weaving yarn and knitting yarn: knitting yarn has a continual twist like a rope, which makes the elasticity. For a beginner, I recommend Red Heart inexpensive yarn, with a needle about 10 gauge. When your edges don't pull in as you go, you're doing fine.

Date: 1/26/06. Thursday. 51203. Well, I'm doing my reader-pass through Jane's new work: we really ought to take a car trip for this, but we're so busy and the house is such a mess and the accounting needs doing---we fear we'd only get farther behind. So I'll be stalled at the same word-count while I return the favor Jane does me on my books: a close, tight read. This is the most valuable thing a couple of writers can do for each other, because the great silence otherwise just surrounds you and you can become convinced this is either the best thing or the worst thing you've ever done...reality is when a knowledgeable friend can read it and confirm whether he/she got the things needful. Meanwhile I'm still knitting. My hands get sore---completely unused to that kind of work. But it's good exercise for the fingers, and good time-out for the brain. Skating---went fairly well. I'm still working on the eternal 3-turns, trying to use them to get to the back edges, which are doing much better, thank you. And tomorrow we get the long-promised tank. I can't wait. Got some new yarn, black lambswool, which should be better.

Date: 1/27/06. Friday. 51203. Still working on the reading, and the knitting, except I finished one, and my eyesight is so bad on black yarn that I stitched it together wrong and then put a hole in it trying to get it taken apart. I'm saving that as a compendium of really stupid mistakes: if I keep them all confined to that piece things should be better. I picked up more yarn, after that fiasco, and picked up some pretty stuff called 'trellis', which is bits of bright ribbon linked by threads, which can be knitted in. Bands of that do one other job: it gives my eyes markers I can use to make sure the join is good when I put it together. Ha. Skating...Sharon's been tangled in the job thing, and we miss her. A lot of public skaters today. And I'm still practicing the same moves. But this evening, finally, finally, we got the tank set up. It's one thing if you're putting together pieces you know, but the whole hobby has changed markedly from the time we had tanks. So we hired Nathan. Nathan carried all the heavy things, like rock and water, upstairs, and also sat down and put together an Urchin skimmer, an All-glass aquarium, a nameless pipe kit, two pumps, and a heater of yet another brand, making sure that the sand had an anti-goby screen under it, so that the little gobies don't dig and undermine your reef, causing landslides; and that the sand is thick enough, and the pipes go where they ought, and that the water level in the sump is as high as it can be without danger of overflow if the power goes off and dumps everything in the pipes back to the sump, hey? Plan ahead. It's not quite as bad as building a Chevy from a pile of parts, but it's got to be close: if things don't fit in the right order in the sump, they don't fit, and the clearance we have for the sump in the base is, oh, a quarter inch. But it runs. It bubbles. It's so cloudy we can't see it---but we lucked out. A woman having her house painted broke down her 50 gallon tank and sold off the rock and corals preparatory to getting a larger one, and we got the rock, not merely live-rock, but aged and inhabited rock, with snails and even a few mushrooms. Neat. We're excited. We're sure we're going to lose some life-forms because of the initial chill-down and the process of aging the water, but we'll try to keep it steady as we can under the circumstances: water quality is always a balancing act, and I'm doing it with an unfamiliar system. I have to feed two imaginary fish twice a day to get the protein breakdown chemistry started in the skimmer. It sounds like Niagara, but we're going to put a longer pipe in the overflow, which will lessen the height of the water-drop and quieten it.

Date: 1/28/06. Saturday. 51203. Reading, reading, reading. The knitting is working much better now that I've pent all the mistakes into the former piece. But I'm worried about it being too small. The lambswool is finer than Red Heart, and it's softer, but also finer stitches. The ribbon-knit bands are pretty as I'd thought. The tank has cleared enough for us to see creatures moving: we have some snails still alive, at least 3. The mushrooms are folded down tight but hanging on, and there are quite a few tubeworms.

Date: 1/29/06. Sunday. 51203. Well, this is getting exciting. I have to do the accounting: there's no time for excuses. The envelopes have to go out the door. I wish the Christmas letters were done. I'm reading, reading, reading, and knitting to finish one for a trial on Monday when we see Joan. And the tank---the tank. I checked the water level in the sump, which showed down nearly 2 gallons. This is big. That's evaporation, and if water is evaporating, the tank water is getting saltier. Not good. I went down to the fish store and checked. Yep, that's not an uncommon evaporation rate for a system, even if it is high. So I have a choice: live at the fish store, carrying a gallon of water up 3 flights of stairs daily, and getting that water from the store---or buy a RODI filter so I can make my own RODI water. This is membrane filtration coupled with particulate, charcoal, and Lord knows what else, and it's an osmosis drip. Not inexpensive, but the last piece we really need. So I got the thing plus the sink adapter, to get water to it. Wrong. The sink won't take that adapter. So the fish store and I had discussed the alternative, putting the RODI filter onto the washing machine pipes, which means a Y adapter, so my washing machine still gets cold water, and a real caution to make sure the thing doesn't leak on the people downstairs. The membrane filter puts a couple of gallons out as wastewater while producing truly pure water, and the wastewater (the yellow line) runs down the washing machine drain. Meanwhile I also got a 1 and a quarter inch pvc pipe for that noisy sump and will get Nathan to put it in on the next service call. I attached the filter, got the drip aimed into a bucket, and produced, after some futzing, about 6 gallons of very pure water, two of which went in, and the rest of which can now wait in a bucket and be added to the sump as needed, until I have to fit the hoses back and make new RODI water. Ain't technology an adventure? We've located two, possibly 3 sponges, two white, and one, barely visible, yellow, on the rocks.

Date: 1/30/06. Monday. 51203. Reading and reading. I have one leg of knitting finished, and took it to fit Joan, but we arrived at the rink to find the district was having a teachers' meeting, or some such, and the rink was full of small bodies. We called Joan to call off our lesson: there was just no hope. But it was a fairly good time, and I am beginning to get the waltz jump back (since the boot change, when my balance shifted, it's been too risky to do off the wall, but that's changing.) And the back crossover is all of a sudden behaving as it should. On the tank front, the water is now clear, and we are now entering the algae-growth phase of water-aging: you don't plan it: it just does. The water isn't as clear as before and the surfaces begin to sport a nasty brown. We have, alive, 3 snails, 4 mushrooms, one tunicate, countless featherduster worms, and many miniature anemone-like brown creatures. The weed attached to the rock is going to die as the algae sucks up the nutrients. We must be having dry air. The tank sucked down another gallon of water evaporation. The tax report got off, just before deadline. Hurrah.

menu menu.htm archive I progarchive.htm archive I archive 7b  archive 2007b archive VI archive 6 archive V archive 5 archive IV archive 4 archive III archive 3 archive II archive 2 archive 7 archive 2007a archive 8 archive 8