I meant to say Rabbit Rabbit when I woke up, I’d thought about it before I fell asleep the night before, but I went upstairs and said, “Good morning, Mom,” before I remembered. But that’s a good thing to be able to say, too.
My mom has started wearing a scarf with her bathrobe in the morning. When sanguinity and I put our bags in the rental car and got out the long-handled scraper that Hertz included, my mom came out on the sidewalk with her camera to capture Sang of the Northwest scraping the windows.
We volunteered to be bumped to another flight, and they gave our tickets away but then “found” us seats on the same flight, in First Class. Unexpected luxuries:
Last weekend I took Friday and Monday off work, and Sang and I drove out to Stub Stewart State Park to stay in a one-room cabin, sans internet. The plan was for Sang to study for her comps and me to do my thing of reading, writing, and looking out the window. There were enough trails around that we could also get out for walks as the weather allowed– for example, the bike path where we walked our marathon last month!
We turned on the heat and lights when we arrived at our cozy little cabin. The heater got right to work raising the temperature from 40 degrees to 70, but man, the lights. The lights worked, but they consisted of one small overhead fixture, probably with compact fluorescents inside, and it was DEPRESSING AS HELL.
Sang could see my mental health unraveling as we sat there. At her urging we got back in the car and drove toward Forest Grove, looking for a big-box store that might sell us a couple of lamps for cheap. We walked into the Walmart in Cornelius and Sang started laughing. We were turning to soul-sucking Walmart to stabilize my mood?
So now we are the proud owners of a five-dollar desk lamp and a plastic screw-together floor lamp, and with their help the cabin was cheery and snug for the rest of the weekend! We drank many hot beverages and Sang studied stats like a champ. I read four books:
And on Monday I started my reread of The Subtle Knife. Boy, he doesn’t worry about explicating via discussion and conversation, does he? And I didn’t remember Will being such a little hardass at the beginning in Cittagazze. There is something about this series that makes me miss my bus stop while reading it, even when I hadn’t thought I was all that absorbed.
Oh, and when we got home I opened the crisper drawer in the fridge and the Cider Fairy had visited and stuffed it full of bottles of delicious Spire Mountain cider! It’s not every day that happens.
The outdoor part of the heat pump started making an alarming rattle; since it’s freezing rain season, sanguinity thinks it has ice built up inside somewhere. Therefore, we are now running the A/C full blast to push warm air from the living room out past the mechanism and hopefully melt the ice. Then if it works we can heat the house again, maybe.
I have turned on the electric blanket in case it’s an early bedtime instead.
Inappropriate heating and cooling seems to be a bit of a theme in our life: rolling up the windows and blasting the car heater in the summer for “car sauna” to acclimate for Badwater, rolling down the windows and blasting the car heater that Christmas the dog rolled in dead fish and we couldn’t stand to be enclosed with him, and de-smoking the house that time during the Snowpocalypse when the exercise ball caught on fire on the old furnace grate.
The heat pump controls for air conditioning go down to 64 degrees. Economically sensible, but inadequate for certain experiments or, say, a Mr. Popper’s Penguins scenario. Fortunately, you can hit a button with a little picture of a strongman flexing his bicep, and the heat pump gives it all it’s got for 20 minutes. We call him Skookum-Man.
Text sent to sanguinity at 4:50 p.m. yesterday: “Coming home a little early– yay! Because my back hurts– booo!” I was quite gleeful at having caught an early bus despite the tweaky back.
Text sent to sanguinity about half an hour later: “Never mind, bus rear-ended at 26th and Powell. Will be delayed.”
Even though hardly anyone felt the hit, including the driver (I’m still not sure how she knew), a supervisor was called and we all got off and waited in the mist for the next bus. But not before the bus driver brought the car driver on board to get paperwork started. Car Driver faced us all like a champ and said, “I am SO SORRY, everyone.” And get this! nobody bitched about it. #loveportland
In reading news, I started Code Name Verity and could tell right away it’s as good as everyone’s been saying.
And I finished Kage Baker’s The Sons of Heaven, which I consider the last of the novels as far as The Company series goes. I know there’s a prequel about Edward, and some short-story collections and novellas I plan to read, but it will all be filling-in. The Sons of Heaven was a gossipy and satisfying drawing together of threads, and that carried me through the Big Battle At The End (I’m not a fan of those usually, especially in fantasy novels) and the difficulty of nearly-omnipotent characters and how to make them interesting.
This afternoon I put on the season’s first Christmas music and my very favorite holiday album, 1987’s A Very Special Christmas. It’s a benefit compilation for the Special Olympics and has Bruce Springsteen’s “Merry Christmas Baby,” Alison Moyet’s “The Coventry Carol,” and Stevie Nicks’ “Silent Night.” (“Whoever that is, I’m scared,” sanguinity said.) I was so psyched I did ALL the dishes on the counters, and there were a lot of them.
I had jury duty at the county courthouse yesterday and today. Yesterday I was tickled to find myself in voir dire with Phillip Margolin, who writes bestselling legal thrillers! As the attorneys were going over concepts of reasonable doubt, burden of proof, etc., whenever they got tired of calling on the rest of us for our vague, uncertain answers, they’d call on Mr. Margolin to deliver the concise and correct version. He didn’t make it onto the jury–go figure. ;)
I served on that jury but still had to come back to the general jury pool today, and was called into voir dire again just before lunch. Today’s judge added two questions to the list I’d seen the day before–
I never list writing as a hobby. I usually don’t bring it up in conversations about my occupation, with legal and tax authorities, but it’s not a hobby. So it was, “Uh, I read a lot.” ;)
And although I was under oath, the sanguinity who knows me best would either refuse to answer, or the word would be “evil.” Reader, I evaded and said she would call me “the quiet one.” Sara and anyone else who knows us won’t have trouble cracking the code.
Funny how social constraints kept me from just saying “evil.” Voir dire is a strange mixture of trying to please and trying to get the heck out of the jury box. Several people said their word was “reliable.” Really, the person who knows you best would sum you up with “reliable”?
Anyway, I was rejected and got to come home, yay.
Remember how a few weeks ago I was yearning for something new to happen on my way through the Reed canyon? Yesterday I had just come down the slope from the street to the canyon floor when the bleeding-heart plant next to me started rustling. I leaned closer to see what little critter or bird was in there, then saw that the noise was coming from water drops hitting the leaves. It was a cloudy, still morning; had a rain shower started? But when I looked up, all the droplets were falling from one tree branch. I stepped back to get a better look, and confirmed: I’d almost been peed on by a squirrel 30 feet up. So that’s new.
At a trail junction a mother and daughter were staring at something I couldn’t see. “What are you looking at?” I stage-whispered, not wanting to blunder through and scare whatever it was. It turned out they were looking at the thimbleberry bush right in front of them, where one of these perched on a leaf:
None of us knew what it was, but the internet told me later it’s a banded alder borer. (Photo by Patrick Loes for forestryimages.org.)
When I passed the bee tree, it was very active and I could smell it! Like honey plus sap.
A kingfisher flew down the canyon on the other side of the water. I was looking through gaps in the greenery and couldn’t see it for long, but I could hear that rattling call that I always try to remember for the future.
Last weekend I hardly got out for exercise at all, and it made me restless and moody. I realized it was like I was tapering, but there wasn’t even a race to give it a point. Also in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading race reports with renewed interest. I think I’m ready to–and need to–ramp up the running again. Sang is going to be working most evenings for the next couple of months, so I have all sorts of plans for after-work writing and workouts. We’ll see.
Sang and I went to Sunday Parkways in North Portland last weekend. We rode our bikes, and ate ice cream, and watched a magic show, and even stood in line for the free photo booth.
While we were waiting, a friendly blueberry came by to promote…eating blueberries, I guess. I asked her if she felt like Violet Beauregarde. “Yes!” she said, and showed me that she was chewing a piece of gum. She was psyched that I remembered the name, because a couple of people had called her Veruca Salt earlier.
Methodical instruction from my nephew Nick. My lesson was after Sanguinity’s, so I benefited from some pedagogical refinements like learning to turn before learning to push.
As you can see, I favor the goofy stance.
I peeked in at Lynda Barry’s Tumblr, which I’d sort of forgotten about for awhile, and read about the four-minute diary:
Why is it so hard to keep a diary?
Keeping a diary is much easier if you limit your writing to four minutes each day: two minutes spent writing a list of what you remember from the day before and then two minutes making a list of things you saw.
Her post included a video you can use to time the four minutes, but I didn’t. Also, I misremembered about the second list and wrote what I did, not what I saw. Still, I wrote. Yesterday:
The short version:
You guys, I bought a dress for my sister’s wedding next May! See photo below.
The long version:
Last fall I’d made a few forays into vintage, thrift, and department stores, but managed only to narrow down the list of styles that were likely to look good. (High necks and twirly skirts = good; sheaths and anything with darts that presume to know where my boobs are = bad.) Then I spent a day on Northwest 23rd Avenue, the fancy street in Portland that seemed to have all the dress boutiques I’d found on the internet, as well as high-end vintage. I came away from that with:
1. A seven-dollar “security dress” from Goodwill that met color requirements and was wearable, but had unfixable fit problems that I’d have to wear a wrap to cover. I bought it first thing in the morning to give me the courage to say no to anything else that wasn’t quite right.
2. A business card with handwritten details about a dress I tried on and whose clone I could order if I gave the shop 16 weeks’ notice. It would be sewn from fair-trade silk from the mill in India they work with exclusively, would be handmade in Portland, and said to me in the mirror, “Hello, I am the Platonic ideal of the bridesmaid dress you and your relatives had in mind!” The fabric was so light that it was like slipping into a cocoon. For all that, I was not wholly in love with it (there was a tie in the front that looked great when the shop attendant tied it, but weird when I tried) and wasn’t sure I would wear it enough to earn out the daunting figure on the price tag.
3. A lovely pair of palazzo pants, the kind that look like a long skirt as long as one is standing still, in blue-purple-gray. An impulse buy, attributable partly to the hard work of the saleslady bringing me outfit after outfit to try on, and partly to my being pretty sure I’d wear them a lot no matter what. And it was always possible I’d find the stunning top that would overcome my qualms about showing up as The Lesbian In Pants.
The next week, I tried a few places in Southeast. Most notable was a store by the Hawthorne Bridge that apparently specializes in pageants and proms. I went in with Sanguinity and Bookherd, and as Bookherd said, there was no place to stand. Big circular racks of big circular dresses all around, and the store was mobbed with high-school-age girls in groups and their mothers. I remember some squealing, but I might be making that up. I was told I needed an appointment to try anything on, booked, and dismissed. (Later I called and canceled my appointment, because as far as I could tell all the dresses there had sequins and sparklies and would be completely over the top for me. There was still someone there at 10 p.m. when I called. That place is intense.) Out on the sidewalk, we were all a little dazed, and decided to adjourn for pho.
Meanwhile, my mother-in-law had emailed me to suggest David’s Bridal, a chain that seems able to outfit a passel of bridesmaids in cute dresses at reasonable prices. Confident that I had begun to gain experience in both full-service shopping and the bridal-industrial complex, I headed to Clackamas with Sanguinity as soon as they opened on Saturday. Inside the front door was a desk, with someone there to hand me a form and assign me a shopping attendant. The form and the staff wanted to know about the bride, not about me. I kept saying things like, “Well, yes, that is her last name too, but she’s in Colorado and already has a dress.” The idea that a lone attendant would walk in hoping to buy one dress, for herself, seemed foreign to them.
We were assigned a fitting room, which was spacious but had no mirrors inside it at all. To see yourself, you have to step out into the hallway between the fitting rooms, so the sales staff and your bridal party can weigh in. There’s also a little stage which had three honest-to-god pedestals to stand on, plus mirrors and a few rows of folding chairs for the audience. I watched a girl try on a First Communion dress complete with veil; she looked absolutely delighted.
Business was hopping at this place too– I asked the woman at the desk why now, and she said it was everyone who’d gotten engaged over the holidays. The week or two after Valentine’s Day will also be frantic, she said.
The dress I’d spotted online didn’t work out, so we tried a few more. The woman in the next fitting room was trying on puffy wedding dresses, and the stash of them on the clothes-rail outside her door got wider and wider until Sang and I were pretty much barricaded into our room by foofy white fabric. Also, whenever anyone in the store decides on a wedding dress, a bell rings (clangclangclang, like at Trader Joe’s) and everyone cheers.
Sanguinity knows how to persevere in shopping. Long after I would have left, we came up with this dress (but in blue, instead of black):
It was in the Mother of the Bride section, but whatevs. I guess I’m old enough that I could be the mother of a bride. (Though that model doesn’t look like she could.) It feels simple and comfortable. It’s a little darker blue than I’d hoped for, but there are slightly lighter blue and purple beads at the waist. And, Sanguinity offered to knit me a lace stole in a coordinating brighter shade! That will redeem the dress from its navy tendencies and also come in handy in May in the mountains. We picked pattern, yarn, and beads when we got home. Victorian Lace Today, you are a wonderful book.
So thanks, Shellynoir, Bookherd, Marian, and Refgoddess, for your interest and assistance! And of course thanks to Sanguinity, invaluable shopping advisor. It may not be her favorite thing to do, but man is she good at it. Now as I go around town and pass clothing stores, I don’t have to ask myself, “should I go in and look for dresses?” Ahhh.