Pretender Archive, part II

07/04/04..........38509. Sunday, the Fourth of July, and  no clouds, just that peculiar dimness to the sky that indicates something burning somewhere---the one bad thing about weather moving through in the mountains is dry lightning strikes, which sometimes touch off dry evergreen; and though I've heard no word of fires, I think there must be somewhere. Neither of us has felt very energetic, and we finally concluded that taking our headaches down to the riverfront to watch the fireworks probably isn't too bright. So we decided to sit at home for once and watch the fireworks from the balcony...

07/05/04.........39305. Well, even that plan fizzled---perhaps they angled the fireworks differently because of wind aloft or something: I'm told they were better than usual, but we couldn't see them from where we were. Waked late, got down to work, made a few major narrative decisions, erasing a bit, writing a bit: I now have a notionn where this goes---yes, dear readers, I'm often surprised by what happens, too. Outlines are only good for a roadmap, to be done and then put in a drawer while writing. And if you ask any half dozen writers, you'll get three of them who adhere to outlines and three that constantly vary. Myself, I vary even so far as to actually use an outline now and again; but mostly not---as in this one, where I'm using an outline, but only to map where I've been, not where I'm going: in other words, I build it as a record so I remember the names and places, not as a future guide. IT rained today, if only briefly---this helped clear the air. And we took back to the ice today, going slowly---no physical challenge, except to work on balance and Banichi's favorite word, finesse. I'm still battling the left foot problem---and reached a most curious solution. We skate in a rink fitted for hockey, and we can use the benches to make minor boot adjustments. So I go off the ice to fix the left boot lacings, which on this occasion I needed---when you walk about in the guards, the boot can loosen. The left snugged up nicely, and then I had a wicked notion, and didn't fix the right, which had, as aforesaid, loosened. I had begun to suspect that my left foot problem is at present more psychological than physiological---and going back out with the left foot perfect and snug and the right foot loose and wobbly had an astonishing effect. The brain instantly decided the left foot was reliable, the right foot was not, and I was able to maneuver on the left foot in double the glide length, double the turn length, instantly, with no other change. I skated the rest of the time in that condition, and intend to try it tomorrow with both laced up snugly. And since there was no baseball game on telly tonight, we decided to finish the evening playing music and trying to remember the melodies. We're doing quite well at it---you have to understand, most of our music isn't written out in notation---has only the chords, and we have over a thousand pages of it---which we're trimming down to the ones we actually play. But in ten years away, we've forgotten a few chords and we've mutated a few melodies. We're at least able to agree on a pitch, but Jane plays the nylon six-string and I play the steel-string 12, and our styles don't always merge. We are able to have fun at it, however, and it's a lot better exercise than sitting watching television.

Date: 07/06/04........40099. Work, work, work, but I'm getting somewhere: I've got a grip on the story now, and am beginning to look forward to getting at it. Still not a hundred percent physically, but feeling better. The temperatures are running in the 70's, delightful for July. I can say I had one of the best skates I've ever had, though slow, methodical, and very, very conscious that I'm going to have to go out on the ice in a contest this Saturday, which is going to be interesting. It's very basic stuff, Basic 2, to be precise: this means can we: glide on one foot; bubble backwards; slalom forwards; and stop. Stopping is not my strong suite. This requires making a V of your feet forward and shoving hard to the sides, and I don't tend to get enough edge involved to bring me to anything but a slow, grinding stop. If it's a real emergency I tend to spin into a turn and grab the wall. Obviously I've got to do better by Saturday, somehow. I don't know the protocols of this business---as, for instance, are we allowed to take a few strokes to get moving before we have to glide, or are we just supposed to start off from dead stop? We are going to have a lesson tomorrow, which we're very much looking forward to. We have learned new things and want to check out what we've picked up here and there against the way we're supposed to be doing things. I'm able to slalom backwards now, moderately, and am beginning to work on gliding backwards on one foot. My inside edges are pretty good---but my last lesson had me starting on the outside edge, and I can sort of do it, but I'm not sure what to do with it.

Date: 07/07/04.........40839. Feels good. Got a running start on the work and am doing a lot of thinking, too, on the bridge I want---the middle part of the book, where the start transits to the finish. I am now definitively in the middle, and it's been a difficult joint, from beginning to middle. I think I've finally nailed it. We were disappointed to learn our instructor has more errands than she can get done, so no lesson today. We just got on and practiced the necessities: rough ice today---senior hockey players had done it up from end to end, and there'd only been a light go-over with the Zamboni, so it felt like skating over cardboard and you couldn't get much glide. Pretty frustrating.

Date: 07/08/04......40839. The weather has stayed nice---read, ;in the 70's...and we're just staying home and working hard. This is the day off we have while they prep the rink for the competion. Trying to do a little clean-up, and next week is another tax deadline. Decided to put together a first-aid kit for the rink, and got a few essentials. I don't know if figure skating has more injuries than basketball, say, but it's got to be close, once you get beyond the tottering around the rink stage, and they tend to be nasty. You can cut your hand just picking up a pair of skates, if you brush the blades, and when feet fly loose in a fall or a collision, not a nice thing. Not to mention impacts. We tend to occupy the public-skate slot, where things move much faster, but we're going to get some ice time with the Big Guys this weekend, high velocity and half the time moving backwards. We don't want to inconvenience them, let alone collide with them, but we will be thinking about it.

Date: 07/09.......40839. First day of the Jo Williams Memorial competition, and we're erranding for our friend who's in the adult skate division, as well as one of the judges for some events. It draws skaters from all over the Northwest. And admission to view is free, if you're ever near one of these local events. Just walk in, sit down, and watch. Plus there are things to buy, and people to talk to---though most of them are moving at high velocity from locker room to ice to concessions. We've signed up for practice ice tomorrow morning, and the only time we could get is 6:45 to 7:15 AM Saturday morning. We don't ordinarily see the sun at that hour, but we'll try. More to the point, there's a public skate this evening, and several of us who are competing took advantage of that. We forgot one element, which is the turn-in-place from a dead stop---a 180 degree snap turn with a precise check at the end, and we had to practice that in a hurry. Got back home to urgent questions from the cats, like, where have you been and did you catch any food?

Date: 07/10/04........40839. Our day to compete. We were laying bets as to whether we'd make that practice ice, but we dragged ourselves out of bed, got skated up, and staggered onto the ice at 6:45 AM. They'd even groomed the edges of the rink, shaved them down so there isn't that accumulation of lumps next the boards. The best ice we've ever skated on. Practice went well enough, though we had to hug the boards and stay out of the way of the fast-moving skaters in center ice, who occasionally loop outward unexpectedly. We took the skates off for an hour, watched the competition, then went to skate up again and get organized. I may tell you, at this level, we wore our usual skating gear, no tutus---and we asked to wear our helmets, being our first competition, and while I'm pretty proof against nerves, you never know what will happen when you're under pressure. So we went to check in with the ice monitor and prepare for warm-up, which we're first told is at the Zamboni side of the rink, and then told we should be at the lobby end. This info changed by the minute, depending on who we asked. So the several of us in our division trekked back and forth, dutifully, each of us with information from a different source. Finally we're ready to enter, and the loudspeaker says, "Will the skaters take the ice?" and then "Where are the skaters?" Well, someone had just run up to tell us it had to be the Zamboni gate, so there we were hiking back again, with our boot laces gettting progressively loosened by walking on our blade-guards. Jane yelled back, the width of the rink: "We're up here! Nobody can make up their mind what gate we're supposed to be at!" And people all laughed. We got to our right end of the ice, we went on, and they graciously adjusted the clock so we could get our full warm-up in. By that time we were so amused it had taken away most of the butterflies, and our instructor had arrived to help us with last-minute details. Jane, lucky sod, got to go out first, but she really nailed the glide element, just caught the perfect balance and went the full width of the ice, for the first time ever. My turn, and I got so bemused by listeningtto the instructions from the very nice judge that I blew the very same element, just forgot to take the few strokes to get moving and had to content myself with the initial shove, which only gained me about 20 feet. I got through the rest without embarrassment. And I had told Jane from the beginning she'd beat me---which she did. We expected maybe a certificate or something, but they gave us nice engraved medals on red, white, and blue ribbon: she had a gold, and I had a silver, which pretty well had to be the result with only us there in our class---we were pretty well competing against the Book, but we didn't decline an element and we didn't fall down getting out of the gate, so we were pleased as can be to have our  nice moment. I also won the prime raffle item, a coffee basket---Jane has no interest in the coffee, but she took keen interest when she found out it was raspberry syrup in the bottle. Meanwhile we had also agreed to put our friend "on the ice", which mostly means carrying all the articles they can't carry, making sure their props (a bouquet of tulips) are handy, that their water bottle, Kleenex, and most of all back-up music tape are there, and that they haven't walked onto the ice still wearing their blade-guards (good for a nasty fall). This proved particularly frenetic, since our friend (Sharon) was in two consecutive events requiring separate music, separate costumes, and separate hairdos, with a last-moment change in which the scheduled Zamboni run was cancelled and we had to get her there 15 minutes earlier than we'd thought. We ended up exhausted.. But we had a great time, exited with our medals and a raffle basket, went to supper, and came home to fall on our faces.

Date: 07/11/04............40839. We're still exhausted. That was a long day. I blush to say I haven't gotten any creative work done---just sort of moving items about the house, hoping it amounts to order. And haunted by the ever-due tax reports. This time it's the state ones, which I have to get to. I overslept, which is a lovely start to the day, and then couldn't get organized. For one thing, it's the allergy season here---the absolute worst, when the temperature rises, the wheat is ripening and being cut, with resultant mold, and the dry lightning (thunderstorms in which only electricity reaches the ground) creates forest fires. I haven't brains enough to work. Being gluttons for punishment, we took to the ice again---all these people had sworn they were coming, but nobody we knew showed up.

Date: 07/12/04.........40839. Embarrassingly, stalled out. I worked at working, made only negative progress, and ripped that up. I think it's the mold in the air, which lowers the general public IQ by 20 points. Just to prove it, we went back to the rink, got to practicing our backwards skating and---you guessed it. Perfect comedic moment, but it jammed Jane's shoulder very painfully. I was unhurt, well, except for a stiff neck. That teaches us to get cocky. We were just saying, well, maybe we could omit the helmets occasionally. We were really glad to have them in that moment. We're stalled out on the diet, feeling lousy, and headachy (before the impact) and generally have decided we have to eat at home to keep to our diet. Don't think of us as suffering: salmon is cheap up here, and blueberries are in season. We did take one resolution today: we're going to redo the kitchen floor---install that artificial wooden flooring, which can go right down on top of that wretched kitchen carpet, which can't be kept clean. We've just got to get some time to do it. But the place will look ever so much better when we do.

Date: 07/13/04...........40839. Well, with the best intention in the world, I still overslept, and had to scramble to get ready for the chiropractor, who had to straighten us out after the events of yesterday. He was amused to learn we'd actually competed. And we got back just in time to hit the rink---again, most of the people who competed still haven't shown up. But we saw a few of the regulars, and had a good skate, despite being a bit sore. I've got to get the taxes in---got to get the accounts up to date. I swear, I don't know where time goes. By the way, I should mention---if any of you who read this blog would like to buy a raffle ticket for 2 good seats for the 2007 Nationals (figure skating competition) in Spokane, the Lilac City Skating Club is holding a raffle. This is our national championship, our very best skaters. I'll append a link for you to buy a chance: I think it's ten dollars, but don't quote me, and the actual event tickets are about a thousand dollars for the pair if you try to go out and buy them on the internet. Odds naturally depend on the number of people who buy in, but it's a really great prize if you do win. It's only the admissions to the arena, understand: you have to pay your own meals, lodging, and travel. What it does get you is admission not only to all performances, but also all public practice sessions at the main venues, and if Skate America is any clue, the practices are as much if not more fun to watch than the performances---That link to buy a raffle ticket is

Date: 07/14/04.........40389. It's getting positively embarrassing that I haven't made any progress. I'm absolutely frantic to get some clear-headed working time. This is the day we'd planned to crack on and get down to work---and I got no sleep at all last night, being unable to breathe, and being too hot, and too groggy to get up and take action on the problem. Finally I got up and took some Theraflu at 5 AM, which tends to knock me out, but it did make it possible to breathe; I did sleep two hours. Then I realized I had to get those confounded taxes done and that I had a hair appointment. While I was plowing through a two-week accumulation of mail and bills, our skating instructor called and said she could do a lesson today. So I scrambled to get the taxes done so I could make the hair appointment, while Jane kept counting down the time until I had to be out the front door. The Easy-file online option turned out to lock me out repeatedly, each of which meant a call to the state offices to get them to unlock my tax account, and that program never did work right: After 45 minutes, I did get the state system to accept the tax form, if not the payment. So I punched the pay by check option and ran to the hair salon, ,making it just in time. Jane regularlized accounts while I was gone---so much for our work day---and then we both had to scramble to get to the rink for our first lesson in a long time. I secured a laundry list of things I can work on, from a two-footed spin, to outside-edge slaloms, to a cautious 3-turn, meaning a one-foot reversal of direction; and a backwards crossover, meaning being very careful not to knock blades and break something. I'm a long way from doing any of these things without either going very slowly and keeping a hand to the rail, or having assistance---amazing how much help it is just to have a hand poised half an inch under yours, in case you start to tilt off balance---but the outside-edge thing and the spin aren't too far off. And I'm keeping the helmet on, let me assure you. I'm absolutely swearing that tomorrow I get up at the crack of dawn and get some major work done.

Date: 07/15/04...........42203. Finally...a clear-headed day and a night's sleep. Amazing what a relief it is to think---I tell you, the medical sciences don't pay enough attention to what happens when the air is full of allergens. People run red lights, take wrong turns, blunder into store displays with shopping carts and fail to think of the obvious when they're writing novels. It's not Mercury in retrograde, it's human brains overwhelmed with serotonin blitzout. The only problem was that I have to turn off the airconditioner in my room to turn the coffeemaker on, or it trips the breaker, and after making the afternoon cuppa, I forgot to turn the airconditioner back on. Jane's nrusing an epic blister on her instep which she got during the great Long Hike with the boots on, during the competition---it's on the verge of turning nasty, despite aloe and Epsom salts, but she decided to skate anyway, with a blister patch on...we're quite enthusiastic about having had our lesson, and having new things to practice. I did manage to get the outside edge slalom at least started---again, I'm pretty good on the right foot, not the left....and I can do the spin, if slowly. Backward crossover is going to take some work, and I'm sure I'm not perfect going forward either. I'm hoping to be much better before Tuesday next, when we have our next lesson. We're also on a program of not eating out, so we can keep to our diet---don't think of us suffering: it involves beef, chicken, and salmon, with a moderate low-carb veggie, and a dessert of fresh blueberries and whipped cream, which aren't innocent, but which are sort of nature's vitamin pill, and in season and cheap right now. We can lose weight on that, believe it or not. It's the Atkins business. But it means that I have to go scurrying home to cook in this weather. Which means I have to demonstrate some industry. But I've also gotten it down to a science: I can have dinner ready in 20 minutes flat, from scratch, given two microwaves (ours and the apartment's) the blender, and also the iron skillet, which can be heated up to high heat and greatly shorten cooking time---I fear I'm just an unregenerate campfire cook: I learned to cook on iron, tend to grab the skillet and lift it off the heat, never thinking just to turn the dial down---and I'm just not genteel enough for the Teflon age---I've never yet destroyed one of our fancy modern skillets, but I only use them for sauce-type dishes, grimly set the timer and resolve not to get impatient. If it's going to be grilled, it's the iron skillet, thank you, which can take anything the range can dish out, and with which I can employ my barbarian cooking style without fear of destroying a pan. So, a nice quiet supper and a dessert for a change. I may try to finagle a stop at Tomato Street tomorrow night, maybe, if it's as hot out as advertised. Tonight I'm a little on edge: the Mariners released one of my favorite players and are bringing up some new kids out of the minors, and I wanted to be home to see the game---and to hear the excuses from the team organization, which are going to take some persuasion, with me. I'm really sorry for the change, but the new guys did perform well, and we won. We'll see how this goes. Changes have to happen, but I'm not sure I'm behind this one---and not happy with the way it was done. And remember the breaker situation? By the time I got home, my room was a furnace---I'm on the west side of the building, and the heat buildup on a hot day can be really bad, during this few weeks that we have to keep the airconditioning going. I'm sitting here in the dark after 10pm trying to get it to cool down so I can sleep and not get a headache, and the airconditioning has been going since at least 6. Ysabel believes it's bedtime, and has launched a catly protest. But if I try to sleep in this heat, it's a sure miserable night, and even the walls heated up in the interval when the thing was off. The temperature is supposed to hit 98F tomorrow---entirely unacceptable, and a really good reason to head for the ice rink in the afternoon---but by Saturday it's supposed to moderate into the 80's and rain. We could really do with some real rain, I'll tell you...but in this season, the fear is that a thunderhead brings dry lightning, fires, and smoke. We'll see. The weather is supposed to stay in the 80's and damp for several days---if only. This is the only bad season in Spokane, and it's much better this year than last, when it set in for weeks of 90s. So far, knock on wood, we've only had a few days of 90 degree weather at a stretch.

Date: 07/16/04..................43030. Friday. The temperatures remain nasty, and the hills have a haze of smoke. Not good for breathing organisms, and we haven't opened our windows for days. I am getting some work done, but on days like today, an uphill struggle. They promise us rain, but in the way of weather in this season, the promises usually retreat like mirages, being put off one day and another and then evaporating into nothing at all. The rain was supposed to come tomorrow and now it's put off until Sunday. The temperatures were supposed to moderate tomorrow and now they say Sunday. When I lived in Oklahoma, the prevailing quote from Will Rogers was, "If you don't like the weather, just wait: it'll change." Up here, it's 'wait,' all right, as the event moves out of reach. Disgust. But the weather will turn eventually. Skated until there was just too much 'snow' on the ice to proceed: the hockey skaters churn it up, and when it got to the point a simple lazy glide turned into a near-fall because my skates just slowed up---fast---I decided it was too much like skating on sand. Most of the hockey-skaters are nice folk. But there's a problem with figure and hockey skaters sharing the ice for an hour and a half, because they (the hockey skaters) slide sideways and make little scrape-trails that cause our skates to slow unexpectedly. They also just created 'snow', or loose ice, and really nasty trenches that can seize a figure blade, carry it elsewhere, and cause a fall or hurt your ankle. Figure skaters aren't innocent either: a jumper takes out divots that aren't nice to hit for any skater, and when we do fast crossovers we can dig a groove that matches anything the hockey folk can do. So there is a perpetual though usually courteous conflict. We're mutually dangerous to each other, though ironically the sort of ice we favor tends to give hockey skaters a bit of a problem...we like it glassy and pristine. They seem to want slush. So did we two, when we were first starting out, because it damps motion, but now we work much better when the surface resembles glass. And the once-cursed Zamboni is now our dear friend.//Trying to keep this blog organized, by the way, I've generally not paragraphed, because my program insists on skipping a line between paragraphs, and this log, which runs the length of the creation of a the current novel, would stretch on forever. But I realize some of the transitions are bizarre, so I'm going to institute the habit of using the diag-slash when changing topic. I hope this will help make things more sensible. // We came home to watch the newly reorganized Mariners attempt Cleveland, and it was gruesome, really painful to watch. Enough said on that score, which involved a record number of home runs from the opposition. I can only hope that we have now hit the pits and that the only place to go from here is up.

Date: 07/17/04....................42303. Saturday. And a little backwards progress---actually I got in over a thousand words, but I wiped out a few, too. It's officially moving now, thank goodness.// Another hot day---the promised rain is stalled off. //The diet is making a little progress since I've been cooking at home. And, no, we didn't end up going out to eat, which is why our weight was actually down. We tried those carb-blocker pills---forget it. All they do is encourage you to eat what you shouldn't in the first place. They afford a little protection from carb rebound, which is what makes you hungry a few hours after you've eaten something carb-heavy. In point of fact, they don't prevent your absorbing a helping of garlic bread, not at all. I've been scarfing down a latte or two---usually two---at the rink, which is really pushing it, and we've been having blueberries with whipped cream for desserts, and I've been wondering if I can really get away with the lattes or the whipped cream, but I think the garlic bread is more likely my real sin, which I commit only when I'm at Tomato Street. I'm no kid, and I figure a little extra calcium is a good thing---though, knock on wood, when I had a bone density test run, I tested out at half my actual age, for which I am very grateful.// Improving my day, too, the Mariners improved considerably in the evening game---but it's pretty wild and wooly, the new guys making a few new-guy mistakes, or just getting caught by surprise, which means there's no predicting what will happen at any given moment. There's a lot of promise there. And I hope the trades are done. I'm a Boone, on my great-grandmother's Carolina's side, yes, fairly closely related to Daniel. I was named after my great-grandmother, and fairly naturally my favorite Mariner player is Bret Boone, a Gold Glover who looks so like my father's younger pictures it's downright spooky. I never bought any player-number wear, except during the recent trade rumors, when I decided to make a statement, and support a few-degrees-removed cousin, when there's trade talks. So I have my Boone shirt. And I'm glad to see the team picking themselves up after the low spot last night, and I hope they keep the roster steady for the rest of the season...give the new arrangement a chance.// I've decided to up the font size in this blog, incidentally, which I hope will improve legibility. I'm tired of trying to see whether I put a period in or not, and it finally dawned on me that some of my readers might be having the same problem. So my apologies for not having done it sooner.

Date: 07/18/04.....................43299. Sunday. A quiet morning and afternoon...and an actual sprinkle of rain. The temperatures are much moderated, and I'm feeling better. The Mariners are improving. The world is brighter. The afternoon skate was a mess---birthday parties on ice should be supervised, and this wasn't. One of the hazards parents don't reckon in sending their kids out onto the ice is that skates are sharp---and figure skates that aren't rentals are far, far sharper. And when kids acting like lunatics want to fall down and skid on purpose right in front of fast-moving figure skaters just for giggles, they're the ones in danger. Fortunately Jane was able to stop. Let me inform you, you can pass your finger down the rental blades and get the notion they're safe and blunt. You can slice your finger on high quality figure blades, the same as on a razor edge.  I have an open cut on my hand, just from picking up a friend's skates a couple of days ago and letting my finger accidentally brush the blade. The rink is no place to be skylarking around at people's feet, risking injury to both parties.  What are the parents thinking?

Date: 07/19/04.....................43821. Monday. I'm erasing and writing, just about equally. The weather has stayed moderate, to my delight, but there's something in the air that has my eyes watering. There's one sound that really gets to me, which is the high-velocity noise of fans. I think I acquired this opinion during my days in the classroom, where, in Oklahoma heat, we had no airconditioning, and some crazed architect thought that glass brick over the windows would let in more natural light---a fine theory, in Wisconsin. In Oklahoma, it produces an oven-like effect, and if your windows don't face west, you don't get any breeze, and if they do, you bake from the sun. Horrid design for a building. And the fans were everywhere, and just trying to make your voice carry---in a foreign language, yet---above that racket, hour after hour, is sort of like trying to lecture from front to back of a jet plane. Plus if you lay down a piece of paper without a weight on it, it riffles and then sails off. You go home wilted from the heat and too exhausted to talk. And from March until November of every years, those cursed fans roared away. Well, not having central air here, either, we have fans---ceiling fans, standing fans, and the noisy fans of these rollabout airconditioners, in addition to the small one mounted in the wall. And when the temperature rises, all the fans go on, day and night. One of the things I really enjoy, consequently, is silence---just pure, wind-sighing-through-pines silence. Birds-singing silence. Snow-falling-on-snow silence. And it's so nice to be able to turn the fans off for a few hours and let my brain stop vibrating.//The Mariners beat the Red Sox, which was a real reversal of recent fortunes. There may be hope.//And skating went much better on this non-weekend day: I worked so hard I pulled a charley horse in my leg, which forced me off the ice. It hurt like blazes for a couple of hours, until heat had gotten it relaxed and it went away.

Date: 07/20/04..................43821. Tuesday. We thought we had a skating lesson today, but we were wrong about the date. We did turn up at the rink during club skating hours, which we've never done, and bought punch cards for sessions, so we can manage on days like Thursday, when the public skate is cancelled in favor of a club testing session---and went out to share the ice with the competition skaters, which is a whole different sort of watchfulness than sharing it with junior hockey kids. We try to be courteous and alert---since we move rather more slowly than people doing double axels---but the ice is much better groomed and much faster, too, which lets us practice our edges with far less struggle. We decided that the competition had had a salutory effect, because rather than inch ahead with some half-baked learning this, that, and the other trick, we were forced to go back and perfect basics, things that were easy for us, but that deserved better practice. This made us return to first principles and get things right. So we have the notion we may actually practice toward tests, at our own rate.//We came home, settled in, hoping to work, carrying the adrenaline charge of the morning, and then just as we were starting, the lodge called---we'd said we'd donate two nice chairs to the lodge auction, and they had finally gotten two men and a truck to come after them. And after we'd gotten the two huge chairs down three flights of stairs and tried to get back to work, it wasn't happening. So in spite of the fact we'd had a fair workout this morning, we decided to go back to the rink for the public skate. Remembering the kink I'll pulled yesterday, which was on inside edge, I decided not to press that exercise too hard, but I did get in a really good hour and a half.// We came home and collapsed, pretty well. I was disappointed, however, to figure that I've got to cut the two lattes that usually punctuate my workout---just too many carbs, considered with the whipped cream dessert. I'm going to have to go over to iced tea.

Date: 07/21/04.................44390. Wednesday. A little work, a little housecleaning. It's sure a nice thing to have those two huge chairs out of the living room. The place looks more civilized now. And still no progress on the weight, though I gave up one of my two lattes. Disgusting. I skated hard yesterday, pretty well non-stop, for two and a half hours yesterday, and didn't lose an ounce. But patience, patience. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that reaction to dietary change isn't necessarily instant. We were going to take measurements for the kitchen floor, but didn't get around to that. The writing is going about as fast as it can go, which is still kind of slow---gathering moss, I call this stage---just letting things sit and organically compose themselves around the idea. I know now where I'm going. This is good. //And the Mariners have started winning.

Date: 07/22/04................44502. Thursday. Up with the sun to try to get work started early, and to get some progress made. I'm beginning to feel like it's all over the crest of the hill now, and should start sliding freely soon. And to improve my mood, I'm down half a pound, the lowest I've been in over ten years.//We went to the morning club skate again today, because the afternoon public skate is cancelled for testing, and I had another revelatory moment. I've still been battling to get the same stability on the left that I have on the right, and noted that I'm actually better on the outside edge on my left foot (the bad one) than on my right, which is ordinarily the more stable. And I kept trying to press the glide on the left foot, having minimal success, and constantly losing momentum, which means bad balance. This told me, once I began working on the problem continually, that the two feet weren't the same, so I tried finding the balance on the left, and then rigidly locking that position, and thinking about it. What I discovered was interesting. The stable right foot had tension on the inside tendons of the knee for the outside edge, but for the inside edge, tension on the outside tendons of the knee and on the kneecap. Hmmn, say I. Thanks to early injuries, dating back to when I was ten, I've tended to protect certain of the knee ligaments on the left, not that they're not strong, but that they were once injured. So I tried applying the same tension to the left knee, using the same balance of tendons, and huzzah! perfect balance on the left, like a 75 percent increase in glide distance instantly, and no more torquing about trying to hold the balance: with the knee bent and the pressure applied to the right ligaments, no problem. It's the old mechanical principle: if you want the same result on the right as the left, analyze, analyze, analyze. Equal action to identical systems should produce identical results. And I wasn't doing the same, not with the feet, this time, but with the knees. I was incredibly pleased with myself, and hated to leave the ice, but I had worked so hard, I didn't want another charley horse.//Off to the grocery, to get food for supper, then home to work a bit, and cook dinner, and watch the baseball game, in which, incredibly, we won the second game against one of the division leaders. This is looking up, indeed.

Date: 07/23/04...........44590. Friday. The weather continues hot and nasty, around 95 F, plus there are forest fires somewhere to the west of us, I think in the Cascade Range, and the air is not fit to breathe. If we go outside our eyes water steadily. This is the downside of life in the piney woods---fire is nature's renewal system, but it's hell on the sinuses. We don't open the windows, we minimize our time outside, and I can't believe we've agreed to do the skating club car wash tomorrow. We took two sessions on the ice, since it was so nasty at home---our eyes still water, and we can't see where we're going, but an ice rink is a lovely place to spend a summer afternoon.

Date: 07/24/04...........44590. Saturday. I had in my head I was going to get some work done today, being quite forgetful about the car wash, but Jane kept me honest, and we went out to scrub cars in 98 F heat...that's 37 C, for those of you who use that scale. After two hours I had had enough of standing on my head scrubbing (being also among the tallest---most of the club is in their early teens---I tended also to wash the roofs) and set out to hold signs on the road and try to bring in customers. In Washington you can't charge for washing cars, but you can ask for a donation for the favor, and if the people are nice, they base it on how much work you had to do. People kept bringing in Ford Explorers, one chap brought in an RV, and I hope they donated mightily to those kids, on a day of 98 degree weather. Well, my stint on the road, in jeans and a Mariner cap, tended to bring in pickup trucks. The young ladies in the swim suits brought in sedans and sports cars. We were amused. We were also courting heat stroke, counting we also had a local ball game to go to. So we went home, cooled off under the air conditioning, and set out again for the ball park, the Spokane Indians playing the team from Vancouver. We had our hot dogs, but we only lasted two innings before the heat even in the shade grew absolutely unbearable. Jane had already had a headache, and a sunburn on a patch of her back she forgot to oil down for the morning car wash, and I knew we could hem and haw around for an hour about whether we could last it out until both of us were absolutely too baked to know when to say yes. So I suggested with emphatic firmness that we were going to make ourselves sick, Jane agreed her headache was worse, not better, and the air was still nasty. So we went home to watch the Mariners on telly, instead, with ice packs and ice water to try to get our body temperature back down to normal. It dawns upon us that we've spent our summer in the ice arena, and are completely unacclimated to this kind of heat. I'm very glad we didn't try to tough it out. Besides, our team lost.

Date: 07/25/04..........46223. Sunday. We were cheated of our rain, the air staying perfectly nasty. We're still suffering from the effects of way too much heat. I think I get it worse than I would because of my youth in the south, where I'd get way overheated way often, even having the sense to stay in the shade, because I grew up B.C.A.---before central airconditioning---before any airconditioning, until I was about ten . I think repeated heat prostration lingers with you. Either that or I am just plain heat-intolerant from the git-go, which is perfectly possible. The camp nurse used to grab me out of girls' camp activities and make me lie down for an hour and more in a dark tin-roofed medical facility where there wasn't a breeze, while everyone else was out having fun---funny, she never jerked me off lawn-mowing detail, or perhaps my memory fails me. She was undoubtedly right---a kid with a face gone from ruddy to purple around the edges is probably a kid that ought to get out of the sun and be quiet for a while, but my solution for the affliction was to go soak my hat in the creek---we got them at military surplus, those white Navy numbers---and with the hat and maybe a neckerchief soaked, I'd carry on, slightly sodden, but a lot cooler. And probably if I'd listened to the camp nurse I'd tolerate heat better than I do today. So I plunged into that car wash experience   yesterday with all the confidence of a southerner in the generally-cooler north---hey, I should be used to this. I can take it better than you northerners. Bad mistake. Fortunately Jane is of the same cold-loving persuasion, so we get along. I just cringe when the weatherman gushes over our nice summer weather. Nice! he says, when you can't breathe the air. I was still feeling the heat exhaustion from  yesterday when we took to the rink---my legs kept shaking under me, not a good situation, and I quit the ice a little early.

Date: 07/26/04...........46223. Monday, and instead of work, we decided we had to move our chiropractic appointment to today because of an appointment tomorrow morning conflicts with it. So the chiropractor's assistant said we should come in today, which threw us into an instant rush, because it's a two hour drive. We took our skating medals with us to show-and-tell, since our chiropractor is in no small part responsible for getting us two couch potatoes into shape to do athletics. He was duly impressed. And I got a real view of what's been in the air. Our drive to the chiropractor takes us through the heart of the Palouse, which is an incredible fenceless expanse of very high hills covered, in this season, in ripe wheat. They're harvesting, and I take back my request for rain for the next week: there's nothing worse than a heavy rain at harvest, well, unless it's a hailstorm...and livelihoods depend on it. And when those combines roll, what results is a hazy brown cloud that gets up into the air and does a real number on anyone with allergies to wheat dust. We have forest fires to our west, and all around us, wheat fields being harvested, and by the time we got back, my eyes were a luminous and nasty red. That brown sky, which lasts a week or so, is one of the prices we pay for living in this most-of-the-time picture postcard of a countryside; and I will say the Palouse is beautiful---it changes in every season. If you want a landscape that looks like Tolkein's universe, try Washington---the rolling fields patched in brown of tilled fields alternating with gold ripe grain and green patches of still-growing stuff, or all whites and blues in the winter; and when you get over to the passes on a foggy day, you get the misty mountains for sure, black snowy crags rising up out of cloud and rain.// We got back from the drive with our eyes just horrid, and mine worst, and we decided to go on to the rink, which we knew at least would be cool and relatively shut away from the pervading dust and smoke. Had a good time---was able to help an amazing kid who went from 'never-done-this' to finding her feet, and then a turning edge, being able to cut half a circle and being able to wiggle a few inches backward all in one hour. Amazing balance and no shortage of nerve. I hope this kid finds a good teacher and stays with it---she's a natural for what's taken me months of work. Sigh.//Baseball was a complete meltdown. We get a little break and then our leading pitcher strains his arm. It's the team's luck this year.//

Date: 07/27/04.............46209. Tuesday---more erasing than going forward. I'm feeling a little inundated---in my front hall I have, literally, a stack of boxes higher than my head from people wanting signatures and other must-do's, and I'm slowly working my way through while the daily mail delivers others. Seems like the Sorceror's Apprentice---the more I try, the higher it gets. Please understand if I've promised you anything and it's late. Just can't quite keep up.

Date: 07/28/04...........46209. Wednesday, and one of those days. We'd arranged to have two skating lessons this week and due to scheduling difficulties they both ended up on the same day, which meant we literally rushed from one to the other, and we are exhausted. And we discovered a place that sells skate gear, which means in this case skating outfits. Jane found several---her diet has done wonders, and she looks great in hers. I tried on one and decided I have thirty more pounds to go.// Some of you have asked what we're doing, dietwise: and typical, for the day, is: as much black, unsweetened coffee as I can drink---I know, I know, it's not recommended, but you don't want to meet me without caffeine. Jane drinks water or Sobe Lean or Arizona No-Carb, which is allowable on Atkins. Breakfast and lunch: an Atkins diet bar...chocolate peanut butter is my favorite, with coconut close behind. Afternoon exercise. Jane drinks iced tea; I have an iced latte with real milk; and more black coffee. Dinner: steak or fish or chicken, broccoli or cauliflower, with cheese; blueberries with real whipped cream. And a piece of no-sugar chocolate if no blueberries. If we're out on the town, maybe a glass or two of wine, or Scotch, which is better than wine; if it's a hamburger, only eat half the bun; no fries, no soft drinks---even diet: stick to iced tea or coffee. Take the Atkins nutritional supplements faithfully: you have to have them. It's been good for over thirty pounds apiece, and we've eaten pretty well what we want, once we've established that French fries and their kin aren't anywhere on the horizon.//The tower of boxes still looms. I have two done, out of eight.//And adding to my delight, a visit to a .gov site turned up one of those malicious little delights, the search engine that invokes itself and won't go away---it has kiboshed the button that enables you to select your own search engine. If anyone can tell me the backdoor method for restoring defaults on IE search, since the front door has been jammed by this pest, I'd like to hear it. I've searched everywhere for the trigger, and can't find it. Regedit didn't help me because I'm not sure what I'm looking for...update: Thank you, my friends---I've got the nasty thing out.

Date: 07/29/04...........46209. Thursday, and we are absolutely exhausted. I want some time to work, but I've still got that stack of boxes in the hall that's taller than I am, plus all the boxes we took out of storage to cull, and it's just driving me crazy. It's hot, it's nasty, the smoke is non-stop, and I can't work when I'm in mid-allergy attack with my eyes watering so I can't see.

Date: 07/30/04...........46209. Friday. Off to the rink early and I pulled a silly turn and ended up sitting down on the ice, just, plop! sitting down, no bruises except to the ego. We're leaving town in this smoke---going off to Seattle to see if the air is better over there. But just as we're ready to leave, literally with purses gathered up, and snatching a last moment snack, Jane popped a crown off, and we had to stop and try to get it fixed. The dentist is off today, until Monday, no less, and the helpful person at the desk informs us drugstores carry a temporary glue for this problem. We go get some. It's a failure, won't stick at all, and comes off again on the road. So we stop at Ritzville, and get another variety, which actually works. We buy several extra packets, since I am not an optimist in this project. Our plan is, since the Mariners are out of town, to get hot dogs and view the game on Jane's brother's telly. Which is a success. But the cap comes off again. We decide to stay another day, however. I really, really hoped I'd get some work done, but the fires are fierce---when we were just past Ellensburg on I-90, there's a steady stream of helicopters coming off the local lake fighting the Cle Elum fire, and we did get a good view of the process. The cats were outraged---kept trying to tell us that we were driving into danger. They didn't calm down until we were out of the fire zone. The bad news is that the smoke has made it onto this side of the Cascades, so there's no relief.

Date: 07/31/04.............46209. Saturday. Couldn't sleep, got up and had decaff coffee---this is not a good situation. I didn't get caffeine until after 9, which is very hard on the system, let me tell you. And I discovered that when I'd picked up my skates to put on the soakers, the antimoisture guards, I'd set them down on my lap, and the blade had sliced a perfectly new pair of corduroys. Brand new. Just took the tags off, and now with a hole in them. Tried to work today, and have my computer along, but my eyes just poured, and there was no joy at all. And the vid game I'd traded Jane for won't run on my computer, which makes a horrid sound in its CD drive when it tries. We repeated the baseball supper, and discovered that we not only are low-carb, we're low salt. We ate so much sodium in those hot dogs that it made us both sick. This is not optimum.

Date: 08/01/04............46209. Sunday. Headed home, and Jane's crown's come off again, but fortunately it isn't hurting. The Cle Elum fire looks as if it's out, which is good news. The sky is blue again, and they're promising us rain next week in Spokane. What we have to face is a general cleanup---got to get those boxes out of the living room. And the taxes are due. and the accounts.

Date: 08/02/04...........46209. Monday. I absolutely can't work in this chaos. The books are stacked higher than my head, literally, boxes wanting signature, and I have those done. Had two batches in. Please, please, guys, if you send me something to sign, keep it to a 20 pound maximum per box. I can't lift those monsters, I hurt my back doing it, carrying them down three flights of stairs, yet. I got those done, got the credit card entry done, got the taxes ready for the month---then discovered I'd forgotten to mail some. Panic. Fortunately it's not past deadline. We didn't do anything but freight books and clothes boxes about and get Jane to the dentist, plus clean up the place and do the long-postponed laundry---when I'm out of tees, it's getting desperate. Jane got her dental work done, and picked up the mysterious packages that came while we were gone. They're---guess what?---five more boxes of books to be signed, down in the car, that we didn't have the strength to carry up here. I'm calling a moratorium on this, please, friends. It's 90 degrees out there and it's three flights, and UPS refused to come pick them up---we had to carry the last batch down at risk of our knees. I swear, tomorrow, with a cold front moving in, I'm going for our skating lesson, and then I'm pulling the lid on and not coming out again until I get some forward progress on this book, which I have left at a deliciously good moment, and really want to get on.

Date: 08/03/04..........48030. Tuesday. Well, we got our cool front, but instead of the lovely rainstorm we'd hoped for, we got a wall of dust that made us look like the deep Sahara. The whole Palouse must have gotten airborne, grain dust, dirt, sand, volcanic ash (there are whole layers of it in the landscape) and anything light enough to take off in a 40 mph gale. But we did get the books mailed, the house cleaned (except for the dust) and got some actual writing done. Except now Jane, who's having a week, apparently has been bitten by a Hobo spider---one of the few nasty venomous creatures the Northwest harbors. The symptoms are a nasty bruise (check), a hard center (check) leading to aches (moderate), a headache (when in these dustridden days have we not had a headache?) and hallucinations (not check, thank goodness.) Based on my own experience with the Brown Recluse, it is possible to have a light reaction---except my first encounter, which put me in a wheelchair for a week or so. Later bites hurt, but didn't produce the reaction, partly because I went for treatment. The question was whether to go for treatment for this, which Jane resists, because she doesn't want steroids---I'm dubious, but unless this is the hallucinatory bit, and she can tell me from the cat, which is our test, she seems lucid and actually not suffering much, except the nasty fist-sized bruised red spot. We decided to go skating anyway, since we had a lesson, and we had a good time---she insists getting her blood moving helped; I still don't know. But it was a good skate. The part I'm working on now is arms---arm position, arm motion---let me tell you, the motions you see skaters make has a lot to do with what direction they're going. Swing your arm forcefully, and you'll turn, wildly. What I have to do to improve my stability is make sure arm position is coordinated with the direction I want to go, which centers your weight over your feet and helps a lot. We're learning moving turns, double and single-footed, crossover (the eternally imperfect crossovers) and we're attempting the bunny hop, which is funny. One of our advanced friends informs us this is actually a low-flying non-turning axel, but we look on it as a piece of logistics. You plant one toe-pick, bringing you to an abrupt stop on one toe, hop onto the other toe, unsticking foot #1, and then glide on the first foot while you unstick your #2  foot from the ice, and hope not to fall forward or backward in the process. The little kids skitter about doing this effortlessly, but they're only three feet from the ice surface if they fall and they have only 70 pounds to loft into the air at max. I have, ahem! a bit more than 70 pounds to launch, and center on landing, more to the point. I'm twice as tall, and a lean out of true involves much more moving mass. It's the mass that gets you, take it from me. It takes a certain amount of nerve, this leaving the ice surface, sort of like jumping out of a perfectly good plane---hey, I'm stable, I have my feet under me---why leap into the air and risk not being stable? This also applies to moving turns, which require you while skating forward to give a hellishly strong hip-swivel, the very last thing you want to do under ordinary circumstances---and end up hurtling backwards. Being the least bit off center starting the whip-about turn means still unstable when you come out headed backwards. I can say I'm about as stable one-footed as two-, but that's not saying much. So we settle in this evening to see whether Jane turns all purple from her spider bite, which she hasn't done yet. We had tickets to the class A all-star game, but gave them to the lodge, since with Jane's spider bite and everything else we didn't think sunburn would be a good thing.

Date: 08/04/04............48393. Wednesday. Finally, the cooldown. The air no longer has that blast-furnace heat, and the brain is beginning to work. I've been trying to get the accounts in order, which I should have done four days ago, but I only now have a brain. Jane's spider bite has become a large purplish-red bruise, which looks different than your average bruise, but is showing no sign of necrosis (tissue death) so she seems to have dodged the bullet. Seems there is a small epidemic of this sort of bite, which no one has yet attributed definitely to any particular creature. The Hobo Spider is the logical suspect, but it's supposed to be worse than this. If any other nasty creature has gotten imported in from Seattle shipping, we can only imagine.//The usual turn at the rink. A lesson, which gives me things to practice. We're keeping ourselves to that wonderful northwestern menu, the Bear's Diet: salmon and blueberries, both friendly to our diet. And I've dropped another pound, bringing me lighter than I've been since the 1980's. Hurrah!

Date: 08/05/04...........48502. Thursday. Rain, rain and a daytime temperature of 59 degrees. It's wonderful. It's really been a hard rain, for Spokane, a grey rain, and streamers of fog going up on the hills, among the pines. I love it! //Work is moving, still not as fast as I'd wish, and now my computer is acting up, flashing an amber battery light. So I have to order a new battery. I'm lusting after a new computer, because mine has gotten cranky, but I can't replace what I have without outlaying a considerable chunk of change, and all I have to do to make this one viable is figure out why it's hanging and crashing at every opportunity---and the batteries are going to cost me 300.00. I work exclusively on a laptop, having decided that sitting at a desk is not good for the back; and this is itself a bit more expensive. I'd love to get one of the lighter ones---mine is about 8 pounds---but I just discovered to my utter disgust that Dell is not putting the Trackpoint on the lighter models---oh, no, you have to go to the expensive end to get that. And I detest computer mice and detest touchpads, both of which require you to reach off-center and back again and re-home, which takes just one more neuron than I have to spare when I'm in the heat of composition. I require the Trackpoint and I require a screen I can read, with a hard drive that doesn't require housekeeping to keep it viable---yes, my friends, I do play computer games, and use them to recover mentally from a work session, while my hindbrain works on a problem. (Try telling that excuse to your spouse!) So whatever I use has to be games-friendly, but not high-end; and it has to have a Trackpoint, end report. And it just costs too much. Plus I have to invest in the batteries come what may---even if I get another computer, this one will become a travel-beast. I really want the Dell XPS. But can't justify it.

Date: 08/06/04..........48502. Friday, and Jane got the notion to go to the early ice session, which we did, but they changed the times on us, and we were 15 minutes late, plus they didn't run the Zamboni between sessions and it wasn't the pristine surface we'd gone there early to get. We were disgusted. But they were off-schedule because they were doing contest rehearsals after us, and several people we know were going to perform their full routines, so we stayed to watch and cheer on our friends---I caught a diet bar from my locker and a cup of coffee...and here's one of the big differences in our lives, my friends: a year ago, if our routine got that disrupted, we'd have gone out to eat, broken our diet, eaten way too much, and had a drink or two; now it's a cup of black coffee and a diet bar because I'm in a hurry, and I don't feel at all deprived. The bar was enough. And we ran home, I did accounts for a couple of hours, and came back again to get our second lesson of the week. We're taking from two people, which is interesting, and gives us two different ways of looking at things---our second coach is very insistent on finesse: knees, knees, knees. But the Zamboni had had a problem, and the ice was brutal, like corrugated cardboard, very difficult, very tiring. We ended up going out to Tomato Street with a friend who takes from the same coach, and yes, I just broke my resolution, but---but, we split the entree, and it was enough.// I also ordered my batteries, 300.00; and decided to dump the 'hibernate' function out of my system, which has improved its behavior markedly. 'Standby' works quite nicely, and it isn't hanging on lid-close, which was its prior problem. Sigh. I do want that other system, but now I don't think I can justify it, granted the amber-light problem is just a battery failure.

Date: 08/07/04..........49033. Saturday. I thought I was going to rise early and get some work done, but after the rain cometh the mold spores, and I had just a touch too much wine yesterday evening. Bad combination. But I worked on the accounts, and that's all ready to mail. We were supposed to go over to the skating club car wash and help and didn't: we were still too exhausted from yesterday, and my legs, I swear, are fevered from the workout I had yesterday: Advil is our friend. We were also supposed to go to the ball game, and had promised tickets to our downstairs neighbor, but she didn't show and we didn't have the energy to go to that, either, plus we're not sure we're going to go to the Sunday public skate: Jane's got a blister from walking 300 feet in her guards---this doesn't happen to me, but it gets her every time, it seems; and for the rest, I'm not worth shooting today. Back to the Bear's Diet tonight, and that will improve my health and my mood. I know I blew my new weight level. I'm not even going to look at the scale until I'm sure I've gotten back to where I was. No more celebrations for a few weeks. I'd really like to get my weight down four more pounds by my birthday, which is a month away. I think I can do that---not that we're suffering on this diet of salmon. I'll tell you, Durkee's Chicken and Fish spice, scattered liberally over a piece of salmon to be sauteed in virgin olive oil is a really nice concoction, and produces a nice, crusty finish. A small helping of vegetable, and our fresh blueberries and cream, and we're set, nicer than your average restaurant. For those of you who don't know how to cook salmon, get a center filet, which will be boneless, no skin, coat in the aforementioned spice, heat olive oil in skillet very hot, then after putting fish in, reduce heat to mid-range, cook uncovered for, oh, about 15 minutes or less on one side, 5 on the other---assuming your filet is less than an inch thick. You may want a spatter-screen over the skillet, as it will throw spatter. When it 'flakes' at the application of a fork, it's done. Avoid really thick filets: they're hard to cook, and on this item, you don't want a rare center. And if you can find a source of really good salmon, the 1 x 3 x 5 filets make a great dinner item for a lot of people, because it cooks so fast. And with that and a green vegetable you are set. Clean up is completely minimal. Enjoy!

Date: 08/08/04..............49709. Sunday. A long, mostly working day, thank goodness. The temperatures are starting up again, aimed at 90s by week's end. Ugh. We did decide to go to the rink, had a decent skate, and I'm still doing penance for the Friday night dinner. I think the real answer is giving up my iced lattes at the rink: two lattes, totaling about a glass of milk, aren't on the diet, and those have probably got to go, no matter how much I enjoy them. I'm also nearly out of my favorite-favorite coffee: Starbuck's had light roast Ethiopian for a summer offering, and silly me only bought a pound of it. Naturally it's now disappeared off the shelves. I did find an online source, one that also offers the green coffee beans, which you can roast yourself in an iron skillet (the things have no end of uses) and I might try that, if Jane doesn't kill me over the smell---she's not a coffee drinker: in fact, is allergic to coffee, which I found out by slipping a tiny bit into a recipe---it was not a happy event, emphatically. So I'm a little hesitant to roast coffee in the house: she puts up with enough in the fact that my coffee apparatus pretty well takes over the wet bar. But my other-favorite coffee, Dutch Brothers, is in good supply, so I am far from tragic. Not to mention tea being available at the rink. We're spoiled, I tell you. But I do wish I'd bought more of the Ethiopian.

Date: 08/09/04.............49709. Monday. Got up and realized we have a chiropractic appointment, which means a mad dash to get dressed, get to that, and get back to Spokane, leaving us only a little time before the skate hours. So I had a go at the vid game that has frustrated me for three weeks (Railroad Tycoon, the Dilemma Down Under scenario) and nailed it, for some reason. Go figure. I did have some information from the chiropractor, who informs me that the curve I have in my backbone is permanent, which might answer why I have trouble doing some side maneuvers, which require a body twist to the left; but I don't accept the permanency. This is the first time I've ever had reason to want to twist in that direction, thank you, rather like my cousin, who didn't talk until he had something to say (and is now a preacher)---and if I do it more and more every day, who knows how far I can push it? No gain without trying; and sure enough, I got mad and worked for an hour and a half on the crossover in that direction, and began to gain flex and stability, proving I can do it---not enough to compete for the Olympics, but enough to get around a corner going that direction. Who knows? When I write, I can freeze in a chair in an ungodly bad posture, sometimes canted badly, sometimes twisted, for hours on end---some of my workstation chairs were real beasts, and formed horrid habits, which is why I now use a laptop. If it is partly imbalance in muscle, I can change that part of it, if I keep after it. I may have the chiropractor retake his x-rays in another year, and see if there is a difference.

Date: 08/10/04...........50109. Tuesday. Can't figure what hit me. I was feeling pretty good when we headed out to the rink, but we stopped on the way at a shop to try to get me one of those skating outfits---it was way too soon on the diet, shall we say? Nothing fit. I hate trying on clothes above all other shopping tasks, and this wasn't trying on clothes, it was wrestling---you have to step into those things from the top and haul against the elastic. What fit wasn't cut right. What was cut right didn't fit. I gave up, and we headed on to the rink---at which I just faded. My legs kept shaking under me. The ice was great, but I hit one of those grooves the hockey folk cut---I was on a one-foot glide---it wrenched me sideways and nearly threw me, and after that, the shakes set in, not fright, just exhaustion. Jane suspected I'd forgotten lunch; I flat can't remember. We keep a couple of diet bars in the locker, but that didn't solve the problem. I was just done in, and hot, sweaty hot. If I can't remember if I ate, I probably didn't take my vitamins and supplements, either, and as hard as we work, that's a must. Either that or I've caught a bug of some sort. I feel weak as a kitten, and don't want to do much.//One of my favorite Mariners, Edgar Martinez, has announced retirement---and tonight his first at bat, he hit a home run. That was a glorious, only-in-fiction moment. The whole team came alive and won the game, in an otherwise disastrous season.//And I still feel as if I've been steamrollered. I have two lessons tomorrow. I hope I've got my legs under me.//But the writing is starting to roll. This is good. It goes like that; you can't make the story move at all, and then it seems to crest a hump and slide along under its own momentum. You have to do your absolute best writing on the informational parts, the setup, so that what has to be there for the sake of logic is not dull. Writing the action bits is a piece of cake.

Date: 08/11/04...........50109. Wednesday. Feeling better, after dosing myself with every mineral variety in the medicine cabinet. And due to a scheduling crunch, we ended up with both our lessons on the same day---two different instructors. Started the day on perfect club ice, which stays perfect, because only a handful of figure skaters are on it. The Zamboni had tried to catch fire yesterday: today they brought the other one over, and are fixing the first one's wiring. And it was lovely. I did some concentrated work on the outside edge in lesson one; came home, rested, back again for lesson 2, and this was a revelation: remember, above, when I said I'd fixed the leftside problems with my foot, then my knee, and I predicted the next fix had to be the hip---half-joking? Well, it was the hip, all right, but the other side. I'd had no trouble on the right, because I'd instinctively done what I needed to to get my balance, but on the left, I wasn't commiting myself properly---I needed to lift the right hip to get balance fully onto the left foot. Bingo. I was instantly up, balanced, and nearly able to complete a full circle to the outside. Amazing what instruction can do. Both instructors are important to us, one for just getting the knack, the other for the finesse, and I now have a small routine to do: moving two-footed turn 180 degrees to a backward slalom stroke, then a moving two-footed turn forward and stroke. When I can do this all the way around the rink, I'll be immensely pleased. There are so many things to remember. Bend the knee, straighten the off leg, straighten the elbows, pull the shoulderblades down---boy, does it work the muscles.

Date: 08/12/04..........51898. Thursday. And a very nice day at the start, as you can see by the word count. But the heat is up into the mid-nineties, and by afternoon, I was beginning to feel off---just absolutely cranky and quarrelsome to begin with, starting with the fact I'd love to be able to go down to the shop and buy a skating outfit for the lessons (useful, because it lets the instructor see what your knees are doing) and absolutely nothing I liked would fit. Not even on the internet. Tall people have an added problem in this sport, because most skaters are not tall, and my, ahem! weight isn't optimum, which takes up what little fabric there might be for my height. Meaning, I really need to drop another 20 pounds, and can't fit the really neat outfit I found. So, thoroughly annoyed, I finally found two modestly dark and conservative items that may work. Jane naturally picked up on my mood and tried to cheer me up, but I was just ... annoyed and unpleasant and gloomy. Then we went off to the rink, and I had a pretty good day, until the rink lights blew out and left us all in the dark on the ice---still enough light to see by, from the lobby, but at this point my feet already hurt and I decided not to risk my knees by hitting some pit in the ice in the dark. Jane kept skating until they got the lights back on. And I sort of wish I'd stayed,  which probably would have helped my mood, but I'd laced up wrong, and that left foot was in serious pain, which doesn't help the rehab I've been trying to do on it. //Afterward we needed to go over to the lodge for a 'special meeting' which turned out not to be what we thought it was, and not to involve us, so after half a wasted hour we left and went shopping at Fred Myers---at which point the whole day exploded, over silly little things: the unattended meat counter (2 trips the width of the superstore on a sore foot to try to buy fish, and still nobody there), the line at the checkout counter, in which a supervisor slammed a 'closed' sign onto the belt behind the groceries of the person in front of me, in spite of the fact I'd been in line for 3 minutes and there was nobody behind me; the second checkout counter, in which I found a manager, complained, and got an 'it's not my department.' By this time I was really, really mad, and Jane, for which I had to apologize, had intended to go home and get a scene written, but she ended up spending her energy trying to improve my mood---you can't write in an emotional atmosphere, and I pretty well fixed her evening of work with my little tizzy. It wasn't fair to her, didn't help me, and over all, measured against the problems of the universe, it's pretty minor stuff that I was upset over. When we walked into the apartment, and it was like an oven, since we'd forgotten and left the airconditioner off when we left---I first announced there wouldn't be supper until it was cooler, then got some common sense, simply went into the bath, took an ice water shower to cool off, literally, and felt much better. I owed Jane a thorough apology at this point, and am resolved not to carry this mood over to Friday. I cooked the fish I did have in the fridge, and it was perfectly lovely, but Jane still didn't get her work done, and that's my fault.

Date: 08/13/04.........52399. Friday the Thirteenth. Well, the temperature is still awful, but my mood is better, and looking back, yesterday was ridiculous. I   got a bit done, spent a great deal of time trying to clean up my computer---seems I mistook that I have a 40  gig disk: it's really a 20---how memory does paint things nicer than they are---and I decided I had better clean the junk up. Well, I started with the 'temp internet files,' which amounted to 8500 items, roughly, and which no command would erase...must've exceeded some cache size limit, or the capacity of my 'erase' command. I finally went in with brogan mechanics, yep, old Dr. Brogan---(for the younger readers, that means 'kick it and see if it works'...) and went in via Explorer and started deleting by fives and tens, increasing the size of the 'delete' batch as I went. It took me an hour, but I cleaned it out, tossed off 'Pharoah''s data files, tossed off 'Patrician' and 'Caesar III' and everything else I could lay hands on, resorting to an outright delete where I couldn't get an 'uninstall' to work, then used 'System Mechanic' to go back in and clean up the loose ends in the registry and elsewhere. It was so bad the drive looked like lace during the 'defrag' operation; I ran two separate defrag programs several times, getting it all optimized, then took a bottle of eyeglass cleaner and took after the physical dirt, including the fragile laptop screen, which brightened markedly---seems it had a film of grime. Shall we say it rejuvenated the machine marvelously? I may have solved my problems. A total, including game data, uninstall of 'Railroad Tycoon' and then a reinstall produced game play without the crash, and this is my bench test---it's a demanding game, and if the computer stands up to it, it's not too badly ailing. The new battery is a plus. I know my methods aren't orthodox---using Explorer to delete a game isn't good, but when it's stuck sideways in the machine's throat and refuses to uninstall, hey, this former DOS-user has no fear. Windows has made so many users scared to death to do anything with their machines---I've talked to people who'd rather buy a new computer when it gets too full of errors. Now, I'd really love that new Dell gaming monster laptop, but it doesn't look as if I'm going to need it. I even popped the key-caps off and cleaned Ysabel-fur from around the trackpoint mouse, which helped a lot, too. Getting the long-bar keycaps back on is a bit of a challenge, and for God's sake, don't take them all off at once! One at a time is the way to proceed with that operation, but a fine brush, alcohol or eyeglass cleaner, that works---and also, please, don't do it with the machine running! But at very worst case, you know, you can always create a bootable CD, one with System files on it, and give the command "Format C," which will take your machine down to idiocy in which nothing works. To restore its intelligence, insert bootable CD, start up, load Windows (a lengthy process for which, yes, take all the Standard options if you're a novice at this), then reload all your programs, and you're back in business. I used to take my old DOS machine down once or twice a year just on general principles, to arrange the contents more to my liking; and I was a little worried about whether my manufacturer's disks gave me the bootability I needed, but Dell? No problem.//And during one lengthy defrag, we went off to the rink, where I proceeded to skate myself into exhaustion. I've picked up speed, stability, and I'm now working both legs equally, which means I'm twice as tired. This is only to the good. And in my glum mood of last entry, I forgot to mention what skating outfit I did order: it'll be long-sleeved, hunter green. Matches the lovely mustard yellow skateboard helmet I wear, but not as bad a color combination as, say, pink. Did I mention I got back down to my best weight today? The Bear's Diet is particularly good at that.

Date: 08/14/04...........54302. Saturday. No skate today, but I resolved on a 'clean sweep' afternoon. When I was a kid, I had a cleaning method in which I just grabbed everything that wasn't where it needed to be and piled it in the floor, then sat down and sorted it into stacks or took bits where they needed to be, and it still works. I now have a 'laundry' pile, and an 'I no longer need that' pile, and things look better already, though several more passes will improve things further. I may invade the living room on the same plan. The computer is working well, except for one key that's being a little sticky and will need a rework, and in general, if the weather would just improve and cool down, life would be good.

Date: 08/15/04...........54390. Sunday. The promised thunderstorms were dry ones and started fires, which have my eyes watering furiously. The whole horizon is brown with smoke---what, you ask, is a dry thunderstorm? It's one in which the rain evaporates on its way down through dry air and only the lightning reaches the ground, usually in the mountains, which are wooded, and themselves tinder-dry. You get the picture. The air just saps all strength and brightness out of the day. We did go for a skate---but Jane started having allergy which affected her ears (not good for balance), my eyes were literally pouring tears, dripping onto my shirt, and,meanwhile, it being a Sunday, the rink had acquired that creature worse than Skating Mothers, that dreaded she-entity akin to the Stage Mother: no, today, dear readers, we have the dreaded Hockey Fathers, who are so overwhelmed with having fun with their kids that they egg them on to violate every rule of direction and behavior on the list posted by the skate rental window, and smile benignly when another skater has to veer to avoid their darlings. Public Skate, which had several first-timers on the ice today, is no time or place to be doing races or body-checks.We left 40 minutes early---I was faring well enough, despite the two moving hazards, but Jane was having a rotten time with her balance.//The computer is continuing to work well, so I guess I've done myself out of that beautiful new Dell, for at least another year. I got this one, an Inspiron 8000, back in 2001, and it's quite a good machine, updated bios, still on WinME, but the Dell version of ME is pretty stable, and I know its quirks. I have the newest Windows, but haven't gotten around to installing it, which I hate to do in mid-novel, for understandable reasons, I think.//Watched a bit of the Olympics, and it's nice to catch up on athletes and sports we haven't seen for the last number of years---though I like the winter games better than the summer. I can recommend a truly odd movie: Men with Brooms, which for small-town sports culture, is a riot...and just a good human story.//Here's hoping that this next week moderates temperatures a bit: mid-August always gives us our bad weather: either we leave the airconditioners on non-stop and wrap up in the morning as if it were winter, or we turn them off for a few hours, the heat gets ahead of them, and we swelter through the evening with ice packs. One thing we can't do right now is open the windows: we have lovely 60 degree air out there at night, but it's full of smoke, and we just can't breathe that without allergy doing us in. There's a little wiggle-room in the forecast that could let temperatures moderate. And we hope they get the fires out soon: we have 6 of them to our west.

Date: 08/16/04.............54299. Monday. A little erasing as well as forward progress. It's chill in the mornings and numbingly hot by 5pm. But the weather service forecast discussion is beginning to talk about monsoonal flow (which brings water up from the southern coast) and fall patterns. Music to my ears. We've mostly been working hard and doing nothing whatever of interest else, except our skating run, which in this case was the last before they shut our rink for a week to public and club skate, in favor of the hockey school. We do have another rink in town, and we figure to try that out tomorrow. Watching the Olympics in the evening---quite a men's competition in the gymnastics. And sportsmanship, thank you. In an uncivil world, it's the best public reason for spectator sports to exist.//Re the computer, Jane and I had a discussion that my readers might be interested to investigate: the problem with the overstuffed cache hit Jane, too, both of us since we downloaded the latest Internet Explorer patch. She's on XP, I'm on ME, and it got us both: forced us to hand-delete the temporary internet files (search 'temp' in your Search function in the Start menu, and go into it via your ordinary Windows Explorer (not to be confused with Internet Explorer)----this, to prevent our machines being utterly overwhelmed by the stored internet images and other files (we use the internet heavily). I think there's a bug in the MS download that prevents the ordinary housekeeping deletion from working properly.

Date: 08/17/04.............54299. Tuesday. Well, we decided to take our first trip over to the other Spokane rink, and this is a drive clear across town; we got there, negotiated the protocols for getting time on club ice, (the Inland Northwest FSC), ---everyone was very nice---and we discovered we've become notorious since the Jo Williams competition: people over there knew us, on what grounds I'm not sure, but two women competing in the Basics is probably pretty unusual. The rink is smaller by a ten of feet or so, and all the boundary boards are miniature---where I'm used to them chest high, they were too low to use for an arm rest. In your home rink, too, the ice has certain spots you learn to look out for, the usual roughness at the Zamboni gate, the spots where skaters tend to stop and converse, which makes rough spots, the spots where the ice rises or falls slightly, due to unevenness in the floor, which means places where you skate hard and places where you lay back a little so as not to accelerate too fast for the turn...and the usual jump spots, where there are divots. At home ice, you know the other skaters' routines, so you don't wander into their path when they're setting up for a jump, either. Here, everything was new and different, different routines going on the ice, different bad spots, a startling dip in the ice at one point, and down-dropped edges you could drop or skid a blade into, as opposed to the Eagles' safe smooth transition to walls. Plus there were lots of little bumps, which really give your legs a workout---and that other bit of excitement which Eagles doesn't have nearly enough of, male figure skaters---the guys, besides being generally in great shape and worth looking at, bring a whole different dimension: they even sound different on the ice, generally crunching their way along the turns like a locomotive coming up behind you, and landing jumps that really take out a divot: and there were holes about the size and depth of a paperback novel out there. When there's a guy on the ice, you really tend to watch out for his landing-zones. Drop a skate into one of those pits, for excitement. I couldn't believe, however, that I was getting tired after 45 minutes of our hour; but so was Jane. Confirming our opinion, two of LCFSC's best skaters had come over, too, and they were tired, which tells you the ice was uncommon hard going, even for young folk with far more skill than we have. We got home and just collapsed, both of us, face down in the bean dip for a couple of hours, which I haven't done in a very long time. I'd planned to toss off a one-hour practice and go home and get some work done, but I just collapsed in general pain and exhaustion. The INFSC people must be in great condition. I was in that much pain, I think because the ice frequently (like every few feet) chattered under the blades, and the rate at which muscles have to respond accelerates as well; plus just the repeated shocks to the joints. I put two Bengay pain patches on places I won't describe and still hurt so bad I had to take heavy doses of Advil. I think we may lay out tomorrow, just to rest our battered joints...and do the work we should have done today.

Date: 08/18/04................54820. Wednesday. Work and cleaning. Jane was just too sore to confront skating on an unfamiliar rink today. We figure to lay out a couple of days and let the aches go away. The Planet Ice rink has no club skate today, which means we'd be on unfamiliar ice with the hockey players. The mind wants to go, but the body says it's going to be a difficulty. Mostly just work and work.

Date: 08/19/04................55392. Thursday. Still recuperating, working along. I suddenly realize it's account-time again. It always seems to be account-time. It's actually a few days past, for the bills, so I'd better get on it. I did get a reminder from a reader that the blog is loading very slowly due to its size, so I am going to split it. This is a very nervous-making operation, since I use Frontpage, which acts as if you're working directly onto the web, though it is actually FTP. Suffice it to say, it's a good idea to make haste very slowly when you're slicing up long files with Frontpage, and to constantly crosscheck your work with your browser, to make sure you're erasing the right thing and posting the right thing.//I bought myself a video game and discovered to my disgust that one, The Political Machine, is too information-heavy for my computer. It crashes. A lot. If you have a big enough memory, it is entertaining. I also got Railroad Tycoon III, which is a little disconcerting: much harder to manipulate than II: I'd hoped for a good game with new scenarios, and what I got is high-level graphics that make the control interface very cranky if you don't use a mouse. I can still do it, but the jury is still out. Games have gone nuts on graphics, when they could, by me, succeed quite nicely by bringing out a lot more scenarios much more quickly.

Date: 08/20/04.................55990. Friday. A lot of time spent trying to get my computer to behave. After having two games fail (a good indicator that something is amiss) and realizing I really do have the speed to come within RTIII's requirements, I decided to reload it and look for patches. What I found was within the program itself, a very nice (better than some for-sale programs I've found) troubleshooter for sound and video problems. I used it to investigate how my computer was behaving in the video department, downloaded yet one more new driver for the video, which is an Nvidia, and a good video source, and supports its products; and I adjusted some settings. Improvement. Big improvement, an encouraging improvement. I kicked 'hibernate' out as an option, went over to 'standby' as the default, got the machine to behave better on closing the lid, and what with the thorough cleaning and scrubbing of the screen, the keyboard, the chassis, and the internal purge of data-debris, it's running a lot better. My searches turned up various facts: being a PIII makes this a 'better on 98 or ME' kind of machine, and indeed, if purged of chaff, it's still pretty tough. Games are the best investment in system-stability, if you pick good ones: they don't run well if there are problems in the system---they're a mine canary in that regard, and frequently provide help or even, in the case of RTIII, little routines to help you improve your machine. You can, if you never play games, plug along for years doing one function on a machine, but if you also visit the internet, (as I assume my readers are doing), you're accumulating chaff that won't necessarily go away---chaff that one day can overwhelm other functions. I think there is a major bug in the IE5 update that doesn't allow the necessary purges of old temp files, and this is like cutting off your garbage service---ultimately the rising tide of chaff clogs everything: my manual purge really, really helped. Not to mention frequent running of the optimization utility.

Date: 08/21/04............55990. Saturday. I decided the visual clutter in my room is getting to me. Jane wanted to go to a fabric store, and while I was there, I picked out some sheer, filmy white and green tropical print meant for draperies and got enough to hang from ceiling to floor over a hundred-inch expanse. In an apartment where all the walls are unremitting vanilla (magnolia, to my UK readers), I think it's a refreshing change. A friend of mine had burlap for a wall covering, which enabled him to hang pictures and move them around without showing the nail-holes in the wall. In this case, I can hang the sheer fabric flat on the wall and treat it as wallpaper, even installing shelves right over it. I'm going to live with it a while before I figure which wall it's going on, but it's a good way to get color into a room you can't paint, and I think I've reached my limit of vanilla. You can hang pictures on the wall just as if it were wallpaper or paint, and if you have a bad wall, it can camoflage the imperfections, or the feature that's driving you crazy. It's also cheaper than wallpaper, and when it gets dirty, wash it and rehang. I did some basic cleaning, down to the baseboards, which makes the place feel better---again, using the 'clear and rearrange' method, of just moving everything into a pile, washing what can be washed, taking other things to their proper place, and creating a clean, pristine area in one alcove before moving on to the next zone.    Amazing how dust accumulates in this region, and how much brighter things look when washed. That hunter green rug in the bath wasn't getting old: it was dusty, and it now has the jewel color I liked when I bought it. Just subtle changes, but cheerful. Needless to say I didn't get too much done otherwise; but the mental change wrought is very positive. Today was, they promise us, the last of the heat for the summer: the week ahead should be cool, damp, and rainy, and after the smoke of forest fires hanging like a pall over the view, this will come very welcome.

Date: 08/22/04..............56389. Sunday. This book isn't working as fast as I'd wish, but I'm making steady progress. Sometimes there's just a lot of thinking. And Jane walked into my room this morning to report her computer had given an electronic snap and quit working, just as it had before. She got it running again, got the file down, I used the housenet to swipe her entire working folder onto my computer, and then her computer decided to go on working---go figure. I think Toshiba owes her a new computer: she has a policy, and this thing has been repaired before for the same problem, to no avail, not to mention its other problems. That was our excitement for the morning.//I decided to get one more panel of the fabric, and did, making 150 inches of wall space with a filmy, tropical leaf motif that moves in the breeze. I think it's rather refreshing. I need, however, to get some light dowel or curtain rod to make a neat edge for the top.//And it rained last night! The weather has shifted toward fall: we were in the mid-90's, and now it's dropped to the mid sixties, and it feels so good, and the air is clean. The firefighters are about to beat the fires to the west of us, and the sky is a wonderful clear blue in between the rain clouds. We can breathe again.//We went to the rink for the first time since last Monday (Tuesday was at Planet Ice) and the weather change there had produced a dripping condensation everywhere: brush a rink wall, and your sleeve is dripping wet. But they were kind enough to do a new Zamboni run before the public skate, and we had good ice. I just for some reason didn't have a full hour and a half in me today---I'd forgotten my ankle band (which I use not because of an ankle weakness, but because it compresses a metatarsal weakness) and my left foot hurt; and I just ran out of steam after an hour, though Jane continued to skate. In my own defense, I'm working on stroking, speed, and crossovers, plus two-footed turns, which is more strenuous than edge-work, and I think I flat wore myself out.//And on the way home, I was feeling sorry for myself at the thought of cooking supper, when Jane asked, "Are you all right?" I answered immediately, "No," and dived into the turn lane in front of our favorite restaurant. She laughed, and we had a good supper out of one entree, not to mention the garlic bread---my greatest sin, not to mention the salad, either. I'm going to pay for it on the scales tomorrow, but it was a welcome change, and we didn't have to clean the kitchen.

Date: 08/23/04..............56389. Monday. Still rainy and cool and wonderful. Of course I paid for yesterday on the scales---up half a pound; but not too bad. Today we had a chiropractic appointment, which I did need: that ache that accumulates between the shoulders needed it. And this is, of course, the day that we stop at Cougar Country, which is a wonderful college-area hamburger stand for our every-two-weeks brush with sin and carbs. Huckleberries are in season, and they do a huckleberry-peanut butter shake which is to die for. Hamburger with half the bun, no fries, and our small-sized shake. We made it back  in time to go to the rink, which was enveloped in haze all about the glass barriers above the boards, and with a kind of a mist overhanging the ice. Had a really good skate, able to negotiate a third of a circle on the outside edge, on either foot, which is a great improvement in balance. Watched the absolutely crazed Olympic gymnastics (mens') and are amazed: clearly strange scoring isn't limited to figure skating. I do feel sorry for the athletes.// Postscript: And at about midnight, Jane invaded my room to tell me she'd successfully gotten her malfunctioning computer to find a previous Restore point. This is very good news. This solves the instability: it doesn't address the electric pop and snap it's emitted on two occasions. I still think Toshiba should give her another computer.

Date: 08/24/04.............56389. Tuesday. Up at 4am, because our two cats decided to have a noisy dispute in my room...lucky me; and after that I couldn't really get back to sleep, because I ordinarily don't get up until 8am, but I have a medical exam at 8:15 today---right? This has been set up for weeks; it's hard to get in for an appointment; and I daren't really go back to sleep. So I drag myself out of bed at 7:30, get down to the clinic for what should be the doctor's first appointment of the day---which is why I asked for this slot. Three other people show up and get in ahead of me. Sigh. So finally the nurse calls my name, she immediately asks, would you believe, about the cat bite? Now, when I called to set up the appointment in July, they'd asked about the March cat bite. Once before that, when I'd called sometime in June about an allergy prescription, they'd asked was it a follow-up to the cat bite? Now here we are in late August and they're still convinced this appointment is about the March cat bite, which they'd refused to treat in the first place, which was why I ended up with an IV in the emergency clinic downstairs for two days back in March. I informed them no, this was supposed to be a regular exam, and if it was about the cat bite, I'd have died of Pasturella in early March, because they'd sent me away. They assured me they'd immediately expunge the cat bite from my records---(they'd said this in June and July) but no, this couldn't be an annual exam because the doctor only saw regular illness cases between eight and nine o'clock. Well, what do you think I wanted the appointment for, since I'm not sick? Of course---the effin' cat bite. So I had a fairly useless appointment, got set up for another, an actual exam, sometime in January, and if they tell me about a cat bite then, there'll be newspaper headlines about a madwoman at a Spokane clinic. I missed my entire morning for this absurd and expensive affair, got home and collapsed and slept, and blew the whole day. I'd moved our figure skating lesson because of this appointment, but we went to the rink anyhow for the public skate, where we had one of those great joys, a teenaged hockey wanna-be in partial gear who learned how to skate fast but never learned to stop except by hitting the boards or skidding on his knees the width of the rink---this, in a public skate with 5 year old first-timers on the ice and several of us figure skaters trying to do finesse patterns. Jane warned him off, another figure skater physically took a puck away from him---an absolute no-no in a public skate. The hockey skaters on the ice at the public skate were complaining about his recklessness, which says something. I was ready to light into him next, but he took a hard fall and finally calmed down a bit. A major case of "What are they thinking?" I did make an experiment, substituting thin, stretchy sports tape for the foot wrap, and I think this may work out well: it's lighter, doesn't stuff my boot, supports better, and if I get the tension right, this has possibilities.

Date: 08/25/04.............56403. Wednesday. Ever have one of those days when the moment you start to make progress, the phone rings? I don't talk on the phone, except to keep in touch with family. I don't converse on the phone. I don't tend to get phone calls. But every time I started a sentence, the phone went off, everyone from family to the pharmacy. Five calls. Absolutely incredible. And ever since the weather turned cold, I just want to hibernate---can't wake up easily in the morning. The good news is that I'm sleeping at night. But I got frustratingly little work done---you can only start a scene so many times before you begin to lose your focus. // And meanwhile, Jane disjointed her toe, an early morning collision with a doorstop. She's done it before, and can reseat it---but it was pretty bad, and it hurts a lot. And in spite of the broken toe, we did have a skating lesson: the word for the day was 'arm position'. My balance is good enough I can slop about with my arms in any old position and not fall down, but I'm taking lessons from a precision expert, who doesn't intend for her students to slop about the ice. And she's right. When she repositions an arm or a shoulder, funny thing, my balance becomes incredibly stable even on the outside edges. We're doing a sort of figure eight, which is change of feet and edges, and doing that maneuver with precision is all arm movement. Try standing on the outside of one foot and putting one arm out front, one back, shoulders aligned with your foot, and then canting your off hip up and throwing both your shoulders back. Do this near a wall, in case. It's counter-instinctive: you don't want to do it. But it is the way, as our instructor informs us, the Russians get their pretty outside edges. Jane calls it terrifying. It's a lot like the position a fencer assumes, give or take the canted hip and the outside edge. //Just to make things interesting, they're waterproofing the apron of the other rink, meanwhile, and the fumes are horrid, even with the outside doors wide open. The fumes get into the rink we're using and affects the ears, and balance, not a good thing. They assure us this is the last coat. I certainly hope so.//I've also decided to try that Cortislim stuff---as per the TV commercials. We'll see if it works to get me off this weight plateau.

Date: 08/26/04...............56904. Thursday. Trying to get the house clean...and the cool weather has been wonderful. I've still got so many things piled up to do---not to mention the imminent taxes and all of that. The only way I stay sane for writing and keep my head clear is to procrastinate certain things,  not even thinking about them, but that means I wake up to a crunch imminent, and it is, now. Plus this next week is my birthday---I've been so busy it's been a very small item on the horizon. The good news is I was down a pound, a new low. That's encouraging.//Went to the rink for the skating lesson we'd had to postpone from Tuesday because of the doctor's appointment, and very little speed, but a whole lot of finesse work.//Then off to the hair salon, to become civilized for another month---a good haircut this time. That's nice.// Then we decided to go back to the rink to practice all the advice from our two instructors. We worked out for another hour or so, and finally my bad foot gave out---Jane's broken one held up fine. I'm going to have to investigate her padding-method.//Home again, and an evening watching the Olympics.

Date: 08/27/04..............57392. Friday. Well, the weight loss was too good to be true: up half a pound. But this kind of fluctuation is minor. Just both of us are up, and we can't figure how we  sinned yesterday, given we worked out twice for a total of two and a half hours. The good news is the new haircut stands up to the helmet pretty well.//The weather has warmed (well, to the high seventies), the sky has cleared, and the ragweed has bloomed. Both of us are wiping our eyes and sneezing. We've reluctantly sealed up the apartment again and turned on the air conditioning, not because of the temperatures, but because of that nasty weed. With this kind of encouragement, however, the rain and the warm spell, it may give a burst of bloom and be done with it, the whole species: that would suit me.//I was so tired, today, that I failed to put out anything to defrost for supper after skating; and we went out to Tomato Street, which will really do for my weight in the morning. The good news is that at our worst, we each ate one entree and ordered a second bread basket. At our moderate phase, we ate half the entree and that much bread. Now we're quite satisfied, even a little overstuffed, sharing one entree and eating half one serving of bread. So even in our 'bad' moments, we're much better than previously, and that's slowly adding up---or subtracting, as the case may be. The wonderful thing is that we've been on this diet for months, are still losing, and take our minor carbohydrate lapses as a treat, then get right back on good behavior, which is a lot better than we've been able to do on low fat, (lost nothing) or vegetables (lasted a month) or even pasta (lost nothing). One of the nice things is that if we really go crazy for want of a dessert, fresh berries and whipped cream made with Splenda is always a very happy option. Stay tuned on the Cortislim. It'll take a bit to give it a fair trial.

Date: 08/28/04............58309. Saturday. Clear sky, a few wisps of cloud to the north, but not that hot. And my weight is up another whole pound. But deservedly so. And only a pound, and it was fun. I needed a break from the diet, and most of all from cooking---I do the lion's share of the household cooking and shopping for food, and some days I just don't feel inspired by anything in the refrigerator. Today, besides writing, we wrestled with accounts. Jane's justly chiding me about not opening mail from the bank---and of course we need to see to the accounts much more frequently than we do: balancing checkbooks is not our favorite thing, sort of reckoning with how bad we've been. We're both still suffering from ragweed---Jane's eyes are pouring, her nose is stuffy, and she's not in her best mood. I'm using Flonase, and besides, after seven years of allergy shots, I'm proof against some things that we encountered in Oklahoma: I suppose the effect of those is still holding. I'd love to fling my window wide and enjoy the breeze on a moderate night and morning, but Jane just chokes on the pollen, and that's not good. So we go on using the airconditioning.//Roast for supper---I save this dish for Saturdays, which are an at-home, low-key day. Stick it in the oven, forgetaboutit, and supper happens, if your appetite can endure the aroma starting an hour before dinner. It's also minimal cleanup, which is good. Totally within the diet, even better. //And the evening is spent watching the Olympics. Note: the Mariners won their doubleheader against Kansas City. This is an improvement on their record.//Meanwhile the book is beginning to show signs of gathering speed, and speed would be very welcome. I'm only an entire month behind schedule, and only about half finished. You haven't seen me yet during one of those stretches where writing comes easily. This isn't it. But it will come. One of the best cues to this is that I'm beginning to think about it all the time: impossible to make any progress when the story is Teflon and the mind slides off it on every approach. Now we're beginning to get traction, and I'm starting to think about it several times an hour even when I'm not at the keyboard. This is the way it ought to be.//I forgot to mention the totally ridiculous accident I had on Thursday. Would you believe I fell on my thumbnail? How does one fall on one's thumb, you ask? Well, I was skating along talking to our young instructor, forgot I was on an outside edge at the time, and missed my balance as I turned my head and just fell over sideways---I don't even remember hitting the ice, except that I landed on my left thumbnail, end-on, and produced the most remarkable bruise, all on the tip of the nail. It's quite painful, andit bent the nail in half. But the nail itself may never even break: it was that high up. So I'm still nursing that silly mistake---which is a great nuisance when trying to cook. Seems I put my thumb into more dishes than I'd have thought, and keeping the Bandaid out of the soup is not easy. The good news is, I hit absolutely nothing else. Go figure. Sometimes you wish there were instant replay, out of mere curiosity.

Date: 08/29/04............58929. Sunday. Too darned hot. It's back to summer again. Writing, clean-up, a little erasing of scenes now invalid...some bits I wish I could have kept, but if they aren't in the story, they aren't there. Someone asked how one organizes a chapter---and since I just reached a chapter-end, let me explain: chapters are miniature novels, with a few significant differences. First of all, they need to come frequently enough to afford a reader a convenient gulp of information. Second, unlike a novel, they ought to start and end on a high note of want the reader to go on reading, or at least to be reluctant to put the book down and turn out the lights. They're between 5000 and 10000 words, about like a short story, though some writers favor much shorter ones, 2000 to 5000---which is particularly appropriate for young readers. You want a problem, a setting, a resolution leading to the next problem---a resolution that isn't quite the answer. That's why you have a following chapter, eh? That's the short course on chapters, for those of you trying your own hand. No big mystery, just a set of rhythms like a heartbeat within the book, rise and fall, rise and fall, but always the intimation of the next beat...//We went skating----two young skateboarders were attempting their moves on the ice, like doublefooted jumps, without quite being able to stand up; they were asking me about helmets, and I was advising them to bring their skateboarding helmets, when one leaned too far forward on his skates and fell, quite a nasty crack on the chin, just standing still. I felt very bad for him, and hope they didn't have to take stitches. Myself, I'm working hard on edges, and most of all on hand position. I'd been skating hockey fashion, with the arm swinging. Our instructor put the kibosh on that: steady, quiet arms in exactly the right position to maintain balance---and that takes some muscle-memory, which has to be trained in. The good news is that the arms are slimming down and the muscle is building, just from that kind of exercise. The way my legs will stay overheated for hours after getting off the ice---well, now it's the arms, and the pesky back side of the arm in particular---that spot that's just so hard to exercise without overbuilding. This is promising. But I still haven't lost any weight.

Date: 08/30/04...........58929. Monday. Still too hot. And we had to rush off to the rink for a lesson, which went pretty well, though our instructor spent the lion's share of time with Jane, who's working on a very difficult item. Remember when you learned to float on your back in the swimming pool, and they assured you you'd stay up and float if you just threw your head and shoulders back? Kind of counter-instinctive, but correct. Well, what Jane is working on is the same thing in vertical, on ice, while gliding on one foot:  her balance needs to be canted toward the 'empty' side, the one without a second foot to catch you if you bobble; and she needs to fling her shoulders into that proposition---into empty air behind her---with faith that physics and motion will keep her from falling backward. It's a very scary thing. I can do it for, oh, about a foot or so.//We went after groceries and prescriptions, then collapsed for thirty minutes before going back to the rink for the afternoon skate---having decided that not one creative thing was going to get done today: if I miss my morning writing slot, it's  hard, nigh on impossible, to get up steam for later in the day. And I did miss that slot. The good news is that the rink is about to cycle over to winter schedule, next week, and this will be the last of the crowded ice with young kids every which way. The rink will go to a noon public skate, which lets us get some work done in the mornings, and then go to the rink, which, more good news, won't have the aspiring hockey players on it, because they'll be in school. Club ice will be late in the afternoon, to catch the school-aged skaters. LIfe will become more sedate.//Oh, and the good news: I hit the lowest weight I've been in decades, and this morning I fit into a size 12 stretch Gloria Vanderbilt---which, considering I was wearing men's 46 waist jeans this last October (I stand five foot seven) is quite a nice thing. I won't go too much below a size 12, even if I lose the 40 more pounds I want to lose---it's the height thing. The smallest size I ever wore was a 10, back when I was downright skinny, so thin it hurt to sit in a chair---this, after grad school finals. I don't want to go that low. So I have achieved part of my goal---not in all brands, and only in stretch jeans, but hey, it's not stretching that much, and I'm not through yet. The sad part of this I'm having to get rid of all my collection of Mariner shirts---some were XL, most were L, and I'm headed for M. Some of these are very hard to part with, but, "I'll just have to go to a game and get my size M, now," she says, not shedding any tears.

Date: 08/31/04..........59203. Tuesday.....a little progress, and the day before my birthday, but the day we'd settled on as the best to hold a little celebration at the Tomato Street bar, gathering up two of our friends from the rink. A good time was had by all---I indulged, shall we say, and had a spoonful of free brownie with whipped cream which the Street provided for the occasion---shared amongst four, it wasn't too sinful. I had lovely cards, and Jane gave me a prezzie for the occasion--- Now, you have to understand that my peculiar totem at the rink is a flying pig: as in, "When pigs fly..." I'll do the quad lutz. Second fact: a soaker is what you put on your blades for storage as opposed to walking about. The hard-surfaced guards are for walking. A soaker is a stretchy bit of foam and velour to sop up extra water and prevent rust. Well, they do make animal-headed soakers. And Jane had gotten the pig ones and added little wings, to the delight of all attending. And silly me, I exited holding the bag with the prezzie, which I hadn't come in with, and left my purse on the chair. Fortunately our waitress tucked it safely away, so we'll get it tomorrow. I'm inclined to remember, numerically, the number of items I brought into a place, and if I get one extra, I'm likely to exit still with the same number, and leave something. But it was a great evening, and the purse is safe, and I love the pigs.

Date: 09/01/04...........59872. Wednesday. My birthday. And yes, we went skating. Weight, after last night? Up a pound. I got a little work done, then indulged myself and played a video game for an hour---we'd done our celebrating, but we did go back to Tomato Street, not only to collect the purse, but to have supper. We also got a call from Lynn Abbey, down in Florida, in the projected target zone of Hurricane Frances---we're worried about her, but she's battening down. She's hoping the power stays on, to keep the roof pumps going, but she's been through Oklahoma tornadoes and is weather savvy---unlike some snowbirds that move into hurricane territory without a clue. At least her region is one of the zones they're sending evacuees to, which means the experts think this is better than other places. They say the storm is the size of Texas. From Lynn: "El Paso should reach us Saturday night, and we'll see Dallas by noon the next day, with Houston by evening..." We're hoping her roof holds out. I tell you, tornadoes are something you can kind of eyeball and figure, and you stay prepared for them in the sense of always knowing what the weather is doing; but they're at most a few hours and then they're through, with the odds fairly well in your favor that it will hit empty country. You don't really need much in the way of survival supplies, because if it hits you it will probably miss the grocery store and vice versa. Hurricanes, once they're coming toward you, don't give you much in the way of odds: the biggest tornado is a mile wide with winds up to 300mph and maybe a couple of inches of rain, with hail. The hurricane out there in the Caribbean is about 85 miles wide at the core with winds of 145mph: more diffuse, but far, far wetter, like 10 to 20 inches falling from the sky if it slows down in your vicinity---truly a couple of the planet's great spectacles, but neither one something you'd like to go out and see in action. Keep fingers crossed for Florida in general. Charley was enough.//Then---then, my birthday present, and the night. One of my prezzies---understand, my futon, while solid and in good shape, is a bit on the hard side, and has the fold-mark right where your back would like a little support. So I'd asked for one of those 'feather' toppers, which comes now in a non-allergy form. Let me tell you, it's great. Like sleeping on a large, well-channeled feather pillow, with back support. Unfortunately I failed to account for Her Furry Grace Ysabel, who suddenly, at bedtime, realized that a major change had happened to my bed. So did the Black Prince, who deserted Jane's room to come and investigate the newly poofy bed, which Ysabel---already distraught with Change, that most uncatly of things---was obliged to defend. This went on for hours, with caterwauls (Efanor sings,) Ysabel tramping about in possession of the new and dubious territory, and frequently requiring demonstrations at the scratching post---("I can scratch on your post, yes, I can!" "Well, I'll do it last---take that! Nyaah!" "Yowl!" "Thump!" And back onto the bed.) I still don't know what fell over so noisily at 3am. Finally, at 8 am, Ysabel settled down, but she's still gingerly walking on the poofy surface---sure, I think, that a cat could vanish into it.

Date: 09/02/04..........59933. Thursday. Work, work, erase and write...not much in the way of news. We're of course paying the price for the Tomato Street visit---my weight is up. What could I expect? And I worked on signing the books that are in boxes too heavy to get up the stairs---I got nearly done, but the wind picked up. And just as Jane began making progress on her book, the main computer hit a spate of blue screens.

Date: 09/03/04.........59920. Friday. Making progress backwards. I decided that we've just had too much clutter around here, and Jane is so downhearted about the computer, which she's really better at than I am, that I decided to take on the housecleaning solo, by my own methods, which is to start with one corner of a room and to spend several days working my way across it, getting every last speck of dust and every item that's out of place. I reclaimed about 200 square feet for civilization, clean enough for a white-glove visit, which included the cat-ahem-accommodation, the sewing table, and some of the house plants. It's really made the place much nicer. Jane meanwhile has taken on the computer, determined to make Norton work, which it is currently refusing to do, insisting there are files in use. I offer no advice: Norton and I have old history, and I've found more ways to mess that program up than you'd believe.//We're keeping an eye on Hurricane Frances, with concerns for Lynn. Nothing we can do from here except keep that computer alive so we can get a message from her.//I finally got the last of the boxes signed, but there was something in one that cut my fingertip quite badly---I was dripping blood all over the parking lot---so whoever gets those books probably gets bloodstains. Regrets for that. And I still can't figure what cut my finger. But I did get the last of them. And wouldn't you know, the finger I sliced is the one I use for the touchpoint pointing device on the computer. Mortally wounded, I tell you! Hors de combat!  But now we can get these boxes mailed as soon as we can get a post office run organized.//

Date: 09/04/04........60390. Saturday. Late enough in the day to do the update, I suppose.// Ysabel is still dubious about the bed, but I note her sleeping in the middle of it, at the moment,which may betoken a quieter night than the last. I've had a pretty productive day, what with the writing, Jane battling the computer --- running Norton from disk seems to have helped--- and I swore the files it couldn't deal with were its own! But Jane's probably right and they're native Windows files: she's right more than I am with the computer, and that's why she takes over when it screws up. I've made another 50 square feet of progress, but I haven't wanted to disturb Jane's concentration on the misbehaving computer, so I've kept it quiet.//And I've been policing my own computer, figuring out why it's slowing down: WinME is evidently bad at recovering unused memory, and certain programs can slow operations down considerably, so I've been trying to tinker with a memory reclaiming software. And I have 256k of memory, which is less than I'd like, by about half, but all that this machine can support, by all that I can figure. So far nothing has blown up or blue-screened.// Kind of a windy, cool day, which is ever so nice.//My weight still hasn't settled down to its low-water mark again, but we're working zealously on our diet and mostly being good. The sliced finger is incredibly sore, to be such a piddling cut. I feel it every time I move the mouse. But at least those boxes are finally done. And I did get the end of month tax items done.// The hurricane is closing in on Lynn's place, meanwhile, and it isn't moving fast enough. There's going to be a lot of rain. I hope she's battened down safely.

Date: 09/05/04.......60802. Sunday. Well, I finally bit on the MP3 player business: I don't like music downloading, since songs are intellectual property, and I won't do freebies, but Real Harmony offers a per-instance, per track paid download that's compatible with my little player (an I-Rock). I decided to look up some of my old favorites, and I bought about 20 songs, which will satisfy me for months, since they're precisely the ones I like (ranging from Tom Jones "Delilah" to "Convoy", "Ghost Riders" and "Bad," not to mention "Pipeline.") What they all have in common is that they're fit for the rink, and their volume will blot out the car commercials from the bubblegum radio station the rink favors. To my own drummer, I. When quizzed I usually say I don't like music, which saves time, but what I really don't like is buying an album: there's always one dog on it that makes it impossible for me to enjoy the album---rather than not liking music, I'd be more truthful to say I react strongly to music I don't like, or I try to tune it out, and I react very happily to music that I do like. And while I have no rhythm whatsoever, and do not enjoy trying to dance, I can be badly thrown by a piece that's out of rhythm with what I'm trying to do. I'd say mostly my music is pretty self-involved, pretty microfocussed, and pretty much in the hindbrain all at once, with loud bass, few vocals, and lots of volume. But being able to buy things track at a time is a very good thing, since my "I adore-it's" for a given album is usually one or two. Now my dark secret is out: my musical taste runs from "Please, Mr. Custer" to "Thriller." And I got the cranky little recorder to work: it's far more machine than I wanted, but it was cheap, compared to the IPods, and uses a drag and drop interface with the online music service, so I can't screw that up too badly. I accidentally put it on "hold", accidentally turned it into an fm radio, recorded the wrong kind of files on it, cleared those off, and managed to get my music on it and get it turned on---the instructions for turning the player 'on' come on page 57 of the instructions, under "Advanced Operations." There is something wrong with this picture.// My own guitar playing is on hold pending healing of the afflicted finger, which is on my fingering hand. Sigh. // Meanwhile I found a very nice screensaver at, a thing called "plasma", which is just colored lights. And meanwhile, too, Jane has managed to get the main computer fixed. Hurrah! Also on the computer front, I decided to double my RAM for this machine, which is 256 and falling behind most modern applications, which, if they're memory-sloppy, eat up my available RAM and slow my machine way down. I loaded up Belarc Adviser (which will tell you what your system is like and even what's been done to it and what's loaded), [available as a free download at] and then I went to for memory prices. I have the slots, and the memory's cheaper than the ongoing aggravation, so I've ordered entirely new memory, for a total of 512. This should put me in a better mood and jazz up my aging computer for another year or so. For those of you who think about performing this operation on your own laptop or desktop, it's really a piece of cake [she says recklessly] and Crucial will include instructions on how to install it. The only thing I would advise is that you back up completely!, clear your work space, never use a hammer to get anything into or out of place, and read your instructions top to bottom before starting. Also, look up "installing laptop memory" on Yahoo---you can get some online instruction with photos of how it's done.//We're still worried about Lynn: her district is pretty well smack in the path, and we hope her roof holds up. No word yet. And TS Ivan is now Hurricane Ivan, headed on pretty much the same track as Frances. FOOTNOTE: We did get a call through to Lynn, and she says outside of being in the dark with no power, she and her cat came through it fine. She said she's opened a window to get a little air movement, and otherwise, it's hot and incredibly humid. They're hoping for an overcast day tomorrow, because if the sun comes out on all that water, they're going to be in a steam bath.

Date: 09/06/04.........60830. Monday. One of those days. It turned off a little warm, I didn't sleep well, and I haven't been worth a thing all day. It's Labor Day, which in past years I spent at the World Conventions, but it's just gotten harder and crazier for a writer to attend. I wish everyone well who is there, but the logistics are just too hard for us, with family obligations to make cross country trips at least twice a year. I just can't do it.//I don't know where the rest of the day went, except I spent a significant struggle trying to get my hard disk defragged.//We did go down to the Riverpark to the Pig Out in the Park festival, (the regional restaurant festival) hoping a) not to yield to temptation with all the food smells and b) that there'd be significant numbers of booths for pretty things---it's the bazaar aspect we were after. But we exited not having bought anything, and having gotten just a little overheated in the sun. We went to the downtown mall to have a look in the local shops, just to see what's there for fall---two women who've lost beaucoup weight are interested---and we were dismayed to find out that it's not fall colors, it's funeral colors. I mean, I have a few Goth outfits myself, if I put things together, but I wanted coppers and bronzes and reds and oranges, maybe some forest greens, and it's all cement gray and black and muted rose and muted purple with gray. Grim, grim, grim. We went to another shop. More dark gray. I felt depressed just looking at it. For this, I diet? No way. No sale. I'll buy white and use packets of Rit Dye, if I have to. We thought about going to a movie, but didn't see one we wanted, and finally went to a mall restaurant and saved me the necessity of cooking this evening, which pretty well sums up Labor Day---except we'd counted on going to the rink tomorrow, only to discover that the public skate doesn't start until Wednesday. Sigh. But they're gearing up to start the fall schedule, which will bring the second rink back into operation, which we look forward to.

Date: 09/07/04.......60943. Tuesday. Well, off to the chiropractor, and back again, a lengthy drive reading Patrick O'Brian's Treason's Harbor, which keeps us from temper at the idiots who pass us in the hills at 60 (the limit) and then drive at 58....and one idiot who is now deaf in one ear, who passed us on a hill, where we and an opposing car both had to brake to save this fellow the consequences of crazily attempting to pass a truck freighting a water tank. A two lane road requires special driving skills, especially in the hills, and it's a very dangerous road. One hopes that fellow is thinking about what he did.// Meanwhile, weight is holding steady, weather is just a shade too warm for comfort, and we did find out that, while there's no public skating today, the club has ice. We decided to go have a crack at said club ice, which had just been gone over by some very large fellows, who may have been our professional hockey players. They certainly chewed up the ice. The Zamboni then dry-scraped the ice and resurfaced in a second pass, and the ice still looked (and felt) like a moonscape, despite this double pass. We gave it a try, nonetheless, and we can say we didn't fall down, and I can say we certainly would have a few months ago. So that's an improvement. The club's expert skaters were out there, going so fast that they blew right over the deep wrinkles, landing doubles without breaking anything---truly amazing. This led me to think if I were to go really fast the ice might smooth out---but then I could get blitzed by one of the fast-movers. So I kept it quiet, and just practiced edges on this wrinkly surface. Meanwhile they're starting the process of icing the number two rink, which is interesting: the cooling pipes are charged up and running, and the place has been hosed down, just acquiring a little initial frost in the high spots. When they get level ice, on go the emblems. We'll be interested to see how it looks tomorrow. //So having not broken our necks, we're just taking it easy this evening, hoping for computer memory to arrive tomorrow. Back to the Bear's Diet, since we've had way too many forays out to eat.

Date: 09/08/04.......61230. Wednesday... We hit the rink for a 2 hour skate this morning, first public skate we've had, and it was still moonscape, but the rink had an excuse: they're busy bringing up rink 2, painting it white, getting ready to put the emblems on it. I skated to my own music---The MTA, for one, and a beautiful rendition of Greensleeves in Divisions, for Lute---while the rink ran bubblepop, which I was glad to miss. It was utter snow, which meant we could practice stroking, but nothing precision. We've heard from Abbey again: all is well, and after 3 days she's finally gotten power back. Plus her folks' house is ok, which is good news. But Hurricane Ivan is still looking threatening.// And Jane had signed up for a makeover at the Bon, which we went to---and they turned out to have a vacant slot, so I ended up getting one too, and both of us spending way much money. Jane is terribly allergic to perfume, but I may have found one she isn't allergic to: I bought a bottle, and they said I can return it if Jane turns purple from inhaling it. So far so good. And that [purchase was money, too. But hey, we've dieted our way into splendidness, and I wanted to know how to manage the new liquid-and-powder cosmetics, which this session taught us. And I really liked the perfume, which I haven't had for much of a decade. We looked so splendid I declared we had to go off to Tomato Street, where, in the dark bar, our fairly heavy makeup might look proper. So we did, and didn't eat too much, which is good, and we were trez glam. But I'm sure we blew the diet. The good news is that Jane still hasn't turned purple after riding in the car with a tiny bit of the perfume, and neither have I. It's JLo's Still, a name which I'm sure is meant to evoke a far more glamorous picture than that word gives to me---( I keep thinking of the Kentucky hills) but I'm just hoping we don't react, thank you.

Date: 09/09/04.......61230. Thursday. I finally got all those boxes of signed books to the post office. They had mostly to be repackaged, because the post office had hammered them into pulp, and this took waiting until we could get the right boxes. And then making the run out into the country to get to the dispatching post office. And those of you whose books are thus repackaged should buy Jane's books---she stood out there in the parking lot for two hours getting them safely sealed and addressed. I also had to pick up a prescription and get the tax deposit to the bank, the first of which turned into an hour wait and still no prescription, which I have to get tomorrow. I swear I'm going   to switch pharmacies. //The skating outfit came---I think I want to drop another few pounds before I wear this onto the rink without a jacket, but hey, it fits, and I've seen worse. I put on the new makeup myself this morning and managed to look like the loser in a prize fight---this is a learning curve, these new textures and methods.//And---the reason why no work got done: the computer memory arrived. This should have been a piece of cake, but I blew it---not badly, but out of too much caution. And, bless 'em, have a short queue and sensible people answering the questions. My computer was only recognizing half the memory, and my very first instinct would have been to check the seating, but the hard thing about laptops is getting into them, and you have to turn them upside down to work on and rightside up to work with. So, no, the instructions said if this happened, call, so I did, figuring it could be a 'known issue' with a soft fix. Nope. They said upgrade the bios. I'd done that once, but they said Dell had a new bios available, an A19, and I'm an A05, so off their line and out to the Dell site for downloads. Turns out they want you to upgrade the nVidia software and the general OS with a patch first. So I did that, and then tried to run A19, which then informed me in spite of the fact it had turned up in a search for the 8000, that it belonged to the 800M. Well, not good: if there's one thing in computerdom you don't want to misinstall, it's the bios. So I nabbed the A17, which informed me that it wouldn't flash the bios because I already had a bios 'equivalent'. Probably the upgrades I'd just futzed into the mix. And when do I choose to do this whole business? An hour before our skating lesson, with a thirty minute drive to the rink. So I'm getting anxious to solve this. And the people at Crucial aren't far from their quitting time. So I called back and they said, of course, let's start checking one chip by itself and then the other, with the old memory. And then the chap said something about how much gold should be showing along the edge of the insert. I flash on the fact that, though both had snapped in, yes, there had been a visible difference: since one is the A dimm and the other is the B dimm, maybe that was normal. Well, no, it shouldn't be that way, and he informed me that in laptops a snap doesn't guarantee it's perfectly seated. So I fight my way past the really difficult screw which won't come out, and lo, there's the situation I remember. I didn't force it, but I snapped it loose again and Englished it deep into the socket before I snapped it, closed the cover, flipped the machine over, and turned it on. It comes up with "Ah! I'm smarter than I was!" and I cheer, thank the gentleman, and let my machine finish the automatic process and boot. Piece of cake, indeed, it was, but a beginner mistake not to have worked harder to get the A chip as deep as it could get into its socket. And now my my machine is running far faster and more smoothly, and I really don't need to upgrade for another year or maybe even two. There's something to be said for a 20meg disk: it's lean and fast, if you keep it clean and optimized.// And off we fly to the rink, where the lesson for the day was the beginnings of the backward crossover---not nearly as hard as I'd feared. I didn't wear the new outfit: we were late, and I didn't have time.//Our weight has been consistently up, for some reason, so it's back to home cooking, where I can control such notorious weight-producers as salt (little), onion (none) and odd flavor enhancers (none except salt).//And the Mariners won against the Red Sox. Quite a game. At least from our point of view.

Date: 09/10/04..........60391. Friday, and the semiannual trip to Dallas. We’re anxious to get underway, and have resolved to get some writing done on the road, where no phones can ring. We were going to go to the rink this morning and get a couple of hours in before hitting the road, but we decided we were exhausted from yesterday—not to mention the cleaning and packing. So we caught the cats—Efanor loves to play hard to get, though Ysabel begins following me about obsessively when she sees suitcases—(Don’t forget the cat!) And we left the place and the plants in the hands of our very kind downstairs neighbor, and hit the road about 9:30am, in clear skies and nice temperatures. Not so where we’re going, alas. It’s 95 degrees down there. But while Jane read aloud Crocodile on a Sandbank, I drove, and the day went fairly uneventfully, except that Ysabel decided to serenade us. We finally found out that Her Furry Grace hadn’t approved the inflight meals—the food and water was situated in a location in the back of our little Forester that required a little kitty acrobatics to reach, and she was upset about this. I noted in the rearview mirror that she had figured it out, oh, about 4pm...and the serenade ceased in favor of a nap, to the delight of us all. We stopped at the Motel 6 at Rocker, Montana, just short of Butte, and caved in early. I went into hibernation. Jane tried to work.

Date: 09/11/04........61388. Saturday. The cats had been saving their energy all day—and we were on the side of the hotel that faces the parked trucks. Engines start up early. Reefers (refrigerated trucks) have to run all night. The cats of course have to be on the alert, and start racing around, running over Jane’s bed, running over mine, down and around, as if this will protect us from trucks. We did get a little work in this morning, at least enough to know what manuscripts we’re on. And we’d decided to live on our usual diet bars (Atkins peanut butter/chocolate) instead of eating huge breakfasts or stopping for lunch, so with a little coffee for me, we were ready for the road. Jane is allergic to coffee, literally—very bad reaction to it—so we had brought some chai for her. Oregon Chai has made—finally—a sugar-free Chai, which, if you combine it with Atkins Lo-Carb milk, makes a very nice breakfast. But we were having trouble heating it. A stop at a Flying J truck stop located a nice little plugin pot that heats things—one of those heating coils at the bottom of it. We figured that could work to heat the stuff. Jane also wanted me to give a hearing to her manuscript, so Crocodile went on hold while she read and took notes for her next edit. And we stopped for the night at the Motel 6 in Casper, which is across from Banjo Bob’s barbecue. This barbecue (the chipotle) is wonderful stuff, and we were moderate, mostly. It was happy hour—they got our drink order doubled, which was too much, so we bestowed the extra on a chap reading an sf book at a neighboring table, walked back to the motel, and fell in. I slept. Jane said she didn’t. I wouldn’t know. At least Ysabel was quiet.

Date: 09/12/04...........62320. Sunday. Up and a little work done—then of course the ritual disassembly of the room to get Efanor out from under the bed. He enjoys this mightily—parks in the farthest corner near the wall, under the bed. We take the mattress off and move that bed, he darts for the second, but we take that mattress off and plant it on the floor so he can’t double back. He darts for the bathroom, where we have his cage open and waiting, and he dives in and hides. It’s always like this in Casper, which is one of the few hotels we use that doesn’t have catproofing under the beds. But he enjoys it, takes his starting position nicely, and is very happy to sit in his cage afterward as if he’d been there all along. Ysabel is appalled, and demands to be carried to hers, thank you, before the mattresses start flying. Casper has an excellent little latte stand just at the other end of Poplar, Jilly’s Bean, I think it is, so we go off to get my morning latte. Jane meanwhile is attempting to warm the chai. This coil doesn’t heat with near the rapidity of the ones I used in college, which could blast a coffee cup apart and turn to slag if you even tipped it up out of the liquid. And she’d discovered that the milk container had overset, making a mess, which had to be washed up; so we were down to ordinary milk we got from the service station grocery. We haven’t found a place yet that has the no-sugar chai. We’ve only found one latte stand in Colorado that even promotes chai. Sigh. But the supply is holding out. We’re going to have to try a large grocery store. And so on down the road to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and thence to Colorado, a state where people maintain a frantic rate of speed having nothing to do with the speed limit signs. We were dreading the passage through Denver proper, which covers most of I-25 in Colorado, I swear, but we didn’t meet near the traffic that’s usual for Denver—we only had to slow down to a crawl once. Then we realized it’s Sunday. And we held a discussion on the frenetic rate at which we’ve usually done the last stretch to Dallas, decided that there is no reason to go hell-for-leather at the last and arrive late and exhausted, so instead of pressing on to Raton, NM, just across the border, or even Trinidad, Colorado, which almost as far, we decided to stop at Colorado Springs and not even to try to reach Dallas tomorrow night—to get about as far as Wichita Falls, (where they have a Motel 6 next to a Whatburger. Can you ask more?) The La Quinta in Colorado Springs, immediately east of I-25 at the Garden of the Gods Road exit, is a very nice stopping point if you’re coming from Casper, Wyoming or points thereabouts, and a certain Italian restaurant, Antonio’s, lies just behind that motel. And, yes, it turns out Antonio’s has instituted a wonderful low carb alternative, a very nice grill with choice of 10 dipping sauces, choice of five meats, salad and low carb vegetable. It was opera night: we sat in the bar behind closed doors, which was just about the safe range away from those two very powerful voices. We had a very nice dinner, (the waiter remembers us from prior trips) then hiked home to a very clean, nice room, no matter it was the last one available, because the hotel is half down-for-repairs. The La Quinta Inns are particularly nice if you travel with pets—they have a general acceptance policy, and they’re always clean and neat, a few towels judiciously placed will defend the furniture against cats, their airconditioning is potent—important in the south—and they provide some sort of free breakfast until 9am. But we’re holding to our diet bars. Jane worked quite late. I was too tired; I just watched the silent bottom crawl on the news until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Date: 09/13/04........62449. Monday. The long haul—taking out from Colorado Springs via Raton Pass to Clayton, and on to Dumas, Amarillo, and Childress to Wichita Falls. This passes through some violent and interesting geologic past—check out my USA Travels page, and view Capulin, one of many extinct volcanoes that rises above this otherwise flat landscape, with a great many volcanic heaves along the way—somewhat similar to the volcanic rock around Spokane, but much choppier. Spokane’s flood basalt was a world-affecting eruption of vastly thick and long-lasting lava flows which cooled in tall basalt pillars—naturally sided, and very regular, some even deep enough to have that sort of diamond-pattern small stuff between two layers of tall columns, like marmelade between two pieces of bread. But what went on in New Mexico was cinder cones breaking out, piling up cinder, and breaking out in a rash of small flows all over, a land of fire, explosion, and ash fall, in its day. The fires are long out, the cones rise abruptly above a flat landscape of grass and endless horizons, with small crinkly patches of lava remaining on the surface. You leave this for long stretches of yucca, something like bunchgrass, and mesquite thickets across the Texas panhandle, which gives way to a dark green thicket of nameless trees somewhere toward Wichita Falls, which is in the greener part. The skies were uncommonly clear—there’s almost always a haze over Dallas—and gave us a wispy gold sunset.

We found the Whataburger, paid our bribe to the cats, who learned to travel in cars for such a bribe, and turned in at the local Motel 6, only 200 miles from our destination, but we don’t want to arrive at midnight: it’s a long drive.

Date: 09/14/04.........62830. Tuesday. On to Dallas, with minimal confusion. I’m so behind in this book I declined to stay at the family residence: we found a nice little Days’ Inn that’s run by a family working hard to resurrect the inn...the wives and daughters are out trimming shrubbery and the premises are a little the worse for wear, but we got a portable filter and are running it constantly. My brother has just had minor surgery, and is a little sore: we were able to visit for the evening, with him and the younger of my nieces, and my mum: went out to dinner at On the Border, and had a nice supper. Talked late, and repaired to the hotel.

Date: 09/15/04.......62830. Wednesday. No work this morning. I waked to the chambermaid beating on the door, realized I had agreed to breakfast with my mum at 10, and had to scramble. I made it with five minutes to spare. But my brother’s car was still in the drive: he hadn’t gone to work—in fact was miserably ill, having had a nasty lot of post-op symptoms after the dinner. Mum and I hied ourselves to the drug store to get remedies, and he waked in much better shape and went off to work. We collected Jane from the hotel, went for a Whataburger, and went shopping, which mum loves. We found a few bargains, delivered Jane back to the motel, where she’s working apace on her (another in the Ring of Lightning set) book; and I went off to shop some more with Mum. We finally decided that the salmon I’d bought would go begging, there being no one there to eat it, and we might as well go out—which isn’t easy in Dallas, where every third road is under construction, routes lead nowhere without warning, and send you off to other suburbs—or in this case, full circle right back where we’d started. After trying two restaurants, one which didn’t serve what it had advertised it did, another that was packed to the gills, we found the third, a Texas Roadhouse that had a lovely menu and very good food. So my brother is pulling an all-nighter at the office, and my mother is exhausted after the day of shopping. We decided to call it an evening. Tomorrow morning I hope to get a bit more done on the book, ahead of the chambermaid.

Date: 09/16/04..........62923. Thursday. Not much better, in terms of work. Jane spent the day working at the hotel; I spent the day talking with Mum, and that evening I picked up Jane and we all had dinner—the salmon my brother liked, my mother didn’t, and so we sat and talked some more, one of those family visit sort of things. We have agreed to stay one more day to get Mum to her eye doctor, and that at 8am, which is horrendous—to get her there, I have to get up at 6: read 4am for someone from the west coast; but brother David is obliged to be at the office, so it’s up to me.

Date: 09/17/04............62923. Friday. The doctor’s appointment. A little shopping, a little chat, and then David was off to see old friends in Oklahoma City and Jane and I took Mum out to dinner again, staying for a little talk, then off to bed. Mum has a hair appointment tomorrow, and suggested we just hit the road tomorrow rather than the hour round trip from the hotel to her place and back. This seemed sensible, particularly as we would have to wait for her to get out of her beautician’s establishment to say good bye. And we’d picked up a sheet metal screw in the left front tire at our wonderful inexpensive hotel, which cost 13.98 to fix. This hotel has an out of focus television, dresser drawers falling apart, and in general, we don’t think this has turned out so well. So much for Days’ Inn.

Date: 09/18/04.............62923. Saturday. With no particular amount of work done, we are anxious to be on the road. So off we went, desirous of making it to Colorado Springs. It was a nice day—rare good air, clear skies, and a lengthy trip. We stopped in Nocona TX, at the factory for Nocona Boots, bought a nice belt and a Christmas ornament, then headed on at good speed for Wichita Falls, where we had our last Whataburger of the trip, with chicken for the kitties. We headed on across Dumas and Clayton toward Raton, and on up into Colorado, making Colorado Springs. Jane is reading Lord of the Silent, by Elizabeth Peters, which she had along. I am finishing up Treason’s Harbor, by Patrick O’Brian, in my off periods from driving. We were after dark getting to Colorado Springs, 8pm, to be precise, but we were in time to have supper at Antonio’s,, which is our destination restaurant in Colorado. But the Black Prince discovered how to work door latches in the La Quinta Inns and in the Motel 6's. This is a pain...particularly as he decided the adjacent room latch should give way, if he only worked hard enough. Rattle, rattle, rattle, and fuss and fuss in periodic frustration all night, and us trying to protect any neighbors from the nuisance. I didn’t get the sleep I’d hoped for.

Date: 09/19/04...............62923. Sunday. Still no chance to work. My computer is out of juice, I can’t reach a plugin from this side of the hotel room, and I’m anxious to make Casper WY, where we can settle in and get some work done in a room with more plugins. Denver is a piece of cake to drive on Sunday—not so on most days of the week. We drive up toward Fort Collins through a monumental traffic jam, to escape which, we followed some cars onto a frontage road, proving our little Forester can too negotiate rough terrain, and managed to bypass some of the snarl—but we discovered we’d lost the maps we need to get over laterally to a real shortcut, so we got back onto the highway (I-25) past Fort Collins to make time, mostly beyond the jam. After a smooth, overcast drive, we made it to Casper just at dusk, saw the first hint of fall in a patch of gold and orange on the mountain, and had supper at Banjo Bob’s (see our travel USA page) before turning in. Our only problem here was a couple of good old lads driving a behemoth of a truck who couldn't park it adequately...I'm sure a sixpack apiece hadn't improved their aim. We maneuvered our car three times to try to find a parking spot where they couldn't ding our door at some angle, and sure enough, though we'd parked with a huge clearance, they got us. And of course, when they did move their truck, it was in the wee hours, with a lot of conversation, with their lights on and glaring into our window, and their engine sounded like a tank running. After dinner, I had been so exhausted I just folded at 7pm, and didn’t come around until dawn...give or take the two gentlemen with the massive truck. It does seem to me that people driving rigs that size should use considerable extra courtesy, rather than none at all.

Date: 09/20/04.............62923....Monday dawn, at which point, considering a rumor of an inch or so of snow about to come down on Casper, we decided we had better forego work and hit the road, or make up our minds to spend one, maybe two extra days if the snow caught us. We opted for speed. I drove—Jane was more tired than I was, suffering from allergy to something in the area, and having been bitten by something noxious during the process of extracting Efanor from under the bed. She never, she claims, has been subject to spider bites, and this seems the second in a matter of months. So after taking a lot of Benedryl for the bite, she was useless as a driver. I drove—and Jane read. Rain that had fallen last night became an occasional blinding deluge in the mountains, but never yet the promised snow---though just at dawn, leaving Casper we had seen the first hints of fall on the mountains grow wider, as more leaves had turned near the summit by morning, but by the time we reached the Little Big Horn around early afternoon, aspens there were golden, and people said there were indeed threats of snow by this evening. When we went through the Tobacco Root mountains, it hailed a bit, or one might call it fat sleet, and then we saw snow frosting the trees on the mountains just above our road, and snow white on the high peaks. We had called ahead for a room at Rocker, near Butte, just across the Continental Divide, so that if weather really turned before we got there, we would be assured a place to stay. We finished Treason’s Harbor, and pulled into Rocker, after several downpours on the way, with glorious cloud and sunlight effects around us on the mountains there, but a temperature there of a balmy 45F. We couldn't get onto the highway side of the hotel. We're over here by the parked trucks. But tomorrow we’ll leave when we wish, early or late: it’s a short drive from here, comparatively, the weather doesn't look to get worse, and I hope to get a little work done before we do get onto the road.

Date: 09/21/04...........62923...Tuesday, and after a night of lunatic cats, who’d decided they’d been far too long on the road,  and who were upset by the trucks mumbling outside, we gave up on everything including more than cursory makeup, and hit the road, before the cats drove us berserk. We held the intent of getting home, having a nice quiet evening, and getting our lives reorganized. //First of all, there was the retired couple from New Mexico, who insisted on keeping up with us for 200 miles, while they wove back and forth across the center line, passed us and then dropped behind by turns—hung in my blind spot, braked when I braked, once forcing us nearly into traffic buffers, since we could not safely pull out in front of them, where they were positioned---braking to a full stop on the highway with a semi coming up their tail. Once, finally passing us, they pulled across a right-hand white line and nearly plowed into a bridge abutment above the Clark River, apparently mistaking the bridge 'shoulder' for a third driveable lane. They were worrying us greatly for their safety, but we couldn't shake them, either, and there was nothing we could do to improve the situation. We certainly didn't want them alongside us, weaving over the dotted line toward our car. We finally, since they had us well and truly pegged as their guides, took out at such speed they at least had to find another, perhaps slower lead, and I hope they soon put in somewhere for a cup or three of strong coffee, if not a night of rest. What the spouse said when they nearly hit the bridge one can only imagine. One can only hope they get home safely, and do their subsequent vacations by bus.//Otherwise it was a beautiful drive. It had snowed in the high mountains of Montana and Idaho, providing us geese on the wing, forming their V's, episodes of mist and white frost on the evergreens, while, once we reached Spokane, there is only the first hint of fall color and Mt. Spokane is still green to the top. //We settled in after hauling our baggage up, got our mail—only one screaming emergency, which is pretty good for a week’s absence. And we settled down to have diet bars for supper and to watch the Mariners’ game. Then---Zap! My computer dropped its program, the tv and various electronics went out, and the computer backup for the main computer began beeping. Usually this is simply the breaker. It wasn’t. The breaker didn’t go, and when Jane wiggled the plugin of my computer in the wall socket in the living room, the lights in my bedroom decided to turn on. So I flipped the breaker off manually, and suppose that I’ll be using the flashlight for light in my room, which has lost all power whatsoever, including in my bath. Meanwhile we got out the heavy-duty extension cords and ran our computer and our entertainment unit connection to the opposite wall, which has power, as does the kitchen. We look forward now not to getting back to the rink tomorrow, as we’d very much hoped, but believe we will be sitting and waiting for an electrician to come and tsk-tsk fiercely over our octopus electrical cords, which are the only thing keeping us from having to reconfigure our housenet. If somebody wants to come in here and replace breakers, as they must, I hope they’re quick about it, because we are not at all pleased about the notion of the housenet going down—as it will if it stays unplugged too long. Maybe we can run an extension cord for that one item out over the balcony and get our dear friend Louise to plug it in for us downstairs. Welcome home, indeed! Chaos Central is certainly back in operation. But we are very glad the breaker failure happened after we got back, and that it did not involve the refrigerator.

Date: 09/22/04............62923. Wednesday. Well, a night without electricity, though no great hardship in a temperate season and with lights in at least half the apartment---including the kitchen. And early rising, to head down to the apartment office to inform them we need help. They were very prompt about it, and came up in an hour or thereabouts to figure out the problem wasn't the breaker (which is good) or the hairtriggered breakers in the bathrooms (we knew that), but a short in the very socket I was using for my computer...which, thank goodness, was undamaged despite the crash. They replaced the one slightly crispy socket, and all is well. They said if a socket is blown a breaker won't always trip. Nice. And it was well and truly fried. No doubt about that. //We missed skating due to the repairs and the fact Jane is just absolutely exhausted (so am I, to tell the truth) but we did go out to lay in supplies, so there could be supper. Salmon is fast and easy. //Jane has taken a holiday to play Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, which is a gorgeous game---very graphics-heavy, with hair and curtains that move; but Jane gets quite excited and yells encouragement or heaps deprecations on the Prince's head. Who says computer games aren't activities? We had to clean up the place, and after a certain point, and after 4000 miles of driving, I wasn't worth much either. I can't say that I did anything creative, but at least the place looks better and the electricity works and we have food in the fridge. From my right hand comes the sound of various monsters and combat, as I watch the Mariners' game---we're leading in the second inning. I hope to have more energy tomorrow. There is a new game being advertised that I have hopes for: Children of the Nile. If the graphics are as advanced as Jane's game over there, I rather despair of my computer running it, but check out the website. Quite the game, it seems, especially if, like me, you like sims. I've run Railroad Tycoon to the limits of my machine: the cursor vanishes, it takes forever to save---these are the downloaded scenarios. I should go back to the beginning and play it through at expert level, but I'm losing my enthusiasm for doing so. I need a good, uncluttered morning in which to work, without crises, and I hope to get it tomorrow, at which point I have to buckle down, get some writing done, get the accounts up to date, and handle the taxes. Oh, fudge---we're now tied 1-1 in the second..//I should add that the memory upgrade has made a big difference in my computer's ability to defrag the disk, to run games smoothly (if at not a terribly high level) and generally to perform operations without overtaxing the hard drive. It was worth the hassle, abundantly. From a CPU almost always fighting to do something, we now have a machine much more comfortable.

Date: 09/23/04.............64372. Thursday. At last, a tranquil morning. Note the word count. Jane slept late, and got up thinking she'd come down with something, but I was very anxious to get to the rink and have a go at the new ice---rink 2 is up---and to take the plunge and wear the new skating outfit. So Jane agreed, yes, we would go, and I wedged myself into the tights---two pair for warmth, one with feet and one that slips over the boot---and the skating outfit, and all of this has to be done in order---such as if you forget a bandaid on your toe, everything has to come off to get at it. I didn't look as bad as might have been---I only gained 3 pounds on the trip; and I decided to wear a light bomber jacket over the outfit, so that only the skirt shows. The legs, thank goodness, aren't too bad. Getting to the rink---well, I borrowed one of Jane's loose flowered dresses, and wore sandals, because they're easy to get into with the two layers of tights, and so on. With the longsleeved, high-necked skating outfit, and the loose, sleeveless, flowered dress, well, I felt like a leftover from the 60's for sure. But the ice---it was gorgeous, smooth, and newly groomed, and this ice---on concrete, mind you, not sand---is uncompromisingly crunchy-hard under the blades. And fast? Amazingly fast. A little push and you can glide forever---it honestly felt as if it had been oiled, but I think there was a little layer of condensation on the ice that was freezing constantly. I won't mention Jane suddenly deciding she needed a Pepcid, badly, which turned out to be in the car, so that I had to hike out onto a lot beside a busy road in the aforementioned rig, the skirt of which is all of five inches long, that, and a yellow helmet. But no one had a wreck, so they must not have noticed. Practice went so well I had to pry Jane off the ice while we could still walk. This is going to take some Advil, after a couple of weeks sitting still.// On the way home we decided to stop and see about me a new (black) helmet, and I found one at Play it Again Sports, across the street from the rink, a nice black helmet from Red (brand name), intended for snowboarding. It's got earflaps, which should be warm this winter, but I think I'm going to have to hang onto the dreaded yellow helmet for summer, because the yellow one has no ear covering, and believe it or not, skating can be very hot work. This helmet I bought has a couple of odd sliders in the front that admit air, if one overheats. I plan to leave them in the open position, thank you. We also stopped by a next-door bird store I'd always wanted to visit, and discovered to our chagrin that they were going out of business: we exited with half-price birdfeeders and hanging hooks (useful on our balcony) and various items I'd long admired but never quite persuaded myself were a necessity---our birdfeeder is wooden, with incised shingles, and a very architectural look---we have an old aquarium stand that will support it nicely. I truly wish we'd found the store under happier circumstances, but we will very much enjoy feeding the birds---the northwest has such lovely ones. And I'm going to enjoy those long hooks, which mean that I can get things unfastened from the balcony ceiling without standing on a chair poised two hundred feet above the river---a task which usually arises when a fragile item has to be rescued from an oncoming windstorm. Some of you may know I used to have a very nice indoor birdhouse---I'd wrapped it around the corner of a wall, with fake greenery and a cabinet around it, and plexiglass walls that could move for cleaning: it was wonderful, and my finches bred and had baby finches quite nicely under the aquarium lighting (including the actinic bulb for twilight). They had nests throughout, little grass hanging affairs, and in all, they had about ten feet bent flying space, or about 180 cubic feet of room, ample room for a handful of finches to do very daring maneuvers through the branches of the fake trees I had built. I loved them dearly, but had to give them to Lynn Stranathan and Selina Rosen, who had the place for them: I knew I was allergic to feathers, but thought I could get by with it indoors since it was all behind plexiglass. Not so. And I have missed them very much. So  now we can encourage birds right outside our long windows, and all I'll have to do is sweep up frequently. I have 20 pounds of birdseed to carry up from the car. If I had the energy left, I'd go do it, but I don't, so I'll get it tomorrow. My legs ache.

Date: 09/24/04..........65354. Friday. More progress.// I did get the birdseed up the three flights of stairs, and got the feeder set up. I don't know how this is going to work, what with the birdfeeder and our giant whirlagig clown fish, which we couldn't resist, on the same balcony, but our birds are tough---used to all sorts of hanging flappy and whirly things on other balconies, so I doubt it will stop the sparrows from coming in, and where those brash rowdies come, other birds will follow. I also have a finch feeder up, in hope of goldfinches, which do come through here. We haven't had a bird yet, but there's been a sentry singing nearby---after having lived with a large finch house in my livingroom, I've learned to spot these fellows---and sparrows are, in fact, finches. We see the flock go past, and this fellow singing his lungs out, not the alarm! cry, but the, "I spot something edible but don't come in yet" call. They may do that for a little while, maybe days if there are spook-factors like cats in the window, before the expendable male decides to investigate, stuffs his face while singing "Dinner!" and calls the others in. Our cats regard it as kitty television, and are fairly well behaved---they don't make charges at the windows to get the channel to change.// By the way, look up "webicorder" on Yahoo and go to the Green Webicorder PNSN network: Mt. St. Helens is acting up again. But before you flee Tacoma for California, read the report. It's fairly minor---they think. If you look at "volcanoes" and look at the cross sectional maps (at the side of the page) you can see that preceding previous threats, there was deep activity. This is all fairly surface-based. What the geologists think is happening is the fall rains trickling into cracks and causing steam bursts underground. They're not sure, however, and caution people to be careful when hiking around the area.// The helmet is comfortable. The skating outfit was a social success: very social---half the known universe turned up for the Friday skate, and the ice was downright crowded. But figure skaters had the hockey folk outnumbered. We met with both our instructors---set up lessons for next week, and hoped to be able to go to a competition at the other arena, where our younger instructor is skating; but when we got out and got home, we were pretty tired. I wasn't sure how I'd like this really short outfit---I hate skirts because they're drafty, and in a windy state (Oklahoma) are a constant nuisance, so I'm quite out of the habit; but this outfit, oddly enough, with its double layer of tights, is more like jeans---only you can see your knees, and detect bad leg position. Not bad, and not at all uncomfortable. The new helmet fits nicely, though I can't hear as well as I would wish. The vents are a very good idea. I should mention that, with the reopening of the second rink, and that surface now iced as well, the air is very wintry, and coats are in order.

Date: 09/25/04.........65902. Saturday. Well, no takers yet on the bird feeder. I laid out a little grain on the balcony---but I'm also suspecting it's not just the natural nervousness about Change. It's also the beginning of fall in the Northwest, which is one of the richest environments in the US for seeds, grains, and berries. Meaning: the little blighters are already so stuffed they can't fly. When the weather shifts, they'll come. They know where it is.// We went skating, and had a very good session---but I'm sore: I was so sore last night that it took me hours and pain patches (Bengay) to get the pain out of my back. I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't the changed from the sand undersurface to the concrete undersurface---or maybe it's the faster speed and harder exercise: we go flying about at a great pace, and I'm working hard.//St. Helens is continuing to hiccup, fairly hard, to my untrained eye.//And I'm down a pound in weight. I want to drop 20 more pounds by year's end.

Date: 09/26/04.........66303. Sunday. Still no birds. And up a pound. Hmph.//It's officially beginning to look a little more serious for St. Helens. The geologists yesterday declared it looked to be quieting down, and then larger earthquakes began, fast and furious. The geologists have now pronounced the equivalent of: "That's unusual," and have put out an official warning. Don't expect we're going to be another Pompeii up here. The mountain is fairly far off from us---and from Seattle, and so on. This is, however, a good time for those potentially in the blast zone to be considering steps, just in case, and to know where their pets and livestock are. This mountain is most likely to blow out ash, and it's not good to breathe it. Where we are, which is hundreds of miles downwind, there was still a lot of ash, back in the Big One. I'm no geologist, but an eruption of that size twice in a row would not be likely, in my non-expert opinion. There's been no bulge, as there was then, the dome building has not been energetic, and over all, it does seem more likely that the primary hazard is to areas immediately around the volcano. It may well, in the way of volcanoes, settle back again for a while, and then undergo another episode. Stay tuned.//We also made a decision to try an XBox, which will save us money---we think. We're keen on the latest, spiffiest games, but if I had a refund for every time I bought a game and discovered it crashes my computer; or that my computer needs an expensive upgrade to run a certain hot new game properly---every six months---I'd be able to pay for a new laptop. This upgrade fever constantly forces onto the bleeding edge of technology, where hot new parts ordered on the internet turn out to be defective, (drives are notorious for this, even from the best companies, and I resent their using the consumer for the testing system, even if they are good about rapid exchanges---two weeks later, into the third exchange of defective drives,, you're still waiting for your new part). Then compatibility issues between new tech parts drive you crazy, and once you figure out what's going on then you discover something else has to be upgraded to fit what you just installed---say, it'll all be perfect if you just get a 200.00 sound card or a 300.0 video card. Now the video card and our laptops are lagging a year behind the most advanced games, and that would be two new high-end laptops and a pricey video card for the desktop---plus all the hassle---or buying a small machine that's going to run (infallibly, we trust) whatever we buy under the XBox label. It's a reasoned choice, because we don't want to fall behind the times, computer-wise, or, worse, lose touch with the jargon and the state of the art---a certain amount of computer-speak is highly useful to know, when contemplating a build-it-yourself. You begin to babble about hyperthreading and sockets while sitting in restaurants and traveling in the car. But laptops are downright impossible to upgrade, except by adding more memory, or going into a realm of do-it-yourself I don't even want to contemplate, and we're maxing out on what can be done with this current fix. This isn't to say I'll give up computer-based games, but I'm buying only those that are a good safe fit for my system-as-it-is. Which with an Invidia 32-bit and 512 memory ought, by all reason, to give me a reasonably long run with some very good games. Jane's a Prince of Persia addict; I'm a role-playing and sim type, though my all-time favorite is Might and Magic 6 (not 7 or 8); and if what we buy runs the first time with no fuss at all, we're going to be happy. XBox has some games (like Fable) that look interesting to me, and the most 3D-heavy and move-through-rooms games, which tax computers the hardest, and require the new parts, will run very well on this new platform. This should be a good change, and actually save us time and no little money. This is Jane's birthday present---not only the XBox, but the notion that she won't have to start the upgrade process on the desktop.

Date: 09/27/04.......67838. Monday. And still no birds. The fact that every farmer in the Palouse is plowing for winter, and that a pall of dust hangs low over the ground couldn't have a thing to do with it. Mt. St. Helens continues its earthquake-every-two-minutes pace, which sounds to this layman like a kettle boiling somewhere down below, and I sort of wonder if there isn't a magmatic mass melting away somewhere down there, making things expand. They've tested for gas emissions and dome expansion, negative on the gas, no result on the other, that I've heard...and the brave scientists that go up there to pound new instrumentation into the dome should get a medal, I'll tell you. The news dishes are parked in a row facing the mountain. When you see dishes in your neighborhood, you know it's going to be one of those days.//The XBox is working out well, and the games, while of a type, are getting good, image-wise. My favorite is FABLE, which XBox says is exclusive to them. Jane's is obviously Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. //Jane's Toshi laptop is in the shop---we really stress a keyboard, in our profession, and her spacebar fell off and broke an attachment prong, not to mention her video card failing the Direct-X test. Hopefully they will get it right this time. I become more and more fond of my Dell, which takes just as much use and keeps on ticking---but Jane detests the Dell keyboard and loves the Toshi. She is now officially annoyed at Toshiba, and is waiting for them to put things back to rights. She has 1 gig of memory waiting for it when it gets home, and I think that will help its performance. Myself, I wish someone sold new decals for the keys. I have moderately long fingernails, and the lettering always disappears in a matter of months. I spend the next couple of years having to dead-reckon my finger-set on the keyboard.

Date: 09/28/04........68549. Tuesday. Still no birds. Nice day on the ice. For the first time in recorded history, we women were outnumbered by the men. I tell you, if you gentlemen want to meet women, get some figure skates and sign up for lessons---the ratio on the ice is usually twenty women to one man, and if you're good at it, you really get favorable attention.// It's also the end of month and I've got to get at the accounts. Sigh. I detest the accounts. The Mariners are winning again. This bodes well for next year. And St. Helens is still bubbling away. No sign of blowing, yet, and it may just as mysteriously settle down. It had nearly an hour of relative quiet---only an earthquake every three minutes---yesterday, and then picked up its tempo again. Who knows, at this point?

Date: 09/29/04.....68628. Wednesday. No birds. St. Helens is increasingly upset, up to 4 earthquakes per minute, increasingly strong, and the level of alert has gone to II, out of four. Sort of reminds me of my Baltimore apartment from my college days---turn on the water tap and the pipes would quiver and rattle for a good fraction of a minute before the water rose to the level of the third floor. It would be nice if the volcano just discreetly rebuilt its pretty shape in a new cinder cone over the next number of years, without greatly disturbing the neighborhood. There is a rise in the dome inside, and it shows other signs of possible explosion. They're saying its likely zone of ashfall would be about 10 miles, not the 250 miles it dusted in the Big One. At the same time, fair-sized earthquakes are shaking California. One of the curious features of the northwest is the "flood basalts", not to be confused with water-floods of the Ice Age, which also ripped through here. But a long, long time ago, the whole area was subject to huge lava flows which spread out in a vast shield, burying mountains up to their necks and generally making deep examination of the underlying strata impossible. In other words, it's pretty hard to know what deeper structures underlie our district. (First the  flood basalts, which are very, very thick, and very old themselves, buried all earlier geology, and then the Spokane Floods, or Missoula Floods---nomenclature wanders---scoured through them, exposing huge pillars of basalt, making wavy scars along hills, and generally washing away a lot of the fossil record that lay in its path.) Well, because of the deep basalts, it's a little difficult to know what kinds of old faults and structures run here and there. I don't think there's any connection between us and California---except the obvious one, that the reason those volcanoes exist where they do is because of the very pushy tectonic plate that's grinding past our coast, and it's the same plate that part of California sits on. So there might be a little bit of a connection, but that's for the experts to figure out. Geology up here is very interesting, and often noisy. // Had a skating lesson, and our instructor indicated we're ready to go to longer lessons, for more intensive work. The exercise I'm doing is difficult to describe, but if you stand with your lead foot heel-on to the arch of your other, square your shoulders to the line of your leading foot, hands flat and pressed down on the same imaginary line, one fore and aft, and if you then shove off hard while leaning slightly backward---well, you get the idea: I fell off my outside edge, and did the most remarkable foot-over-foot recovery sideways to the wall. I was shaky for the next ten minutes, not from panic, but just from the exertion of that recovery. I worked up such a sweat trying to move 6 inches in a straight line (over and over and over) I had to go to iced drinks and shed the jacket; and I spent the next thirty minutes increasing that 6 inch glide to about 12 inches of stable glide. The target distance is 50 feet and a graceful curve. I think I have a ways to go. It turns out one of my birthday presents, a new skating outfit, is dependent on being made in Florida, in a shop that has no electricity at present---poor people. They called asking if we wanted to cancel the order. I hope their business survives, and I by no means intend to cancel. They're making the most original skating outfits going. Look up "Andre Sports" or "Ledo" on Yahoo, and you'll see what I mean. If you skate, order from these people: they're apparently having a very hard time.//All that sweating at least battled off one of the pounds I gained on the trip. Only two more to lose before I'm back where I was before my birthday---and now we're approaching Jane's birthday. Sigh.

Date: 09/30/04......68930. Thursday. And still no birds. Not even any singing. That's unusual. On the St. Helens' front, I had a little doubt yesterday when CNN reported St. Helens at a level III alert, but my own look at the PNSN network turned up no such increase. I stuck with my level II, and turns out I was right. CNN's report is incorrect. On the other hand, it's working up in violence, and the dome itself has shifted. Earthquakes are magnitude 3 or more, and one supposes it can go to the III level very quickly, if not all the way to IV. Maybe the birds have decided to take a small vacation in Idaho.// In general, the weather is beginning to turn. The locust trees have already turned a beautiful sunny gold, and the vine maple and barberry are brilliant crimson. The maples are still green, but all across the valley, one can see greenish gold among the evergreens, and there's a freeze warning for Saturday night. This is the first fall in two years that we've been here the color change, and it has a sense of tranquility that's really quite pleasant.//Our skating instructor bruised her ankle (new boots) and didn't want to lace up, so we didn't get our Thursday lesson, but we had plenty to work on, lots of precision stuff. We're both making great progress in posture and therefore in stability, which in turn builds confidence, which in turn improves posture, etc. I'm in better physical shape than I've been, oh, for twenty years, though I'm still battling those pounds---they say muscle is heavier, and I am acquiring that, for sure..//We're having fits with the desktop computer, which apparently has had its battery die. That's fixable, but since it's built into the very loaded desk, this is not a task we look forward to, and we can't locate the manual. I did get the most essential accounting done, but have a stack of bills to do.// I can also heartily recommend Fable, which is an exclusively XBox game. It runs a credible story line, has replayability (we have several different characters created, and play them alternately, and they're not the same), it has charm (the character responses are often funny on an ironic level, and the landscape is well-done). You have the usual funding hassles, as you find clever ways to afford the armor you need; the combat is do-able, it has a precision-aiming mode, and it runs as fast and furious as you want to make it. You can also choose to do foolhardy stunts (like going in with no armor on a bet) if that's your bent, and you can push and advance the character or laze back and take smaller jobs along the way. The character starts as a child, which could deceive parents into thinking this is a kiddie game, but it progresses rapidly into adulthood as you make your choices. And, bonus, we didn't have to do a computer upgrade to accommodate the game. We've had a little trouble with the controller, just learning its buttons, but it's much easier on the hands than the computer controls; all around, a plus, in our review.

Date: 10/01/04.......69302. Friday. Not a bird to be seen. Did a little work, got off to the rink, where I had a pretty good skate, but I'd over-exercised the right side, pushed the extension a bit, and began to have some tendon soreness in the inside knee. Given my lifelong history of tendon rips, I decided to get off the ice early and maybe take tomorrow off too, until it settles down. And our figure-skating friend Sharon (practical nurse and mountaineer in her spare time) went off to lunch with us where, yes, the bar had all the tellys tuned to Mt. St. Helens, which had just blown some steam and ash---and, it turned out, poor heroic station SEP, toward Oregon. So those of you following the webicorders will hear no more from that brave little 'bot, which I suppose has yet to be located; and the mountain was seismically still for just a bit, then began its tremors again. A little CO2 emission, some surface heat and a new several-hundred-foot deep vent up by the dome, plus a black smear of new ashfall, and now the strong indication it's going to do this again pretty soon.// We came home to relax, Friday being our quiet day, and watched the volcano coverage---quite a bit, for a hiccup, and then the Mariners game: quite a game. Ichiro Suzuki just passed Sisler's record number of hits in a season, a record that has stood for 84 years, and there were fireworks so extensive they fogged the field for a bit. He's quite a class act, and a very canny player---the character of the man is such that, when every hit was counting toward that record and the days were running short, the team needed a sac fly---so he just goes to the plate and calmly delivers it for the sake of the team, never mind his personal stats and the records-chase.//So, all in all, quite a day. Tomorrow we've decided staying home for the sake of my knee wil let us clean house and get the accounts definitively handled. Plus I'm going to go down to the fabric store and get a small sheer panel to hang in front of one of our big windows that has no curtain with the drapes drawn for the air conditioner. It's absolutely blinding at this season of the year, and a few dollar piece of fabric can solve the problem and go up and down at need.

Date: 10/02/04......69302. Saturday. The leg is still a little sore, strained in the major muscle, now, and a good thing I'm off it.//And still no birds. I think I may take in the immense whirligig, in the theory we should get the birds used to the feeders first. We decided today had to be a cleanup day---didn't get the curtain I wanted, but otherwise, I did a micro-clean (You know, the one where you get down to the dust in the crevices), got all the mail opened and organized, and in general got things into several stacks according to criticality, including bills. The tax thing is still not quite finished.// Meanwhile, St Helens has gone to level 3, meaning there was a really distinct harmonic tremor that indicated magma on the move. If you want to see this for yourself, look up "webicorder" and get into the LON record that shows three solid lines (50 minutes) of solid racket. That's what pressurized fluid (magma) looks like on a recorder. So they moved the tourists and reporters out of the Johnson Ridge Observatory.// I went on cleaning and doing bills in alternation for hours---if St. Helens sends dust our way and messes up my clean living room, I'm going to be very upset with that mountain.// We setttled in to watch the Mariners' game and the pre-game honors for Ichiro and the post-game honors for Edgar Martinez, our DH, who's retiring, and who very much deserves to be in Cooperstown.//And in the meanwhile, a knock on the door, and there's our downstairs neighbor Louise, who cares for our plants when we're out of town. She's taken a very nasty fall in her kitchen, and who may have broken something. She had to struggle up the stairs, was whiter than a sheet, and Qwest, our dear phone company, had denied her phone service because some jerk she doesn't even know ran up a huge bill using her number, which they won't admit is the case. So a woman with a possible broken hip had to struggle upstairs on an outside staircase to reach us to get a phone call to her daughter. We set her down, got her a phone, a cup of hot coffee, an ice bag and a heated buckwheat pad, and she seemed better by the time her daughter and granddaughter arrived. They were going to hie her off to xray last night, which she didn't want to do. Louise is a very competitive dancer, and I really hope that hip isn't broken.

Date: 10/03/04.......69384. Sunday. Well, Louise's leg was broken, just south of the hip---the muscles there are quite strong, and can actually carry a person in lieu of bone, though painfully, so that's how she was able to climb a flight of stairs to our door and walk three down to the car. Louise is having surgery today to put a pin in place. They say she'll be mobile very quickly, that it's far better than could be, so we're staying on call to feed kitties, if needed, or bring in a hot meal.//Mt. St. Helens is still fussing and boiling---harmonic tremors continue. And I've moved the giant clown fish whirligig in the hopes of birds. I'd love to drive over to St. Helens to get a picture, and to watch an eruption, but mountains don't observe human time scales---it could bubble for months---and if it did go, it might damage the car trying to get back home. So all in all, 300 miles and at home is a pretty good vantage point, where we can take the bus if we do get dusted. Driving in volcanic dust is like sandpapering your windshield, your car finish, and your engine interior, not to mention your own lungs---plus in any accumulation, I'm told it can be slick driving. I was in an airliner shortly after St. Helens blew the last time, and we lost an engine to the dust. The other engines didn't sound that happy, either, and we had to land and change planes. So having had that demonstration over Kansas, and having wiped volcanic dust off my car in Oklahoma days later, I've no desire to do that to our faithful Forester at closer range.//We had a conflict over whether to return to the rink today (the strain in my leg is still a little sore) or to attend an astronomy lecture with our friend Sharon. The lecture won, so we went to that, and went over to Sharon's house to watch mountaineering and skating videos. We didn't get in until 10pm, but did get a call that Louise came through fine, and is in good shape.

Date: 10/04/04.......69389. Monday---and one of those days. I'm playing phone tag with the Washington tax folk, since my online tax payment didn't get recorded. Sigh. Ain't technology wonderful? We went skating, ran into another friend, and mostly I've been sore and had a beastly headache all day. Still no birds, and St. Helens is throwing fits: the 200 foot deep pit that opened with the first steam blast has now become a boiling lake, according to the reports. But no ash has reached us. What's out there is plain old Palouse dust, but one can say it's old St. Helens' dust, from the time before. I did watch the landing of Space Ship One, and was quite fascinated by its 'carefree' entry. What a clever idea in design! On a sadder note, we lost Gordon Cooper today---the beginning of an era and the end of one, in those two events. He was a fellow Oklahoman, and a real original.

Date: 10/05/04.......69899. Tuesday. We still haven't heard from Louise. Mt. St. Helens is still bubbling away, though no ash here, and it's supposed to rain tomorrow---a relief from the local dust of farming. My cooking seems to have put Jane a bit under the weather, but this doesn't preclude us getting to the rink and working out. We sold Jane's old skates to our friend from last winter, whose hockey skates have been killing her, and she seems to take to the figure blades pretty easily. We can show her the basics in short order, and the transition should be easier than skating in skates that hurt. Never, never, never let someone tell you "they're supposed to hurt" or "they'll hurt until you break them in." Try another brand (the boot lasts vary) or go up a grade until you find one you can afford that works. If what you try on isn't as comfortable as, say, dress shoes, it's not for you. If you absolutely can't get what's snug and comfy, get something with enough room to add a quarter inch of your own padding.// Well, we gathered enough for me to cook again. And we just came home and collapsed, end of tale. We are enjoying Fable. This game has abundant possibilities and a lot of replayability. One is tempted to keep several characters running just to test out alternate choices.

Date: 10/06/04.......69899. Wednesday. Today got off to a harried start. It was raining, I overslept, and then we had phone calls and an emergency request from DAW for me to transmit the novel as a file. Which took a little research to make sure they got the right file---you can't imagine the disaster if I made an error in that. //Then we scurried off to the rink for our lesson---which went very well. I'm now able to do a very slow-motion backward crossover on either foot, and do it without the wall. Our senior instructor now talks offhandedly about us doing the Bronze Adult test this spring, which would mean, if we passed it, that we're thereafter able to enter advanced adult competitions on the bronze level. Whoa! I was kind of planning on Basic Elements 3 and 4 along with the third-graders. But if she thinks we can do it, hey, we'll certainly give it a try, and if we can't do it by spring, we'll do it at the Jo Williams' Memorial in July.. This Bronze Adult test involves edge changes and backward and forward moves in rink-covering patterns. Basic Elements is sort of like "glide on one foot as far as you can and prove you can stop." Adult Bronze is much more like a (gasp) competitive program, using all of the rink, and moving from one element to the next without being specifically told what to do next. So it's practice, practice, practice. Meanwhlie we got some bad news on our other instructor, who had a hard landing and seems to have broken her leg. We hope to make contact with her and find out the story on that. Meanwhile another chap we knew from winter skating is back after breaking his leg on an icy patch outside the rink. We're keeping our helmets on, thank you, and minding our steps oh so carefully, not planning to join the local trend.//Jane's computer is back from the shop again. Toshiba technicians have had to do a major fix on it, software-wise. We hope this will fix things on that front. Mt. St. Helens is now down to a level 2 alert again, though the last time I looked, it had ramped back up in activity again. It may do bubble and hiccup for weeks, they say, which is fine. It's building higher, rebuilding what it lost, and it would be nice to see it become a cone again---assuming it does it neatly and without harm to the neighborhood.

Date: 10/07/04.........70283. Thursday. I'm still trying to get accounts straightened out. I am so behind in my paperwork it's not funny. We had a nice chat with our publisher, early  in the morning.  I confirmed I had sent the right file for Destroyer. I finally located my cell phone, which has been lost for days---turned out Jane had mistaken it for hers, and it ended up in her purse, while the one she identified as hers was lying on the table by her chair. We're still on our old Startacs, because we just can't see paying more for phones that use batteries faster, but these batteries are getting older, and die faster, so it's about break-even on the battery question. If I can't find a couple of Startac batteries on the internet, looks as if we may upgrade to a pair of those science fictional visiphone-thingies. But I swear what I may order first is one of those Sharper Image where-izzit-thingies that you can make beep when you're searching for glasses, cell phone, car keys or wallet/purse. They've gotten clever: they now have a noisemaker that prevents your mislaying the base unit---and tell me why they keep making things like cell phones out of black plastic, so they blend in with everything. I swear I want my next one to be hazard yellow, with a buzzer feature on an independent battery. Mt. St. Helens is showing intermittent bursts, but does seem quieter, over all. And our young instructor's leg is definitively broken. We had a second lesson with our senior instructor, who has us now starting the 3 turn (so named because of the pattern it makes on the ice---a one-footed reversal of direction) and the two-footed spin. We have so much to practice it's our heads that are spinning.

Date: 10/08/04..........71399. Friday. Work and work---amazing how an apartment can accumulate things that have to be taken down to the trash, that begin to look just normal sitting in the hall. Each person thinks the other one had destined that load for the car, to take to the storeroom, or for Goodwill, when in fact, it belonged in the dump. And the cats are on strike: we ran out of litter. Fortunately we have very good kitties, who will simply protest vocally, not by demonstration./

Date: 10/09/04.........71399. Saturday. I called a moratorium on skating until we could get some of the paperwork straightened out: we're down to the deadline on turning in tax reports and payments, and getting our medical insurance in. But we made so much progress we decided to go skating anyway, on the understanding we'd finish up the paperwork on Sunday. I'm beginning to get some steadiness on my outside edges and really wanted to work on that, but it's Saturday and the general public is there en masse, complete with small cute suicidal kids. I just gave up and skated in a circle, working on strength and endurance. My flash music player comes in handy when they turn on the bubble-gum rock: and when I'm quite enveloped in the music, I can just fly. I have everything from filk to Tom Jones' Delilah, Cher's Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves, Dean Martin's Mambo Italiano, McCall's Convoy and The Chieftain's Kilgarry Mountain. Eclectic doesn't begin to cover it. My little music player---an IRock 800-something---is amazing in sound quality, and is only the size of a penny matchbox, as they used to be called---I can't think of anything else to compare it to. I can wear it in pretty violent activity and not have it banging about with any sense of weight. The day's skate went extremely well---our instructor gave us an immense amount to work on, and we are going at it hard. In the midst of which---Jane got a call from an old college chum who's coming into town.

Date: 10/10/04........71399. Sunday. Our intended morning of paperwork gave way to an intensive house-cleaning and then a leisurely visit and stroll down to a neighborhood bistro which happens to be on a national list of 'places to have breakfast'. Well, I was underimpressed with the bistro, and can name half a dozen places in town with better food, but the visit was fun. We parted ways just in time to grab our skating tights and head down to the rink, where the ice was abysmal and crowded---but, hey, we put on the earbuds and time out. We still haven't seen the friend we sold the skates to---we're hoping she's all right. We're anxious to get our neighbor Louise back, too. We're sure her kitties will be glad to see her. But it's a good idea if she can take all the rehab they're willing to offer, so she can resume her dance courses. And after we got back home we were exhausted, so we completely blew an evening playing Fable. We decided to take one character down the dark path, just to see what different branches the game develops, and I'll tell you, one can conclude it's hard work being bad: nobody in town likes you, and they talk behind your back---downright discouraging to badness, even if his dress style choices are more interesting. This is the first game in a long time that has so engaged us---we play it cooperatively, trading the controls back and forth on this character, or watching the other play. Amazing, that this controller-driven game has up-close graphics that are almost as good as the animations in your average movie. St. Helens is flaring up again, a pretty good steam burst, and it's growing a glacier----all that water, one supposes. I hope its glacier survives the resumption of activity.

Date: 10/11/04. 71399. Monday. Well, we got everything ready for the bank, and discovered it's Columbus Day, a holiday, no mail and no bank. So we just headed off to the rink to take a lesson with another of the younger instructors, recommended by our own, since she broke her leg; and I was able to put some finesses on certain moves. Every instructor emphasizes different things, and it's interesting to see what results. And we'll have another lesson tomorrow, and see how that plays.//We had a chiropractor's appointment, and I didn't think a chiropractor could do much to assist a---ahem!---pain in the butt, which is, indelicately, where I had a pretty consistent sore spot, the back side of the right hip joint. Turned out he could fix it, and in the usual aftermath of a major chiropractic adjustment gone right, I just crashed when we got back to the apartment, crashed and slept a good nine hours, on our bi-weekly sin of a bacon cheeseburger (half the bun) and a blackberry peanut butter shake from Cougar Country, one of the best burger places in the whole Northwest. No, it's not good for the diet, but it's good for the soul.

Date: 10/12/04.  72019. Tuesday. We've decided what we have to do is get the place shut down earlier so we can both get up earlier in the morning, like when the sun comes up at an indecent 6-something in the morning---so we can get more work done. And I made it, but Jane didn't: she'd had computer crises until 3am---she just got her Toshiba laptop back from the shop (again) and found out they'd installed Multimedia Windows on it: this is, confound it, a business machine, and it wasn't what she'd bought, or started with, and she's not happy. So we established that using our own copy of XP Pro on it would not void the warranty or squirrel up the machine, so that's what's she's in the process of doing, or preparing to do. This will be, I think, much better, but, Lord! that program has a lot of moving parts. Meanwhile, me, I'm still happy with my old Dell with its new memory and its WinME program, although my machine is now out of warranty and the XP Pro has attractions. I'm letting Jane try it first, and if she likes what she gets, I may do the switch, too. We're going to put it on the main computer SATA drive and switch that machine in Jane's abundant spare time. //We had our skating lesson today, and it went well. I'm still not away from the wall on the 3-turn, but I'm creeping closer to free ice and still making it safely. And I'm starting "moves in the field," meaning covering the whole ice in a stroking pattern: I was surprised to be able to do it---meaning end to end of the rink in six strokes, and then a crossover move. I also learned what's the matter with my backward stroke that I wasn't getting much impulsion: very simple: I wasn't finishing the stroke, and now I am. A whole lot of improvement in a short time.

Date: 10/13/04. 72303. Wednesday. Well, a valiant attempt to get up early: I'm improving. Jane isn't feeling well, most everyone is down with the crud, sniffling and sneezing and complaining of mild sore throat. I'm pretty sure it's some sort of bug. The ice was really not that good today: lots of 'warts', places where condensation has dripped off the rafters and made hard little concretions on the ice. Nasty, when you hit one going backward. I just wasn't feeling up to snuff, either, out of energy and way cold: I rarely quit until the last minute and sometimes a little overtime, but I was too cold to stay on, and left ten minutes early.//Jane's still in the process of getting XP Pro onto her laptop. There are a lot of moving parts to this operation, for sure. And St. Helens is heating up: that is to say, it's definitely hot up on the dome, and they say now if it vents, it will tend to vent straight up and not sideways. This is good news not only for safety but for the future shape of the volcano. St. Helens used to be a beautiful Fuji-like volcano, and if it is rebuilding upward, it may recover its pretty shape.//We finally got to the bank today, about time; and the apartment is keeping its polish---we've been extraordinarily good this week about not letting junk sit about. We hope to reform this habit and have a much more relaxing space to live in. If we aren't using an item immediately, it goes back into storage. Period. Use it or stow it.// The weight is tending down. I'm lower than I've been since 1983, and my resting posture is getting straighter. Hurrah!

Date: 10/14/04. 72598. Thursday. Work, work, work. I detest housework, but I do like the end result when the place looks the way we decorated it to be. I swore I'd buy no more plants---we're sort of maxed out on pots. But I found, of all things, a banana plant. I've always wanted one. I wasn't wearing my glasses when I picked it up. Later perusal of the instructions and specs turns up a growth of eight feet. Hmmn. I may have overcommitted.//A brief ice lesson today, and our instructor is now talking about jumps. I'm just trying to turn loose of the wall on the 3-turn. I don't know about jumps. I think I'll go very cautiously on that I'm sure my editors and my readers will appreciate. If I feel safe and solid, I'll try it, but not until, and never on chancy ice.

Date: 10/15/04. 72949. Friday. We had our skate and went out to lunch...Jane's birthday is approaching, and we decided getting friends together at Tomato Street is quite the most pleasant way to celebrate a bit early...I'm not sure about skating tomorrow. The 3-turn practice has my feet a bit sore. And we've committed to our friend Sharon to go out on a river cleanup expedition. Since the whole thing is being held just at the base of the hill, cleaning up the point where our creek flows into the Spokane River, we decided it's a moral committment. So that will come just ahead of skate time, and I don't think we can do both.//St. Helens' has settled to a low surly rumble, but is not to be taken cavalierly. This may go on for months, so they say.

Date: 10/16/04. 72949. Saturday. I got up and got ready to go hike down to the river cleanup, heard Jane stirring about at her end of the apartment, and concluded she was doing the same. Wrong. Fifteen minutes before the affair was due to start, and at the moment we were to hike down the cliff to join in, I found Jane lying abed. Wah! She'd forgotten. She leapt out of bed, dressed in record time, and we decided to take the car down, which would make up the lost time. We arrived, got signed in, got our burnt-orange 'Get Dirty' volunteer tee shirts, and opted to go to the district called People's Park, just down from our apartments---it's been a bit of a lover's lane, and a stopover for people riding the rails---Spokane has a tradition as a waystop for the old-timer hobos, and people still do travel through---some folk I'd love to get an artists' study of, very colorful dress, beautiful faces, beards that are absolutely epic. I've always had a fascination with the lifestyle, since when I was five we had a railroad running through our back yard, and the old 'bos used to come to the door looking to do chores for food. We never had a bad experience with them, and I remember walking down the tracks when I was small and meeting a few really colorful sorts that were polite, nice people. To my childish observation, the old railroad 'bos were extremely neat about their packs and their camps, not leaving trash behind. The modern sort aren't always so careful. Well, we were surprised and pleased to find the whole park pretty clean, the firesites used to burn the trash, and carefully kept and well-surrounded with sand. The people using the place, even those camping out, have policed their own areas very nicely. The lovers' lanes turned up the real junk---and those people come in cars. And let me tell you, people who casually dump their ashtrays full of non-biodegradable filtertip cigarettes are on my bad list. I don't know how many dumps of those I cleaned up. Has the art of field-stripping a cigarette totally perished? (This means disassembling the butt, wadding the remaining paper into a minuscule ball, scattering the contents to the winds, and pocketing the filter, thank you, and it absolutely guarantees the thing is extinguished.) I did find a rusted old mining car wheel, which was too heavy for me to do more than lug up to the trail, where a nice fellow carted it on for me. And a scattered deck of cards...I'd taken my sword-cane down to use for a walking stick, and it found occupation at 52-card pickup. Jane found an old moneybag, of a style we don't recognize. It could be old. And someone found a 400 pound safe with the side blown out. You have to wonder if those two items are connected. The winner of the prize for oddest item was a four foot tall plush Barney the Dinosaur, but some teams in other areas had items which couldn't go on public display. We gathered some tons of trash off the riverbanks, and raised a bit of money and awareness for a whitewater kayaking park the locals hope to create. There was a raffle---Jane won a water bottle; and free food---hot minestrone soup and cold cheese rolls; and a good time was had by all. By this time my feet hurt and we were cold---did I mention it was spitting rain? So we went home and collapsed, Jane to the hot bath, taking the hot water, me to a warm bed for a couple of hours, by which time the water had recovered, and as I still wasn't warm, I had my second hot shower of the day. We settled in for the evening, and then, while we were vegetating, got a phone call from Sharon. "Want to join me for the evening skate?" Well, hey, we were only playing video games at this point. So up we got, went skating with the teenagers who dominate the rink at that hour, from 8:30 to 10, went out for a drink afterward, had a wonderful time, and came home and collapsed in utter exhaustion.

Date: 10/17/04. 73403. Sunday. Rainy, pleasantly cold---I'm allergic to something, but so is everyone else in town. Everyone's carrying tissues. We did a bit of clean up on the domestic front, a bit of accounting---I swear, the tax folk must have a black hole into which my tax reports habitually vanish; and I know I have their address right. The tax bill is paid, so there's never anything due, but my reports of payment keep disappearing, and I have copies, so I know I filed them. //Went skating on rotten ice, with a large and unruly lot on the ice, and decided to quit early, after two instances of catching a blade in a hockey skater's deep groove---sort of like being the Memphis Express, and highballing along and having someone suddenly switch you onto a not quite convenient track, zip! All your balance is set for another direction and all of a sudden you're going off at a 10 to 15 degree tangent. Fast. I twice had to catch myself violently.

Date: 10/18/04. 73403. Monday. And I got an early present in the mail---the galleys for Destroyer, which means dropping everything and working on those until I get them through---my editor informs me I'd forgotten to send Bren to bed for three days...and I have to fix that. Plus my wandering spelling of mecheita, which violates the i before e rule...deliberately. So all this has to be caught and amended. They send you page proofs, at DAW, and you do your fix directly onto the galleys, instead of onto manuscript, which would be easier. But they look clean.// Off to the rink to recover my sanity---a good time, but I'm working very hard on the 3-turn, still not quite off the wall with it, and I'm wearing pain patches on the right ankle. It's just a lot of hard work on one joint. I don't intend to stress it much tomorrow. I'm also supposed to be working on 'moves in the field', or long glides, and that's taking some doing on, again, the left foot. But I'm not too bad at it---and getting better. We came home exhausted and spent a not too productive evening with the XBox.

Date: 10/19/04. 73403. Tuesday. At work on the galleys, not finding many horrendous situations. A really nice chapter-end that I didn't want to use more words on, but it's the only place to slip in the change I have to add. Poor Bren needs his sleep. Mecheita is a hoot---on the same page, usually meticulous me has "mechieta," "mecheita," "mechieita," and I'm wickedly tempted to standardize it as ie in the singular and ei in the plural, just to drive the copyeditors berserk, but hey, it would drive me there first. It is officially "mecheita, pl. mecheiti." //We have a skating lesson today, and I'm almost too sore to endure it: my right shoulderblade feels as if a hot iron is involved, and Advil won't dent the situation. But I lasted through it, left the ice a little early, and took a hot shower, applied a pain patch, and took more Advil. If it isn't better tomorrow, I'm going to have to schedule an emergency run to the chiropractor. Something's out of alignment, and I don't like to do a sport so reliant on balance if my balance is even minutely compromised. The weather continues cold, bitterly cold on the rink: I decided to buy some fuzzy knit tights to keep from exiting the ice as chilled as I was this time, and hope that a good night's sleep will improve it. The coach is onto me for letting my free foot slew, and this means precise toe-point and shoulders back (ouch!) while on a one-foot glide. Hopefully this will go better when I'm not in pain.

Date: 10/20/20. 73403. Wednesday. Galleys are done, ready to go out...I'd read the whole thing aloud, before sending it in, and since DAW goes from my computer disk directly to typesetting, I know what I had to look for.// The shoulder is still hurting, despite Advil, then Aleve, which did better, but I threw in the towel and tried to get in with my chiropractor; no go: he's off this afternoon and we can't get there in time. So I got an appointment for tomorrow, took more Aleve and tried not to fall down. I'm gaining on the 3-turn problem, but still can't get off the wall---I tend to fall over, and with the shoulder hurting like this, I don't want to hit the ice. We watched The Game on telly---the Boston-New York game. It was amazing. Jane's birthday is coming this weekend, so I ordered one of those fiberbed toppers for her: I feel guilty enjoying mine when she's still sleeping on a hard futon I talked her into. I tell you, if you have a chancy mattress, dear reader, search for "featherbed" if you have no allergies, or "fiberbed" if you do, and consider one of these wonders. It's like sleeping on a pillow even while you enjoy the other benefits of a firm mattress. I'd put it ahead of those Tempurpedic mattresses or anything. Jane had put in her order for Christmas, but I couldn't go on enjoying mine as much while she was sleeping on the equivalent of a brick floor. I don't know how I pulled the shoulder, but I know my mattress-topper has helped me get sleep in spite of it.

Date: 10/21/04. 74890. Thursday. Worked right down to the wire---had to scramble to get ready to skate, and daren't be late: we have a lesson and a tight schedule. A good lesson today, notwithstanding the rush: I told our young instructor she'd have a very boring half hour keeping me from falling down as I worked on the 3-turn, but we began to get some fixes for my problem in the process, one of which is that I'm not secure on the exit, to say the least. I acquired a new exercise that will solve that problem, and all other problems with the maneuver begin to diminish. The shoulder still hurt like blazes, but we left for the chiropractor's office down in Pullman just after the lessons, and Dr. Mike straightened out my shoulder in a handful of moves. I tell you, before working with a good chiropractor, I used to think it was all in one's head, but I'll tell you, a couple of good shoves or lifts in the right place and what an injudicious move threw out can get thrown right back in. I rode back home with a much happier shoulder, and look forward to being near optimum by tomorrow---over-tight back muscles take a little time to relax, but they're now in the process of relaxing, from a several-day-long clench. We also UPSed the galleys. As we were coming home, it rained in the Palouse, even with lightning and thunder, unusual for Washington, quite a downpour for most of the drive, and we enjoyed it greatly---we do miss the big storms in the southwest. The clouds over the hills were just epic, ranging from clear blue and huge thunderheads to completely socked in and pouring. Love it! ---On the home front, I gave Jane her mattress topper and a funny card to start off her birthday weekend, after we'd dined on Cougarburgers (a college burger place) and blackberry-peanut milkshakes. A good day, a good drive, and she was pleased. We'll see how she feels in the morning.

Date: 10/22/04. 75810. Friday. Doing a rolling rewrite prior to attacking the ending---this is when I go back through a book from the front and fill in those items I know now, but didn't then, or straighten up the grammar to make English the prevailing language. Busy day today: we went off for a skate---I'm still fighting the 3-turn, but decided one of my problems is not having an exit: I need to know I can glide out of it backwards on one foot, and I can't glide backward on one foot at all...well, not but for about half a second before I have to catch myself. So I got a friend to tow about the rink for stability and practiced same, achieving a gait somewhat like an elephant walking backward, but definitely alternating feet. Then I practiced the turn again, and was more stable. This shows promise. If I can get that nailed, I can find an exit from that move. // Then we rushed home, changed clothes and went off to our local con, Incon, for a reunion with old friends. We didn't stay in the hotel this year---too much work to do at home, and it's not that far to commute.

Date: 10/23/04. 75810. Saturday....overslept, and realized Jane had a panel at noon. So we scrambled, this time packing up our guitars and our music, on which Jane has been laboring for three evenings now, to try to have the chords actually over the right word. We got  a  membership for our skating buddy Sharon, and showed her the ropes---she allowed it was an interesting experience. Jane got a necklace out of the dealers' room for her birthday---which is officially tomorrow. And we filked until I have somewhat blistered fingers. But the filk was a great success (Sharon fled for home) and well attended. This was the first actual filk I have done in---it must be nearly seven years. But we were in good voice, considering the improvement in breathing engendered by a lot of exercise; but I have resolved to bring a large water bottle to filks hereafter.

Date: 10/24/04. 75810. Sunday. We dragged ourselves out of bed and staggered back to the con...the degree to which we have worn ourselves out says this is a good con. Panels just about consisted of any present writers who wanted to pack onto it, somewhat like the old days (I remember one panel with, I swear, ten people on it) and good argument. We said our goodbyes to slightly out of town friends as things wound down, and then we (Sharon, Jane and I) went off to give Jane a nice birthday dinner, this being the official day. We then went home, had ice cream (low carb) and opened her prezzies from her sister and from Lynn Abbey---some lovely things and some funny ones. We watched the ball game, and then concluded we were too tired to last through it, with the best will in the world. So we crashed.

Date: 10/25/04. 75810. Monday. Late awakening and off to the rink to try to find my feet. I have some clerical work to do, and some correspondence to attend, not to mention the cursed bills. I wish I could just sign them all up to draft off the account; but after the mess the state government got me into when the draft failed and I got a two month late fee, well, that system leaves a few things to be desired. It just seems I no sooner get the last mopped up than there's another set of bills inbound. I do not do accounting well, or gladly. I'd rather be working on my real work. Sigh. But now I have to do a little bit for the textbook people, Prentice Hall, who want to do "Threads of Time" in a textbook. They want notes and I can't find a copy of the story. Quel pain! I know I have it somewhere, but the storeroom books are in a very high stack.

Date: 10/26/04. 75810. Tuesday. Well, I found the book I thought "Threads of Time" was in, but it wasn't. So it has to be in the new anthology, which DAW didn't send a copy of because the person who's in charge of sending it has been quite ill. So I had to dash by the nearby bookstore and buy a copy, hardbound, no less, because it's not out in paper yet. We went skating, still battling the 3-turn, had a lesson, in fact, and I was actually, after 30 minutes of instruction and a new segment to the move, able to get out onto center ice and do the maneuver, which consists  of stroke, 3-turn, exit, second foot down, then backward wiggle to an exit stroke. This allows me to set up what happens next, and it's much easier, so I can get out in the middle and practice. Going home, I sat down and started trying to write the textbook piece. I know how this is going to go. I write it: they won't like it; I'll end up rewriting it; they still won't like it; and this will go on at some length, until I've worked harder for 200 words than for 20,000, and I'll begin to think, well, if they knew so precisely what they want, why don't they write it themselves rather than dictating it?  I never like doing this sort of thing. But it's overdue, so I can't make progress on my regular writing until I get this done.

Date: 10/27/04. 75810.  Wednesday. Still working on the academic bit. We went off to skate, and I did nothing but practice the 3-turn and exit, until I was quite exhausted. We did catch our downstairs neighbor's sister and found out what nursing facility she's in, and that she's coming home Friday, so we dashed off, got some flowers and a card and went visiting. She's doing well, and is looking forward to being home. We stayed a while. Then home to work on the textbook thing. Worst is, they want me to produce a piece of pre-edited text and then show the edited version, with a limit of 150 words, and my editing of my own stuff doesn't work that way. In 150 words, I might change one, which is not exactly what they're looking for, because the thing I might be affecting may be 50 pages off in the text. So I can't show that. It's a pain. I've written something instead, but I'll bet you that segment is going to get vetoed, and I know what I gave them is more valuable to the students' understanding of writing than what they're asking me to do. But hey, it's a series of textbooks, and they don't want anything too different.

Date: 10/28/04. 75810. Thursday. Still fussing with the academic piece. We went for our lesson, but at the very last moment our instructor got called to work at the snackbar, so she begged off until tomorrow. I went on practicing. But the ice was bad, very lumpy and rutted, despite the Zamboni polish, and I went off the ice a little early, being absolutely too tired to make the turn any longer. Jane stayed out, and I went off to the snackbar for another latte. Turned out there was a person there selling jewelry and I grew a little distracted. Jane still hadn't shown up. I went back toward the rink 2 locker room to find her, and she was there, all right---she'd fallen on the ice, had to be helped by the Zamboni driver, had hit her head, and couldn't navigate for a while. I felt very bad: I'd only left because she doesn't like spectators when she's trying something new, and she'd been trying the 3-turn in open ice, and doing quite well at it when I left. So we agreed never to skate something new alone, period, and went on home---she's pretty sore, landed on her tail and her head. And I spent the while still fussing with that academic piece.

Date: 10/29/04. 75810. Friday. I got the piece finished, just as I got a phone call from the editor wondering where it was. I e-mailed it, and am just waiting for the endless corrections. We went and had the lesson we'd missed yesterday---Jane was so sore she didn't know if she could skate, but she managed pretty well. And just to show her I could keep up, I rocked back on my heel on a 3-turn and took a spill. Hit my head and an elbow---the helmets do pay for themselves. I went off to fetch a latte and came back and did several more 3-turns in open ice, just to get back on the horse that threw me, as the proverb goes. I'm getting better about this falling thing---no bruises, no real soreness, just a slightly rattled brain and a little muscle tightness, and I went down hard. After the skating session, we went home, realized that Louise was back home, so we went and got a hanging plant for a homecoming and dropped in to wish her happy escape from the hospital. Her ambition is to be back at her competitive dancing by Christmas.

Date: 10/30/04. 76398. Saturday. Well, I got a response from the academic piece, and they don't like segment 1 or segment 6 and they want those rewritten, and they want me additionally to answer a student question, to which I can only say, "The question asked has nothing whatever to do with the story, and assumes I think something which I don't think is true at all," which is not what I think they want from me, either. I so love academic analysis. I've printed off their letter to consider at leisure, and I think I'll just ask for another question. //And we had a notice on the door that said the apartment is doing inspections next week, which means we need to do a housecleaning and get all the boxes of Halloween decorations out of the hall. //And taxes are due, plus   I got a notice from the IRS that I owe them 20.00, a notice which they sent by Fedex. The notice must have cost the IRS more than they're going to get by return check, but they're right, I'd misfigured a tax payment, so that has to go out, and I hope they get this check: I keep mailing them forms when due and they keep losing them, no matter I've double and triple-checked their address, so I know I'm mailing it to the right office. //And the paychecks have to be cut, and the credit card bills have to be entered, plus we're both a bit achy from hitting the ice over the last two days, so we decided to stay home and clean house this weekend; I have to get the accounts done tomorrow, which means one more day of sitting home cleaning things. It's been cold and clear, but it's going to rain next Tuesday, when we'll walk over to our neighborhood precinct polling place and vote. And the lines nationwide have been hours long. I think we'll wear our skating outfits under warm clothes, if we're going to have a long wait, but we're hoping by going at about 2pm that the line won't be quite as long. We are, however, resolved that we will wait as long as need be, if night falls around us. We are nothing if not of strong opinion in this election, and wish to preserve our right to complain about the government.//It snowed briefly today, about ten minutes worth.

Date: 10/31/04. 76398. Sunday. A little work, a little erasure, but all on the academic bit, which is now done. Again. I always know when I agree to one of these short things that it's going to be a lot of rework. And we indulged in some apartment-cleaning. Today is the day I feel a little muscle soreness from hitting the ice, and I'm a bit slow getting up and down, but hey, no damage done.

Date: 11/01/04. 75890. Monday. I knocked out a few paragraphs, inserted some more. I'm glad to get to my own writing. I'd like to e-mail off the piece to the company, but Jane and I have this dance we do when it comes to the main computer: somehow neither she nor I will have any work on it until one or the other of us needs it, and then the thing is bogged down in some lengthy function, or is down for repair, and in this case, a little of both. Mine can wait. Jane's had enough on her plate.

Date: 11/02/04. 75902. Tuesday. And it's raining, though not a torrential downpour, more the usual sort of northwest rain, spits interspersed with mist. We decided, seeing the lines in Georgia, to go vote whenever the lines looked short, and we checked on our way to the rink---our neighborhood polling place is very close to the apartment, and when we swung past, there was no line. We parked, dived in, voted, and were on our way with none of the lengthy wait we were prepared for. Jane said on her page of the registry, most of the names were already filled in by computer, which means, one supposes, that almost everyone in the area was voting by absentee ballot. Not too surprising. Our area has a lot of elderly voters. So after skating, we did a little shopping to get Jane some toe-padding, which she's wanted: we located the local shop that handles Bun-head products, which are for dancers, and for any of you with sore feet, consider looking to that source. They have some very nice items. We then went home and watched the returns come in. Jane got disgusted and turned in. I confess I stayed up until 3am.

Date: 11/03/04. 76382. Wednesday. The national hangover, no one we saw being particularly sprightly. Everyone is at least glad to have the marathon election commercials over and done. I took to the ice, worked until I was sore and exhausted. I went home and slept, and was not worth much the rest of the day. Our instructor for tomorrow has a wedding in the family and will miss, but we've got so much to practice we can use the hour quite profitably. We then had to rush off and go get haircuts. We ran into an interesting bit of information: that if your hair isn't doing as well as it ought, iron deficiency should be an early suspect. I've never been able to take iron supplements: they make me sick. But I did find a product that claims it won't: it's called Slow FE, fe of course being the chemical notation for iron, and taking a dose did not make me sick. This is encouraging.

Date: 11/04/04. 77483. Thursday. At least the inspection came off early and quickly, which means not having to take the cats with us when we leave. I'm still trying to get the new manuscript off to the academic publisher, but the computer has been tied up, or down, and that has to happen tomorrow. I've also got to do the accounts. We skated until we were both sore, and did a little shopping, after which Jane accidentally dropped a sack containing a china purchase---it's been one of those weeks. I still don't feel I've gotten enough sleep. But the new iron supplement is still  not making me sick. This is a good thing. And the supper I cooked didn't taste right---Jane volunteered to eat it anyway, but I had a quick alternative: stuff pita with cheese, pepperoni, and a little spice, and bake until melted---a real fast calzone. I did warn her we're eating out tomorrow night, since I'm up to my quota for cooking dinner.

Date: 11/05/04. 77922. Friday. Feeling a little better. We're fogbound in the mornings, not an unusual thing for us in fall. You can't see a thing outside until noon. We went skating, nabbed a couple of friends off to lunch, and after that, I think the exhaustion of the prior week just came crashing down. It was misty all day, it was cold, it was lazy, and I was worthless. Didn't even want to play computer games, just went off to bed early, opened the window to get it good and cold, and absolutely crashed.

Date: 11/06/04. 78385. Saturday. A little writing, another assault on the accounting, in which I can't get the computer to give me the log-in for the credit cards. This reminds me why this chore didn't get done the last time I tried, a week ago, and the week before that. This is not a temporary glitch. Microsoft won't update, it insists our clock is wrong, or that we aren't speaking English, or, its next best guess, thinks we have a corrupt .cab file. It also advises us to try the 'manufacturers (alphabet soup here) disk.', a major joke, since we are the manufacturers of that particular computer and Microsoft doesn't recognize its own file. Poor Jane thought she was going to sit down and relax this weekend, and she is now in there trying to install XP Pro onto the hitherto unused SCSI drive, which may give us saner behavior out of that machine, if we can wake it up as a new master drive. She says she really doesn't want to do this upgrade Never, never, never. But there she is, valiantly trying to bring this monster of a desktop to cognizant behavior. I wish I could help her, but at this point, the best I can do is stay out of her way so she doesn't forget a step, and keep the cats out of her way so that she stays sane. I'll volunteer to shepherd installations when and if we get a workable installation. The wonder is that the good old housenet is still working, which is how I'm able to do this update..//In the meanwhile the academic project is back on my side of the net again wanting more changes, and I've got that to do.//And for the first time, on this particularly foggy day, birds showed up at the feeder, a quartet of sparrows which returned with their cousins and then second cousins and so on throughout the day. I think we are now on the restaurant list for the local finch-like population, though we have seen nothing of other species.// In the meanwhile, I think it's Low Carb pizza with double cheese for supper, the best food for computer-wrestling---add Scotch if it goes badly---and then an evening spent loading programs. We finally found the noisy fan, Jane says: it's the one cooling the Nvidia chip. We're so thrilled to know that. That's an expensive item, and fairly essential. Stay tuned. Chaos Central is rebuilding its computer again. I'm not even going to repeat the explanation about the Old New Drive versus the New New Drive and which computer is the new one, except to say I believe our chanciest drive may finally buy the farm in this round, if we can only get the New New Drive to bring us up as an XP computer. If we can successfully replace our oldest drive, I may personally launch it off the balcony.

Date: 11/07/04. 79299. Sunday. Well, irony of ironies, I had no sooner written those words last night when Jane walked in and announced her desire to throw the whole computer off the same balcony, SATA drive preeminent among reasons, since it refused to recognize it had a boot disk. Now, this is all Jane's department. I can strip a computer down to zeroes and get the operating system installed, but this monster has multiple drives and partitions and all sorts of alphabet soup, and the main problem was that good ol' Microsoft Update had hung and fouled up the Internet Explorer. So now what? Well, we have a copy of XP Pro, and we decide to install it, since it will replace most everything but the data---right? Well, I served Jane a glass of Scotch and pizza, she installed, plugged and unplugged and replugged cables, and despite our worries about drivers, we soon had a machine that had remembered it had a monitor, a keyboard, and a sound card, so all seemed good. Until we looked at the e-mail program. The upgrade seems to have blitzed our entire mail record, so all the letters I had in queue to answer have gone away---perhaps archived, if Microsoft is good---but definitely not where we left them. The folders have vanished---and in a disk being so massively rewritten, it would be cosmic luck if they aren't overwritten, unless they're stored under some strange file name somewhere. The good news is that I seem to have an intact finance program. I'd have thrown myself off the balcony if I had to stop this book to resurrect this year's financial records---and, yes, we have backups, but remember that I haven't been able to get IE to reach out and get the data I need to finish certain operations for two months now. So here we sit, without e-mail records, but able, perhaps, to do the accounts finally---if I can make XP work: Win98 and WinME are perfectly fine, but I detest mice above all things and XP seems very rodent-ish, with lots of nasty blue screens, meaning no hindbrain working: I'll have to read it all and try to submerge my desire to murder that damned mouse/trackball/whatever-it-is. My right hand gets a horrid twitch when I'm trying to do a steady slide, it always has, since childhood, and aiming the mouse for one single item takes me longer than to do the whole wretched operation with my good old IBM-style eraserhead Trackpoint. It's not the hand, it's the elbow I screwed up in a bike accident, I think, since the twitch comes from there, but there is absolutely no way I can brace the hand to get precise control of the mouse. I'm not fond of Touchpads either, which I had on one computer---too imprecise. Ah, well, I'll survive. At least the computer is running. There are far worse scenarios.

Date: 11/08/04. 79299. Monday. Sicker than a dog...fall face down sick, stuffy nose, mostly, but no energy. And I've agreed to do a DVD for the textbook publisher, and the production team has already had one writer in the series fall ill, which is why they called me and asked if they could come in on short notice. Like a fool, I told the publisher, when they asked if there was anything unusual I did in the extracurricular line, that I skated for relaxation. Which means they want photos of me on the ice. I was so sick today I ordinarily would have kept to the sidelines and watched Jane skate, but I can't face tomorrow after a day off the ice and hope to have my feet under me at all, so I skated in trousers and sweatshirt, and exited, well, exhausted, but feeling better for the air exchange. After that I just went to bed and lay there moaning, knowing I have to do 8 hours worth of interviews on camera interspersed with a skating lesson and a free skate. I can't think straight today. I'm hoping for better tomorrow, but I think I'm running a fever.

Date: 11/09/04. 79299. Tuesday. Crack of dawn, the phone rings. Fortunately I'm up slightly before dawn, and have all but my makeup on. The film crew is coming. Made up to the nines, I dived down to intercept them---we lucked out and the apartment clubhouse was vacant, which gave us a lot more elbow room for lights and mikes. The crew was delightful, and it turned out the sound team they hired were themselves skaters, one of them at least professional, which did answer how we were going to get cameras onto the ice, but it didn't answer how we were going to make me look like Michelle Kwan...hopeless, hopeless, plus I'd had so much medication trying to make sure I had a voice that my knees were like rubber and my head was buzzing. I also, since this DVD is to back up a textbook, knew that this was going to be shown in front of uncounted students, who have a real critical eye for folly. Did I want to put on the skating outfit? I wasn't utterly sure, but at a certain point you just wing it, and I did. I considered the helmet, and then left it off mostly because it plays hob with my hair, and I had the whole afternoon of interviews yet to go---so here I am, rubber-kneed, just trying to get onto the ice without killing myself, skating for the first time without a helmet, and they want footage of me stepping through the gate and skating off like a pro.(Remember earlier in this journal when I'd said one of my great ambitions was to step across the bar and skate off straightway?) Well, I got out there. I skated off. I hoped to do two rounds of the rink to get my legs under me, but they're already taping. And Robin, the pro, asks if I can do a spin for the camera. Well, the answer is, I've done a few revolutions a handful of times, two-footed and heels-on and very slowly, and she wants me to try it. It's not so much a spin as a several-revolution turn in place, which makes a nice mark on the ice, but which doesn't produce the image they'd wanted. And today I'm wobbly and I've been faster in near-falls. She showed me how to do it toes-in, but I wasn't real confident in anything new without the helmet on, I nearly fell on my nose, and all I can say is I plan to try it again on her advice when I'm well and steadier. The sad part is I couldn't even manage a crossover worth a damn for most of the session. My edges were good, but they're not real thrilling to watch in progress, being a series of slow loops off a line. So we end up doing stroking and high-speed (for me) runs up and down the ice, and then some more crossovers with closeups, a couple of passes with me throwing in a few slaloms and other variations to try to make straight-line skating look halfway interesting in a rush toward the camera, (again and again and again, covering the full length of the rink) and then a sequence with Robin giving me a lesson, which went much better. After that, my regular instructor, Joan, came in, and I did a bit with her---but by this time I was entirely soggy with sweat, and absolutely shaky: this rapid covering of the whole ice, repeatedly, is something I've never done. Though I finally did get the hang of the 3-turn, at least while Joan's keeping my hand fixed at the right height, and I learned some essential things about the backward circle business. I left the ice with my skating outfit and tights and hair absolutely soaked with sweat and myself shaking all over, and it took me to the end of lunch to get my legs to stop quaking...all those high-speed ups and downs had just worn me out. And mind, if you'd asked me last week if I remotely dared try a 3-turn or go that fast without a helmet on, I'd have said no way in hell could I do it, not for months yet. There's something about cameras all over the ice that convinces you, more than the lack of a helmet, that you really don't want to fall down, and I think the sheer probability of embarrassment on tape kept me on my feet...after a certain point I wasn't even thinking about the risk, except the likelihood that if I did go down, I'd go forward, which is safer. But at least our friend Sharon looked particularly good---I hope they got her on camera, just to uphold the honor of the club. And I hope our skater-camera-sound-folk come back and skate with us on Fridays, being local, and good. I'd like to see them when they aren't encumbered by cameras. So after lunch, we headed back to the complex and continued the interview, then decided, since I'd mentioned Ysabel, that we had to have footage of her. So we went up to the apartment and tried to get a cat to perform as advertised. Since we'd gotten the pig to fly, earlier in the afternoon, on ice, (me) we decided to push our luck with the feline. And with a little cream cheese, we did get her to get up and sit by me and relax a little---the problem is that with so many new people to impress, she naturally wanted to be down and receiving attention from the new people. But it all went well, and the crew was very nice and fun. I wish they all were local. But after my pushing hard all day, adlibbing hours of answers to questions I hadn't but glanced over five minutes before, and really being unable to do more than pick at lunch, and ordering a salad I didn't eat for supper, Jane finally came up with the right thing---a big serving of carb-free ice cream, butter pecan, which was just exactly what I needed. I folded early, went to bed by 9, and managed finally to get the adrenaline shakes out by midnight.

Date: 11/10/04 79583. Wednesday. Still having trouble getting enough sleep between coughing fits. I'm not at my most efficient. I got a little done, went in and sorted and filed all the papers we shoved out of the way when the film crew wanted to tape in the apartment, and lined up a bunch of things I have to do---including giving XPPro a run-through. We've apparently lost all our e-mail, which includes a whole stack of unanswered mail, and all my files of letters. I tell you, one of the biggest pains in Windows is the ease with which mail files can vanish during certain operations. But at least the computer is running. The housenet just refuses to go down, and reconstitutes itself whenever fractured---after all the hype I'd heard about how fragile networks are, and how much trouble, I can say that ours is the most rock-solid entity we have. The only casualty on the network seems to be the OKI printer, which refuses to talk to XP, and for which upgrades seem inadequate---a shame, since it's lightning-fast, and my favorite printer; but it was cheap. Now we know why. But XP has tossed it out of the network, and I'm not sure whether it would be worth trying to link it up to my laptop. Right now I can't print, until we get that issue resolved...well, we have the HP, and elderly as it is, it's going. We can make it primary printer on the net, but right now I don't want to mention the word 'computer' to Jane, who labored heroically to get the desktop reconstituted, and who is now having the same symptoms I did before I came down with the respiratory crud. We did go back to the rink---I'm still pretty shaky, but making real progress on the 3-turn.

Date: 11/11/04. 79892. Thursday. Veterans' Day. I'm trying to get to bed early enough to get up way early, since I'm a morning worker. This is very hard in the northlands, because the winter is a time of short sunlight---it's just hard to be perky when rising before daylight, and Ysabel is confused. I keep waking up early enough, and then falling over after one cup of coffee. My cold is better today. Jane is showing more and more likelihood of coming down with it, and battling to get work done, while I'm beginning to feel as if I have a brain today. Skating was postponed until afternoon today because of the holiday, and figuring that the schools will have a holiday, and that the young people will sleep late on their day off. Quite a few people showed up for the afternoon skate, and we ended up playing medic for not one but two kids that took hard falls---we try to talk to the youngsters about helmets... "Oh, we wear them when we play hockey, but there's no checking in public skate..." meaning that no one ever body-blocks you on public ice. Wrong. If someone with no sense of traffic flow runs into you---I don't care if he calls it a check or not: the combined speed of two skaters is a pretty damn hard impact, hockey or not, and figure skating blades slice holes in things just by grazing them: that's why our lockers are full of bandaids and pressure-bandages. I skated without a helmet on the 9th, on smooth and vacant ice, with due caution, and I assure you the nasty black helmet went right back on the next day. Now I'm having a few qualms of conscience that I didn't wear the helmet for the cameras, presenting a better example.  Parents, just tell your kids to wear the bike helmet on the ice, if nothing more suitably shaped---skateboard or snowboard helmets give more protection. And figure this one: I wore no helmet at all in sixteen years of biking and in any number of really bad falls never hit my head---once on the chin, but never on the skull. I've skated half a year, and I've gone down on the back of my skull at least 6 times. It just happens, and it happens even to very good skaters, sometimes with very serious outcome. Wear a helmet. Make your kids wear helmets, particularly in crowded situations, and on rough ice, and particularly when learning something new. A knitted cap, a hood, or an earmuff band, contrary to popular belief, will not break your fall.

Date: 11/12/04. 80288. Friday. Some good work done---one of those days that makes you anxious to get back to the keyboard: a critical scene just came into focus. I'm still trying to get up at five---seven is about all I can manage, because the confounded cold wakes me up coughing. The weather has been misty even during the day---just kind of foggy, real pea soup in the mornings, can't see the tree next to the balcony, let alone the hills. By noon it subsides to a haze, and by evening is clear for a bit before the sun goes down. No sharp edges for days. Had the skating lesson postponed from yesterday, and worked out some essential things. Posture, posture, posture. It's always the key. We also resolved to stop eating out so much---it's expensive, and it's fattening---meaning even if we pay attention to the diet, we're not making the headway we should. There's a marvelous organic grocery up the South Hill, called Huckleberry's, and it's got a terrific meat and cheese department. Vegetables I'm willing to buy from most anywhere, but meat---I'm fussy about; and this is a really good place---make their own sausages, very clean, very picky, and generally the best. The quantity of what we eat is about half what we used to because the majority of it's high protein and high fat, and that means a credit-card sized piece of meat is enough, so we cut the steaks in half, and that makes the cost half. So I'm cooking again. I couldn't, while I had a cold---mostly because I can't cook if I have no sense of taste or smell. The skating club has asked Jane and me to do some publicity for the club's Christmas pageant, and I got that written and shipped off to the club president for approval. I'm not good at press releases, and recall now that I left the time out, after all my loud complaints that the club posters have lacked certain critical info. Well, that's easy to fix, but damn silly of me. And to bed early, trying to get up early.

Date: 11/13/04. 81391. Saturday. More good work, continuing in the same line. More fog. And skating was a zoo. Not only was the rink posting of times incorrect, the people at the rink all believed in a different time from each other, which meant the junior hockey coaches were still on the ice with their teams after the ticket office had a dozen public skaters ticketed and skated-up, and we'd been waiting for an hour. They then decided it was too late for the Zamboni, so the ice, rutted and miserable, was like skating on a gravel parking lot---even the last Zamboni run hadn't been great, and by now it was beyond snowed-over, it was lumpy and full of pits. And then they let about thirty skaters onto it, half of them beginners. Rotten trick. One little chap I picked up and stuck to the wall several times, but I swear he fell more than two dozen times, and the rink finally took over and gave him ten minutes of free lesson, because he was so upset, out there by himself. And there were the usual teens whizzing about through the crowd with all sorts of precocious native balance and no skill to stop. One of them plowed into me full tilt---I saw him coming at the last second, but couldn't avoid the collision and neither could he. He had no helmet, natch. I grabbed his sweater to keep his head off the ice and we both sat down hard at, oh, about 15+mph---my left skate sliced a large hole in my 20 dollar pair of fuzzy-tights, I landed on my right elbow and hip, and jerked my neck, all of which are sore. No great damage done, and he was contrite, but it didn't stop him weaving in traffic and taking several more hard falls, the rest of them solo, for which all can be thankful. I put pain patches on everything that hurt, and seem to be fine. Dinner was what should have been a good steak, but my timing was off, and it wasn't as nicely cooked as I'd have liked. When I've not been cooking for a week, it takes me a while to get back in stride.

Date: 11/14/04. 82328. Sunday. Well, I'm really down with the virus that's going around, and like fools we went back to skate again and it was even worse. I'm not as sore as I thought I'd be, but I'm going to have a nasty bruise. The rink was pretty crowded. But I got a new game---the Children of the Nile PC game I'd been looking forward to.   It looks really great. It's a city-builder, part of the Immortal Cities series (or the start of it) by Tilted Mill. It doesn't play fast, but it's beautiful, and very complex...a little practice with Caesar II or III will set you up for this

Date: 11/15/04. 82924. Monday. Very sick. We had to get the tax stuff in, even if we can't get our printers to work. So I handwrote the checks.  Decided to go to the rink anyway, and typbically---I leave the typo to illustrate my command of the English language at the moment---I do get better in the cold, dry air, but I just collapsed about fifteen minutes before off-ice time, unusual for me, and nothing tasted right. Either the latte used slightly off milk or my sense of taste was abysmal. We ate out, fish without the chips, at the local sports bar, the Season Ticket, and I took my game and collapsed.

Date: 11/16/04. 82924. Tuesday. I remembered too late that I was supposed to have taken the car in to get the oil changed. Ah, me. We had our lesson---I'm still fighting the 3-turn but doing it better---and went down to the chiropractor. Our instructor told me that I need to improve my posture---so I asked Dr. Mike to give my neck a hard shove. I'm not sure this will help, but I'm rearranging my work chair, adding pillows to make me sit up properly, and I'm just over all trying to undo what years at the keyboard have done. The game, alas, is having problems, and I've got some letters into the forum to try to figure out the problems.

Date: 11/17/04. 83230. Wednesday. Well, it's test day at the rink, which means skaters from all over the region are in---zooming around at very high speeds, highly nervous, facing their date with the judges in a couple of hours. Everyone is wired. And they're using public skate, which means out there with toddlers and hockey skaters. Quite a mix. I was happy to practice my 3-turns near the edge, thank you, rather than play in the fast lane. On the game front, I got a recommendation from one of the staff to go back to an earlier driver for the NVidia card, which worked like a charm. Now the thing behaves, although I'm going to have to put up with some crankiness on shutdown.

Date: 11/18/04. 83230. Thursday---overslept bigtime. It was a cold night, one of those nights when you just don't want to get out of bed even if you're freezing, because it's too cold to go hunt down the blanket. So you freeze until morning, only to discover the blanket was at the end of the bed all the while. Intelligence, eh? Had another lesson today, and I'm starting to make some real breakthroughs. We grabbed our friend Sharon and took out to Tomato Street after skating, and I was ready for that, I'll tell you. Just exhausted. Meanwhile the skating club wants us to do the press releases for the Christmas pageant, and we're running down local free papers to do that, plus trying to get the text for the press release done---no one ever understands that I'm not a journalist, and that it's a whole different thing---sort of like writing upside down with the details given last.... plus I'm still dealing with the textbook project, which wants some changes---I wrote that yesterday, and now the chap I need an answer from is out of town, so it all has to hang fire until next week.

Date: 11/19/04. 83230. Friday....up late again. I've got to do something to get up in the mornings, like give up playing games too late! But I had a glorious time at the rink---I'm beginning to get the 3-turn to behave, and beginning to be able to do it to a one-foot exit time and again. I am also so incredibly sore after today that I could hardly bend over to pick up my lace-hook when I dropped it. Advil is our friend. Sharon didn't make it in today---Joan had to go shopping, and over all, we just didn't get organized for another Tomato Street run. I got the press release and civic calendar release off, and now have settled down to nurse all the aching muscles---I'm really pushing it with the posture business. I'd gotten to walking and sitting like an old lady, and I'm forcing the body back into the lines of a 20-year-old with good posture. That's my competition, and if I'm going to be able to keep my balance on the ice, I've got to. But outside of the aches and pains, I'll tell you, it makes a big difference in how you feel and move---what I've discovered about this posture business, I think it's entirely underestimated as a factor in people developing joint pains, catching a toe and taking  bad falls, losing muscle tone, and otherwise just giving in to gravity. It hurts, correcting it, but it's worth it. The mirror tells me so, and I feel better about what I see, into the bargain. A new piece of data, too---remember I'd started on an iron supplement to combat limp and out-of-condition hair? It does seem to be doing some good. Hair, however, being non-living, it will have to grow out another few inches to get the real results, but over all, the condition is improving. Now, excuse me, I'm going to go have a low-carb pizza and nurse my aching back.

Date: 11/20/04. 84039. Saturday. Well, the pizza was not a good idea. Jane was coming down with the nasty part of the local virus, and was up all night being very uncomfortable. She swears she never wants to see or smell pizza again. I give that resolution about two weeks. I, knock on wood, have begun recovering from the stuff. Several people at the rink have relapsed, or come down with secondary bacterial infections. Not good. And while Jane was flat on her back and miserable, I took the chance to haul out a batch of files from the cabinet and start rearranging accounts and trying to understand what's going on with accounting. Pretty soon Jane was up, red-nosed and miserable, in her dressing-gown, asking me what in hell I was doing. The answer gave her such an adrenaline charge (Oh, no! she says...) that she recovered enough to attack the problem herself. So we actuallly got quite a bit done, and Jane was feeling better. Nothing like an adrenaline jolt to cure a head cold. We sorted, rearranged, ordered, and started in on some buggy entries that went back two years. By the time we got through, we had figured out the problem with two of the accounts. Only 3 more to go. And I finally, finally! got at the credit card accounts---not that they're not paid off, but the detailed list of expenses has to go in, and we kept losing April. I sent off 3 times for April. We kept losing it or the card company kept sending the wrong on. So I finally sit down, flex the fingers and enter March. April is missing again. You know---like those horror movies, where nothing you do works? I thought I had it, but it turned out to be April 2003. (Insert scream here.) I kept searching, and finally located it within the folder, but the way the company issues statements, the month of April had gotten divided among three statements...none of which actually said April at the top. Go figure. But I think that was our problem. I had Jane read me off the entries, I pushed buttons, and elusive April is now entered. We only have to locate 3 recent bank statements, now, and enter 4 more months of credit cards before we attack the domestic accounts.

Date: 11/21/04. 85392. Sunday. Another assault on the bills. Jane flat threw me out of the room, swearing I was talking to her at every moment she just about figured a certain point out, and then she was back in my room asking questions every half hour. So I became Zen, sipped coffee and made treks to the living room to observe the accounts under restoration. Jane made several phone calls straightening out bills for things we never ordered, including one credit card that keeps reconstituting itself unasked and unwanted. The company has a problem. And if they do it to us a fourth time, I'm naming names in this blog. I'm having small computer problems ever since I reinstalled an older video driver for Children of the Nile---at least I know what's going on with it, and I can just remove its ability to hibernate or stand by until I revert to the newer driver.// And Jane's back to requesting steak---says she loses weight on steak. Which is true, on Atkins. Steak and a small salad, low carb ice cream for dessert, and maybe a peanut bar for a snack...and lose weight, too. Not too bad. What I ought to do is give up my two lattes a day while at the rink. The whole milk is carb-heavy. But my stomach kind of likes that gift, when I'm exercising hard.

Date: 11/22/04. 86381. Monday. Work, work, work, and more bills. Still haven't heard from the textbook editor, so I can't do that, but I'm making good progress on the book. And back to the ice, where I began to put several piece of information together...[get this: to do the left outside 3-turn and not fall down, I have to: 1. gather about---maybe 5mph---faster than a walk, at any rate. 2. stand on left foot. 3. tuck right foot behind, off-ice, 4. extend left hand outward at hip level and lean left. 5. right hip up, which throws me onto left outside edge and causes a left circle to start, 6.  bring right hand in sweep toward left side at hip level, which increases the leftward lean, while slowly turning head to the left, 7. snap-swivel hips toward the left, causing left foot to spin 180 degrees...and switch onto left inside edge. 8. glide backward on that left foot. 9. set down right foot to take weight---without leaving a lead-in sideways scrape on the ice. 10. lift left foot and glide, still backward, on right foot. 11. set left foot down again as rotated as possible and stroke off in other direction.] Someday this will all be automatic. I've usually stuck at step 7, skipping 8 and going straight to a badly-done 9. And I can do it on left or right foot. But I'm starting to get at least a reliable and well-balanced standstill at 8, and occasionally a few inches of genuine 9 backwards when everything is going well. This is such a fun move when it works. You glide forward, spin on one foot and exit backward at (ideally) some speed and in perfect balance. When it works right it feels like a lark has to feel on a good updraft. But it's going to take a lot of work to get that to where it's just thoughtless. It's one of the foundations of good fast footwork---and I'd love to be able to do that. Jane said, meanwhile, that she's got one blade slipping, so we turned the skates over to our friend Larry to sharpen---he's good at it---and we hope to have them back by lesson time tomorrow. Jane's been fighting a valiant battle of her own the last two weeks---nature gifted me with a very high arch and a natural ability to skate backwards easily and instinctively, well, once I got the knack of the stroke. Jane, well, doesn't have an arch, has been doing the backwards stroke with no sense at all of control or balance, and for the last two weeks has been accommodating some very stiff orthotics in her boots, which are helping give her a good arch---but which can be quite excruciatingly painful settling into. Cold and all, she's been out there two hours every day, taking off the boots and rubbing down her feet at least once a session, trying to stop the pain and get the arch she needs; and she's suddenly got a backward gear, meanwhile. She's doing marvelously, and guts-ily, and is going to make ferocious progress on all fronts when she gets this arch business through the painful part. We came home and attacked the bills again, entered more credit card data, and finally sat and played computer games.

Date: 11/23/04 87223. Tuesday. Still fighting the credit card input. We had our lesson today, and as usual, things I can do when I'm skating solo disappear when I try to prove to our instructor I can do them. But that's just technical competency---which I'm not yet---technical, or competent. Practice, practice, practice. Especially on the crossover, which I can't practice if the ice is crossed up by hockey tracks---they tend to catch the skate and throw it dangerously offcourse; and edges, which I can't practice once the regular traffic shows up---I can't cross the ice side to side once there are too many people doing circles around the rink: too much danger of collision. So my practice on certain elements means showing up half an hour early and dividing that half hour among half a dozen things I need to work on. I tried again to get hold of the textbook people. No answer to my inquiry. Sigh. Not too much else, today---Jane's still battling the bug, so I'm trying to cook and clean both, and keep ahead of things. She's really wretched, and getting very tired of the cold.

Date: 11/24/04. 87223. Wednesday. Slept too late, and rushed off to the rink---last good day before the holiday. I managed to demonstrate at least one half foot of runout on the 3-turn---finally, Jane was able to see me do it, which gives me at least one witness. And we decided to pick up a few things at the store, which I turned into shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, which I propose to cook. Fortunately our family turkey recipe is pretty simple---coat the thing in the commercially available poultry seasoning, and stuff it in a Brown 'n Bag. Infallible. We bought only the front end of a very small turkey, there being only us and the cats. We wanted green bean casserole, and decided that wasn't too bad on our diet, in moderation. A bottle of decent Chardonnay. Outside of that, low carb ice cream---buttered pecan. Painless, and within the diet.

Date: 11/25/04. 87223. Thanksgiving. Turkey Day. As my faithful readers can detect, not a lick of work done today. I meant to. Good intentions. But I got up a little late. And we decided, since the rink is closed to public skating today---I think there's a hockey match---that we would go get our very inexpensive season passes at Riverfront Park, meaning the public outdoor rink. The ice was absolutely gruesome---but it was interesting to find we can skate on the stuff and skate with absolute confidence and some speed where, last year, we were real wall-clingers. The ambient temperature was 55 degrees, the ice was melting in stripes and patches, the pigeons were doing their ordinary number from the rafters, dropping leaves and other surprises, and any time you look down the rink, you can bet some novice skater is lying down on the ice, for reasons we can now explain pretty handily as breaches of "keep your feet comfortably apart," "bend your knees," "don't pitch forward," and "rapid foot movement is a really bad idea." But it was a well-attended session. We ran into people we knew from our first months skating---amazing that we've come so far; good to see them at it again. The ice was so rough I hardly dared practice anything but a two-footed turn---the 3-turn was right out; and the one time I decided to practice the regular stroke (long one-footed glide) my running skate hit a thawed trough and nearly pitched me on my nose. That persuaded me that round-and-round the rink was possibly the only safe and sensible skating. I saw a couple of figure skaters probably in from the other rink trying more complex moves, and good luck to them. I don't want a broken leg. (The ice actually has areas of bizarre 2-foot-wide rollercoaster ripples, which are really difficult to explain by ordinary physics. Perhaps local gravity is having a problem---or its the thawing-in-stripes business refreezing.) We went straight home to nurse sore muscles from skating on snow and ridges, and put the turkey on, settled back to watch telly, and I can say the dinner turned out nicely. We watched My Fair Lady and Brigadoon, applied Bengay, and called it a day.

Date: 11/26/04. 88298. Friday. Up early, a good day of work, and Jane came in early to report her cold is just too bad and she'd like to lay about today. She's really quite miserable, one of those head colds that just won't let up, and if Jane's too sick to skate, she's sick. I was going to do accounting, but she was feeling too badly to disturb for the help I'd like, and over all we didn't do much beyond work and computer games. Dinner---well, we ate the last of the turkey, had too many corn muffins---low-carb means nothing if you pig out on the item---and over all, we were slugs.  On the other hand, I have 3/4 of my holiday shopping at least mentally done---there is no way on earth I'd join the madding throngs for the post-Thanksgiving orgy of sales, shopping, and standing in long checkout lines. Jane and I have concluded that just as a meaningful Thanksgiving means a modest meal that doesn't make you feel bad or stressed-out, Christmas ought to be a pretty tree, a couple of small but nice presents, a few treats, and an overall lazy day at home---it works for us. Meanwhile, just to remind us all our problems are small, and that we do live downwind of one of the planet's active volcanoes, St. Helens is muttering a bit. There's been a curious spot down on the Oregon/California border that's produced a chain of earthquakes before St. Helens went active, and now it hiccups, St. Helens grumbles, and the two places, the width of Oregon apart, are kind of doing a counterpoint. Entirely possible that they're not at all related---the whole Cascade chain of volcanoes exists because there's an oceanic plate actively diving under the western coast of the United States,---it takes it about 90 miles inland and downward for the ocean-bottom plate to melt and shed its saturating water upward as steam, which is the process that creates coastal volcanoes as a general rule---and that constant shoving and grating of the plates is a general enough condition all along the coast to account for all sorts of things happening that aren't really related to each other. The PSNW Network, which you can reach via websearch, has a history, if you like. Meanwhile St. Helens keeps on building its dome---the hot spot up there glows at night, and if you try the on-site webcam, don't be surprised if it's all gray. The camera isn't broken---it's been actively snowing up there for several days. When the clouds break and let the sun fall on the white cap and steam-emitting dome, it's a pretty view, particularly in the morning, when the steam and snow are touched with sunrise. You can save down the images if you find one that you particularly like.

Date: 11/27/04. Saturday. 88737. And it snowed! Not much, but maybe an inch. A little erasing as well as some forward progress. This rolling-rewrite business is a matter of inserting one word, taking out 3, putting in two, all through the manuscript---the count tends to be positive, but I blitzed sections today, and put in other sections. Inspired by the snow, Jane came in to say she was still dying but wanted to skate, so off we went to the downtown rink---it's a concrete base, but somehow the ice is soft as the Eagles' sand rink---ten minutes of smooth skating, under the traffic load it gets, and then its sort of like skating through a quarter inch of corn meal. The snow wasn't heavy enough for much to sift down through the superstructure of the big iron crown that looms over the rink, but it was still great---we've found a parking place closer to the downtown rink. And we had word our young instructor has her cast off and is gingerly taking the ice again...I do hope that's true. I did a little online shopping, only 3 people yet to get gifts for, and I know what I want for one of them. //A side note: you know those lovely mini-roses that you get beautifully blooming in pots at the supermarket, that die shortly after? Well, we've done post-mortem on a few of them, and have finally come up with something I think is showing real promise. The essential problem? The things are sold extremely rootbound. We've tried washing the roots clear and repotting---no go. Too much damage. Dead in a month, and no more blooms.  We've tried violet pots, the sort that have a water reservoir in the bottom and that transpire through a baked-clay wall. Won't draw water properly. Dead in a month. We've tried setting them outside. Dead in a month. Well, here's the new method. Understand, the way rose roots grow is close to the surface in a ring around the plant, and the rose hates its roots to be messed with. If you have to transplant one in your garden, ring it with a sharpshooter spade and let it get used to the idea for a month before lifting it, if you can manage that courtesy, and you'll have better luck. And as for these delicate miniroses, and indoor culture---what I heard recommended for potted roses is a clay pot. So, ever the optimists, we bought a beautiful triple rose cream/peach/peachy pink, and before it has a chance to turn yellow and shed, we repotted. We had an old terra cotta clay pot (real, not plastic) about twice the diameter of the plastic pot the roses were sold in (the usual 3 roses to a pot) and we took a mix of mulch and potting soil, installed that at the base and around the sides, didn't disturb the rose roots, just lifted the whole root ball out of the plastic pot, plumped it intact into the clay pot on a potting soil base, then added potting soil mixed with mulch around the gap to fill to the big clay pot's edge (don't put soil on top of your plant: roses are surface-breathers and hate to be choked in dirt). Next, we put the pot in the kitchen sink to moisten thoroughly and drain, then set it in a plant stand with no dish---that's important, because roses should be damp, but they shouldn't stand in water. The clay pot should help it 'breathe' in the vegetative sense, it's capable of being damp but not soaked, it has no dish, and---the key---get some good rose food and don't be afraid to apply it in doses about five times higher than recommended, and at every watering. Reason? The hole in the bottom of the pot means a lot is going to flow through into the sink, and I haven't met the rose yet that turned down more food. They die of many causes, but the good rose fertilizer just does not burn. Just don't let the rose plant dry out---this shocks it, kills off the micro-roots it uses to 'breathe', and generally does damage all the way through the structure. If there's one plant in your house in which you install one of those chirping soil dampness monitors, this is where to put it. They will live quite happily in a window that gets plenty of light at least half the day. And I'll let you know how this works out in the long run, but thus far it's survived its bloom, is perky, dark-leaved, and producing new growth---a new bloom opened today, strong of color and healthy, a new record for a supermarket minirose. If it shows any sign of future distress, I'll press down the potting mix near the pot wall and add more---right now the extreme looseness of that layer is letting it breathe, but as its roots grow outward to the clay wall, it may like a bit more compression there.

Date: 11/28/04. Sunday. 88707. Sometimes you just go backwards. A kind of a lazy day---mostly work, though when you write forwards as well as backwards it sometimes turns out not looking as if you've done anything. We just laid about besides that, got a little essential housecleaning great thrill. I'm now pretty well through with the shopping, all fixed, except we've only hung a handful of reindeer and a few Christmas cats, no delving after the tree yet.

Date: 11/29/04. Monday. 88707. Well, one of those work at all. We did go skating, and a great relief to be back on relatively smooth ice.

Date: 11/30/04. Tuesday. 88833. A snowy morning---I stood at my window watching a city bus unable to get up the hill across the creek, and decided perhaps today wasn't a good day to take a drive to Pullman, as we were scheduled to do. It's a very hilly, curvy road and a two-lane. So we moved the chiropractic appointment---twice: it stopped snowing, and we decided we could go, but found out that our slot for the day had been filled, and we decided that Thursday would be an iffy day, too, with the weather---something's supposed to move through this weekend. We had our skating lesson, and had quite a good day.

Date: 12/1/04. Wednesday. 89839.  My day to practice what I gained from the lesson, but sometimes you just have those days when your feet aren't cooperating. What can I say? At least I didn't fall down. The rose is still thriving. I've decided to cut the last blooms, so we can have a hope of a simultaneous bloom later.

Date: 12/2/04. Thursday. 89891. Backward and forward. But I'm nearing the end of the rewrite and beginning to get into the new things. Our younger instructor is back---after having broken her leg; she's skating with a bit of a protective wrap, but back on the ice. It was a fun session, and I picked up on one of the reason I'm tipping over on the 3-turn---just letting the off foot fly free too much. This will help. We also got drafted to do the promo for the ice pageant next week---I opened my big mouth and mentioned that Jane does art. Mea culpa. But Jane thinks it will be fun.

Date: 12/03/04. Friday. 90388. Well, one of those sessions on the ice where they let loose hordes of youngsters, and the ice became so snowy there was no hope of a good practice. But I had a good time. Jane's spending the evening drafting the poster that we hope to have ready tomorrow---it looks good. Wonderful what a little computer work can turn out. If we can only get through to the club officers to make sure they approve it, it's ready to print.

Date: 12/04/04. Saturday. 92032. A productive morning; and we got the posters ready and got them to the rink to turn over to the people who should distribute them and post them about. We didn't go skating, but vowed to attack the backed-up accounting tomorrow. We had a very enjoyable evening at a filk party---my fingers are incredibly sore. I'd just grown out my nails and lost the last of my protective callus yesterday.   We didn't stay too late---it's icy out---but we certainly had a good time.

Date: 12/05/04. Sunday. 93901. Into new territory at last with the writing. It's feeling good. Day before yesterday I got a packet of the 10th anniversary edition of Foreigner, which lets me look up a few things---it's amazing, how often I find I don't have a copy within reach of some critical one of my own books. I just don't have room for all of the editions in the bookshelves---not with the research books and so on. And that particular one I'd lost my reserve copy of, and the archive copy is buried so deep in the storeroom I really hate to go after it. Jane and I attacked the long postponed accounting, and to my vast relief it does seem to work out. I do not have Bren's talent with numbers, let me tell you.

Date: 12/06/04. Monday. 93827. Writing ahead---up early, and almost forgot to get dressed to go skating, I was so deep into story. It's a good feeling. I'm feeling wonderful, and the story is coming along. The ice was rotten---they had a hockey tournament this last weekend, and it's still lumpy---and do you know, they haven't put up those posters yet? I can't believe it. Rush, rush, rush, and now no great hurry, even though the pageant is this weekend. We have a new adult skater---gotten himself a helmet, ordered his skates, and all. And we got the deposits in at the bank and got all the paperwork settled except for the French government, which likes to have annual forms stating that, no, I am still not a French citizen, no more than last year, so they can't charge me income tax on books I sell in France. The person who has to stamp the document swearing that I am, yes, a resident of the US, isn't in today. That will require yet one more trip---it's a yearly hassle that sometimes convinces me I'd rather just pay the French tax, which would probably be a couple of dollars, than make multiple trips to the bank asking for a stamp that can't even be read in France once I have it, and that no one ever asks for, that I know. They always look confused at the bank, and very few people know what I'm talking about when I ask for it. It's the stamp that swears they're a bank, as if the French government should care. You'd think they'd want a justice of the peace or someone legal and official to provide a certification. It began to snow again, wonderful, fat, puffy lumps of snow coming down very thickly, but it probably won't stick. We have that chiropractic appointment tomorrow, and hope for good roads.

Date: 12/07/04. Tuesday. 93827. I overslept---had to rush to get dressed and get to the rink for our lesson. We were warming up on beautiful ice (isn't that a strange statement?) and the rink manager, Tim, came by to say 200 high school kids were on their way. Oh, fudge! I put on my guards and took off to try to find a phone to call our instructor, Joan---but by the time we figured out her cell number, it rang in the office across the foyer: Joan was already there, about to skate up. Hearing about the 200 high school kids, we decided to postpone the lesson until whenever she could clear time. And no one showed up---the 200 kids had headed downtown instead, a disappointment for the rink, to be sure. So we just skated---I'd eaten something I shouldn't, my feet hurt, and it was a thorough-going disaster. By the time we finished, it was snowing out, and we decided to head for Pullman anyway for our once-postponed chiropractic appointment----not a bad drive, quite gorgeous out among the snowy hills. Jane read from Ellis Peters' second Egyptian novel, and we made it on time. I told Dr. Mike I'd like, please, to straighten my neck a bit from the computer-users' forward jut, and he set about it, with very good initial result. Sort of like plastic surgery for the skeletal structure, and Dr. Mike is good---don't try this until you have a lot of confidence in the chiropractor. I think a sustained program of this will make a difference.// A rainy drive home, above freezing (welcome to Washington weather) and we made it in time to catch part of the Egyptian Week on Discovery channel. On which topic, let me tell you, I have never seen such a miserable piece of television as the Cleopatra special---gosh-wow comments over things that have been known to the reading public for 2000 years, comments like "fear of snakes" in a culture that venerated them, and a modern criminal profiler trying to make guesses about people from a culture and time utterly foreign to our psychology. Not to mention a gosh-wow revelation of a map you can find in any ancient atlas, and silly people trekking with great drama to the new Alexandrine library in  Egypt to read an English translation you can buy in Boston, among other pieces of nonsense. Jane and I were both screaming imprecations before all was done.

Date: 12/08/04. Wednesday. 93627. More erasing. But onto new things. I still have to get that textbook piece finished---they're wanting more changes. That's for tomorrow. We did have our postponed skating lesson, and if I can master what Joan gave me today (Jane and I get two separate lessons, two separate programs) I'll look like a skater. It's forward crossover on a circle to a two-footed turn (which I'm sure will go to one foot) and a backward crossover; a 3-turn to a backward crossover and so on. String all these things together and I'll have a fair chain of moves.// The club finally put up the posters we broke our necks getting done: gratifying to see they made it. //We did catch the Egyptian program again---we find the live coverage impossibly frenetic: the lights jerk violently across intricate and significant paintings, the explanation segments are way rushed. It's even worse if you really know the symbology and are trying to think while listening, and now and again another reporter who doesn't know the culture cuts in, absolutely missing the point the expert has just made. But the honest and well-done prize of the evening was the bit on the Sphinx, which was a model of entertaining television containing actual information, with a scientist who does not hesitate to put the honest label of "theory" over his very well-organized argument, which I am disposed to believe has real merit. He has his ducks in a row, his evidence lined up, with photographs and clear explanations. Jane swears the Sphinx has a dimple in its chin which does look like the little statue of  Djedefre's father Khufu...// The weather is now soggy and cold---I wish the snow would get down to the valleys again; but we can sure use the moisture. The ground is very waterlogged: step off the walk, and you'll go in over your shoe-tops. But this ground drains rapidly, too. //Re the rose: I fear we're going to lose one stalk. And I think I've spotted whiteflies. Oh, for a cobra lily (an insect eater), to plant next to it, but I lost mine during our last long trip. I don't like to use insecticide in the house. The rest of the rose cluster is quite healthy, and growing new leaves apace, but the white rose is just a weak plant, as a rule. If it spreads whitefly to our other plants, I'm going to be very annoyed.

Date: 12/09/04. Thursday. 93838. The end is now taking shape---which is to say, it still has a couple of major scenes to go, with the wrap, but I can see it from here. Note that there's still about 5000 words of outline attached and counted, but part of that outline will actually be text, sooner or later, and will expand about tenfold, and part of it pertains to the third book and will simply drop off and remove itself from the word count, which is normal for me. Note too that I don't really outline---I write extreme roughs, as if you were telling a friend about the book you plan to write, ahead of where I am, and these 'roughs' are always being added to and subtracted from as things become more nailed-down and complete. This is the stage when things get more and more solid, of course, as nothing at all is left dangling in the wind. This is also when I suddenly remember I meant to fix the legislative names in the last book, and flat forgot, so forgive me where I said 'hasdrawad' and meant 'tashrid.' I know, I know, it's too late to fix, since Destroyer is already in production for an issue this coming February, but we'll fix it in the paperback version. These things happen because I don't have copies of my own books readily at hand, and I accidentally gave away my own copy of Foreigner and archived the master off my computer into a disk I haven't come across. Now they've reissued Foreigner in the 10th Anniversary edition and I was able to look it up. //We hoped our young skating instructor would communicate with us before today, to let us know about the lesson schedule, but it looks as if we're going to have to call her. We did get a good practice in.//And after my indignation about the Cleopatra forensics episode, which was incredibly bad, we watched the piece about the recovery of Egyptian antiquities---I'll tell you, the voyage of Rameses I down the Nile was an absolutely beautiful image, a real high moment.

Date: 12/10/04. Friday. 93838. Well, as per the count, I overslept, badly. We scrambled to get ready to go skate, and I had a really good one---Joan has now given me a couple of patterns to do, and after I finally got my feet sorted out, I got the back crossover to behave---I suddenly found that I could do it endlessly, when before I'd limped through it one at a time. It felt extremely solid. Jane's still battling her backward edges, particularly outside---physiology handed her a bit of a problem, very little arch, while mine is extreme; and that means she has to relearn certain moves with an orthotic built to give her that high arch, and backward has been very scary for her. My foot has an innate flex that gives me instant 'feel' for the balance point; she's had to acquire it and then learn to interpret it, and I'll tell you, skating backward under those circumstances is a very scary proposition, equivalent to doing it for the first time for weeks and weeks, but she's doing it meticulously and making real progress, completely redoing some of her edgework and doing endless figure eights. I thought about it, and thought about it, and decided that Christmas surprises be hanged, I'd feel terrible if she fell and broke something while I sat on a secret all in the name of surprises, so I gave her a major Christmas present early: crash pads. They're thick gel patches you wear between layers, and they protect, ahem!, certain common landing zones, notably tailbone and hip joints. She was very happy to have them. For those of you skaters out there who don't know about them, or those of you who are looking for a present for a skater or other sort of sports enthusiast, you can get them from and it's a good, fast company. I got myself a set while I was at it.//Meanwhile the rose has started to die on us, and I'm incredibly disgusted. It may have been the lack of sun over recent days---when we sock in, in the winter, we sock in deep in mist and fog, and it's been that way. But if that wretched thing doesn't improve soon, my infant banana plant is going to inherit that pot.

Date: 12/11/04. Saturday. 93722. That word count is actually progress, since I erased a massive chunk of outline and caught back up. Things are going well with the writing. I've got to remember to back up this file...remembering certain disasters from the past. We worked all morning, until Jane absentmindedly took a bath and left the sink running. Fortunately she found it out before it had more than flooded her bathroom and the edge of the carpet---we have a Little Green Clean Machine that sucks water out of carpet pretty efficiently, and I got that carpet edge before it dripped on Louise downstairs, and Jane spent an unplanned space of timerearranging her bathroom cosmetic collection, after mopping up the cabinet. We really hate water-soaking: we're fanatic about getting it dried, since that's where mold can start, and we had battles with mold enough back in Oklahoma. We are satisfied we got it. //And we went off to the long-heralded Christmas pageant on ice, which came off rather well. They had a good attendance, the day was bright and blue, and there were only a few crises in production, the usual tapes that don't start---praise for some of the very young skaters, who handled this with aplomb. Our friend Sharon showed up: she was off the ice yesterday with a vicious cold, after her own battle with a leaky pipe, and got drafted to help the hockey team get its set (a huge wallpapered box) put together slightly offstage, which almost involved hauling a tall ladder onto the ice---scary proposition, and her with unreliable inner ears, thanks to the cold. But the wallpaper, which had blown in the wind with the Zamboni garage door open to allow maneuvering, got restuck, and the skit came off very well. And Sharon didn't have to climb the ladder. Jane took a lot of pictures, which we hope to have for the club archive. We need to get names attached to the images, for the record. We were sorry not to be participating on ice, but two of our other adults were otherwise scheduled. Jane and I alone weren't quite ready to carry a full program of moves, granted at least one of the other participants in the pageant is doing this professionally, and neither of us can jump yet, besides that Sharon came down sick and Dawn had to work---so all in all, the stars were not right this year. Next year, who knows? We'll give it a shot. We went out to eat afterward, made up our minds that three bad meals in a row from a once-favorite restaurant is grounds to go elsewhere next time (it wasn't Tomato Street), and went home to have ice cream and review our pictures.

Date: 12/12/04. Sunday. 92938. More outline going out and new text coming in. But I was a bit numb today---I swear, some days I should take Solitaire off my computer. But if I can't beat the casino version, I'm probably a little dim for the day. Note: gamble in real life? No way. The odds in most games so heavily favor the house you can about break even if you're good at it, and one off streak can lose the family car. I've been known to drop a token or two into a small-level slot or play the lottery now and again---but never done more than break even. No, wait, on the lottery I did once get five dollars clear. I had a hamburger off my winnings.

Date: 12/13/04. Monday. 92938. Today was a scramble, from getting up late to realizing there were some errands that had to be run, and we still don't have a tree up. At the rink, which we did make, though later than our habit, I took Joan's instruction to heart and brought a couple of small stuffed toys to sit on my hands while I practice edges. Amazing how that helps. I've used them on 3-turns, and they are helping quiet my hands down, which improves balance no end. And we used the Crash Pads today, which at least will minimize the pain  and danger of a fall if we have one. They're not at all uncomfortable and minimally obvious. Sharon is still out sick, one supposes: get well soon, Sharon! We miss you! And the stuff we ordered from the Capezio sale came in---I got a couple of warmup jackets, with sequins, yet, and a skating outfit Jane immediately inherited---she looks far better in it than I do, and ever will, and a whole bunch of   microfiber skating tights of my favorite brand. Watched another of those specials on Atlantis---give it a rest, chaps! Let me tell you the basic stuff on that topic. The word 'atlantis' is formed off the name 'Atlas,'---you know, the chap who holds up the sky. He's a Titan, meaning that range of demigods a little above Hero (the mortal sort), whose lineages often fade right into the lineaage of Heroes and other significant people who could have been real---kings and such. Well, 'atlantides' is the name with the 'mac' or 'son of' suffix added. And 'atlantides', meaning people in the lineage of Atlas (read, people who trace their ancestry up a line that venerated a demigod named Atlas) include King Minos of Crete, and all his line, including Pasiphae and Ariadne; include Circe, the pig-making witch often located by myth in Italy, include a certain Cretan woman married to King Atreus of Mycenae in Greece, and include the witch Medea of Colchis at the back side of the Black Sea. The Atlantides are, you see, a very wideranging family. But the common thread, imho, is Thera, that volcanic isle that blew itself half to dust. It was Minoan in culture, a high civilization that vanished overnight and took the heart of the Minoan culture with it. Many of the myths of voyage and contact could be construed as the attempt of allied tribes to make renewed contact with far-flung remnants of that in Colchis and elsewhere. Atlantis was given to be 'beyond the pillars of Hercules', but the 'pillars of Hercules' were identified as Gibraltar (and hence the name of the 'Atlantic' ocean) comparatively late in the game. The original 'pillars of Hercules' are likely within the Aegean, sometimes identified as the tip of the Peloponnese---or, who knows, some landmark of the vanished harbor at Thera? At any rate, the atlantides have in common legends of 1. a fleece that confers kingship 2. a tendency to commit suicide by suspension between heaven and earth (the queen of Mycenae hangs herself over a fleece, Medea is found in a quest for a fleece, and Medea leaves the earth headed sunward in a chariot pulled by dragons (giant snakes) 3. an identification with Helios, the Titan-connected sungod, older than Apollo---and indeed, the 'floating isle' on which Apollo and Diana were 'born' is credited by some as having been a memory of the floating islands of ash following the Thera eruption---4. an association with advanced or mysterious magic or technology, ranging from the bronze man, Talos, who guarded Crete, to Medea's mysterious potions and command of dragons, and 5. some sort of bull cult---bulls figure in the Medea story, and in the Minoan story: Poseidon in his bull-shape was a god of earthquake, and the pillars underneath the palace of Minos had evidence of sacrifice---wanting to keep them stable, in a very shaky world: with the evidence of Thera fresh in your mind, wouldn't you want that pillar in the basement of the palace to stand fast? And it did, which is why we know as much as we do about Minoa. In short, I think the key to Atlantis is not in the Atlantic ocean, but in the intricacies of Greek legend and dim memory of a cataclysm we can very well site and date at the southern end of the Aegean. The Minoans on Crete tried to tough it out and stay in business, but the Theseus-and-the-minotaur legend records their loss of power and their slide into obscurity. So if you're an Atlantis afficianado, look up all the buzzwords I've given you, and remember there's usually a child-safe version of Greek myth and, if you dig, one that isn't. Take the latter. The child-safe versions (Bullfinch and the ilk) are generally stripped of all useful references, and the stripping happened in Victorian times. Rely on the Oxford or Oscar Seyffert's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities for the real dirt. Good hunting.

Date: 12/14/04. Tuesday. 91828. Happy birthday, brother! I got in a little work---we were both working, and suddenly realized we were way late and had a lesson today. So we threw ourselves together. The rink has agreed to stock the low-carb milk I need for my daily lattes, which will help me keep my diet---we buzzed over to get that for them at the Freddy Myers' across the street. Had a very good lesson---I'm closing in on the finesses that will let me keep my balance during backward runouts. Then we had a talk with one of the club officers---it's very likely we're going to take over the club website, since we have the tools and the knowledge to run it smoothly. And we're going to do the publicity for the spring Iceadelics, which is easy for us. Well, and then we went out looking for our Christmas present to each other, which is getting that kitchen floor done---we ended up with the makings for that, and with a basket load of other items, and by then, this being the northern latitudes, it was dark and rainy at 3:30 pm. We opted to catch supper  on the way home, and then worked on computer files. At least we have accomplished a lot of 'round-tuits' but the little ice-covered fiber optic tree we'd gotten---get this---has a base too small to fit the trunk of the tree, and without that base, no light happens. Brilliant. Someone's manufacturing mistake. We now have to run it back and see if we can get one that matches. We recall having the same trouble with our other fiber optic tree. Double brilliant!

Date: 12/15/04. Wednesday. 94389. Progress, progress. It's been winter fog hereabouts---our region gets real thick fogs, and it's so thick today it's easy to miss your turn when you're driving---that kind of thick. Finishing up the last of the shopping---finally replaced our old cell phones with one of the whiz-bang color screen jobs. We're not keen on texting---I'd rather run barefoot over glass than muck about with that size keypad for anything more intricate than entering a new phone number---but it is easier to see what's on the screen, and I can read numbers without hunting for my reading glasses, a big benefit. I spent a quiet evening trying to reconstitute my phone numbers, and found it easier than the old phone, by far.

Date: 12/16/04. Thursday. What a day. No progress whatsoever---up late and rushed, went off hoping to cadge a lesson from Joan, but a huge flock of holiday-ing students hit the ice, nice folk, but way too many and too erratic in flight path for us to risk our complex and chancy one-footed maneuvers out there on ice increasingly rutted and snowy from all those feet. We just practiced our turns and mohawks near the wall when we could get a clear space---but mostly the students just skated around and around, with way too many of them skating along on their ankle-bones...a truly painful and scary sight. (Lace tighter at the ankle bend, dear friends, not above and not below, but right where the ankle bends, and the improvement will be instant.) But they were nice folk, a credit to their school. And having gotten off the ice and de-skated, we had a meeting with the club president and the individual in charge of the spring show, for which they would like us to do publicity; and then a trip to Lowe's and a  futile search after an item we thought we'd seen, then back again to the rink for a 4:30 skating lesson with our younger instructor, Lindsey. But, alas, by this hour, having taken off my skates at 1pm, my feet had swollen just enough to hurt and lose fine sensation. Can you say---pain? I had a rotten skate, managed not to fall down, but generally just couldn't get my feet under me. I doggedly practiced the left and right 3-turn in alternation for at least half an hour, while Jane was having her lesson, then left the ice to get the skates off before gangrene set in. Ow! Twice, ow!// We headed off to the bar to eat, rather than try to cook---I knew the chops I'd left out to thaw had far more than thawed by now, in this highly off-schedule day, and Jane's pretty touchy about questionable chops, so we went out (again) for fish and salad. We're eating out way too much this week, which isn't good for our diet. //Then---then, the high-adrenaline finish to the evening---we had a call from the publisher Jane had sent her manuscript to. Twenty pages of the manuscript were missing in mid-read. Panic. Locating the missing pages in our electronic files was a snap. Figuring out how to get them into the editor's hands fast enough on a Thursday night (when the office is sparse on Friday) was a real difficulty---especially since we don't have a fax. Well, it's going to be a scramble in the morning. Meanwhile the rose demised, and Jane banished it to the balcony, I note, before the pests infest other plants. But I had a really good suggestion from a reader, who suggests combating whitefly by applying a solution of water and dog shampoo on the leaves. This sounds as if it would work---and I'll try it when I get the next whitefly incident, meaning when I replace the rose. //Did I mention we have a faithful flock of sparrows which has now become devoted to our fancy birdfeeder? I reloaded it in the dark, because tomorrow's going to be a day, and I hate to think of them showing up and finding the feeder empty.

Date: 12/17/04. Friday. 95728. Another day of cold fog. If I don't finish this book soon I'm going to have to divide this blog again, since it's going rather long. But I'm nearly there. Bear with me. We were up at 6am, to get the missing pages e-mailed to New York, and they made it to the right hands. Meanwhile I haven't had a cell phone call in weeks, and the new phone kept going off every few minutes, very odd---all calls I needed to get, but just unusual to have my cell phone ringing at all, and it got quite a workout on its first day---it may say something about the fact I now have a phone with a working battery. So we've survived the day---another lesson on ice, and I finally managed to do a proper 3-turn in front of two witnesses, so all that pain yesterday has paid off in a few seconds of dead-on balance and easy run-out backward to a back crossover. I'm so pleased with myself. I have these two silly beanie-babies that I balance on my hands, while doing edges or turning violently about or doing crossovers---violent moves, some, but the hands have to stay still and level throughout, or their movement pulls arm muscles out of line, and then pulls ribs, rear, and head, and everything goes to Hades in a handbasket. The balance practice I've done for days, doing edgework with "Bebe" the poodle and "Booboo" the lion balanced on the backs of my hands, has greatly improved my hand position, which keeps my right hand from flipping over, which improves balance, which improves glide, etc, etc. (Also, in case I ever win the Olympics, I have all this practice scooping up Beanies off the ice, you see. Often.) About 1pm, a couple of hundred small kids arrived for a skating party and we fled the premises: it sounded like a riot in progress. We made a brief foray to Freddy Myers---and I ended up getting, not a rose, but a red mangrove plant, which is a curiosity, and perhaps well-suited to my watering habits, since it must constantly stand in water. We shall see if it repels whitefly. And Jane made her usual holiday batch of 'nuts and bolts,' which is done with Chex cereal and peanut butter, starting the moment we got home, and we've been very good, considering: we're going to ship it out without ruining our diet. The whole place smells of melted peanut butter, but we are still being good. Very good. //Meanwhile the last packages we know about arrived, and we are set, if we only get our ornaments out of storage and hang them on our very short tree. So now, after yesterday, which sent us home sore and exhausted, and today, which started in the dark, trying to get those pages off, we're just kind of letting the evening roll by watching the absolute nothing that's on the telly and letting our minds turn to mashed potatoes. Right now, however, I'm watching a more interesting Science Channel bit on the Antonov 225, which is the world's largest plane---there's only one of its kind, and I think it's the very plane I saw a few years ago in Oklahoma City, when the annual air show was in progress. We were driving down the Northwest Expressway, and looked up, alarmed to see what looked like a jumbo flying dangerously low over the city---and then realized it was a very, very, very big plane flying at a much higher altitude. Quite a trick for the eyes, I'll tell you, and one of those things you don't forget seeing. //At present, Ysabel has decided that my left forearm is the only place to perch, while His Blackness Efanor has decided that the Christmas packages with their sparkly tinsel are obviously cat toys, and intended expressly for him. We're so favored.// In other news, my favorite baseball team, the Mariners, has just acquired a couple of first-rate players in the winter goings-on, and this is very cheerful news. They're not trading my favorite players, which is also very cheerful to hear.// So all in all, having completely run out of steam, and it being too late to have a creative thought left in my head, I'm going to turn in---I'm tired and achy from a lot of work yesterday and today, but it's a good, honest sort of ache, and the writing's going well, and we've gotten almost all the things that are due or misplaced straightened out. A very good day, all told.

Date: 12/18/04. Saturday. 95728. Foggy again. And we decided to start the long-postponed Christmas present to ourselves---namely, to do the kitchen floor, which is in a nasty (filthy, though we've steam-cleaned it and hand-scrubbed it multiple times) gray, granny-style country diamonds. We're covering it with an Armstrong wood strip flooring, which we think can go down over the nastiest, tightest-stuck short-napped carpet ever invented. Astroturf has nothing on this stuff---I think they poured gallons of glue onto the concrete before this stuff went down, and lifting the baseboards, where the stuff oozes up like the La Brea Tar Pits, proves the case. It's yellow, still tacky, and just gross. So I'm very glad we're leaving that old carpet down: getting that tarry stuff off would be a year-long job in itself. We happen to have a very nice little trim saw, 5 6/8ths inch blade, battery powered, and very light, and it happens to have a carbide blade, so we seem to be in business. Lowe's sold us the wrong threshold strip, but we'll exchange that; and we think we're going to come out pretty close on the number of boxes we (not the Lowe's salesman, who thought we could do with 1/3 more total) estimated, she said smugly---because we're doing this for ourselves, and we're determined not just to saw off ends and waste them. We have a long, narrow kitchen, we're going crosswise, and we can figure out where to use almost everything except the no-edges pieces.//We interrupted this job to a) charge the saw battery and b) go to the apartment complex Christmas party. The management always provides something wonderful, and we just made that lunch. They supplied us with endless shrimp, chicken, and stuffed mushrooms, not to mention the dessert we couldn't have---but to our wonderment, almost everything was Atkins-friendly. We were very pleased.//And came back upstairs to tackle the floor, until fairly late. We thought we'd start on the big open end of the kitchen, not reckoning the entry door, the cupboard door, the writing desk leg, the refrigerator, and two slightly-off-from-each-other opposing cabinets were involved, not to mention baseboards. We didn't get past the fridge before we gave it up for the night.

Date: 12/19/04. Sunday. 95728. More fog, and once again into the kitchen floor reconstruction project. We moved out the refrigerator, boarded that area, and then had to do some creative quarter-rounding to cover spots where there was no baseboard---you need some sort of edging to help hold this floating floor in place, and if you don't have baseboards, it's quarter-round, or both, if you've got a bad spot behind the fridge... We then heaved the fridge up on some rollers that are guaranteed to glide with it---ha! It fell off, twice, and we consigned the rollers to the dumpster. We did use Moving Men (tm) glides that worked like a charm, right up off the old carpet, onto our new floor and back into place without a hitch or scratch. We scrubbed out the fridge, successfully stopped the leak on the icemaker filter, put all the food that hadn't demised back in---it's ever so much nicer and more orderly now---and moved on to the problem of the dishwasher---which we could pull out, but we'd have to uncouple it from its fastenings to the counter (two L-braces) and then have to worry about getting it all back again. Plus the extra boards it would take to go all the way to the wall where even the nasty carpet didn't go. We decided we could bridge it with quarter-round if I sort of heaved up on it and Jane slid boards underneath its feet and fascia plate, watching her fingers carefully. It all went down tightly. Then we tackled the range. We weren't sure what to do with it, whether to treat it as we did the dishwasher, but everything in this apartment is made for easy replacement, and the whole stove slides into its niche in the cabinetry, looking a lot like a dropin, but being a whole range with oven and all. And it has a wall plug, not being just wired straight in. So we hauled it out forward, not even unplugging it, tiled the niche, (in which we found several of Ysabel's cat toys, 3 foreign cat toys (mice) and a whole lot of dust,) and shoved the stove back in. The kitchen looks unbelievably good. The place is vanilla formica with oak edging and that pale oak-color flooring just changed it from granny-country to Manhattan modern, plus the direction of the grain makes it look ever so much larger than before. We went out to eat---had intended to go to the sports bar (The Season Ticket) and have a hamburger (sans bun) but when we crossed the Maple Street Bridge and saw the falls, we asked ourselves if we were acceptable to go into Anthony's---which is a restaurant with a close panoramic view of the falls. We decided in the affirmative, and had a wonderful supper, a reward for hard work. Then we went back and attacked the tag end of the kitchen. We got to within 4 feet of the other door, a section with perfectly straight edges, and I still have to apply quarter-round across the cabinet kickboards and install the threshholds for the cupboard, living room entry and dining entry, and then we're done. And we've had one bad piece of wood---about 3 feet wasted. And about 3 feet worth of little ends we couldn't figure out how to use, or notches cut out for cabinet edges. One of our best cheap finds was a thrift-shop Craftsman saw table, for two dollars, which is incredibly light, and which provided a steady, reliable base for cutting on this project. It doesn't just look like a professional job, it is a professional quality job---both our fathers did carpentry, and we're sticklers for fine measurements and stop-on-a-dime cuts. We know how to use the tools, shall we say? Jane did all the sawing, I spotted for her and held the pieces---my eyes aren't what they were for close work, not in safety glasses, which really fuzz things up. And in the end, dear friends, we have a kitchen with no bows, humps, or loose bits, and a floor that took sliding heavy appliances without a problem. We're so happy we just walk in to look at it.

Date: 12/20/04. Monday. 95728. Well, nothing goes without a hitch. We're sort of a rebar and concrete building, and when our floor was poured, something made a depression in the concrete right at the threshold of the kitchen into the living room. This means the threshold board won't go down all the way and shims provided are too shallow to anchor it in the normal way. In spite of my having gotten the new concrete bit and getting everything perfectly set up, the track and the threshold just won't meet. We had to glue it. Massive annoyance. And then when I did get it done, that same depression held us off in the cupboard. We had to pull that threshold off before it set too solidly. But I did get the quarterround down, and the rest of the floor is beautifully solid---except Jane has now pulled everything out of the cupboard, determining that the only way to fix the threshold is to install flooring to the walls of the narrow, irregular little cupboard. So on we go. We've also decided that we're going to go to Seattle for Christmas, visiting Jane's brother, and this means we need to get finished here and pack everything.

Date: 12/21/04. Tuesday. 95728. We're overwhelmed in last-moment details, haven't fixed the cupboard, but we did get the Christmas tree that is Jane's brother's gift---Jane got a deal on a 7 1/2 foot one with fiber optics, that is somehow going to fit into our faithful Subaru Forester along with presents, baggage, and cats. This should be interesting. Meanwhile we're trying to write a Christmas letter, get the cards ready to mail, and clean the house up, not to mention the kitchen. The house is losing. But we got the last moment shipping done.

Date: 12/22/04. Wednesday. 95728. We went to the rink Christmas party, determined that indeed we'd read the schedule wrong and what looked as if there was no public skating on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday is actually a ditto mark, not a dash, so there is skating. We can't go today, but plan to squeak in a couple of hours tomorrow. We spent the entire day on last moment shopping and details, and went out to eat, because the kitchen is still buried under the contents of the cupboard.

Date: 12/23/04. Thursday. 95728. Writing during this week is always a goal, but rarely do I get to the keyboard---the chaos level is just too high. We did get a skate in, and a fellow ran into Jane---kind of knocked her sideways, but not down, thank goodness. People skating backward are supposed to look where they're going, not chat with friends, and this chap was not looking. We're still packing for the trip, trying to make sure we have everything, including cat food. Got to put out food for the birds, too.

Date: 12/24/04. Friday. 95728. Christmas eve. We took off for Seattle at a fairly early hour, considering, and I thought I was going to drive the whole way---but something was making me so sleepy I wasn't safe to do so. Fortunately whatever was in the air hadn't affected Jane, and she took over. We got there in good order, through rain, and found Jane's brother wasn't in. Perfect. We set about setting up the tree and buying Christmas dinner at a local store, had our surprise when her brother got in, and went out to eat, a nice little evening.

Date: 12/25/04. Saturday. Christmas. We waited for another of Jane's brothers to arrive, had a nice breakfast, had presents, had a quiet day of movies on telly and sitting about. I tried not to violate the diet, which meant sitting without munchies while others had them---ahem!--and generally trying to be good. Jane and I didn't bring all our presents over: we're going to finish our gift-giving on New Year's Eve, which is our own custom. But everything fit, a miracle in itself, and generally we passed a pleasant day---except Jane's brother brought his computer over for Jane to repair. Sigh.

Date: 12/26/04. Sunday. 95728. The day after Christmas, the brothers departed to another family party somewhere northwards, and we spent three hours fixing the computer before beginning (late, very late) our drive home. The computer, it turns out, had an infestation of 917 adware items, many memory resident, which means it had no RAM left for running programs. And in the way of such things, you kick them out of the start menu and they put themselves back in on next reboot. We purged enough of them to be able to get online, downloaded NoAdware, and were able to clear all but 11 of them, a persistent few Jane went after via a DOS boot and simple delete. There are a couple we're still tracking---these things are like vermin, finding all sorts of ways to conceal themselves and sop up RAM. If you don't have NoAdware or something like it, dear readers, consider getting it. You don't choose to install these items, they install themselves secretly as you visit infected websites, (.gov sites aren't immune) and they're capable of doing to your computer what was done to this one---it lost all ability even to get online, it was so memory-short. So having done that, we took to the road, and if it hadn't been for liberal doses of sugared chai tea, we'd have had to stop and get a hotel---we were so exhausted, and the sugar hit like a ton of bricks. We got home safely, still have the kitchen to do, and the house to clean, and get our writing back online.

Date: 12/27/04. Monday. 95728. Well, we thought we were going to a) get to writing, and b) go skating and c) clean up. We instead d) tackled the unfinshed planking of the cupboard, out of scraps and bits, which we managed with a total wastage of about 2 linear feet, from start of kitchen floor to cupboard. But the floor being uneven there (see kitchen/living room threshold) we had a bit of a go to get the floor even. We did. We're good. This few square feet, however, took all morning, and now we have sweeping, cleaning, and other c) bits to do. We're sore, overfed, and generally think that tomorrow is early enough for skating---the computer business and then the drive took a bit out of us. Not to mention the cupboard. Next I have the end of year accounting to enjoy. But tomorrow morning it's up with the birds and getting back to work.//As an aside, I've been following---as who hasn't heard?---the catastrophic events in the Bay of Bengal...a situation more tragic because there was warning, but there was simply no official delivery system to get it out to the populace, and no agency seemed to think it was empowered to issue an alert on its own. I did find a message from our colleague Arthur Clarke, who, you may also know, lives in Sri Lanka; he reports himself safe, but he is greatly concerned about members of his staff. You may read his statement on his site: search Arthur Clarke Foundation.

Date: 12/28/04. Tuesday. 95823. A little progress. At least I'm back in touch with my manuscript. And we did get to the rink, early in the morning. We thought we were going to do both club ice and regular, but found we were just pretty well exhausted. I got cold, and just couldn't warm up again. Jane's gone off the Atkins diet for a week, meaning she eats all sorts of vegetable things, and I cook a normal dinner. But I hate to eat our normal high-fat dessert in front of her (she's doing Slimfast) so I just didn't, and I'm starving---probably the fact that I'm going low-fat as well as low-carb has something to do with the chill in my bones.

Date: 12/29/04. Wednesday. 96378. Again, up at 7 to make the club ice by nine, and we did stay over to skate on regular public ice. That makes about 2 and 1/2 hours of skating, and I'm tired. But our beauteous kitchen inspires me to cook, and by the time we got back, via a detour over to get some good food at the grocery, we were pretty wiped out. I'll be glad when Jane's back on Atkins. We're still doing the Christmas mailing---nothing like being on time---and our Christmas cards still aren't out, but we're gaining on it.

Date: 12/30/04. Thursday. 96378. A scramble to make club ice (which has very few people on it and is non-directional, meaning skate any direction you need to) and then regular public skate---that went very well. I've finally gotten the 3-turn smoothed out, so I can just flip it off, at least near the boards---a little more nervous-making in open ice, but that's only a head game. We decided to go see Phantom of the Opera this afternoon, so we headed off to the mall, had lunch, and then disaster struck. Jane's been doing Slimfast for the week, I'm still strictly on Atkins, and a piece of banana creme pie caught our attention---a really huge piece. We decided to make this our New Year's Dessert. And we were quite happy until we decided to do a little pre-movie shopping: we had our tickets and everything. Well, that pie hit my bloodstream about 20 minutes after lunch, and I was so incredibly sick I could hardly walk...I literally had to sit down, and stay there. We decided to postpone the movie for another day and got a refund. I felt badly for spoiling Jane's movie venture, and gave her one of our New Years' presents early---a DVD of the latest Harry Potter movie, which we enjoyed, along with the Richard Burton Alexander, which we'd picked up on the bargain table. (We exchange gifts both at Christmas and New Year's, a tradition of ours, just to prolong the season.) We enjoyed both, and the aftereffects of the banana creme dispersed, so I think I shall live, but no more big sugar hits can tempt me.

Date: 12/31/04. Friday. 97327. Well, a little work, and a rush to the rink for a New Year's Eve skate. We found our friend Sharon, and agreed with her and her husband to have a New Years' Eve dinner at Tomato Street and then to totter off to our respective abodes for a quiet evening---we're all just exhausted, and we will have our bubbly quietly and where we don't have to drive, thank you. A good day, a nice evening---Jane gave her flashy-rings which she uses for hand control on the ice to two charming little skaters who admired them, and now is searching for sources. She also has worn her Wintersilks teeshirt to rags, so we are tossing it, and getting a new one, thank you. I think I have found both items on the internet. We struggle when the ice is full of novice skaters---can't open up and run backward, because we're not that expert at looking, yet, and the novices just have no experience at looking and avoiding, and that means we stay near the wall and practice our turns, over and over and over, because that many skaters pit and snow the ice quite a lot. I can say, however, that the young skaters were universally cute, and we were able to help a few of them, which reminds us of some of the basics, too, so it's still a good session. I'm looking forward to Monday, however, when we should have our quiet, smooth ice back. And when I hope to get my life back on schedule. I've used the holidays to do some thinking on the manuscript, and that means I should be able to make some quick headway. I've written through into the critical scene, the real poser, and I should be able to get through it this weekend. I could even finish this book next week, fingers crossed.

Date: 1/01/05. Saturday. 97327. New Year's Day. Simply sitting at home, watching the Rose Parade on HD, cooking an Atkins-legal breakfast, and steak for supper. I can't say that we did much, but we were quite pleasantly idle until late, when we decided we'd had it with the clutter. We finished up and cleaned up quite late, officially turned out the lights on our diminutive tree, and decided to pack up the holiday ornaments, easy with our little tree, and usually not done until days after New Year's---once, in a particularly chaotic year back in the '90's, we didn't get the last holiday decoration stowed until March. We're so good this year.

Date: 1/02/05. Sunday. 97382. Well, I can't say we got a great deal done, writing-wise, but we did get the house cleaned up, the Christmas cards addressed, the packages of gifts packed and ready to go, and generally got ahead of the game in all the items we'd been trying to get organized. We swore up and down that we would keep the house clean---I think the kitchen is the inspiration, the new, clean, spartan floor---and with that as our example, we just have to clean up. Phantom of the Opera spoiler warning here---and we weren't happy: a review: We went off to see Phantom of the Opera, postponed from last week, and we exited with much the same thought---a) that it really is faithful to the 1940's movie, with all that movie's flaws, and  b) that if we'd written it, we'd have given Christine a really painful choice between Raoul and her art, which was, in our opinion, a choice just thrown away in the script as not gender-appropriate for a woman. (But then, women never, ever experience any real dedication to their art, or feel profound creative passion, do they? We're sure we're wrong in our extreme disappointment.) We also hesitate to mention that a man who's never exited the Opera House in his life shouldn't know where the cemetary is and, we're just a bit amazed that he just instinctively knows how to drive a pair (I can ride, and I was years-long close-up with a trained pair, once upon a time, a pair that used to circle their pasture in perfect unison as if connected by harness, just in high spirits. But I can guarantee you, if my dear friend Audrey had ever handed me Joe and Charley's reins and told me to drive them a block down the street, I'd have demurred, fast, for their sake and mine, not to mention the safety of the buggy. Driving a team is not something you're born knowing, thank you, especially the skills of taking a team through traffic.) But those are only the minor sins of the movie. Does a nobleman marry an opera singer? No. She could be his mistress, and continue her career undaunted, which would solve everything, but that's not the implication given, not there and not in the ending. (How does her humble father afford that tomb, we ask ourselves? No answer. ) And if the theme of the movie is creative passion, Christine is a complete fizzle as counterpoint to the Phantom. She's clearly a casual hobbyist as a singer---she has no trouble at all walking away from her life's work.  Sure, he hangs a chap and thereby offends her---but we're shown explicitly how brutally the Phantom was treated as a child, and we're also shown that he relents and repents his entire life's course after one kind gesture paid him---another problem, pardon me. We're somewhat moved to suspect the chap he does in might had a long history with him. But who knows? We're not shown evidence one way or the other, except that the victim doesn't inspire us to like him much. We're not shown that Christine is greatly shocked or affected by the hanging, either; she's only dimly, politically-correctly irritated by this murder, and as a Cause Celebre, it doesn't seem to be a turning-point---we're just left in the dark on that score. All in all, we were frustrated by the movie that could have been, and we were especially vexed by Christine. We liked the diva better. At least she had a driving passion that didn't change by the hour.

Date: 1/03/05. Monday. 98293. Back at work, back to tranquility, and back to the rink...I've begun to get steering behind the back crossover, meaning, I can direct myself going backward across the ice, at least on the left lead, and we had a pretty good day, all told. We made a shopping foray after the skate, meaning I finally got a shadowbox frame for our skating pictures and medals from the summer (with Marvin the Martian embedded with them) and a "keepsake box" for my younger niece---I gave my elder niece hers some years ago. If you have juniors on your shopping list, let me suggest a keepsake box---just any old chest embellished with lining and photos, and designated to hold all those items a youngster wants to keep. In my own, begun when I was younger than 10, I have everything from racoon tracks preserved in plaster, from a particularly wonderful day at girl's camp, to a trinket won in a carnival when I was out on a band trip, to birthday cards, to ticket stubs for Skate America. They're a wonderful place, lifelong, to put lilttle things you want to keep but can't otherwise justify.

Date: 1/04/05. Tuesday. 98488. Well, forward motion, at least. A little erasing, a little writing, but things are shaping up. I doubt, at the rate chaos is multiplying this week, that I'll get through to the end this week, but one can dream, can't one? We suddenly realized the LCFSC (an FSC is a "figure skating club" under USFSC regulation) needed its web page mockup for the meeting tomorrow, and Jane and I got to arguing about what I'd done---finally resolved the misunderstanding as usual as a ships-passing-in-the-dark different motivation: I did a mockup that was vivid color and strung together all in one page, an appearance which Jane detested, not to mention half-done graphics, while all that I was interested in, in making the mockup, was the sequence and content of items and text within, and I wasn't putting graphics in with anything more than the electronic equivalent of thumbtacks and scraps---nor was I at all saying that the page should be a single page rather than multipage. So in our usual impassioned, arm-waving way, we finally communicated with each other, we both agreed we were on the same track, and if the board approves the result, and if things get resolved about where to put it, we'll have a page---soon. And don't think I'm taking time off from writing to do this: this is in off hours. Writing only happens during the prime time of the day, for me, just after I get up. Thinking occupies many more hours of the day. And by the time 5pm rolls around, I'm otherwise useless.//We had had our skating lesson today---and I went down again, this time forward, and gently, while attempting an exit from a turn---at least my falls are getting better. Haven't gone down on my head in months. And the crash pads do work, quite nicely. [Crash pad: a gel or foam piece one wears under the tights, on one's---ahem!---landing surfaces.) Now Joan wants me to do a forward crossover that involves the inside foot coming underneath and way over to the outside, and if this cross-footed sideways push doesn't send me on my nose (I've never yet fallen on a crossover) I don't know what will. Not to mention one has to avoid what our friend Sharon calls the "dreaded Click of Death"...meaning the collision of both your own skate blades, which is very dangerous. Figure skating blades are open at the back end, not closed, and the front end is a closed loop. Hook them together in daisy-chain fashion and you can be in a world of hurt when, not if, you fall. And on the crossover, the blades do have to pass close to one another. I am also making progress on the mohawk, which I think of as a kind of a zero-elevation jump: at least you have to change feet and direction very fast---forward inside curve on one foot, and a near hop to the other foot going backward, at as close to 180 degrees to the other as you can manage, while the original foot lifts off the ice. Now I finally know what to do with my hands during that maneuver (get the trailing hand back, back, back! the moment the turn is compete, and it's the old business: simultaneously keep the off hip up, or the maneuver fizzles embarrassingly quickly and goes nowhere.) Over all it was a good lesson. //Afterward we went to Dr. Mike, our chiropractor, to get our aches and pains straightened out, and he did get that knife-like pain in my shoulder blade that's haunted me since the through-the-gate tumble...[did I mention that? I was practicing the mohawk, and depending on the penalty box wall as a backstop, running into the wall backwards, deliberately, to solve the "how do I get out of this maneuver?" problem---and someone had left the gate ajar. It opened as I hit it going backward, and I tested all three crash pads in one fall, in which I first went through the gate butt-first and then ended face-up on the ice leaning on my right hand facing sideways, quite a richochet.] Thank you, Dr. Mike. The shoulder is fixed, thank you, thank you, thank you---one of those pains that just wouldn't turn loose, now gone. But he tells me he can't fix the right-hip-rotation problem: that's for me to do. I'll just have to exercise my way to an equal ballet turnout on both feet.// We're going to get a haircut tomorrow, overdue, let me say. And my New Year's present arrived---a little device that enables you to practice ice spins on dry land: we're going to have fun with this, and hope not to break our necks. It's about the size of a saucer----you stand on it with one foot, and the spinnability of the thing exactly mimics doing it on ice. In my dreams, I'd like to work up some ability with this device, and then when asked to spin on ice, actually be able to do it with at least the facility of a twelve-year-old...and an inner ear used to that kind of maneuver.

Date: 1/05/05. Wednesday. I thought I was going to get to the accounts this morning, but that didn't work. We did get some cleanup done, got a practice in, and otherwise just tried to do some post-Christmas cleanup and mailing.

Date: 1/06/05. Thursday. A scramble from beginning to end...overslept a bit, had to rush to get to the rink, which turned out a bit crowded with beginners, but nice ones. The pre-teen guys are fun---they're generally too shy to ask for help, but if you give it, they're pretty brave about applying it. It's gratifying when you can give a little piece of advice, like "weight just behind the ball of the foot" and have a kid who was falling every three feet go half the circuit of the rink before the next crash. And we had tickets for "Stars on Ice," very good tickets as happened---I'd thought we were in our usual place, about row M. We ended up to have center ice on row A, which meant just behind the people actually sitting on the edge of the ice. The troupe included Alexei Yagudin, Todd Eldridge, Robin Cousins, Sikharulidze and Bereznaya, Pele and Saltier, Zimmerman and Ino, Yuka Sato and Sarah Hughes. Also of note: Scotty Hamilton and Christopher Dean, on the sidelines. Joan and Sharon were also there and we'd made a try at getting together, but each had come with a different set of people and this ended up not working, though we met in passing. The weather was thick snowfall---there's always snow or ice when Stars is in town---and it was a beautiful night, wonderful skating. I'll tell you, seeing it now is very different. A year ago, I was just gosh-wow-lookatthat! Now I'm looking at the routines and saying, I can do that, and that, and that....uhhh....not that one!

Date: 1/07/05. Friday. 99201. A little work, and still a scramble. It snowed all night, and we got a chance to test the Forester on ungroomed Spokane hills---which can be quite amazing. It climbs quite steadily, with no special tires---and some of our hills could fit right into San Francisco. Ice, now, might give us some caution, but we're quite impressed with the snow traction. We haven't had a really deep snow to challenge it since we bought the car, which has a 'snow kit', meaning anti-slip brakes, etc. There's a reason every third car on Spokane streets is a Subaru of some vintage. We're very fond of the breed. And part of our driving about was to the rink, of course, where I finally resolved what's been going on with my right-hand 3-turn, that has been folding me over double and sending me crashing into the penalty box rail on exit---over and over and over. Knee. I'm letting the right knee drift inward. If I press it outward as I rotate, bingo! a perfect, stable 3-turn. Amazing. I can do them 'off the rail', but my unsteadiness on the right hand has made me uncertain about practicing them on open ice. Now I think I can break free of the wall with no doubts---and so much of doing a good turn is in the belief of course it's going to work. Now if I can just work up a little speed while doing them...

Date: 1/08/05. Saturday. 101288. A very productive day. Up early, fed the birds on a balcony high above a very frozen creek, with snow all over the trees, got to work, and quit at noon to get at the accounts---which was a snap, re the tax bit, but not when we delved into the folder we'd created before Christmas and found a few things that we thought had already been mailed. Jane made a flying trip to the post office, while I continued to try to bring sanity to the long-scrambled credit card account, the one that I've been trying to straighten out since the Affair of the Lost Statements back in March. I finally got it down to the great likelihood that we have a bad initial balance or a forced correction that, for all I can tell, could date clear back to 2002. I'm tempted just to start clean with fiscal year end, but Jane says she wants to try to trace the error. At least everything else balances, and we know where actual money went: all entries have been made. Night fell on this effort, and we settled down to supper and watched a 1940's serial we'd gotten at a service station for 5.99. Zorro's Black Whip sets a new medical record---our hero is knocked cold in absolutely every single episode up to 10---there are 12---and his tolerance for concussion is amazing. We did hear from our former roommate Lynn Abbey, a lengthy and pleasant phone call, in which we laid plans for her possible visit up here in the land of cooler weather---she's in Florida. I'd forgotten Lynn loves to walk, and she's somewhat interested in our Bloomsday Race. Oh, my aching feet. But I survived it once, the year it simultaneously shone, rained, hailed, and snowed on the course. It's nine miles, by the time you get to your car; and it's uphill both ways; but the legs and feet are also in much better condition this year. If we had to skate that distance, I'd do it with bells on---well, except the uphill bits. So we'll see. This could be fun.

Date: 1/09/05. Sunday. 102938. Work, work, work. Lovely cool weather. We're still fussing with the accounts.

Date: 1/10/05. Monday. 103921. And off to the rink. I'm working on the ever-elusive 3-turn. I can do it just fine on the left foot, but right-handed, I keep bending at the waist and pitching forward. I finally figured that the culprit is a hand-turn, meaning my right hand is flipping over during the turn---a small thing, you say? But that alters muscles right up the arm to the shoulder, rotates the shoulder forward, and causes the waist-bend, when coupled with the need to keep the shoulders back and head up. Very strange, this sport---the answer to the turn is to make sure my right thumb aims slightly downward. This means that the hand won't flip, and the shoulder won't rotate toward the midline, and the turn comes off smoothly. I'm endlessly amazed. We took Joan out to a belated birthday luncheon at Anthony's, which, if you're ever in Spokane, is a wonderful restaurant that sits on a bluff opposite the two cascades of the Spokane River downtown. The view is panoramic, tables are right against the huge windows, and the view is absolutely gorgeous. Meanwhile we got everything mailed, all the taxes, and picked up a few necessities: we're going to Rustycon in Seattle (SeaTac) this weekend, and have to get everything done by Wednesday. We aren't going to let weather stop us this year. I'm Special Guest, and Jane is Author Guest, and we need to get over Snoqualmie Pass---ordinarily a piece of cake, but one daren't run things down to the wire when planning to get from Spokane to Seattle in winter.

Date: 1/11/05. Tuesday. Running late. We had our lesson, a very productive lesson. The 3-turn continues to work, and we had a marvelous skate. I'm beginning to get my feet under me much more reliably---if I can just get that thumb to behave. We spent the rest of the day packing, and trying to be sure we don't leave anything behind---setting up house-sitting, because it's forecast to be a fierce wind and subzero temperatures while we're gone. This means putting all the tropical plants into the bathroom and tub, to be sure they're warm for the duration. This is quite a job---it looks like a giant terrarium in there.

Date: 1/12/05. Wednesday. Off as soon as we could get the car loaded. The roads were clear and mostly dry, even over Snoqualmie---beautiful views, over all. We arrived in Seattle quite tired, cats and all, and went out to dinner with Jane's brother, who's providing us pre-convention hospitality.

Date: 1/13/05. Thursday. We slept, mostly, and did some additional shopping---I decided in the face of Jane's convention finery, I at least needed a couple of outfits that fit my dieted shape better, so I picked up a couple of pairs of better fitting pants. It's raining in Seattle, and by the sound of things, it's a good idea we cleared the pass early.

Date: 1/14/05. Friday. First day of the con. We located the hotel in SeaTac, settled in, and began meeting old friends and learning the layout---the hotel, the airport Radisson, is admirably suited for a hotel, but parking is a never-ending contest with people flying here and there, and parking has to be paid for---expensively---if you're not a guest. So we met up with our friend Sharon, who had to park clear across the hotel; and it's raining, constantly, and quite cold. We lucked out and scored a parking place right near our room. And we set to work conventioning---a little horse-trading re panels. There was a panel I wanted to be on: "Domed Seattle"...which by the gracious invitation of the moderator, I got. I traded Jane for the "Gothic Horror" panel---she's never done horror and I happen to like honest ghost stories. We got drafted into the "Klingon Weaker Link" panel, which was fun, but we kept voting ourselves off to be able to get to dinner before our evening obligations. But over all, it's shaping up to be a fun midsize convention.

Date: 1/15/05. Saturday. Second day of the convention. A huge convention breakfast, one of those buffets, and on our diet, we just pile on the bacon and skip the toast. I had an early panel, so did Jane, and we made it, just. We had panels scattered through the day, some good, some, well, not, which is about average. We've run into old friends like Betty and David Bigelow, et al, and Sharon seems to be having a grand time...this is good, since she has a doctor's appointment Monday to look forward to, and a little distraction is a fine thing. It's still raining and very, very cold for Seattle.

Date: 1/16/05. Sunday. Last day of the convention, and with a noon checkout, it's going to be a slow day---many people checking out, and others casting a wary eye at Snoqualmie Pass, which has been shut by the storm. The panels were pleasant enough, and we headed over to Jane's brother's place, so as not to have to brave the pass, which is "chains required" and shut at time by avalanche control. We're just going to wait until the internet informs us it's ok. I'd like to work, but there's just no way. When I'm on the final scenes of a book, everything is so tight I just have to be in my own place and comfortable to really do my best work. I'm in mid-scene, and all the characters are standing around me (when I boot it up) in mid-motion. They won't start to move again until I get home, and I know it. But we're not risking our necks and our fenders attempting the pass---likely not tomorrow either, by the look of it. It's pouring in Seattle and freezing rain at the pass.

Date: 1/17/05. Monday. The pass is definitively shut down, and we had a call from Sharon---the doctor's appointment has turned into outpatient surgery tomorrow. Her husband needs to be there, and he's in Spokane. Remember the pass? So he's going to catch a flight, and we're going to stay in Seattle to try to get him to the hospital and to be with Sharon if he can't make it. So we discover another wonderful Renton restaurant, The Giant's Causeway, in downtown Renton, which serves the best corned beef and cabbage in the universe. Sharon's husband Steve meanwhile has lined up a flight, and we're to pick him up and try to get him to the hospital---we've arranged with the hospital that we will come if Steve is delayed, but that he will only be 30 minutes late if his plane is on time. So that's tomorrow's schedule.

Date: 1/18/05. Tuesday. Up in the dim early light, no breakfast, no shower, and head for the airport to find Steve---he came in all right, but we had a bit of a scramble with cell phones trying to find one another in a mutually unfamiliar airport. With Steve aboard, we navigate early-morning Seattle to get to a hospital no one of us has been to before, but thank goodness the internet map was right and Sharon's instructions were clear once we got there. We made it to the right place just before Sharon had to go in, and settled down to wait. Everything went nominally, and while Sharon was in recovery, we all went out to eat and get a hotel for Steve and Sharon, because she had one test for the next morning---not to mention the fact her car (and Steve's necessary transport) was at a daughter's somewhere nearby in Seattle. Before we quite got through, we had a call that Sharon was asking where we were---light anaesthetic. We hastened back to the hospital, around the corner, and there was Sharon, ready to get dressed and walk out of there, except they insisted on delivering her by wheelchair to the across the street hotel. So now we have to reunite Steve with his luggage, which is in our car, and with Sharon's car, which is somewhere in the surrounding neighborhoods...and Jane left her glasses in their hotel room. When we got back to the hotel with our car and Steve and his luggage---there's Sharon standing on the curb in the rain holding Jane's glasses. She's fine. And we're headed back to Jane's brother's place to pack. They say the pass will be open tomorrow.

Date: 1/19/05. Wednesday. Up early again, to a clear and bright day, and off down the road. The pass is only slightly soggy, the rain having washed off part of the snow, I'm sure to no applause from the ski slopes up there. I drove, Jane read another Amelia Peabody book, The Mummy Case, which is one of our favorites---Jane reads the Amelia part so well they should hire her if ever the thing goes to film: I would never attempt it, after hearing her "Amelia" voice. And we stopped for brunch at Snoqualmie, then on to Ellensburg and the only chancy driving---fog was so thick I missed my latte exit, and drove on to the delightfully named George, Washington, where there is another latte stand---and fuel. We hit the road again and got a phone call en route which Jane will have to tell you about in her blog, but it was very good news. We were so happy we went for a celebratory dinner at Anthony's, just at sunset over the falls, and got home to watch the Figure Skating Nationals, which we had recorded from last weekend. We're otherwise just exhausted, and caved in early. We did have a late phone call from Sharon---she's back, she's feeling the aftereffects now---tomorrow should be the third day after for her, on which any injury hurts, but is otherwise just fine, and we're all planning to meet at the rink. Tomorrow is test day for one of our friends---would have been for Sharon, except the sudden opportunity to get the surgery business over with---but we may go to cheer Larry on.

Date: 1/20/05. Thursday. Still haven't really hit the keyboard yet: I'm going through those myriad rituals and games playing (including long sessions of Solitaire) that I use to recover my place. But this is a happy ship---we're home, we're well, the news is all good, and the weather is fair. We went off to the rink to skate---I'm hopeless; I tried to pitch onto my nose the very first step onto the ice; but I began to settle back into my boots and reshape my feet to work, and I began to get my balance again. Not to mention we had a few novice skaters, one of whom latched onto my hand and would not let go for a good twenty minutes...Keeping her upright was a balance challenge, but it probably helped me as much as it did her. She was having a great time, and I hope she does enjoy it enough to make it to lesson 2. We had lunch out, then came back to the rink to cheer for Larry and Lisa, and, it turned out, an acquaintance from the southern club, Patricia. All of them passed, so that was a happy event; and Sharon made it out---a little sore, but in good form. She said she'd be there, and she made it.

Date: 1/21/05. Friday. 103233. The word count ran backward a little, necessary as I pick up my place, but it read well, it's going well, and I have now recovered my stride---I tell you, a convention when you're on the very last scenes in the book is the very worst thing. You can see how very involved it is to dive aside and make it to a convention and get back to work again with a working brain. But Sharon has now asked that dread question..."When's the next one?" We laughed. We did have a lesson today---Sharon took to the ice again a little gingerly and we took that time with Joan, which turned out well. I made some real progress and so did Jane, and Sharon's looking good. The rascal went right out and launched into a highspeed spin, which is quite a strain, but she did it. And we went over to Tomato Street and had lunch, then picked up my skating outfit, which I'd left in the locker, and Jane and I went home to try adding sparkles with a hot iron---kind of nervous operation, fidgeting little nailheads into place, but it is looking good---I chose a deliberately primitive pattern that doesn't demand relentless symmetry---and it is going faster than I thought, never mind the crisped fingers. I should have the bottom done by tomorrow, and I'll try it out. It gives a whole new meaning to "practice dress".

Date: 1/22/05. Saturday. 104298. Progress again. I thought I might actually finish today, but it's not going to happen. Against our usual habit, we went for public skate on a Saturday, which means lots of beginners, kid, aged about six, shoved back from a wall as I was passing her and knocked me down, no great damage done, except the irritation---I'd already cautioned her about backing out in front of people, and she'd nearly caused several other accidents to boot. "Go with the traffic" did not register with this one. I'm very thankful for the crash pads, let me tell you.

Date: 1/23/05. Sunday. 105049, and finished! Books tell you when they're done---and this one found its proper ending. I'll be dropping this section into archive in a few days, once people have a chance to read up to here. I'll have a button to get you to the archive, all the same. We decided to go out and celebrate, and had a very nice supper---the very last table available in the bar section, when the whole rest of the place had been reserved for months because of a Cher concert at the Arena: piece of luck. What wasn't so good, however, was that Jane had drunk a vitamin tea earlier in the evening, and had taken a vitamin pill, or two, and the two didn't combine at all well. She became quite, quite ill---we're pretty sure it's that and not the restaurant or the flu.

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