Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I'm not a night owl! Really I'm not!

... But I've sure been acting like it. It's hard not to become a night person when you've got gorgeous 70° clear, starry evenings to go out and enjoy. The days have cooled down a bit, and I actually haven't even used my fan for a few days, but the nights are just lovely. John and I just went and sat on a bench in the Park blocks to chat for a while this evening because it was so nice out. It's gorgeous weather for walks, as well. Last week I went for a walk into the West Hills and found a stairway leading up to a wonderfully steep and windy road with glimpses of downtown and the rising moon. Unfortunately, there's pretty much no moon right now, but by the time I get back from California it will be almost full moon time, so I'm hoping the weather is still this perfect for nighttime moon-gazing walks.

On the other end of the spectrum, I may be getting up before the crack of dawn tomorrow to ride up to Council Crest and watch the sunrise. I haven't seen the sunrise in a long time, and from what I remember from my early mornings during field school, the wee hours are just as gorgeous as the nighttime. The sunrise ride sort of depends on whether or not John bangs on my door in the morning -- he had to start work at 10:30 tonight (tearing down after a concert), so I told him that if he was crazy enough to do that and then get up at oh-my-god-o'clock in the morning and bike up to Council Crest, I was up for it. I may not get an ideal amount of sleep, but at least I'll get more than he will! :P

Paul and I took a bunch of pictures of the garden this afternoon and I finally figured out how to print reasonable quality photos on my printer, so I have some pictures to bring down to CA for show-and-tell. Only one more day until I get to start my whirlwind visit tour! Hooray! I'm very excited to see everybody!

Current magnetic poetry:
wild young damsel
fresh as the universe
eternal as a flame
in anything but distress

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New Friends and Old

Two days ago my neighbor on the corner of the hall knocked on my open door to introduce himself, which I thought was a very nice and neighborly thing to do. I usually keep my door open to let fresh air move through the apartment, and to let Alice roam the hall if she wants to (though she usually stays in and sleeps). I guess I also still have something of a dorm mentality, even though these are apartments, not dorm rooms. When I was at Stanford in the dorms I always had my door open, and even though sometimes I didn't feel like I had a whole lot of friends who would actually stop by to see me, it was nice to have the door open and have people passing by and sometimes poking their heads in to say hi. So I suppose there's some remnants of the dorm sociality in my open door habits. Anyway, it was nice that this guy came and introduced himself, though I don't know if he's the sort of guy I will actually become friends with -- some of his first questions were "Do you drink? Do you like to party?" and were followed closely by "Do you like to hang out and watch movies?" Now, I don't mind a good movie now and then, but I'm not really into the whole drinking and partying thing, so I don't know how often I'll be knocking on his door to hang out. But it is nice to know him, to know his name, and to start getting familiar with the people on my hall. Now I know two of them! I have become pretty good friends with John, who lives on the other side of the building, and hopefully I'll start getting to know some of my other neighbors as well.

In the last week, in addition to meeting new people, I've started reconnecting with some older friends. I met a previous coworker and friend, Diana, from my My Own Labels days. I took the bus to meet her at the new company building, which is huge and spacious and big and amazingly quiet and subdued (did I mention it felt big?) They have two firemans' poles. :) It was neat to see some people again, but I was suprised that there were only four people left that I actually knew. It seems that a lot of people have gone back to school recently, so there were a lot of new people, along with the end of the summer help. After I got the tour Diana came over and saw my apartment and garden, then we went and ate nachos and had a good chat. It was fun to see her again, and we exchanged jams -- my raspberry for her unsweetened plum. Yay for jam buddies! :)

In other "old friend" news, I've also gotten back in touch with Sarah, from way back in highschool. Hooray! We're hoping to get together for breakfast or something while I'm down in Santa Cruz in a couple of weeks, which would be very fun. We saw each other about two years ago (I think?), and it's about time for another catch-up session. Hooray for reconnecting with friends from all walks of life!

Current Magnetic Poetry:
explore the rhythm of peace
let laughter inspire you
to newborn trust
in a strange yet familiar world
love slowly but deeply
remember your wildness

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I went jogging tonight for the first time in months and months (at least three or four). It felt good, but of course the direction I chose to run was... you guessed it, uphill. Do I ever do things the easy way? :P It was a good run, though the uphill parts went rather slowly (especially the stairs). I did a somewhat circular route, rather than backtracking, so I went uphill (and up stairs) the steep way, and then came back down a more gradual slope to try to save my knee and shins. I think I did pretty well; my knee is only mildly complaining, though we'll see what it and my already tight hamstrings are saying tomorrow morning. I would love to start running more frequently and for longer distances, because when my body behaves it feels wonderful to run. It's just a matter of not killing my knee or getting shin splints. Maybe I should get some actual running shoes....

I think I need to get a new pair of dance sneakers, too. My feet seem to sort of spill over the edges of the ones I currently wear, because the tops are so stretchy and flexible and the sole is just a bit too narrow for my feet (hence the enormous pinky-toe blister from the previous post). Friday night's dance inspired me to explore all the swing dancing in Portland I possibly can, and I'm actually thinking about seeking out some classes, since I've gotten some recommendations and actually saw a few of the teachers dancing on Friday. I think I'd like to start with something I'm familiar with, like Lindy, to get back into the groove and get more comfortable with something I already know, and then start branching out into things I've always meant to learn, like West Coast swing and Charleston and salsa, and things I've only just begun to think I can do, like Balboa. Boy, I could just be a full-time dance student! :P One thing I thought was interesting, looking at some of the dance teacher bios on Portland-area websites, is that it seems like most of them have only been dancing for about five years, which seems like a very short time between learning a dance style and teaching it. But then again, I've seen some of them dance, and they're definitely qualified!

So those are my current fitness and entertainment aspirations. I think Alice must have set herself some similar goals as well - she's been much more active in the last week or so (don't laugh, Mom!). She wants to play with her string-on-a-stick much more frequently and for much longer periods of time, and she's getting much quicker and more agile in her chasing technique. And today she did two things I haven't seen her do before: she actually jumped up at the string, and another time she stood all the way up on her hind legs to reach waaaay up for it. In order for you to grasp the significance of these achievements, you must understand that normally Alice prefers to lay on her back or her side and sort of swat at the string as it goes by - so this is big news. I've started a fairly regular nighttime routine of making myself a cup of tea, then giving Alice a good brushing (she loves it!). That gets her all worked up and excited, then we play with her string while I drink my tea. When we're both tired out, we go to bed. Not a bad life, I think. :)

Current magnetic poetry:

perhaps the cat
had only one life

vast feline belly

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Dancing Makes Me Happy

Well, my whole body is exhausted, my lower back is starting to complain, and I have a gigantic blister threatening to take over my right pinky toe, but boy, did I have fun tonight! :) I ventured across the river to Paradise Ballroom for a live band "vintage swing" night, and it was well worth it. I was worried at first that it was going to be tiny and beginner-y, because when I showed up about five minutes before it started there were a total of six people there. But it picked up after a while, there was a great band, and there were some great dancers, dancers I could just sit and watch and try not to drool over. It was a small venue, but the floor size and crowd size was perfect; there were enough people to be sociable, but enough room to play around and take up space on the dance floor, which is a luxury I'm not used to, coming from dances like Jammix and overly crowded contradances.

One of the older guys there pretty much adopted me after the second dance, and I must have danced about half the dances with him. It was ridiculously fun. He was throwing me all over the place and leading all sorts of moves I'd maybe seen a few times but never attempted. I got a lot more comfortable with Charleston, which was nice, since I've always had a bit of a phobia around that. I also (sort of) learned Balboa, but didn't get enough of that to really sink in. And I got thrown a lot of salsa and blued and other moves. He was great about breaking down a move if I couldn't follow it after a couple tries, and I don't think he minded much, since he kept throwing new things at me. In return, he said that he'd gotten to do a lot of moves tonight that he hasn't done in a long time -- he found out I'm a folk dancer, so figured (correctly) that I could do things like pivots, which the "hot dogs" (as he called them) who only did swing dancing couldn't do and would look at him funny if he tried with them.

All in all, I had a highly enjoyable evening, I learned a ton, and got thoroughly exhausted. Now I'm eating peanut butter on toast, my traditional after-dance snack that I haven't eaten in how long?, and reflecting on the goodness of life and the happiness of dancing.

Current magnetic poetry:

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Baby Taylor & Lucky Bamboo

Well, I went to California last weekend to help Mom move, and ended up coming home with her guitar! Yup, it's the most beautiful Baby Taylor, a lovely small guitar that's the perfect size for small bodies and fingers. It's so cute! Now I just have to learn how to play it! Graham helped me put new strings on it and tune it for the first time, and taught me my first three chords, but now I need to find somebody up here in Portland who can teach me the rest. :)

Before I left for CA I put my old monitor and keyboard up for sale or trade on Craigslist. The deal? Either $10 or a nice houseplant. A very pleasant woman came to pick them up this afternoon, and I now have a lovely new lucky bamboo plant on my windowsill! She was great -- she didn't have a car and didn't want to bother with FlexCar, so she just brought a giant duffel bag and some bubble wrap and took it all home on the bus. :) My kind of person. :)

In less happy news, my jars of preserved mushrooms seem to have broken their seals and overflowed themselves with oil while I was gone. I guess maybe I filled them too full, but the recipe didn't say how much head room to leave -- just to get out all the air bubbles and fill the jars. But they're all leaking oil all over the place, so I must have filled them too full. I don't know if they're salvageable or not, since the seals have obviously been broken. Can anybody help me on this one? I was really looking forward to those!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Asleep at the Wheel

No, I didn't fall asleep while driving home this evening (I don't even have a car). I just got back from a concert at the zoo, with a band called Asleep at the Wheel. I'd never heard their music before, but Paul has a "plus" zoo membership that gets him two free tickets to the Wednesday evening concerts, so I invited him along to get us both in for free. And it was worth every penny! :) Paul's most descriptive comment was, "They're like a parody of a country band. I'm not quite sure whether or not to take them seriously!" Whatever they were, they were great, and it was a really fun concert. I don't think I'd like to listen to their music on CD, but they were certainly a kick to experience live. I liked the way all the instruments got at least one solo, sometimes with several sequential solos in one song, which was cool. And there were three main singers, which was also nice. The band leader, Ray Benson, had the most amazingly deep voice -- and, boy, did he play it up! And the fiddle player, Jason Roberts, was awesome. They both sang, as did the only female, Elizabeth McQueen, who had a great belting alto voice. It was a totally racous concert and immensely fun. And it was free! :)

In slightly less rowdy but still exciting news, I made raspberry jam this afternoon! Yes, I know I said I was done with jamming, but I realized there were more people on my "I want to give jam to..." list than I had jars of jam, so I had to make another batch. Oh, darn. :P But now I'm out of jars, so I'd better be done!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Blackberry Lambic

This afternoon I donated the use of my kitchen to Paul's lambic-making operation, in exchange for some of the product. He had picked the berries a couple days ago (some of which I used to make a yummy pie), and came over to make the beer (which I insist is not beer, because I do not like beer, but I like lambic) this afternoon. It was a very messy process, which I was prepared for, since I've witnessed beer-making in this kitchen before, but I think the product will turn out well. Of course, we'll have to wait about six months to find out, since that's how long it has to sit and ferment. Fortunately, Paul lugged the jug back to his apartment, so I don't have to house it for all that time. :)

While Paul was boiling beer and fiddling with his laptop I laid down on my futon for a cat nap. My front door was open for a cross-breeze, and my futon is along the wall next to the door. I was woken quite suddenly by a loud knock on the door. It was my new friend Jon from the other side of the hall (I met him a few weeks ago when he paused at my door to remark on Alice's immense size), who walked in and said, "Hi. Wanna go rappeling?" We'd been talking about climbing the night before, and I had mentioned that I'd love to get back into it, so I guess he was giving me the opportunity. I was still rather dazed from my sudden awakening and didn't really comprehend. I said, "What, right now?" "Yeah, right now!" Ummm.... I've got somebody in my kitchen making beer at the moment.... So I couldn't go, but that's probably just as well.

After the beer was done Paul and I went out to the garden and trimmed the mite-ridden leaves off the zucchini, pulled up the cabbage that bolted a week ago, and planted a bunch of new seeds for fall and winter crops. Unfortunately, Paul got a little overzealous with the hoe and churned up a couple of areas where I'd planted carrots and basil and wildflowers a couple of weeks ago. I had shown him where I'd planted the seeds so he would know where to water, and where not to plant anything else, but apparently he hadn't paid full attention. So I don't know if those things will come up or not, but we'll see. I have hopes. All in all, I'm pretty darn happy with the progress the garden has made and the delicious produce it has provided.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


My building has a wonderful laundry room. Now, it's nothing special in terms of the washers and dryers (though we do have nice front-loading washers), nor in the cushy chairs and TV/VCR setup to provide a mindless alternative to homework while watching laundry, nor in the all-too-few and very overcrowded bicycle racks. No, the wonderful thing about this laundry room is that people leave stuff there. It's like a Goodwill donation center without having to go to the Goodwill. Just leave your stuff and let other people take it. A lot of the stuff is junk, but I've gotten some pretty good stuff there. Some clothes, a hat, and some kitchen items. But yesterday I picked up the crowning glory of the laudry room. Yup, this chair. It's the perfect size for curling up and reading, or just sitting with one's feet up on the coffee table. The seat hits the right point on the legs, and the back is exactly the right height to rest my head. It's very comfortable, and in quite good shape. So, after a long day out with Mom (hooray for girlie days!), I finished the day by lugging this chair up five flights of stairs to my room. But it was worth it! And Alice likes it, too. :)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

At Last!

I am finally completely unpacked! And I only moved, what, almost two months ago? I guess I've been a little busy. Of course, there are still a ton of decorations in a couple of boxes, which I may or may not bother putting up, since I'll most likely have to move shortly after I graduate next quarter. Yeah, don't remind me about that. But for now, at least I have all of my stuff in the places I want it, and I can feel a bit more settled. And just in time for Mom to come visit this weekend! There's nothing like an impending (in a good way!) visit to motivate one to organize and tidy. :)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Blogover, again

Well, as you can see, I'm giving my blog another makeover. I've been thinking for a while that it was time for a change, so now I've finally done it. Hooray for change! The new headings are taken from some refrigerator magnet poetry I created a number of years ago; they seemed to go well together and express my current state of life. I think it's pretty much done, but I'm open to tweaking it a bit more if anybody has any suggestions. What do you think?

Mischief Managed

My jamming and jarring is complete! From left to right: rhubarb-strawberry, marionberry-blueberry, spiced peach, and oil-cured mushrooms (no, this is not a jam). The jams all taste great, though the marion-blue and peach are kind of thick. I won't know about the mushrooms for a while, since they have to sit for at least a month before eating. Hooray for culinary adventures!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Worst Indignity

There's nothing quite like a cat that's just had a bath. Let's just say this has not been the happiest day for Alice. (For those of you who don't know, Alice is the (very large) cat currently residing with me. She belongs to my friend Paul, who lived in this apartment before me, but he can't have cats in his new apartment. So Alice is living with me until the end of the summer, at which time she will go to her new permanent home, once her new owners get back from Viet Nam.) But back to the story. Paul came over this afternoon to do some Alice-grooming. First, he shaved her belly. No, I am not kidding. It has been extremely hot here lately, and she gets overheated with all her fur, so she actually doesn't mind it. She just looks kind of funny for a few days. :) Then he shaved a couple of little random spots of matted hair that I haven't been able to get out with the brush. She was really not very happy about that, and that was before the bath. Yeah, he gave her a bath. I have never seen a cat being fully bathed by a human before, but she seemed to take it remarkably well. She yowled and growled and struggled a bit, but she didn't really try to escape, and she didn't claw or bite, which I found quite remarkable. But, boy, was she a pathetic and bedraggled sight when she emerged from the bathroom! Poor kitty. I refrained from taking a picture because that just seemed too cruel, so you'll just have to imagine it. She's almost dry now, after about five hours, and she'll probably be really nice and soft when she's fully dry and sociable again (yeah, she got a full shampoo job). But she's been an indignant cat for most of the afternoon, demanding extra attention because she obviously deserves special treatment after being put through such an ordeal.

In completely different news, Paul and I spent the rest of the afternoon after bathing the cat in building a lovely brick retaining wall for the garden. It's wonderful! And I found another very good use for my archaeology trowel. :) Brick laying is kind of fun -- frustrating at times when you're trying to make a curved wall and your mortar is oozing out the angled cracks, but still a fun challenge. And now the soil won't all wash away onto the path when I water -- hooray!

And a jam update: the peach jam was tasty, but very dense. No worries about runny jam here! I made rhubarb-strawberry jam this afternoon, which I think turned out better (though still a bit too sweet, even though I cut the sugar by 2 cups), and will do marionberry-blueberry tomorrow. And then I'm hoping my jam craze will be satisfied, because it's way too hot here to be making jam!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

In A Jam

A peach jam, to be precise. I bought some yummy peaches at the Farmer's Market yesterday, and after a good deal of waffling between canning and jamming, I settled on jamming because I realized I only had small jars. Of course, they're leftover jars from random jams and sauces and things, not the special standard-sized canning jars with the brand-new lids that you're supposed to use, but that's what I had. And then partway through the process I realized I hadn't gone out to buy the sugar to make the jam, so I ended up substituting the last cup or so with brown sugar, which you're not really supposed to do (and scanting the sugar, of course, since I don't like oversweet jams and the peaches are really sweet). I was very proud of myself for actually having a candy thermometer (thanks, Monee!) to get the jam to the right temperature, but after accidentally dropping it in the jam a few times the temperature seemed to be going down rather than up, so I had to chuck that method and try one of the "old-fashioned" (I swear, that's what they say in the book!) methods of testing for doneness. Of course, I had neglected to put a spoon or a saucer in the freezer for this purpose, thinking I would just be using the thermometer, so I ended up pretty much guessing at when it was done (as in, I was tired of stirring and getting burnt by jamsplatter, so I declared it done). So, all in all, an appropriately makeshift approach to my first attempt at jam. :) But it tasted wonderful going into the jars, so I'm hoping that the finished product will be tasty as well. If this batch is successful, I'm going to make a bigger batch next time -- that was an awful lot of work for four little jars of jam!