Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's All True

Yesterday the official recorded temperature was 102°, the highest for that date in Seattle history.

I admit, that's a little hot.

Traditionally, homes in the Northwest don't have AC. It just isn't historically necessary. A few years ago The Spouse bought a window unit for our family room. I berated him soundly. What was he thinking, spending hundreds of dollars on something that would be used maybe MAYBE one or two days out of the year? Amortizing out the cost, however, proves it to be a wise decision. Not to mention that right now you can't lay your hands on any cooling unit in any home store in the area. Seriously. MAB just bought a unit that had come off the truck 15 minutes before and by the time they checked out the supply was depleted again.

And we have fans for the other rooms, which makes sleep possible, even when there is no air coming through the open windows.

The Dog has a big bowl of water. I feel bad leaving him shut up in the house each day until The Child returns from summer school. But he's coping in his own doggie way.

Also, I have increased my sandal wardrobe and yesterday bought some more flowy "Jai Ho" skirts to wear to work.

In the evenings we dine al fresco and then sit in the back garden until it is dark. Last night we ran the sprinkler and would occasionally douse ourselves. Who doesn't love a douse in a sprinkler?


Plus, heat greatly diminishes my appetite so I'm pretty sure that by the time this is all over I will have lost a few unnecessary pounds. That's not a bad thing.

The temps are going to start coming down. It's only supposed to get to 101° today. See how we adapt?

And adaptation is the bottom line. I was telling someone the other day that Seattleites need to learn how to drive in snow and function when it's hot. People in the Northwest are, I believe, complete and total weather wimps. We whine if it's too cold, we whine if it's too hot. And trust me, traditionally "too hot" is anything over 75°. And we make far, far too big a deal of the weather, even on an official basis. (Our weathermen and women are among the most hysterical (as in crazy raving over-reaction) around. "Snow in the forecast!!!!!! How will it affect your commute????????? Temperatures in the 100s!!!!!!!!!!! Arrrrggghhhh!!! We're all gonna die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

The way I see it our weather patterns very well may be changing and the best plan in my view is to accept the new normal and shut the H up. I'm quite sure that your personal body temperature increases several degrees with every complaint about the heat you make. And complaining distracts you from the blessings. Last night I was having (iced) cocktails with The Neighbor and a gorgeous cool breeze started to blow, rustling the leaves of her fruit trees in the most musical way and cooling our skin. I stopped and just paid attention to that breeze. It felt so very, very good. Without the heat I would have completely taken that breeze for granted and that would have been sad.

Now if you'll please excuse me, I'm going to go ice my feet.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Strategy for Today

Sit out in the cool of the morning being thankful - check
Sleeveless blouse & capris - check
Sunscreen that smells like bug spray - check
Ice & water in cute, eco-friendly metal water bottles - check
Hamburgers thawing in fridge for dinner - check
Extra water for the animals - check
Windows closed (unfortunate but necessary) - check
Fans off - check
Flip flops & toe ring - check (Note to self: get a pedi)
Air kisses to family because it is too hot to touch - check

Be cool, kids. Be cool.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Shade is Your Friend


It's very hot and dry in Seattle. We've had less than an inch of precipitation in the month of July. I don't think it rained much in June, either. Anyway, the temps are supposed to be in the 90s all week and the latest forecast suggests that it won't cool down (into the 70s) until next week.

Here's the thing. We had a dreadful winter. It was long and cold and wet and it snowed for 5 months. (It didn't snow for 5 months straight but we had snow at least one day every month for 5 months...which is way unusual. And of course, we're not forgetting that there was heavy snow in December, resulting in many event cancellations and a white Christmas). All people did for 5 months was complain about how miserable the weather was. And now they are complaining about the heat.

I kinda want to slap 'em.

If it was a typical Seattle summer right now, everyone would be all, "Damn, when are we going to get a break?" and "Just one day without rain, is that too much to ask?" and "I swear, I don't remember the last time I had a tomato ripen," and "Good thing I didn't put away the woolens this year".

Now I admit, it's certainly hot. On Saturday morning The Child and I were working in the front garden and it got so hot that we turned on the sprinkler and soaked ourselves as we worked. It was either that or heat stroke. But it was fun and it felt great and we got our project done. And then we pretty much laid around the rest of the day. (Laying around is a good strategy in the heat...works for The Dog and The Cat).

Come on, people! It's summer. It's supposed to be hot. How do you think iced tea got invented? Embrace it. Run in a sprinkler. Soak your feet in ice water. Drink a beer. Lie in the shade. Cook dinner outside. Seek out air conditioned restaurants and movie theaters. Hit the beach. Sleep on top of the blankies. Buy a fan. But for the love of God, stop complaining about sun in summer! It's going to be over all too soon and trust me, you're going to miss it when it's gone. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find something sleeveless to wear to work.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

I'll Be Tappin' My Toes To This All Day


You know that thing when you are totally familiar with a song but you have no idea who sings it and whatever radio station you listen to doesn't play a lot of pop songs and so the wisps of that song just float through the transom of your musical conciousness from time to time and you never grasp enough of it to be able, for example, to sing it at karaoke but you know you like it?

You know how to solve that? Have a teenage girl. Then when you are lucky enough to hear the song you can say, "Who is this?" and she can say (granted, with a self-important and smug tone in her voice) "Katy Perry".

I rather enjoy this little nymph. And she makes me feel better about the fact that my bangs need a trim. Actually, she makes me rethink the whole bangs-need-a-trim notion.

One technical note: the original video starts out with her making her vows every so sweetly. Unfortunately, not only do the bastids at the record labels still think that making it possible to share music with others will somehow cut into music sales, they have apparently figured out a work-around for media convertors. So the only video I could find to embed cuts off the very first part. But not the song. And it's Jukebox Friday. And it's about the music.






Katy Perry "Hot 'n Cold"

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Want a Coonskin Cap

It was hot last night. Windows-full-open-and-not-a-trace-of-breeze hot. Lying-on-top-of-the-sheets-and-sweating-anyway hot. While that made sleep difficult enough, somewhere in the wee hours all the dogs in the 'hood started barking and then came the ever so hideous cry of a raccoon. The Dog was just beside himself, running to windows and growling and barking. And every once in a while we were treated to the thump-di-thump-di-thump of the damn coon running across our roof.

We got up a couple of times to see what we could see and to try and persuade The Dog that he was a good dog but really should come to bed (and shut the hell up) but he was having none of it. We tried to go back to sleep and then he got particularly worked up again so I got up. Plus, I was worried about The Cat, who had taken off in the night as cats are wont to do.

The Dog was at the dining room door looking decidedly to the north but I couldn't see anything. Then The Cat came sauntering up on the deck. I watched as she stopped halfway, padded a few more steps then froze and slowly sat down, looking the same direction as The Dog. I followed their gaze and there it was, the pointy face of the offending raccoon. It was a juvenile so I felt quite sure it's the one who was breaking into the house (until we started blocking the cat door at night and hiding the dog food). Anyway, I got The Spouse to come restrain The Dog so I could save The Cat from being an early morning snack. I banged on the window and the 'coon took off under the deck. I grabbed The Cat and hustled back inside.

Then The Dog's sister, who is visiting, finally heard all the commotion and came out to join the barking frenzy.

Today I think I'm going to call the city and see if they have raccoon traps. Or BB guns. Because this is getting ridiculous.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Let's Go Shopping!

Yes, Margaret, I know global warming is a myth (rolls eyes). But it appears that our summers are getting hotter and I do not have a sufficient wardrobe of office appropriate summer dresses.

Too bad my favorite dress shop is in Omaha.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

I Had a Little Breakthrough

More of an "a-ha moment", actually. (The psychological phenomenon, JP; not the band). I was sitting out in the garden journalling this morning and I realized something huge.

It was occuring to me how odd it is that all the tasks that held a kind of glamour when I had time to do them have suddenly turned into chores. Even blogging, the first thing I used to joyously rush to do in the morning, has taken on a sense of obligation.

Here I've been, framing my challenge in terms of time (specifically, not having enough thereof) when the issue has been joy. When the time went away - or reconfigured or limited or whatever - so did the joy of doing.

I went from not having any chores, because I didn't perceive them as such, to chore upon chore piling up because no one likes to do chores. No one likes to come home from a day of work and have to clean the house or have to make dinner. No one likes to spend a Saturday morning running errands and buying groceries. (And I love grocery shopping -or at least I did before I had to do it on Saturday morning).

This is what I have to resolve. Not how to manage my time but how to restore a love of doing in all the things in which I used to find so much joy and satisfaction. It is a lovely thing that my job brings me so much satisfaction. But I find satisfaction in clean rooms, tidy gardens and beautifully prepared food, too. I have been setting it up, in my mind, as an either/or proposition but I don't believe it is true that you can have only one deep satisfaction at a time. Not true at all.

I think I'm going to go arrange some roses.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

You Still Got It (The Right Stuff)


A little over a week ago I took The Child and one of her best buddies to see New Kids on the Block. Yeah. I am so not the Worst Mother in the World.

The friend had never been to a concert before, so that was cool. As far as I knew there weren't any opening acts but shortly after we found our seats they introduced Jesse McCartney. If you don't have a prepubescent or teenage girl in your house this will mean nothing to you. My girls, on the other hand, pretty much died and went straight to heaven.

Then New Kids came on. And sure, a friend of mine suggested that they should be calling themselves Old Guys Who Have Been Around the Block. And yes, Donny appeared to be wearing some sort of truss (seriously, but it didn't seem to interfere with his dancing). But I'm not lying when I tell you it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. Joey is still adorable, Jordan can still sing falsetto and Donny raps better than ever. Hey, mock if you must (and I know some of you (JP) must) but they were ON. We were on our feet for 2 solid hours, an audience full of moms who once loved NKOTB and their kids, a whole new generation that appeared to love them just as much.

They did all their hits from the 80s (and yes, they did the correct footwork when they sang "The Right Stuff". That was important). Throughout the show they worked in some solo stuff and tossed in new songs from their comeback. This was our favorite song from the latter lot. The chorus has been running through my head for two weeks so I have to play it now.

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New Kids on the Block "Dirty Dancing"

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Disturbia

Mind you, since the sighting last week in the family room, no raccoons have been seen on the premises. And storing the dog food up on the washer seems to have curbed the mysterious morning spills. But I can't shake the feeling that the little rascals are out there, waiting.

I hear them at night.

So does The Dog. The other night he woke me up with his frantic barking, which then transmuted itself into a low, terrifying growl. He wouldn't come when I called, his little body poised in a tight I-will-get-you-and-I-will-tear-out-your-throat stance as he stood before the window. I looked outside but I couldn't see a thing. No punks, no innocent late night dog walkers and certainly no wild life. But The Dog would not be dissuaded. He ran to the back door to be let out but I wouldn't open the door. In the first place, and at the very least, it was entirely too late for him to be outside barking his warnings. In the second, if there was a raccoon out there, all The Dog's fierceness would still not likely be enough in an actual street brawl. Raccoons are MEAN.

I finally just picked him up and took him back to bed but you could tell he was very disappointed. He curled himself up to sleep but I lay there, listening for the weird raccoon bark. Then I heard, I was quite sure, the rattle of the cat door and the cautious padding of feet across the floor. The Dog remained still. Must have been my imagination. Surely if there were actually an interloper in the house The Dog would have sprung up again, a furry mess of agitation and threat. Unless, I thought, he was all talk and his lack of response now was basic survival instinct kicking in. What, I thought, if all a sudden a furry bandit face poked up beside me? Why, I thought, don't I sleep with a baseball bat under the bed?

For a time all I could hear was the beating of my frantic heart. I took slow, deep breaths and listened. There was no sound. No rustle, no padding footfalls. No raccoon. Of course there was no raccoon. A raccoon couldn't get into the house. Oh. Wait. One did. It happened before, it could happen again.

I don't want a raccoon in my house. If the occasional procyon lotor comes by and makes hay of the garbage can well, that's very messy and inconvenient but it is to be expected. But they have to stay outta my house. They just have to.

Did you hear that?

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Good News

Early yesterday we got a call from our bank. They had the Seattle police on the line. Turns out, the cops had just picked up some punk who happened to be carrying The Spouse's ATM & American Express cards. Of course, I'd cancelled those cards within minutes of him having been mugged so they were useless. One would wonder why someone would carry useless cards for 7 months but then, one would also assume that "brain trust" is not a phrase that one would assign to a punk mugger anyway.

Point is, the little bastid, or one of his damn little bastid friends, got caught and holding evidence of an earlier crime is going to make the weight of his consequences even heavier. And that's a good thing.

Maybe this will help The Spouse put the experience to rest.

Snaps to the SPD!

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Old Friends

After work yesterday I went downtown to hook up with some old college buddies. I haven't seen Sophie & Steve (pronounced Sophiensteve) since their first child was an infant. (She is now 24). In the years since they left Seattle and got divinity degrees and all that we completely lost touch. Chalk up another thankyouverymuch for Facebook.

We met at a gastro-pub (Seattlites: it's the Black Bottle in Belltown. Go there. Tell Paul I sent you) owned by an old seminary friend of theirs. Steve had just been wondering if they would recognize me right away when I walked in. "There she is!" he exclaimed. (Guess it wasn't that hard). Of course, we haven't changed that much. Sophie's hair is shorter, Steve's is greyer and I no longer wear a size 0 but otherwise, I'd have known them anywhere.

We reunited over delicious food (hello - kim chee pork belly!) and a glass or two of fine drink. It was the best sort of reunion, the sort that demonstrates how the passage of time doesn't get in the way of true friendship. There was a little bit of catching up (how I became Catholic, how I met The Spouse, how they sojourned through seminary and child-rearing to end up co-pastoring a church in Iowa). There was a smattering of reminiscence (we agreed that we were all completely full of shit in college; except Steve who was slightly less full of shit and consequently able to occasionally slip in a dry, devastating remark that would put someone - at least temporarily - in his or her place). I shocked Sophie with the information that I had always been intimidated by her intelligence and she volleyed back that I intimidated her because I was "sooooo cool". And we agreed that it would be lovely if we could have seen ourselves back then as others saw us.

But mostly we talked about life and politics and faith and food and families. We laughed, a lot, and there were never any awkward silences or someone grasping to find a topic that might set us going again. There was no time, even, to regret that it had taken us this long to re-connect; only joy in the having done so.

I very often consider that I lead a charmed life. Not perfect life or a lucky life, but a charmed one, a blessed one. And one of the greatest and most consistent of those blessings is the friends who have come into my life and who, even with intervening time and distance, remain friends. Is there anything better? Kim chee pork belly, perhaps, but otherwise, I think not.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Time, See What's Become of Me

I have an odd relationship with time. Not how I spend it or waste it; both of those are pretty normal. Rather, I have feelings about different times. Some make me really happy, others bother me and one or two are quite useless.

For example, as a general rule I am not fond of any time signature that includes :30. There are two exceptions. I think 6:30am is a very civilized time to get up and I never start a dinner party before 6:30pm. (6 is too early...that's always the time when I'm capturing the last of the dust bunnies, figuring out how to fold the napkins so no one can tell I didn't iron them (the secret? napkins rings and fluffing) and putting on something that isn't covered with flour and tomato schmutz).

5:00 am is obscene (I feel nauseous if I get up before 6am) and 11am is just about as boring a time slot as ever there was. What can you do at 11am? You're losing steam from whatever morning whirlwind you may have been riding and it's entirely too early for lunch. Coffee also tastes weird at 11am. (I'm actually done drinking coffee by 10am, although there have been days when a fresh cup at 3pm is almost as good as the first one of the day).

I'm actually not a fan of afternoon times at all. It's a muscle memory, I'm sure. The afternoon was always the hardest part of the school day. That was the time when the light slanted funny and the ticking of the clock was loudest. Afternoon is absolutely the worst time of the day to have a math class. I'm convinced it's why I never succeeded in math past long division; math class was always in the afternoon. The only time I enjoy "afternoon" is on the weekends and I am especially tolerant of summer afternoons. (A comfy chair, a good book and a chilled something....that can be superfantastic. So can a late lunch at a sidewalk cafe; the sort of lunch that doesn't have to end anytime soon and when it does you are either ready for a nap or cocktails). One of the best things about my job is that the pace is so fast I don't really notice the afternoon. The irony? I got married in the afternoon. But that was different. First, it was 3 o'clock, which is when "afternoon" is starting to wind down and also because it gave us plenty of time to have a rollicking good party afterwards and still have the evening ahead of us. Morning weddings are too hard to pull off and evening weddings don't make much sense if one has any plans for a wedding night. Just saying).

I've always considered myself an evening/night person. I catch a second wind and can actually stay up late most nights and still get up early without too many consequences. But there are funky times in the evening, too.

5:30pm doesn't make any sense. It's a very silly time. Too transitional. The best way to deal with 5:30 is having aperitif, nibbling almonds and sipping something until the evening properly starts. I am quite fond of 6pm...it has a nice roundness to it. You're done working, there's still a little play in the hour if you don't quite want to start making dinner and, on summer days, the light is perfect.

7pm is a good time for dinner. The Spouse would, I know, prefer to eat just a bit earlier (6:30) but I like 7pm and really, no matter when I start dinner, it seems to be done by 7. That's a very civilized and leisurely hour to eat and it's still early enough to digest properly before going to bed. The actual sound of 7pm, however, is a little clunky. So I don't say it out loud very often.

9:30pm is weird. The day is clearly running down by this point. You certainly can't get anything started at 9:30, unless you're very young and hip, in which case you are just getting started. But even when I was young and hip I preferred to get started at 9. The thirties, as I mentioned, just generally bug me.

Another :30 of which I'm not fond? 7:30am. Right now. Because I have to stop what I'm doing and get on to the obligations of the day. I enjoy most of my obligations, as you know. But this moment, right now, where I have to catapult myself away from what I enjoy to that nether time of dressing/primping/traveling....not so much.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Wild, Wild Life

"We have to lock the cat door at night." These were The Spouse's first words to me this morning.

"There was a racoon in the back room".

Oh.

I got up and made sure both our animals were still alive.

They were.

This would also explain the 3 mornings straight of coming out to the kitchen to find the dog food container tipped all over the floor.

Damn critters.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Today's Video Brought to You by The Fine Taxpayers of America

And thank you so much for giving me a day off, kids. I appreciate it. Moving on.

I heard a piece on NPR yesterday wherein a music critic was reading some album reviews he composed for Twitter. I don't twit, btw, because as you well know, I'm very busy and important and seriously cannot figure out how one has time to twit and do other things. (Much like I can't figure out how to get much of anything done under just about any circumstances). Point is, the guy in question was raised by editors so when he twits he insists on spelling out all the words and using correct punctuation. This necessarily puts interesting constraints on his twitting, as he is (you know this) allowed only 140 characters per tweet (or whatever you kids are calling them). He actually had some very interesting observations on the form; noting that he will never stop reading in-depth commentary on music but that having a constrained form like Twitter, while doing away with the narrative, forces one to get immediately to the point. (Oh, hey, I think we just figured out why Rainey doesn't twit). He likened the process to haiku. Which I thought was lovely

Anytext, one of the reviews was for a band called The Phenomenal Handclap Band. Some of you hipsters may have heard of them. It was new to me and the clip they played was very B52s-meets-the-Cranberries-at-a-swampy-blues-club, which I found quite enjoyable. So I went in search of videos.

(Note: when JP and I were running "Here's the 80s" we (he) had a rule about not playing amateur concert footage in lieu of a video. I have no such issues right here. Except the video has to possess good quality and sound. And that's why we won't be listening to the Phenomenal Handclap Band today).

Fortunately, I remember another artist I've been meaning to look up (also inspired by a piece on NPR and yes, I'm a proud member-listener thankyouverymuch). The interview with her was very delightful, as were the music clips that were played and I have even downloaded some of her stuff to my iPod because I'm like that. She's been lumped in there with the likes of Tori Amos but I think that's way too easy and not remotely accurate, if only because women songwriters are just as easily distinguished from each other as are male songwriters but every damn time a new girl comes on the scene every one cops out with a "like Tori Amos" line and it just bugs the feminist hell out of me. (Sorry...got perilously close to my soapbox there).

Regina Spektor is a very articulate artist. She strikes me as someone who crafts absolutely every word of every song. (She famously claims to write down very little of her work and that she rarely composes unless she's actually in front of a piano). While this airy-fairy approach may in fact be her method of composition, there is a very intelligent rigor to her lyric. Every word seems carefully selected and precisely placed. And she literally articulates...I love listening to her because there is no sloppiness to her pronunciations, even when she's messing around with accents, languages or forms (which she does). (Part of this comes from the fact that she learned the sounds of English from her father's contraband record collection (Beatles, Queen, Moody Blues) before she understood English. She was born in Russia and didn't emigrate to the US until she was nine).

There is a playful lightheartedness in her playing and singing even if (and when) her lyric tends to darkness. Consequently, you don't have to think when you listen to Regina Spektor, but you can. And sometimes, you can't help it.

I could go on and on but shan't because I feel pretension coming on. Bottom line, I think she is quite delightful and very pleased that she's not above making a good video or two.

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Regina Spektor "Fidelity"

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Meme-ing Myself

If someone says, "Is this okay?" you say: "I Love Rock & Roll" Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

What would best describe your personality? "Monsters & Angels" Voice of the Beehive

What do you like best in a guy/girl? "(I Just) Died in Your Arms" Cutting Crew

What is your life purpose? "Children of the Revolution" T Rex

What is your motto? "Saved by Zero" The Fixx

What do your friends think of you? "Sweet Emotion" Aerosmith

What do you think about often? "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" The Proclaimers

What is 2+2? "Crimson & Clover" Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

What do you think of your best friend? "You Really Got a Hold on Me" She & Him

What is your life story? "Beautiful Day" U2

What was your favorite toy as a child? "Sneakernight" Vanessa Hudgens

What do you want to be when you grow up? "Over My Head" Fleetwood Mac

What do you think when you see the person you love? "Master & Servant" Depeche Mode (LOL)

What do your parents think of you? "Why Does it Always Rain on Me?" Travis

What was your first job? "Deadbeat Club" B52s

What will you dance to at your wedding? "Going Down to Liverpool" The Bangels

What will they play at your funeral? "Beat Surrender" The Jam

What is your hobby? "Unwritten" Natasha Bedingfield

What scares you the most? "The Wrestler" Bruce Springsteen

If you could go back in time what would you change? "Suddenly Last Summer" The Motels

What do you do when you can't think of anything to blog? "Miss Murder" AFI

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