Thursday, April 29, 2010

An odd day

Well, I have been an arch procrastinator yet again. Today is the last day to renew my car tabs. That would not be a problem except that before I can renew the car tabs, I have to go to the emission testing place. Going to the emission testing place is waaaaaay worse than going to the dentist. Actually, my dentist and his staff are friendly and fabulous, and I usually enjoy visiting them, so that is not a good comparison. Let’s say instead, the gynecologist. The nearest emission place used to be in the far north reaches of Seattle, where I think that it actually isn’t even Seattle anymore. It is on a horrible street which is a miles long strip mall, interspersed with seedy hotels where the ladies of the evening ply their trade. One drives forever, and when finally there, misses it completely since its tiny sign is lost among the glaring billboards and flashing neon. Usually, Rebecca comes with me and navigates, but she was not available for that duty today. When I looked its odious address up on the computer, thus giving me slightly better odds at actually finding it, the computer told me to put in my zip code to find the nearest one. I did this, and found one not far away at all. And in the opposite, far more pleasant, direction. I looked at the map and pictured exactly where it was. Margaret and I took off, filled with optimism. I found it with no trouble at all. There were no lines. I drove up to the slot to which the emission lady directed me, and it was over in minutes. Sigh! Filled with smug complacency, I drove out, and seconds later found myself on the freeway going south! How did that happen?!?! There were no signs saying freeway. I just innocently turned a corner and Margaret and I were on our way to Portland! I got off in some completely alien territory. My only familiarity with it was reading about the shootouts happening there. A nice man directed me back to the freeway going north. As I was approaching my exit, there were signs about detours to here and there. I got confused and missed my exit. I had to cross four lanes (terrifying) to get to the downtown exit. I was suddenly in an area where I know my way about when afoot, but all the one way streets turned it into a maze. I did my best to head in the right direction, turned a corner, when suddenly I was on the freeway again. Egads! I swear there was not one sign saying “Freeway in this direction.” Yow!! Margaret took it all much more calmly than I did, and did not say a single bad word. I can’t say the same for myself. Finally we arrived home – me a limp rag, and Margaret thrilled that she had gotten to go for a fun ride. I’m happy that this ordeal is over for at least another year!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

A traveling day

Well, I’m back, and I must say that I am happy about it. Hawaii is very beautiful and restful, but there are downsides to that. Always beautiful, and too restful soon translate into “boring.” The aunties are a year older, and thus, less willing to do much. So our primary activities were reading and working crosswords. I didn’t even do that much knitting. I finished Sylvia’s Lovers, read several mystery books from the library, and listened to most of Vanity Fair, which is one of my top favorite books. I also started an E Nesbitt book which I read on the airplane. I caught up with the Sunday New York Times puzzles that I hadn’t had time to do earlier. None of that sounds very exciting, does it. I also ate a lot – eating was another of our favored activities – and am now banting to make up for it. To illustrate this tale, here is one of our dinners. The little black things are roasted beets. They are not actually as black as they appear. Could eating this sort of food make one gain nearly five pounds in two weeks, you ask. Well, probably not, but it was followed by a huge bowl of ice cream with chocolate or passion fruit topping every night. That was the kicker. I swam laps every day to combat the effects of the ice cream, but was not entirely successful.

The airport ordeal is much less of an ordeal at the Hawaii end, as the airport is very small. One walks across the tarmac and climbs movable steps just like presidents do on their state visits. The only thing missing is the reporters recording our farewell waves. Pauline and I made Dakki order a wheel chair at the airports. She didn’t want to do this, because she might look old, but we insisted. Consequently, she got lifted into the airplane - wheel chair and all -on a terrifying little portable elevator. She was blasé about it, but I would have been very frightened. I wanted to take a picture of her going up, but couldn’t manage. As you can see, the airport is much less frantic – actually, not frantic at all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

An eventful evening

A long awaited “first” happened last evening. Years ago, I saw a French movie – I believe one by Eric Rohmer - in which the characters were talking about “the green ray” and trying to see it throughout the movie. I have hoped to see it every time I watch a sunset at sea, but alas, I’ve always missed it. It seems to be called the “green flash” in these parts, but I have always thought of it as the green ray because of the movie. I was determined to see it this time, and there it was! It was tiny and green and bright. A flash and a line. In short, a flashy line. The movie characters said it was good luck to see it. I hope that is true.

Later, I lay on the couch snuggled up with Vanity Fair until I drifted off to the land of Nod. However, I didn’t stay there very long. Nature called, so half asleep, I groggily staggered towards the bathroom. Everything was dark, and I hadn’t bothered to turn any lights on as I made my way. I had just reached my goal, when a great white thing loomed up right in front of me. I shrieked, and Dakki, who had been silent and stealthily answering a similar call, chortled with glee, delighted at the effect she had with her sudden appearance. She was still pleased with herself the next morning. I was so shattered that I never did go back to sleep.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

An artistic day

Miranda, the artist, is daily getting bigger and better. I showed you some of her art work on a previous visit, and here is one of her latest. It is a self portrait – a collage of various fabrics. I think it is pretty brilliant! I am particularly charmed by her hat, a sort of pillbox, with its two toned redness, its pendant, and its fabulous feather! Note that the gloves match the collar. Very Gloria Swanson!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A hot day

Off to the library in just a few minutes, to get a new mystery book. The selection here is smallish, but they have some mysteries by my favorite authors which are not available at our library. I just read a new-to-me Rei Shimura mystery by Sujata Massey, whose books are way too few in the Seattle library. The one I read is about numero siete in a series of which I have only read the first three. Somehow, Rei seems to have dumped her Japanese boyfriend, and has gone from being an antique dealer in Tokyo to being a secret operative for some CIA branchlet. I have to seize the moment and get another today – maybe an earlier one which will explain the transformation. This will present sort of a dilemma, as I have just come to a crisis in Sylvia’s Lovers. You may remember that I was excited about reading this – as I had been looking for it for about thirty years, and began it several weeks ago. However, library books which I had ordered long ago kept coming in, and had to be read quickly - thus making me read about Sylvia and her trials in a rather disjointed manner.

Back from the library. Disaster! It was closed! It is closed every
Wednesday in April due to a severe budget cut, due to the financial shenanigans of the previous administration. George Bush, the author of everything bad, including me not getting my library book – the effects are still being felt. Ever more reasons to be bitter.

I even had my special library costume on for the outing. The first time Marcus took me to the library, years ago, he looked a little horrified as we were getting ready to leave. “Is that what you are wearing?” he asked. “What’s wrong with it?” Shades of my mother! He looked embarrassed, and finally said, “But you don’t have a brassiere on. We can’t go to the library like that.” Just as, often times in years long previous with my mom, I shuffled off to obey the fashion dictates of my family. When I told his mother what he had said, she shrieked with laughter. Dakki said I should ignore him, but Pauline pointed out that he is the one with the library card. Now every time we go to the library, Pauline says, “Don’t forget your brassiere!” It is really too hot here for any extraneous clothing, but cooperative soul that I am, I don’t forget. So I will have to don my special library attire again tomorrow, and will be able to settle down with Sylvia this evening and Rei tomorrow.

This turtle greets library patrons as they arrive, and these lovely clouds and waves are part of the view from our lanai. There are cooling breezes as well.

Update: Went to the library today (Thursday), forgot to wear the required attire, and no one noticed. J

Monday, April 12, 2010

A pleasant day

Yesterday was adventure filled, at least from the perspective of those with a very low adventure threshold. We went to the library, got books and movies, and my favorite librarian was there, but I missed her. Marcus said that she had been working behind some shelves. The crabby librarian was there too, of course, and I was gratified to hear someone else say, “That librarian sure is a crab,” thus lessening my feelings of mean spiritedness – just knowing that the feeling was universal. All this means, of course, that I will have to go again to see my favorite.

Then we drove to Auntie Lori’s house, deep in a coffee jungle. She gave us fruit, spinach, and herbs for our dinner, and her husband showed us his cast iron pan collection. We toured her garden, her pet cemetery, admired her chickens, while Mark picked us some bananas. Here Mark, Kekoa, and Pauline are headed for the banana plantation, where he wielded his pole saw to get the bananas from high in their tree. Here also are some coffee beans in their natural habitat. I tried to take pictures of the elusive chickens, and failed, so Lori sent me some that she took when they assembled for their dinner.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A voggy day

Somehow, I haven’t been in a bloggy mood, but I thought I had better update you as to my whereabouts. I have just been basking on the lanai, and am about to dash out to the pool, here in somewhat voggy (Heaven be praised about that – you know how I am about hot weather) Hawaii!
We arrived on Tuesday, and as a trip to Ikea wears me out (see below), you can imagine my condition when we arrived here after a zillion miles and a thousand hours in a way too cramped airplane. I am recovered except that I went to bed at nine last night, and woke up at five this morning. This is definitely not my style and is also not convenient. I will probably adjust just in time to come home and be maladjusted again.
A little late, I brought Christmas presents to the kiddies, Miranda and Kekoa. I got Kekoa a giant spider to assemble, and a 3-D Mirascope, which was a great success with the adults, who were amazed by the frog which was inside it, but seemingly was sitting on top of it. He was so real that one tried to touch him. Alas, he was but a mirage. En route, my aunt Pauline had said that her presents were much more humble, being gifts to her from charitable missionary groups she had contributed to. None the less, Miranda was quite pleased with her necklace from an Indian mission, and the angel night light was a great success with Kekoa, who is becoming very interested in body parts. He immediately fixated on the angel's cape, which he thought looked like huge blue bosoms. He burst into uproariously gleeful laughter and couldn’t (or wouldn’t) stop, until “no dessert” was threatened. He was so thrilled that he remained slightly giddy for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An Acoustinautic day

Years ago, my cousins and some friends had a band called the Acoustinauts. Here is a music video they made. Joseph is the star, my Aunt Pauline is sitting in the front row, yawning. Mark, the one with the dimples is playing the guitarrón, and my friend Brian is reading the book and is the guitarist. Mark's wife Michelle is sitting next to him in class.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A shopping day

Monday was the first day in a weeks that Rachael, Rebecca, and I all were not working or doing some other even more important activity. Hence, the long awaited (by Rachael, maybe by Rebecca, definitely not by me) trip to IKEA. Rachael needed items – mostly bookshelves – for her new independent living situation. My theory of shopping is “go in, grab what you want, pay for it, get out.” Anything else is torture. Rebecca and Rachael wanted to look at every single thing in the at least fourteen mile pathway through the store. My apprehensions about the tedium of the day grew even graver when they stopped to actually read some of the books that were for sale. They took copious notes, compared, contrasted, and debated. I tried to doze over the shopping cart. Eventually, I became fascinated by a family, the mother of which had on shrink wrap white pants, and stiletto heels. She had a husband and several small children in tow. She looked to be quite happy and not suffering at all, despite small children and ridiculous footwear. While rubbernecking at this group, I lost the girls who were no doubt examining the joinery of some shelving. What to do? Making a quick decision, I took the cart, which as yet had nothing in it, went to the cafeteria, got some lunch, and read my book. The trip was looking up. They caught up with me, got themselves lunch, and while we ate, told me of their discoveries and decisions, and then we forged on together, the majority of the shopping decisions having been made. I purchased a packet of Swedish Fish, and some cookie cutters. Usually, I never get out of IKEA without severe sticker shock when my purchases are added up, so I was happy to have shown such restraint. In the way back, we took the scenic route, and drove along Lake Washington boulevard. The day was beautiful, the birds and boats were out, and it was all in all a lovely end to a pleasant day.
I had given up Spider Solitaire for Lent, and planned to play a game when I got home from the Easter Vigil. Given that I was about to drop dead at that time, this was not practical. So I played my first game when we got home from IKEA. Why do I waste so much time on the mindless, yet ever fascinating activity?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hail Thee, Fesitival Day

The Easter Vigil is one of the most mysterious and wonderful services of the year. After dusk, the Archbishop lights the Easter fire outside the Cathedral, and the paschal candle is lit from the fire. Chanting, “Christ, our light,” he, or some more muscular acolyte, as the candle is very big, carries it into the totally dark cathedral. The candles of the faithful are lit from the paschal candle, and the light gradually spreads through the dark until hundreds, maybe a thousand, candles are lit. When I first heard that the service was going to be over three hours long, I was horrified. But it flies by. The Old Testament readings are vivid, telling of the creation, of Abraham and Isaac, of crossing the Red Sea when the Pharaoh’s soldiers “sank like a stone.” The chants are beautiful as well. And it is all in the dark!
On Easter morning, the choir processes into the church singing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today,” and as we come through the ceremonial doors, it is all light and golden!

Here is the procession in on Easter morning (photo taken by Maria). Rachael is ahead of me by two. At this point we were still quite perky, despite having gotten out of the vigil at nearly midnight, but there were three masses and the vesper service yet to go. By seven in the evening, I was an exhausted, limp rag. Here is a picture of choir members assembling before the procession, and of me trying be subtly take a picture to show you, and failing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Holy Thursday

Just as Rachael’s favorite religious observance was Palm Sunday, my favorite was always Holy Thursday. I remember singing upstairs in the choir loft with Sister Justina and our grammar school choir, looking down at the foot washing and the stripping of the altar, chanting Pange Lingua, and being moved year after year with the passionate solemnity of the service. Then, of course, came Good Friday, which I always rather dreaded. Our children’s choir had its own little mortification of the flesh for the whole three hours, straining to be quiet and attentive, amusing ourselves from our bird’s eye view of the head tops, and our special vantage point for assessing the encroaching baldness of the manly portion of the congregation. I’m not sure why this was so fascinating, but it was. Now days, I’m in the grown up choir – two choirs, actually – both of which have roles on Holy Thursday, and the ten women who are in both choirs have to switch roles throughout the service. This makes for the stress of constant vigilance to assure that one is in the right place at the right time. And the number of services during the week (I sing at eleven different ones), means that none of the music has been over rehearsed, and this means that there is no autopilot singing. The care and attention required can really be exhausting. Sooooo, while I still love Holy Thursday, it has taken on a new aspect, an evening of beautiful tension. The rigorous focus on the details of the music and rubrics leave one little time for religious ecstasy.
Tomorrow – well, actually today – will be Good Friday. This, along with the Holy Thursday Compline service - is now my favorite service at St. James. The music doesn’t change much from year to year, so the terrors of that are minimal, and one can sink into the beauty and passion of the liturgy. The church is darkened and silent, the religious sorrow hangs heavy. Everything seems to be deep red or black, intensifying the somber atmosphere of love and loss.

Every Holy Thursday for years past, Tom, Rebecca, and I walked to Chinatown after the Morning Praise and, after exploring the neighborhood a bit, had lunch at Hing Loon. This year, Tom was not with us in body, but Rebecca and I felt him there in spirit. We didn’t order him any food, but we did have a place for him at our table. You can click here, here and here to see some Holy Thursdays of the past years. The flag picture was taken by Rebecca.