Thursday, September 14, 2017

Something wondrous: Mozart's Starling

There is another world," Paul Eluard wrote, "but it is in this one." One world is marked by bland forgetfulness, where we do not permit ourselves an openness to the simple, graced beauty that is always with us. The other is marked by attentiveness, aliveness, love. This is the state of wonder, which is commonly treated as a passive phenomenon--a kind of visitation or feeling that overcomes us in the face of something wondrous. But the ground of the word, the Old English wundrian, is very active, meaning "to be affected by one's own astonishment." We decide, moment by moment, if we will allow ourselves to be affected by the presence of this brighter world in our everyday lives. Certainly we get no encouragement from what Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls the "overculture." It cannot be assessed by the standardized cultural criteria of worth--measures that can be labeled with a sum or a statistic or even, perhaps, a word. Receptivity to wonder is not economically productive, marketable, quantifiable. The rewards, also, stand beyond such calculation. But it is in such receptivity that we discover what draws us, and along with it our originality, our creativity, our soulfulness, our gladness, our art. Mozart found inspiration in the presence of a common bird. For us, too, the song of the world so often rises in places we had not thought to look.

--from pp 74 - 75 of Lyanda Lynn Haupt's Mozart's Starling 

Three chapters in, this book has me reconsidering my attitude towards starlings.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Ever since the eclipse . . .

The sun and the moon haven't quite been themselves . . 
This morning's sun (in the east)
This evening's moon, about the same place in the sky

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


And not in a "I shouldn't have had that third Paradigm Shift and all those shots of absinthe" sort of way either:

Finished Stones of Venice (the abridged version, of course)!

Monday, August 21, 2017

That's my moon

Scott looks into the bright new future (Green Man looks somewhat stern)
I am curious as to whether any other Cancers found themselves rooting for the moon during this morning's eclipse because I assuredly did. When I was telling Scott about it he said, "I didn't see it as a competition," and truly I didn't either. And yet I found myself spontaneously calling out, "Go, moon GO!" Which of course it did. In Seattle it was only 92% (or was it 93?), but I found that pretty damned fine as did pretty much everyone else who bothered to look. The capacity for high-powered executives and delivery guys and dull old editorial sorts to feel wonder is, I think, a good thing. I stop short of "awe." Maybe you needed totality for awe, or maybe I think that wonder is a more admirable and desirable response. I don't know. I'm going with wonder. It was cool and I'm glad the weather obliged locally.

Three books, two glasses, one bottle
Another bit of pleasure over the last few days was having three of my favorite Spring 2017 titles come into the warehouse. I felt it called for a little celebration. We toasted with prosecco because, you know, editorial salary. And also, we're pretty fond of prosecco. I shall now briefly go into advertising mode, to pad this brief post as much as anything else:

Colors of the West contains scores of gorgeous watercolors by Molly Hashimoto. It also, if you are more practically and artistically inclined, offers quite a bit of instruction so that you too can create lovely watercolors. I confess I continue to doubt my ability to create anything but mud on paper, but Molly very nearly inspires me to try.

Fall of Heaven, Messner's telling of Whymper's destructive obsession with the Matterhorn, is a book that has been added to the Legends and Lore series in large part because Scott read the German original and raved about it. Which tells the discerning reader that it's not a book only for climbers and that the writing must be pretty good. I defy you not choke up at Carrel's death scene. Who is Carrel, you ask? You must read this book!

A Sideways Look at Clouds by Maria Mudd Ruth is a book I love so much that I know I can't describe it adequately or, really, at all. Maria is about the most charming narrator you will ever meet, and she shares her fascination with (and confusion about) clouds in an utterly irresistible manner. Can I reliably differentiate one cloud type from another after working on this book? Not so much. But I certainly see clouds more frequently (they are everywhere once you become aware of them; no art gallery will ever be the same) and sort of know more about their inner workings.

Testing the glasses Scott purchased from B&H Photo

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Conspiracy of Librarians

So close!
I'm down to the final square on my bingo card: "about art or an artist," and the book I want from the Seattle Public Library, a biography of Vermeer and his times, is still checked out. Doing a little biblio-stalking, I have discovered that the copy I am waiting for was due back July 12th. I am not feeling particularly sanguine about it coming in any time soon. So now I'm thinking I may give the abridged version of Ruskin's Stones of Venice, which we have in the house, a shot. I was, I confess, hoping for something a little less mentally challenging now that we're in the hot and smoky dog days of August. Or, really, ever. I admit it: Ruskin intimidates me. I wonder if there's a graphic novel version of Stones of Venice.

Today I finished I Am Number Four, a book Scott has told me came out of James Frey's literary sweatshop. My response to the news was that if the actual writer was paid $250 for the text, he was overpaid because it was pretty bad, but apparently that didn't stop it from selling a gazillion copies and getting a movie deal. One way or another, I'm glad I got my copy from the SPL. You want to know what's wrong with the world of books? I Am Number Four sells like hotcakes while Marley Youman's truly beautiful and thought-provoking Thaliad does not.

Before my foray into Young Adult I read the final (sniff) Stuart McLean, Vinyl Cafe Turns The Page as my "collection of essays or short stories" entry. I swear I've read some of these in other collections, but I will begrudge the late Mr McLean nothing; they are sweet and funny stories, well worth revisiting and, yes, even paying for over again under a new title. If you've not read any of the Vinyl Cafe books, you really should. I think you can get podcasts from old shows on iTunes, should that be more to your taste.

Finally, there's the "you've been meaning to read" category. I filled that one with Graham Greene's Our Man In Havana which I picked up, I think, on bookstore day a few months ago. It's quite a different sort of thing from the author of Brighton Rock; very light, frothy, and silly. Oh, there's violent and sudden death, sure, but there are no Pinkie Browns, no observation about the difference between "right and wrong" and "good and evil." I am not complaining, while also being glad that I came to this particular Greene title after some of his others.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Less Holland, more books

 It's the last evening of my month sabbatical which is the sort of thing that should, possibly, make me reflective. Instead I find myself wondering if "reflective" is the word I want. You'd think I'd be better with words because I've spent a lot of the last month--or, more accurately, the last couple of weeks, reading. The Seattle Arts & Lectures Summer Reading Bingo apparently appealed to my competitive nature. Oh, I read next to nothing for the two weeks we were in Holland, and I squandered all the prime reading time on the flights watching movies instead. I'll ease in to writing about books, if that's what I'm going to do, by saying that The Queen of Katwe was a fine film, as was If Cats Disappeared From the World, though the cat movie (Japanese, with subtitles) was a bit more subtle. And I didn't watch that one until I was on the homeward trip because I'm not crazy. (Nor did I know, on the outward journey, that I would meet quite so many cats in Holland. But that's another post.) Quite deserving of all its public acclaim was Manchester by the Sea, while I found Bridget Jones's Baby to be laugh-out-loud funny. The Girl on the Train featured a fine red herring. I know that I saw one or two other films (seriously, I binge-watched on that tiny screen) but I've no memory of what those might have been. Forgettable, apparently.

Books though. I need to read only four books before Labor Day to get a blackout on my bingo card and, by gum, I think I should be able to accomplish that so go me! I used to read this way--sort of chain-reading, though I don't so much light the next book with the final chapter of the previous one--but it's been quite some time. I'd forgotten how pleasant it is to read just for pleasure. (And, it's just occurred to me, that I finally dropped the tendency to note bad breaks and such in the layout. I guess that will all come back soon enough.)

 Happily, pretty much everything I've read has been good, too--some things surprisingly so. I've just finished The Underground Railroad (the "fiction" square) which has a Pulitzer and an endorsement from Mr Obama so, really, it's pretty fatuous for me to note "it's good," but it is. Engrossingly and horrifyingly so. Harriet the Spy (banned) was maybe more of a surprise; it's a children's book I've heard of probably all my life so you'd think I'd have read it before but I hadn't; it turned out to be a pretty remarkable book. With all due respect to the Potterverse, I sort of feel like the 1960s were a golden age for children's literature. I may be mistaken, of course. The Secret Garden (filling the "made into a movie" square) was written a lot earlier and it's pretty darned fine as well. Fahrenheit 451 (science or science fiction) was one of the few clunkers; it seemed overly preachy and simplistic to me. Possibly that's why sci-fi and I parted company quite a few years ago. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (SAL speaker) felt somehow distant throughout; it might have been better to have read that one more slowly.

I feel that the graphic novel of Remembrance of Times Past: Swann's Way (graphic novel) would have been pretty incomprehensible had I not fairly recently reread the actual book; no matter what the creators might say, I don't see the graphic novel leading anyone to read the text book. (Scott also took issue, over my shoulder, with the depiction of M. Swann; apparently he should have curly red hair.) The Astrologer (Washington author) was, as ever, a delight though it is a book with irritating typesetting. Still, any book with Tycho Brahe in it is well worth a few bad breaks. A young woman with a lemonade and baked good stand happened to declare that Common Sense was her favorite 18th-century book so, oddly, that is my "recommended by a young person" entry; it was interesting to see how influential it must have been for the founding fathers--and just how obsessed Mr Paine was with property rights. What the Mouth Wants (LGBTQIA author or character) was so much more than its category--another surprise bit of brilliance and it naturally leads me to remember My Life in France (recommended by a bookseller). I liked that one so much that I asked for Mastering the Art of French Cooking for my birthday.

And now we're firmly into those books I read pre-Holland and it's all a bit hazier. True Grit (book in a category you haven't read before) thrilled me less than it did Scott (I still hope that he enjoys Beverley Nichols when he reads one of his books). The Penelopiad (set in a different country) definitely had its moments but was really a bit slight for something by Ms Atwood. Black Boy (memoir) I started before I was aware of the bingo (but not before the start of the reading period) and I didn't realize it wasn't fiction for the first fifty or so pages; it was another book that took me by surprise. What struck me most about Go Tell It On the Mountain (by a person of color) may have been the respect shown for mothers which, I am sure, was not necessarily the author's intent. Persuasion (a book you read in school) appealed to me no more than it did close to forty years ago; I am consistent if nothing else, while I rather enjoyed Lady Susan (read in a day) though it is so short that I feel like I sort of cheated there.

 What am I forgetting? Oh, my one library book (thus far, anyway, I have holds for two of my final four) was The Sellout (recommended by a librarian) which won the Man Booker a few years back and, really, it only reinforced my low opinion of the Man Booker. Highland Fling (published the year one of your parents was born) was also pretty wretched; happily Nancy Mitford went on to do better things (and, happily, I had read them before this one, her first). Crime de Luxe (chosen for its cover) was a mighty weak mystery so I have to assume that the final book (that I'm not remembering) was pretty bad as well.

And yet, now that I look at my bingo card I see that such was not the case at all. The missing book is Thaliad (poetry) and I inhaled that one in surprise and wonder. It was pretty darned fabulous in its creativity and execution. That's the thing that I have appreciated most about the summer bingo project; it has led me not only to read obsessively, it has caused me to read a lot of stuff that has been on the shelves for months or years. (The only challenge with the "you've been meaning to read" is going to be deciding which of the books piled up around the house to choose. I'm feeling like it could be a Graham Greene novel or, if time allows, Mozart's Starling.)

I don't think I intended to spend so much of my sabbatical with a book in my hands but I can't say that I'm complaining. No, I didn't get the back side of the fence painted, and the garden beds are still pretty overgrown and in need of weeding. I haven't had any massive epiphanies about the meaning of life or even cleared all the crap off the ping pong table. But I've been someone else over and over and over again and that, in my world, is enough.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Vogels van Nederland

 Can you believe the size of this pile of onions?
As I explained to Alex, it's extra challenging to write about the birds we saw in Holland because we ended up buying a Dutch-language guide while in Amsterdam and, well, it's just that much more complicated to share our sighting of a krooneend, aka Netta rufina, aka red-crested pochard, when I have to give three names for it. That's only half the difficulty, of course; there's also the challenge of shifting photos from the iPad to Myrna. But maybe I've been badmouthing the iPad for long enough, and I should just list some birds, post what photos I can, and call it good.

So then. The krooneend was a lovely bird (far less scary than the photo below makes it look) that we saw in the Zuider zee, according to the note Scott added to Zakgids Vogels van Nederland en Belgie which fine book we bought at Architectura & Natura Books in Amsterdam early on. Flipping through that book I see we also saw a family of knobbelzwaan (Cygnus olor, aka mute swans) while cycling across some reclaimed lands north of Amsterdam; brandgans (Branta leucopsis, aka barnacle geese) on the island of Texel; grauwe gans (Anser anser, greylag geese) all over the place; dwerggans (Anser erythropus, lesser whitefronted goose) on those waterlands and nijlgans (Alopochen aegytiaca, Egyptian geese) in Amsterdam. I remember being pleased to see the brilduiker (Bucephala clangula) on a small lake outside Amsterdam as I could say, with confidence, "Hey! It's a common goldeneye," and sometimes when traveling one likes to encounter the familiar. This does not mean I was pleased to see Starbucks in Amsterdam, however.

Continuing the list which is of interest, I fear, to very few, I note that the kuifeend (Aythya fuligula, known locally as a tufted duck) and the ever-delightful wilde eend (Anas platyrhynchos, aka mallard) were both spotted. More surprisingly, as we paused on a bench before leaving the natural area by De Koog, we saw a fazant (phasianus colchicus, ring-necked pheasant) who was pretty insistent on getting his photo taken. I think we saw the fuut (podiceps cristatus, great crested grebe) on a couple of different parts of the Zuider Zee;  the waterhoen (Gallinula chloropus, or common moorhen) in Amsterdam's Vondelpark; meerkoet (Fulica atra . . . coots!) and blauwe reiger (Ardea cinerea . . . great blue herons) everywhere. Aalscholver (Phalacrocorax carbo--great cormorants) were also pretty common, and we got used to seeing scholeksters (Haematopus ostralegus, the Eurasian oystercatcher) pretty regularly as well, though that didn't stop me from snapping their photos because they are darned attractive birds. A more exciting sighting was of the kievit (Vanellus vanellus) which translates to northern lapwing; we saw only a couple of those, on a mudflat and at a great distance, as we were biking to a beach on Texel. The regenwulp (Numenius phaeopus) took off every time I tried to take its photo, but we were still able to positively identify it as, sigh, a whimbrel. Lovely bird, if not new; the same can be said of the steenloper (Arenaria interpres) which turns out to be a ruddy turnstone. I saw one lepelaar (Platalea leucorodia) from a moving Texelhopper; the single Eurasian spoonbill of the trip. Despite repeated attempts to reach them, we saw no bluethroats. I'm going back.

We saw a ton of raptors, including grauwe kiekendief (Circus pygargus, Montagu's harrier); torenvalk (Falco tinnunculus) which Scott recognized as a common kestrel; and the surely-doesn't-really-belong-there halsbandparkiet (Psittacula krameri, rose-ringed parakeet) that makes a racket all over Amsterdam's Vondelpark. Back in the world of songbirds we saw pimpelmees (Cyanistes caeruleus) and koolmees (Parus major) off the patio of our apartment in Amsterdam, as well as korsnaelboomkruiper (Certhia familiaris macrodactyla) and merels (Turdus merula); those would be the Eurasian blue tit, great tit, Eurasian treecreeper, and Eurasian blackbirds. We saw one young roodborst (Erithacus rubecula, aka European robin) in Amsterdam while the witte kwikstaart (Motacilla alba)--white wagtail--favored bicycle paths on the mainland and Texel alike. In the swallow category we saw a number of boerenzwaluw (Hirundo rustica) best known as the barn swallow. And there were crows, pigeons, doves, gulls, and terns which I'm just too tired to detail here, so instead I'm going to post what photos I can and call it good.

Egyptian geese on a family outing
Not listed above: a magpie
Young European robin
Fleeing whimbrel
Ruddy turnstone
Also not specifically listed above, a kokmeeuw or black headed gull
Great crested grebes
Red-crested pochard
Blue tit
Happy merel couple
One of a couple just-not-sure birds
Rose-ringed parakeet
Happy mute swan family
People feed the gulls on the Texel ferry. Which leads to this sort of thing.

A couple of kestrels, I think, on a barn

Ring-necked pheasant
Second mystery bird

Distant lapwing
White wagtail

Friday, July 28, 2017

Non-Holland Interlude

The morning's sweet pea and bean harvest from the front 40 atop some sprawling lavender
As we were walking around in the Fill the other day, Alex mentioned that I hadn't shared any photos of the garden lately, so this morning I thought I'd take a few quick snaps with the iPad (about the only thing I can do relatively easily with the iPad is take photos. Well, after I overcame that tendency to take videos rather than photos) and toss them up on blahdeblah before getting on with the rest of my day. Oh, the trilling laughter that has ensued. It took me a while to locate the photos (wouldn't you think they'd just be in "photos"?), and then to find a way to convey them to blogger. I'm still not clear which combination of maneuvers worked. Oh, first decade of the third millennium, how I miss you!

Fingers crossed that some photos appear below. (They are not, of course, edited in any way because god knows I'm not about to try to get that tricky on this absurd machine.)

I told Alex it was running a little wild. On looking at this snap, I'm reminded of the  powdery mildew as well.
[And it was just about here that I switched over to Myrna because, by god, there must be an app for blogger that I need to put together a post on the iPad. How did I manage to split a photo?]

That's my "secret garden" chair hidden behind the flourishing crocosmia and a geranium we call "Sticky."
More of that overgrown effect of which I'm so fond. I call it wilderness habitat.

Gradka, unamused by the papparazzi, has a wash on her lounger.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Holland, Take One

The mandatory aping of the painting photo
Holland is known for bicycles, maybe, and for Vermeer, of course, and for cheese, and for Heineken. Also tulips. Perhaps as the birthplace of Van Gogh. Oh, and Rembrandt too. So when we went to Holland a few weeks ago we planned to do some cycling, see some Vermeers, eat some cheese, etc.

We opted to skip the Heineken. Scott developed quite a fondness for Skuumkoppe beer instead.

What we discovered is that the seats on Dutch rental bikes are far less comfortable than those found on our bikes at home and also that Dutch bikes, in general, are insanely heavy. Somehow, we were always riding into a headwind on our longer excursions and, come to think of it, on some that were supposed to be pretty short as well.

Dutch rental bikes, Round 2: Our trusty steeds of Texel
Next time, I swear I'm bringing Bessie. And I sort of feel like there will be a next time because riding in Amsterdam was mighty fine. Who has the right of way in all situations? The cyclist. You get to be a pretty damned alert pedestrian walking in Amsterdam, and I can't imagine what it's like to drive there. Oh, wait. It's probably like being a cyclist in Seattle. A driver who hit a cyclist in Amsterdam would probably be torn limb from limb.

The thing you don't expect so much, maybe, is that that tulip business is a blind. The national flower of Holland is clearly the hollyhock. They grow absolutely everywhere, including along the sidewalks in central Amsterdam. And most hollyhocks, it seems, contain a few very hardworking bumblebees who are seriously coated in pollen. They put those mason bees to shame, I tell you.
One of great many bee-hosting hollyhocks
The other thing you see a lot of in Holland are cats. I could, I think, be very happy living in Holland, though Gradka would probably get tired of having to chase so many interlopers off the premises.

A frenzied turf war on a quiet street in Den Burg on Texel
Cocktails at Vesper
Of course, we also saw a number of new birds (and some old friends who clearly were as surprised to see us as we were to see them), a great many sheep, a handful of goats, and a pig named Walter. Perhaps one of these days, I'll order my thoughts and share some of those, along with the helpful travel tips that I was mentally compiling while in Europe that somehow abandoned me entirely somewhere over Iceland.

Four tips that I can remember just now:
1) Stock up on your ginger beer before getting on the ferry in Den Helder.
2) Your ov-chipkaart will work on train travel as well as on mainland trams, metro, and buses, but not on Texel.
3) Order the green beans with miso dip at Vesper. (Mmmm, Vesper . . .)
4) Which reminds me of a fourth tip, courtesy of Jules, the very helpful bartender at Vesper, eat at d&a hummus bistro. Delicious and cheap!
Preening Eurasian oystercatcher (Zuiderzee, Texel)

For a much more literary account of our time in Amsterdam, see Scott's account here.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Of jam making and iPad learning curves

In no particular order because technology has pretty much outwitted me for the last 24 hours or more, I present three photos (I hope) illustrating how Independence Day was observed chez Aurora. Madame Gradka does not so much recognize national holidays, not when there are ten pounds of apricots and three or four quarts of raspberries waiting to be processed in the factory kitchen.

 This year we decided to go for smaller batches but make two different types of jam in the same day. There were challenges--like the large burner which we use for heating the huge canner full of water for sterilizing the jars not working half the time--and distractions (like me using the iPad for taking photos and not realizing that I had it set to take video instead), not to mention the unfortunate discovery, well after we'd finished the whole business, of a dozen or more extra-soft apricots that had been put into the refrigerator for safe keeping. But I insist that this year's output is the most jewel-like ever and we think it taste pretty okay too. 

Apparently, I won't be adding any captions to the photos nor moving them neither. And I'll be learning how to write a post entirely in the HTML window because plain "compose" bounces around madly. I'd kill to know how to get rid of the oh-so-helpful auto-correct feature too. Bon appetit!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

What Julia said

. . . it seemed that this desperate power-monger was supported by Texas oil millionaires and that everyone in Washington was scared to death of him. It was beyond me how anybody of any sense of what our country was supposed to stand for could have anything to do with him, no matter how many votes he brought in.

 In the blood-heat of pursuing the enemy, many people are forgetting what we're fighting for. We are fighting for our hard-won liberty and freedom; for our Constitution and the due processes of our laws and for the right to differ in ideas, religion, and politics. I am convinced that in your zeal to fight against our enemies, you, too, have forgotten what you are fighting for.
 --from pages 200 and 202 of My Life in France

I'm reading  Julia Child's memoir of, as the title hints, her time in France. It was recommended to me by the bookseller at Book Larder in Fremont on Independent Bookstore Day and I bought it, in part, because I wanted to buy something at every store I went to that day. In truth, I did not have the highest expectations. The book was put together with, one suspects, coauthor Alex Prudhomme doing most of the work, when Julia was in her early 90s, but it's based on old letters and journals and the like so I expect it's pretty accurate. It isn't the most brilliantly written book ever but I am loving it--in part because who wouldn't love France in the late '40s and early '50s, and in part for the odd bits of cooking instruction scattered throughout, and--in part--because her opinions on the politics of her day could so readily be her opinions on the politics of the 21st century.

 On reflection, maybe that shouldn't be so comforting. But to read her on the topic of "fake news" is pretty damned fine:

"Glad? I should say we are!" Big John thundered. "Why, who wouldn't be? Everybody's glad. But of course you people over there, you wouldn't know how the country feels--all your news is slanted."
   This was hard to take, especially from the man who read only the right-leaning L.A. Times. For the record, Paul and I were avid devourers of the New York Times, the Herald Tribune, Le Figaro, Time, Fortune, The Reporter, Harper's, The New Yorker, even L'Humanitie, not to mention a flood of embassy cables, intelligence briefs, and twenty-four hour wire service and ticker sheets pouring in from around the world. So whose news was slanted? 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A damsel with a dragon

I continue to cough to an absurd extent so today I got as far as the backyard. The backyard, as it happens, was quite rewarding. Not only did I get to watch Shoddy work on the old wooden gutter, I picked enough raspberries to make a raspberry tart. Then this lovely fellow dropped by:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Housiverary 2017 report

Scott notes that I am always blue when I'm sick, and I've been sick for some days now so maybe it's not surprising that I am particularly aware of how pointless and self-indulgent blah de blah blah is when people are being run over or shot or beaten with baseball bats or hell, all of the above. It's an ugly world. It's not right.

And yet I know that some time from now I'll want to know what we did for Housiversary in 2017 and I'll hope to find out by looking at this dusty old blog so I shove all that social consciousness to one side (Cue "Reconstruction Site") and post some photos from this year's adventures.
"Before" shot (midday June 15)

Figuring that this would be about the last year either of us would feel equal to the labor, we opted to finish drywalling the upstairs now, which project included shifting twelve 4x8 sheets of half-inch (because Scott thought we'd never manage the 5/8-inch stuff) drywall from the garage, where Alki Lumber delivered it (along with 4 lengths of 2x4 and a couple of pounds of drywall screws), to the upstairs. The corners are too tight to move it via the inside so we carried it around the house, through the back door, did some fancy 3-point turnings in the kitchen, and then shimmied it up the narrow staircase. Twelve times. In the rain. (Fun fact: this is the first housiversary that has been seriously wet.) It actually went more smoothly than I, for one, anticipated.

 Before we even started moving the drywall I realized I was coming down with something and warned Scott that he'd have to tell me things several times over. I feel it's best to make that sort of thing clear from the outset. Just as he made it clear that the first couple of full sheets placed overhead were going require us to balance the sheets on our heads while climbing ladders. It wasn't until the next day that he told me he had been worried about one of us slipping and us both having our necks broken. Sometimes honesty is good, and sometimes it's best to keep one's mouth shut.

"After" view (after = late on the 16th)
That part went surprisingly smoothly, happily, and while there were some measuring and cutting challenges, and I found it particularly difficult to "lean in" sufficiently while driving in about a million drywall screws, we managed to transform close to all of the sheets into walls. Oh, there's a ton of mudding and taping in our future (unless I can get Scott to agree that we should just stencil "A P O L L O  9" onto one wall and pretend we've deliberately created a space capsule because, by gum, that's what it looks like), but that's certainly not in the immediate future.

We have, unfortunately, a lot of small bits and pieces of drywall left over that I can't see anyone being able to use so I guess it's the drywall recycling in Renton for us some Saturday morning.

 Here (left) Scott is carefully measuring the final space to be filled. (I use "final" somewhat loosely; there's still a large triangular hole for which there is only wood along the hypotenuse (at the bottom); Scott says he has a clever scheme for dealing with that. Me, I'm thinking about curtains.)

 Order is partially restored, meaning I've vacuumed up the worst of the drywall dust and detritus and shifted the Proudfoot Archive back into its corner (a project that was all but derailed when I found the packet of photos that included Ray, age two and a half, in what was supposed to be a dog suit. He looked like a deranged Easter Bunny). Now, when one looks up the stairs, one sees this:

It warms my heart, truly it does. Happy Housiversary, you beautiful old house of Aurora! We love you!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bookstore Day in Photos

In no particular order because it's late and I'm tired:
Self-evident: bikes outside of Phinney Books, our 5th bookstore of the day (about 17.5 miles). It was here that we ran into Bill Thorness who demonstrated his fancy new bike helmet; it has turn signals!
And outside of Queen Anne Book Company (store #3). I bought the new Lyanda Lynn Haupt, but it was Scott's purchase of John Berger's Portraits that impressed the bookseller.
A display of books I found particularly charming at Elliott Bay Book Company (final stop=#8)
And also at Elliott Bay: another display at which I pointed saying, "mine, mine, mine, mine, mine . . ."
Book Larder in Fremont (#6/19.5 miles) where I picked up a copy of "Imbibe" magazine along with a Julia Child book. The clerk told us, "The editor of the magazine is going to be giving a talk here in May" to which Scott replied, "We were just out drinking with him last night!"
It's not all about books and bikes: there were bakery stops (this one at 14.33 miles) as well. Oh Besalu, how I miss you!
Bookshop #4 was Secret Garden where I had to look a good long time to find a book to buy; I finally found the latest (and sadly last) Stuart McLean Vinyl Cafe collection.
First stop of the day was actually a coffee shop: Caffe Umbria on Occidental Square in Pioneer Square. Tres charmant, too. (This was at just over the 6-mile mark, what with the initial attempt at the water taxi; who knew it ran so seldom at this time of year?)
We didn't win any drawings at University Book Store (#7 @ 22.5 miles) but we found some travel books.
First bookshop of  the day; a handful of classic mysteries and "grab bag" containing a couple of ARCs from Seattle Mystery Bookshop
Our rogue not-on-the-official-list bookstore of the day:we stopped at Metsker Maps to get a map so we could find our way down the backside of Queen Anne.
I covet this poster (from the door of Phinney Books).
The fruits of  the day. I am, indeed, firightend to look at the pile of receipts.
Total bike mileage for the day was just about 25 miles; we cheated and took a bus from Mercer to the top of Queen Anne hill and we rode the light rail from the U District to Capitol Hill and then downtown. And yes, a C brought us back to West Seattle. By then it was raining, we had several pounds of books, and Scott's rear light had gone AWOL.