All contents copyright 2005 by C.J. Cherryh

Last update: 07/08/2005

One of those questions a writer gets asked (a lot) besides the one we all dread, "where do you get your ideas?" is "how long does it take to write a novel?" Well, I thought it might amuse my readers to know. First, how long is a novel? 80,000 words up to infinity. A book 3/4 of an inch thick is about 80,000 words. A book an inch and a half thick is about 120,000 words. How many words on a page of manuscript? About 325, doublespaced.

So---say that your target length is about 100,000 words or more.

And how much does a writer write a day? Bear in mind that sometimes you go backwards, and rip out 10,000 words. Sometimes you go forward, and gain 3. Words, that is.

Sometimes it's fast, sometimes it's slow. Sometimes you don't get anything done. Bear in mind I write full time. But I have to do other things, too. So I thought I'd just let you see for a while how progress goes.

I'm working on Fortress of Ice.

Date: 1/24/05. Monday. Haven't started the new outline yet---had a checkup appointment today, and had to run off to that, ascertaining that Jane was vertical and functioning, but not happy, oh, dear no. She swore she was going skating, and we'd agreed to meet at the rink if she'd take my skates---I hoped maybe to be done early enough to get a little skating in. And things went quite quickly at the clinic, so it was a tossup between trying to beat Jane out the door or wondering if her phone was on---I knew I could drive it in time, and if I stopped to phone I might miss her altogether, if she'd forgotten her phone. Well, I pulled up in our parking lot just as Jane reached the ground level, and she had, in fact, forgotten her phone. We took off for the rink, and by now she was sick enough to request I not accelerate or stop too fast. This is quite grim. Ordinarily I can't talk her into Gatorade, but it seems the logical thing to do: the moment we reached the rink I got her a bottle of the substance and a bottle of water, and after a sip or two she revived enough to go out on the ice, and had downed about half the bottle in a couple of hours, but is pretty tired---as she says, she probably stayed on the ice about a quarter hour longer than she ought, and is quite shaky, again, probably the electrolyte balance: when you're on Atkins, it's not a good thing to get the electrolytes thrown that badly, and I know we shouldn't have splurged on that creme brulee dessert---way too much sugar on top of the other problem. She's taken to her room with the notion of sleeping it off, and I think this is a good idea. Light supper this evening, assuming she's looking at food by then, and a quiet evening recovering.

Date: 1/25/05. Tuesday. Well, Jane's still under the weather, supper last night wasn't a good thing, and I'm not feeling too spiff myself. I tried to get the format for the next book set up, but I'd no sooner brought up a file and gotten a page format launched than Jane came in to say she was too sick to skate---that's sick. She wanted more Gatorade and chicken soup. Emergency grocery run. We had a lesson scheduled, and I decided I'd better get organized and go, and then come back and pick Jane up because she did want to keep the chiropractic appointment. So off I went, and had a very good lesson. I'm still not as flexible as I'd like---and I think Joan despairs of my inside edge 3-turn, but I'll get it. It's a question of balance. Meanwhile I'm getting pretty reliable on the outside edge 3-turns, and Joan gave me an actual round-the-rink pattern to do, which consists of 3-turn to a back crossover, to the opposite foot back crossover, step out forward, then another 3-turn, in fairly random directions. This, if I can work up to speed, could look really rather nice. And I am gathering speed on the 3-turns. Besides that I'm working on the back outside edges, now that I've figured out what direction I'm supposed to be facing when I start the pattern. If I can avoid breaking something essential, I should be actually doing fairly good things come summer. Went dashing back to get Jane, and we went to Dr. Mike's, to get straightened out, which she said did help the nausea she's had for days. Neither of us felt up to our usual hamburger: she had the junior size, I left half my fish, and we just each had a crunchy peanut butter-blackberry shake, which is compensation for just about anything. No, it's not on our diets, but we get away with it every two weeks because we're scrupulously good most of the time.

Date: 1/26/05. Wednesday. I did get the file formed, and that staple of my work, the "tracking" file, which is where I jot down all the details that otherwise could slip my mind, names, dates, relatives, and map positions. But I'd gotten up late, and I only managed a few entries---it's always hard to pick up on a story you haven't dealt with for a while---before it was time to get to the rink---So we thought. The rink schedule had changed again, and we were half an hour early---plus there was a large class ahead of us and they didn't Zamboni. So we skated on deep powder---horrid surface to practice fine maneuvers on; some darling child had spat gum onto the ice, which besides fouling up good blades will bring you to a sudden 50% check in speed: I didn't fall. My legs felt like rubber. There was a hockey skater who wasn't as good as he thought he was, who nearly collided with me---and with every other skater on the ice. Couldn't get it through his head that you should look backward when going backward. And then my rubber legs just gave way for no particular reason and pitched me down as I was rounding a near-the-wall turn. I didn't hurt myself, but I was even more wobbly when I got up. Jane offered me her Gatorade (a new bottle) and it helped, but not longterm. I had to leave the ice, just too wobbly to cope. So I suppose I have a light case of whatever-it-is, and neither of us felt like supper. But I was feeling better later in the evening. We watched a dvd, Van Helsing, which we found a lot better than its reviews---we recommend it. It turns out it was done by the same chap who did The Mummy, and has the same bent sense of humor---a great deal of fun.

Date: 1/27/05. Thursday. Well, I got a paragraph done of notes...and some heavy thinking. Went skating in the morning, and got so wobbly I had to down a bottle of Gatorade, which I'm sure won't help my weight. We had a lesson with our younger instructor, who can't come until after her school hours, so this meant coming back, and skating-up again. We did have lunch at a new restaurant, a Thai place which had turned up in place of our old favorite, The Shack, and it was great. The ensuing lesson was pretty good, but I got dizzy practicing backward crossovers, which is not like me. Passed a 6-car pile-up on a tame city street on the way home. Amazing.

Date: 1/28/05. Friday. And the count begins at 939 words, on Fortress of Ice, which should be enjoyable and fast to write---she says at this point. This is counting notes, understand. At skating today, Jane had a lesson, to make up for the one she missed by being sick on Tuesday, but I had to leave the ice after thirty minutes, just dizzy...I have some symptoms of an ear infection, which may just be allergy. I won't mess around with it for long.

Date: 1/29/05. Saturday. 2128 words. Ripping right along---at least on notes. And the accounts are due to be figured, and poor Jane, who had other things on her agenda, is obliged to try to balance the accounts before I set to work and unbalance them again by paying the bills...we had a serious discussion on how to avoid waiting until the last moment to get this done, and I think we reached a consensus. I'm still feeling it from the ear, and of course it's a weekend, but I may have to go in to the clinic and get something done about it if this doesn't improve today.

Date: 1/30/05. Sunday. I got up with no relief from the ear situation---it bled, and this didn't seem a good thing: I've had a lifetime of ear infections, I've lost most pain sensation there, and the feeling of pressure and the dizziness says hie thee to the doctor. So off I go, on a Sunday morning, to the 24/7 medical clinic, to pay exorbitant prices, but I'm taking no chances now that nasty symptoms have manifested. I drove myself---Jane's fussing with a graphic design for the ice show spectacular, which silly her, she agreed to do---and I'm not that dizzy. So I get there. Seems I forgot my wallet, my insurance card, and my driver's licence, along with my checkbook and credit cards. I'd borrowed Jane's cell phone because mine wasn't charged; I couldn't get the thing to work properly---it insisted on being on voice command, but I finally tamed the beast and got a call through. She dropped everything and drove to the clinic with my wallet, then left. Shortly after I had a summons for my case: it turned out they want to take blood pressure in the public waiting room in the Urgent Care clinic, and I've worn a heavy sweater. The nurse decides to use the big cuff and do it over the sleeve---over my protestations. So after that and a lengthy wait for the doctor, I present my case: bleeding from the ear and pressure. I want my ear checked, and medication if appropriate. Oh, no, no, we have to attend my "low blood pressure" condition. I don't, I say, have low blood pressure. I'm here for what ought to be an earache. No, no, we have to take the blood pressure again. And the doctor proceeds the same way the nurse did, and confirms I have direly low blood pressure. Not for long, I think: I feel it building fairly high at the moment. My ear, I say, and she checks the ear. I say it had a bloody discharge, and ask if the eardrum is intact. She avows she can't see it too well, but we really need to look at the blood pressure and maybe take a test for anemia. But my ear, I say. Well, maybe she could prescribe some ear drops with Neomycin....I'm allergic, I point out, to Neomycin, and said so in the initial interview. Well, maybe not. But if you'll just put on the hospital gown and wait for the nurse we'll check the blood pressure. Of course, with no bulky sweater, it reads normal---in both arms, wonder to say. I wait some more. The doctor comes back and says maybe we should run a blood test. I'm thinking dark thoughts by now, and thought of retorting that I've not been exposed to Ebola, have only a question about my ear, thank you---but what I do recall is the blood test I took early in the week, and the results should be downstairs. The results are, they're normal, and now the doctor has to admit both bloodpressure and blood content are normal. Well, thank you. Can we just line through that "low blood pressure" on my chart? This doesn't happen. It's still on there. But they wrote the new result down. Now can we check my eardrum? Well, she blew some air at it, said it flexed "just a little" and didn't look ruptured. Oh, thank you. Perhaps, she adds brightly, she can prescribe the Neomycin ear drops. Allergic, I remind her. Well, she says, it's probably dry air. It is winter. Use saline nose drops. Goodbye. For this, we get extra charge for weekend office visits. Restraining further comment, I left and picked up some Similasan ear remedy at the grocery store, used it, and within two hours the afflicted ear began to discharge, considerably more fluid than went in, and stopped bleeding. I got a bit of work done, but Jane's still got the main computer on her project. We settled down to watch "Pompeii: The Last Day" on Discovery, and it is the first Discovery program to portray the Romans as they really were...quite, quite a nice program. It's the first one I can honestly recommend. Catch it on the re-runs if you missed it. It even did fair credit to Pliny the Elder, whose combined career as admiral and naturalist---he did not scruple to divert a warship to go watch a natural phenomenon, or turn aside in a rescue, either: the honorable original to the explorer-naturalists. A few details I'd quibble with: my own research turned up quite a bit of preliminary activity from Vesuvius observed by Romans, and it wasn't as if they didn't know it was a volcano: they'd just never seen one blow up in that unique type of explosive eruption combined with that phenomenon geologists have recently put a nasty name to: pyroclastic flow. I've been there, I've seen the body casts, and it was kind of a spooky program in a way, since I know these people, and watching them hit their marks and perish is...well, you may imagine. It was very, very well done. Nice to know I'm 300 miles downwind of another volcano with such a capacity...although Vesuvius' magma chamber I believe has Mount St. Helens considerably beaten for size. I've asked modern day Neopolitans if the volcano worries them, and the answer is pretty well what I imagine the Romans would have said in their day: the volcano erupts very infrequently, most generations never see an eruption, and if it comes, maybe it will come in the grandchildren's day... The overwhelming fact is, it's one of the prettiest coasts on the planet, and people love living there. So did the Romans. Pompeii was the Ft. Lauderdale of its era, a place for holidays.

Date: 1/31/05. Monday. 4012....counting what I got done yesterday. Well, the ear drained most of the night, and the pressure is gone. I got a bit of work done, but the mouse keys on my laptop started sticking, and finally wouldn't function, so I spent a while playing mechanic, before we went off to skate. I'm still a bit wobbly, but began to get my feet under me. It's spring break, and the kids are here---snowing up the ice, and generally underfoot left and right, bless them: it's how the rink maintains itself, and I'm happy to see them have the income. We decided to chase off after our friend Larry and get our skates sharpened, which took an hour at least---his workshop is quite a fascinating operation---and we decided to go have Thai food for lunch/supper in midafternoon. Unfortunately our order got mixed up, and one dish arrived heavy with onions, to which we're both allergic---myself a little less so than Jane. So I took that one, and picked the onion out, but not enough, clearly. By the time we got home, I just wanted to lie still and be miserable...though a few antacids and stomach remedies later, I'm feeling better. Did I mention the housenet went down and caused me to lose the above entry, which I had to reconstruct. But Jane is through with the art project and I got payroll done for the month, so we're not too far behind. Just need to play a little catchup for tomorrow---when I'm supposed to have a lesson. I think I will cede the lesson time all to Jane, because I haven't had enough good practice time on what I'm supposed to be doing: just a little wobbly yet.

Date: 2/1/05. Tuesday. 6892. Good progress...still all outline, in the crazed way I do outlines, which is not your A,B,C method...I just write disjointed paragraphs as they occur to me and then move them (I love the computer age---this used to entail scissors and tape) into a logical sequence, filling out details as a third step, and then conflating the thing further and further. Try it, if you have to do an outline for something: add the numbers and paragraphing later. Makes a whole lot more sense to the way the human brain works.//Went to the rink for a lesson---was still quite a bit wobbly, but Joan was able to get some good moves out of me, all the same. I swear she must weigh half  what I do, and she can keep me from pitching on my nose just by a little judicious pressure on the fingers. I'm beginning to get off the wall entirely with the 3-turns, and am beginning to get the hang of the inside-edge 3-turn. The newly sharpened skate blades produce a few surprises where I've gotten used to slopping about a turn and skidding a little: no, indeed: skates that are sharp don't go sideways easily, which can be startling if you expect they will give you a half a foot or so of slip. But they really grip on the crossovers, which is a whole lot more secure. I've also been helping one of the other adult skaters who has some very talented youngsters on the ice: she's never learned her edges, and she's beginning to get the inside edge down: I hope this will give her a lot more fun on the ice.//We came back in the evening to show the club Jane's presentation about the web page and the ice show poster, and the officers were very positive. I'll post the url when we get the page up and running.//And Jane, wicked person, persuaded me to give up my 20 cup a day coffee habit: this, understand, is major---but there is some indication that it throws blood sugar and cortisol levels high: not the caffeine, but the other chemicals in, specifically, coffee.  I'm the sort of person who doesn't function until morning coffee; I love the flavor, as well as the effect. So I've cut myself back to one cup in the morning and my two double lattes at the rink. That's five ordinary cups, and that's a big cut. If it makes a difference in weight loss, I suppose I'll go with it---at least until I've dropped that other 40 pounds. Stay tuned.

Date: 2/2/05. Wednesday. 6892. The whole day started in a scramble as Jane reported my clock was wrong. I wasn't sure I wanted to go to skate today, because the home-school program brought a lot of kids to public ice last Wednesday, and just made the ice wretched, but they had had the lesson on one rink and had rink 2 Zambonied and clean for us at least until the kids hit, and it wasn't at all bad, nor that chewed up. I actually got some good time in and made a major breakthrough on that pesky falloff on the righthand 3-turn---I'm not pulling the back arm back far enough, which has the effect of not winding the rubber band tight enough before the release that spins whatever-it-is around. A little more tension there, getting the free foot turned out and positioned near the other ankle, and snap~! it worked. That was Jane's observation that handed me that fix.//Then I had to go off to the clinic for the rest of the tests connected to the physical last week: mammogram and dxascan (bone density). They're down the hall from each other. And the dxascan apparatus wouldn't work right: they had to run it multiple times...then I had to change outfits and cart my belongings off to go get the mammogram, and that machine malfunctioned. By this time the dxascan people showed up saying I had to come back---they needed to re-run one of the scans, so back I go, change clothes again, and redo that scan, which involves a lengthy time lying still uncomfortably. When they finally pronounced themselves satisfied, I went back to get dressed, and my necklace was missing from the bundle of clothes. This involved searches everywhere I had had the clothes, which included the dxascan lab, 2 dressing rooms, and the hall between, none of which turned up the necklace, which is a nice silver one given me as a gift, and I prize it. Well, we checked all the desks, asked everyone, and the clinic ground to a halt while all the people searched. I finally gave up and went home, and just as I got in the door, the phone rang and they'd found it. So at this point I asked Jane (it being past 5) "Want to have Thai?" and we went back after the necklace and back to the Thai restaurant. Now, mind, all this grief on a person who's giving up coffee, which is about like giving up cigarettes. I'm holding up remarkably well---no pyrotechnics, no jitters. I'm drinking a lot of tea instead, and waiting to see this weight loss manifest itself.

Date: 2/3/05. Thursday. 7288. Well, a long, long day. We decided to go skate about 11, and to take along the computer and the camera to do some photography for the club website during the afternoon, while waiting for our lesson at 4:15. My feet were amazingly sore after the morning skate; and after that, I took pictures and generallly helped Jane, who was doing the scanning and cleanup---after which I made the mistake of skating-up a little early and sat for maybe twenty minutes waiting for ice time. I'd hoped this would let my feet settle into the boots: wrong. It only let them swell a bit, and this made the lesson really painful. I was glad enough to have the skates off again, and by then I was just generally sore all over. I attribute it to the tests yesterday, but it's quite unpleasant.

Date: 02/04/05. Friday. 7288. No progress: I overslept, and I'm so sore and stiff I can hardly move...back to the ice again, and I had to quit twenty minutes early, after spending most of my skate trying to help a mother with a very young girl who wanted very badly to skate, but who was terrified of the slick ice. She wanted to hold on for multiple rounds of the rink, and I figure saving a kid from being afraid of something that's so much fun is a worthy cause. I helped out, her mum on one side, and me on the other, with the youngster trying to skate on one foot and frequently sliding off it. She did improve, however, and began to use the tyke-support bars that glide on the ice, enough that I could retire from the job of second support. I hope she enjoyed her day: it actually helped when she did fall down on her backside---a gentle plump! at her height---and discovered she wouldn't die of it. If she persists, I think she might have a good chance of doing it on her own in a few sessions. But I was just done in, by this point, aching so badly that if I did sit down, getting up again hurt so much I'd rather sit. Finally Jane pointed out the likely truth: we live in the midst of evergreens, it's been 50 degrees today, the wind has been blowing, and it's just very likely a case of cedar fever. Anyone from Oklahoma and northern Texas knows what I mean by 'cedar fever'. It's an allergy to cedar pollen (even people who don't have other allergies may suffer from this one) and when the cedars pollinate, it makes human beings feel incredibly, nastily achy and a little dim-witted. Time to start the Flonase prescription. We're forecast maybe to pick up a bit of snow this weekend, which should slow the cedars down, and it can't come soon enough for me. It's probably why I didn't get anything done this morning: cedar pollen doesn't help your intellect at all, and makes you feel as if you'd rather sit staring into space rather than react to a fire alarm. I did check the national pollen site this evening, and sure enough, the birches and cedars are doing their best to reproduce. We did get something done this afternoon, lacking all will to do anything complex: I got the set of colored folders I wanted to start the shift to 2005 in the filing system: green was the color for 2004. And we stopped and got several sacks of "poofy balls" from JoAnn's Fabrics---they're still in Christmas colors, but the cats don't care. If you have a cat, try them: they're cheap little balls of spiky fiber ordinarily used for sewing onto sweaters or making doll-buttons and other embellishment in craft projects. The best puff-balls are about a half inch in diameter and have sparkly filaments in the mix. Seems we sent a sack of them to Jane's sister for Christmas, and her cats, having disposed of all of them (they end up under heavy appliances, since tiled kitchens are the favorite place to bat these about) are in mourning. They're just the right size for a cat to carry, spit, and bat, and they're such a favored toy that His Blackness spent very little time locating the new sacks and wondering if they were all for him. Sorry, Efanor. You have your own, right beside the couch.... We maintain a small out-of-reach bowl of them wherein we can deposit the ones we find about the place, and toss them down as if they were brand new, to the delight of the feline twosome. Ysabel occasionally talks to hers as she carries it about, producing a kind of warbly "wow-ow-ow."

Date: 02/05/05. Saturday. 7838. A bit of work, and then, facing the inevitable accounts, I decided to accompany Jane to the rink, not to skate, today, but to get some candids of the folk at the rink and the Learn to Skate program, to get that pesky web page updated. Then I came back and hit the accounts, which are finally yielding sensible information and making my blood pressure ever so much better. Cutting out on coffee and upping the tea consumption has been less painful than I thought, but I'm having a cup now, having just battled some of the records to a standstill and trying to catch up on terribly late e-mail. I've had multiple letters from people wanting more about Chanur, Morgaine, and the Cloud's Rider world, and all I can say is if you want these older series continued, you have to write to the appropriate publisher and promise to read them if they publish another. They're nice folk, and really do listen, and their address is in the back of any recent title page. And I had a request from a reader who wants greater legibility in the blog, so I'm trying this---no, don't adjust your set: I'm increasing font size and moderating the extreme contrast, and perhaps this will help.

Date: 02/06/05. Sunday. 10322. A good day for work---ever since we've identified cedar pollen as the culprit, and started medicating for it, I've felt quite fine, and I didn't do a thing but work and watch the Europeans (skating championship) on the telly. I risk entering a combat zone when I say that I like the new judging system, and I didn't at any time during the competition disagree with the outcome. It rewards finesse moves, which is hard on skaters whose strength is jumps, but I think it will end up rewarding fine edges and good footwork, which has been, in my own opinion, underrated under the 6 point system. We stayed in all day, didn't even put our noses out of doors.

Date: 02/07/05. Monday. 11781. Another nice day, cold and pleasant. Bear in mind that what I'm building now is outline, which is the fastest part of the writing, sort of stream of consciousness records of my concepts of the story, and it will form the framework on which I build the work itself. What I do is write forward until the endmost item has fairly well passed out of focus---i.e., I'm not that sure what happens next, and the bridges between things that happen have grown vague...and then I pop back to the beginning and begin to inflate the outline with details, so that all the things that were sparse before now acquire descriptions, relationships, sometimes even critical dialog between two people; or reasons, or things that have to be set up here. I fly on toward the last written section of the outline, off into that dreaded white space of unwritten text, keep going as far as I can, and then cycle back to the beginning or anywhere else that interests me to inflate the outline a bit more. By the time I get the whole outline done, it's even possible a lot of the book will be fully realized, if sparsely told---The Paladin happened that way. I finally just added dialog to the text, and almost had it done. Of course it had to be finessed and refined, which is the last of all stages. But I've been very happy with this book thus far. I still haven't 'read' the Bren book yet---sort of waiting for a car trip in which this will make sense to do, and I'm also letting it 'cool off' a bit, so that I'm more apt to spot errata and glitches when I do re-read it. After I've done that and become happy with it, then I'll print off a fair copy and fire it off to my agent, who'll get it over to the publisher. Soon, now, soon. There's already a Bren book in queue at DAW, so I'm sure I'm not putting anyone's schedule off.//And we went off for a skate today, and to take the last few candids for the website. I've been troubled by a very sore side of my left foot, and tried one fix last Friday, which nearly killed me; today I simply wrapped one of those Dr. Scholl's forefoot gel pads around the afflicted edge of my foot, and that was like skating on a cloud---the only problem being that it dumped me back on my heel a third of an inch, and that pitch aft nearly threw me on my backside. I went back and slipped another pad into the boot heel, bringing the foot level, and lo! perfection! Now the right foot is jealous. I got some more of the things to slip in the other boot, and if it works the way this one does, I may have solved the problem which dogged me Thursday---the sore feet that hampered me when I had to skate-up a second time in one day. Now, this may sound minor, but in a competition or testing, you may have some down-time in the day, and if your feet kill you the second time you put the skates on, you're not going to score well. So it's an important thing, and it feels as if it's going to work well enough that I can glue the things into my boots.

Date: 02/08/05. Tuesday. 11781. A scramble from beginning to end...we got out of the house late, ran to the rink for our Tuesday lesson from Joan, and I made the choice to pad up both boots with unfamiliar orthotics before a lesson---which could have been disastrous, but was only a little excessive: the pads are made to come down by half, and I'll do that tomorrow. On the good side, we both had good sessions: I got a sequence that, if I can do it well, will actually represent a small, ice-covering routine, not unlike a slice of a competition program. It's a 3-turn sequence, involving a crossover, shift of weight, and repeat. I can actually look like a figure skater instead of a person doing bits and pieces. I'm very happy with it. Jane is tracking along with similar moves. You'd think we'd end up having pretty much the same lesson, but she does certain moves better than I do and vice versa: different bodies, different skills. She says I have a good foot turnout, which surprises me greatly: I had ballet when I was 6, briefly and unsuccessfully. But I fenced, and went into that sport with two knees with weak ligaments, so I used to do the ballet exercises as well as the fencing warm-ups to keep the knees intact. Must've worked. Now Joan will be on me about turning out my feet as I ought---really useful when going backward: it's the craziest thing. Turn the free toe outward as you're gliding backward on one foot and you'll go on an outside edge curve, just inevitably. It sets up the muscles and shifts the weight, and over onto the edge you go.//Then Jane had to get the CD ready for the skating club, which is going to print its poster, stationery, t-shirt design, and such from it. That was done at the rink lunch counter, because we still couldn't find the club president, Rita, who needed it.//From there we dashed off to our chiropractic appointment, and back again.//And when we hit the city, we ran off to a Thai restaurant and bar where one of our other skating buddies, Dawn, was part of a Middle Eastern dance troupe doing a benefit for tsunami relief. We had a great time, ran into some of our science fiction friends into the bargain, and the troupe was good.

Date: 02/09/05. Wednesday. 14048. Last night we had Thai food, involving the deadly-good peanut sauce, and this morning Jane looked like death warmed over, flushed face---says she spent a horrid night, stomach pains, etc. Well, perhaps there's been just too much Thai peanut sauce lately. She's sworn off peanuts for a while, may have a slight allergy and doesn't want to throw it into a full-blown problem. So we decided going to skate today wouldn't be good. I ought to have finished up the accounts, but didn't. I settled in and worked, until both of us had a hair appointment, which takes a good couple of hours...and Rita called from Kinko's to say the stationery file wouldn't show. Well, that proved a problem. Jane took her computer to the salon, called up a new file, transferred the images over, and had a working copy, which, when we got home again, we emailed over to Kinko's/Fedex, which is set up to receive the we trust the club got its stationery and we didn't have to drive across town---isn't the e-age wonderful? We decided to have pan-fried salmon and broccoli for the next several nights and not to have any more dietary experiments for a while.

Date: 02/10/05. Thursday: 18021. Well, up and at it early. And then to the rink. We're back on the ice today, though Jane is still suffering: we had a pretty good skate, all told. We had brought the computers to the rink, because we had a lesson in a couple of hours---I played Solitaire, about all I was mentally worth at this point---my current passion is Vegas-style 3-card, by which I remind myself why playing cards for actual money is not a good idea, and sipped latte (with low carb milk), while Jane did actual work on the club website, but after a bit I skated-up out of boredom, then decided my feet were going to suffer if I didn't get them working. I decided to go back onto 'club' ice, meaning we pay extra for it. I wanted get another hour in of warmup before our 'club ice' lesson with our younger instructor, remembering that last week I couldn't feel my feet. I warmed up sufficiently, and had a really good lesson, really good---until I added up that I'd been on the ice for four hours during the course of the day, and no wonder that by 5:15 my feet are a little over-used. I'll be lucky if I can walk tomorrow.

Date: 02/11/05. Friday. 19293. A spate of freeflowing work---this is being quite fun: this is a book I've had in planning since I turned in the last one, which has been a couple of years, and it is going rapidly, as I had hoped. Still bear in mind we're talking outline word count, but there is some finished writing in it, too. We went to skate---I just couldn't get my feet to work after the extreme workout of yesterday, but I survived. I'm practicing the back outside edge, meaning throwing a curve to the outside, not the midline of your body, while going backward. I can say I'm steady enough to have survived running my skate into a nasty 'death cookie', or Zamboni-drip, while going backward like this, but it was a bad moment. I finally decided I'm just not steady enough on that edge and launched into a backward two-foot slalom that really has one foot on the ground and the other fairly well ghosting alone and useless for all but balance. Sure enough, when I tried the move next, my steadiness had improved, so I kept at that for about half an hour, enough to exhaust my legs and turn up a real weakness in my backward righthand gear: got to steady that down, which may be one of my key problems in doing the exercise. The adult kaffeklatch went out to lunch---me, Jane, Sharon, and Joan, and we went to Antony's, which has the spectacular view of the falls, beautiful, beautiful. After that, and being as tired as I was, I completely collapsed for an evening of "Children of the Nile," the game I'm playing---a sim game which lets you get up-close with the Egyptians. I'm not in a goblin-bashing mood this last few months: the tinkering and futzing of a meticulous city-sim just sort of fills the bill.

Date: 02/12/05. Saturday. 21023. A lengthy morning of work...then a dash over to the rink to take some photos of instructors and coaches for the rink itself, a favor for friends. It took all of five minutes once I got everyone lined up: I always figure if you're shooting portraits, you just can't keep people standing about: they get out of sorts and it shows. We ran through pretty fast and I got what I hope are some good posed shots---I prefer candids, for showing people as they really are. Honestly, I'd far rather someone windblown with the spark of life in their look than someone combed and perfect and somber. I think it's a much fairer record of the person. After that it was---fill the car with gas before I'm left on the street, get home, get back to work, today being one of those perfectly wonderful productive ones; then cook supper and collapse. You'll notice I've finally gotten the dates straightened out: one of the problems of this larger type face in a wizzy-wig program is that I can't see too far backward to doublecheck my dates without (ahem!) actually looking at it, and I got careless.

Date: 02/13/05. Sunday. 26377. I'm writing outline in a peculiar font, which I sometimes do, just to relieve the same-old, same-old of Times Roman, my usual fallback. I'm using Viner Hand, which is large, and which means I have 72  pages of outline---it makes me feel as if I'm getting somewhere. Typesetters nowadays keep using fonts that lose punctuation: or kern (snug) them up against the last letter of the word, which I think contributes to why-Junior-can't-read. Punctuation should have punch, substance, visibility...because (I will tell you a secret of the English language) you can say absolutely anything any way you like, if you can just punctuate it correctly---which I say to anyone who laments that he just can't write coherently: the problem is---how do you punctuate it so that a reader can figure your meaning? Punctuation is less rules than tools....ah, well. But I drift. Considerably. Back to the question of font: Viner Hand is sort of piratical, sort of Blackadder style.  Try your business reports in Viner Hand and see if they don't have a refreshing air of mystery...well, better convert them before you turn them in to the committee. But you can have the private satisfaction.//Just saw one of those commercials (yes, I write with the telly on, at all times) for a Low-Carb pill that makes you more efficiently digest all the high fat and protein you eat---I swear, I'm very efficient at absorbing anything I eat. That's my trouble. That's why I have another 40 pounds to lose. Seems to me the more you digest, the more food value you get, and food value is another word for putting-on-weight. So is "full of nutrients"---I don't need more nutrients. I'm trying to cut down on them, thank you. Anyone who has reason to worry about real deficiency, like a growing child, go for the nutrients---but I don't think I fall in that category. Reminds me of that famous ad for a wonder food that had: "fifty percent of the nutrition and only half the calories." As Jane's favorite character would say, thinkaboutit...//I did sit down and get the personal accounts ready to send to my accountant, a relatively simple job, and one that needed to be sent off a month ago.//Oh, and any of you who happen to like cats, search up "Hallmarks of Felinity" on the internet. I swear, it's Ysabel, perfectly Ysabel. I want that collection hardbound---and you can get it from Amazon.//On the "changes to the blog" front, so far I have four votes for and one against the teal blue background as opposed to black. I know whatever I do isn't going to be universally acceptable, but the object is readability. I could take this to black on white, but I kind of like the color, myself. I did some tweaks today, then wiped them all out as illegible, and I'm out of time alloted for tinkering...I wrote, "thinkering..." Hmm. Maybe that should be a word.

Date: 02/14/05. Monday, Valentine's Day. 29637. Well, more tinkering. This color seems awfully pale to me, but we'll run this one up the flagpole and see if it draws fire. Had a pretty good skate today---I'm still working on the backward outside edges, and I've had some interesting moments keeping my balance once I get away from the vertical cues of the wall: I don't need to touch it, but when you get out into the middle, that's a lot of featureless white all around you with no real up or down and nothing to reach out to if you bobble. Not to mention a near miss from another skater who, rounding the end of the rink at high speed, hit one of the patented 'death cookies' the Zamboni sometimes leaves in its wake (I found two the size of your fist, and eliminated them---I've gotten steady enough on my feet to be able to chip them off the surface) and I can say she did a miraculous job not taking me out as she skidded past at ankle level. Her speed was really startling, especially as I usually track every skater on the ice (when we're free-skating, we habitually cross the ice at all angles and directions, dictated by the known pattern-exercises we do, which are predictible if you just know who's out there) and I hadn't even seen her enter. She had hit hard, but she seemed undamaged, and I certainly was, but it was indeed a moment.//Afterward Jane and I went off to Tomato Street for a little splurge for Valentine's Day, since we'd both been so harried this last couple of weeks that we hadn't gotten our usual cards to exchange. We were bad. We split a dessert. The news from the scales tomorrow will not be good for either of us---and the sugar hit was pretty hard on my stomach. We're now vowing we're going to redo ketosis, which means a week of very high protein and no cheating of any kind. This, we hope may get us off the current plateau---not a bad plateau, since it's far below where I was, but a plateau that's lasted for two months and we're thinking it's time to get down to business and lose another five pounds or so before spring.//Weather's been dry and productive of cedar pollen---which means body aches, stuffy ears, runny noses, eyes, and the IQ of a potato, even for people who aren't usually allergic to things. I'm keeping up my Flonase prescription, thank you, and hoping for cold weather. The Weather Service promised us snow flurries today and the clouds only dropped moisture on the mountains---we need the water, as is, particularly the ski resorts need it, and it's going to be the weekend before we have another chance at any rain or snow. It's also been too warm for winter. I hope this doesn't foretell a nasty summer, but it certainly looks as if it could be one of those hot ones. Winter sports have generally taken a beating hereabouts this winter, a hockey strike and no snow on the nearer mountains. Our rink is the sole refuge for us cold-lovers, amateur hockey, dropin hockey, and, of course, us.//And Jane's rearranging her room again---we have a lot of furniture, and any rearrangement involves higher math, sort of like a Rubik's Cube, trying to figure out what we can do differently with the pieces. She's been shoving things about in there with a great deal of energy, also a sign of impending spring.

Date: 02/15/05. Tuesday. 31238. A little snow fell in the night, about enough to show up here and there along the creek, but not enough to give real relief. I started the day aching in all my joints and a lesson and a hard skate weren't too helpful. On the other hand, if Joan's providing me stability, I can do some actually complex things now, and I got across the width of the rink (again with help) doing the backward edges pattern---I'd have sworn last week that it would take me two months to get that far. But I've been practicing those edges, and practicing, and I just plain ache. I'm pretty sure cedar pollen is somewhere in the equation, but I'm writing this late at night because the Advil hasn't kicked in enough to let me sleep. Ysabel, who thought we were going to bed, is disgusted. We made a major grocery run today to set up for this re-ketosis business, which means lots of meat, eggs and cheese, and salmon is the easy thing up here in the northwest. But Eggo now makes a low-carb waffle---good news. Sometimes you just want something that crunches. I don't know how long it will take us to break out of this plateau, but we'll see. I'm ready to lose 5 to 10 pounds. I've already lost 40 plus, and have kept it off for a year, which indicates we're winning the battle. So, well, it's virtue for at least a couple of weeks.//Got to watching a movie this evening---kids having fun with sparklers triggered memories of doing the same...those and those wonderful cinder-snakes that grew out of a little black tablet. You know, I figured when I got to a certain age, the youngers would all be rebels as in most generations and more reckless than I liked---but most kids don't get sparklers at all any more: parents are scared of the hot wires inside. And programs like Clean Sweep try to help parents reorganize their houses after a deluge of monster-sized kids' toys has taken over every room in the house and displaced everyone from their beds. My toys, when I was a kid, mostly fit inside a shoe box, under my bed, thank you, and none of them would have passed today's safety standards. The ones that were plastic were brittle, with sharp edges. The ones that were metal had peeling paint and wheels that would come off, if I'd tried. I certainly didn't have any inclination to swallow any of them, however: they were precious, and few, and some, like my little ships, were made out of walnut shells and toothpicks, which definitely aren't edible. I also knew that if toys were gone, they were gone, and there wouldn't be more at the next trip to the store. Three-legged horses got a toothpick taped on for a leg and continued in service. We simply could not be feckless. We had floor furnaces for heating the house: we learned early that if you walked onto the grid barefoot you ended up looking like a waffle, because the grid would melt crepe-soled shoes to stickiness after a minute of standing, not to mention branding your bare feet if you didn't watch where you were walking--the things, completely flush with the floor, and about three feet by two and a half, always seemed to be near a doorway. But they were indescribably wonderful to stand on on a winter's day, a toasty blast of air---until your shoe soles heated up and common sense advised you it was time to move off. If there were babies in the house, you just put a kind of fence around the grating and hoped for the best, and yes, some kids did learn the hard way. It did discourage juvenile roughhousing anywhere near the grate. Transportation? No car pools. You walked. When I got my first bike, at age seven, I met a steep learning curve...literally. I went off over the handlebars repeatedly on a gravel patch that lay in an intersection between me and school, and after about two weeks of being a fool on a two block downhill, I learned to slow down before I got to the aforesaid loose gravel, and stopped falling on my elbows. Helmets were unheard of---fortunately I never landed on my head, but the elbows and knees were a real mess before I figured out how to brake. Training wheels? There wasn't any such thing. You just took your chances and planned to fall down a few times. Painfree medication? Heck, no. And no sympathy. You got it scrubbed, the rocks picked out, and a good dose of poisonous merthiolate dumped on it with great expediency, because you were certainly going to howl and postponing the inevitable with protestations of sympathy only prolonged the misery. By the time I was fourteen, my cousins, my brother and I were routinely handed a lit punk and a grocery bag full of medium-sized firecrackers on July 4th and turned loose on my grandmother's farm for most of the day unsupervised in forty acres of dry grass, which we never did set alight. We had the basic sense  to use the creek bottom for our detonations and fires, we never startled the cattle, and we never did have an accident with fairly potent little fireworks...well, except when my brother zigged away from one detonation into another, but he was only singed. I never handled the big stuff until I was eighteen, and then the very first Roman candle I let off fired at both ends---but I'd been taught to hold them well to the side and not have anyone behind me: no damage done. (Every firework in that lot did the same.) The only thing we didn't trust was bottle rockets, after the time we had one head for the barn. That wayward rocket took an hour to hunt down, during which time the barn did not take fire, but a cow took serious exception to the after-hours intrusion, and ran my dad quite nastily into a fence. So bottle rockets went off our shopping list, but we graduated to more potent firecrackers. Our roller skates, that other summer recreation, were quad-wheel, not inline: metal, with a slide and a screw to adjust for shoe-length, and they clipped onto street shoes with very dubious little clamps you screwed up tight over the edges of your leather soles with a skate key, a little item which was very easy to lose and hard to replace. The side clamps came off way too easily---a real startlement, when a heavy metal skate came unclipped while still buckled around your ankle. I took one heck of a dive when I hit gravel at the bottom of a neighbor's drive on a steep descent and catapulted clear to the centerline of our residential street. And I loosened every one of my permanent front teeth one spring by trying to vault a metal railing in the middle of a dry public park wading pool---my toe caught the top rail---and we just applied ice, called the doctor (who said the teeth would probably tighten up again) and never once thought of suing the city park department just because I couldn't correctly gauge a jump. I ate soup for a week. The teeth did tighten up again. And I didn't stop vaulting things, but I did learn not to do it over concrete---a lot faster than I learned about the gravel, I must say. That one hurt. ---You know, I'm glad to have survived growing up. But I think I'm going to have to get myself a handful of sparklers for next July.

Date: 02/16/05. 31238...Wednesday. yep, no progress, because I was up until 3am, overslept, and had to scramble to get ready for the rink... And just to keep myself honest, I'm going to include the diet progress (or regress) in this daily report until I shed those cursed five pounds. I was pretty meticulously honest yesterday, didn't have any treats, exercised about 2 hours on the ice, and gained half a pound. How's that for reward of virtue? I think what's so wretchedlydifficult willpower-wise about trying to lose weight is that you don't pay for your sins all the next day: there's no correlation between what you ate yesterday and what your weight does today, because biochemical process is not on a 24 hour schedule. A misbehavior did it to me: that Valentine's dessert, I'm sure. I refuse to be miffed about this half pound, unfair as it seems at the moment. I'll see if I can get to the scales tomorrow. I usually don't weigh every day, but I'm curious how long it will take my newly-active virtue to make a difference. //I did discover a valuable bit on the rink: posture, posture, posture---in this case, remembering to rotate the trailing shoulder up and back during a turn, not letting it go rounded and casual. Funny how that makes footing and turn more secure./ I'd hoped to come home and have the energy to get some work done, but we had to go to the pharmacy on the way to pick up some prescriptions, and lucky me, I got in line behind a lady with a far worse problem than mine, and some sort of clerical mess to boot; and a gentleman who had no sense of body space and who kept backing up into the packages I was holding, while weaving and bobbing about with amazing vigor---and the whole line, just them and me, took half an hour to get to the counter. By the time I got home ready to work, the housenet had gone down again (we have a chancy plug on the modem, and probably the cats had gotten into the cords or brownies had been at work: you fix it by climbing on a ladder and sequentially turning things off and unplugging them and replugging them. Then it still didn't work.) By then I was absolutely chilled through and exhausted. All that missed sleep last night came down on me. So I caved in for what I thought would be a few minutes and discovered I'd lost the afternoon as well as the morning. The only thing I accomplished this evening was a second assault on the modem that finally worked: that plug is incredibly iffy, practically balanced in the socket. //I think last night must have been meterologically odd: I couldn't sleep, Jane said she couldn't sleep, and Sharon said the same thing, though the weather was fine and cold and ought to have been good sleeping weather. I plan to get up tomorrow with a good deal more energy, thank you, and get some real work done before we go anywhere. Postscriptum: the housenet has gone down again---just about the time the cats thundered through the living room on goblin patrol. I have a slight suspicion there is a feline cause for this fallout. I have now climbed back up to the system and fixed it, and I trust it will last until the next goblin sighting sends the cats on a rampage behind the computer cabinet...which I am relatively sure is what is going on.

Date: 02/17/05. 32473. Thursday. Up early and a bit of work. And the weight? Dead even, after 2 hours of exercise and good diet yesterday. Then off to the rink---I'm having boot trouble, meaning one boot is fine and the other is sore beyond belief. I had to leave the ice 20 minutes early just because it hurt, and I was supposed to do some photography for the rink, so I had my camera and my computer along, because we have a lesson with our younger instructor this evening, and I'm supposed to get the instructors and all captured for the bulletin board. I decided to turn the left boot in for stretching for a couple of hours, but it wasn't enough. I ended up with a very sore foot and was pretty miserable---but I decided then that I'd better turn the left boot in for the full treatment, overnight, and had the lesson---did pretty well---but was just absolutely in pain. So here I sit with one foot wrapped in Bengay pain patch, and lots of Advil, and I hope for a better time tomorrow. I did get some work done this afternoon while waiting, which brings me to the present word count. I really want to get some sleep tonight. We're watching "Sky Captain and the World of the Future", which is much better than expected---if you liked the old sf serials---not a touch missed, except a tribute to Emshwiller, Gaughan, Freas and others who created those images. I'm going to look for an acknowledgement in the end credits, and really hope to see some mention there.

Date: 02/18/04/ 32728. Friday. Didn't get too far today, but I also erased a bit and moved things, which takes time and doesn't greatly increase word count, but it is progress, all the same, as the story comes more into focus. //The weight? Up half a pound. Now, in all fairness I should confess four lattes (with Lo-Carb milk) at the rink yesterday, while working and waiting for a lesson and skating. Two diet bars, a bacon-cheese omelet with no sides, two glasses of wine, and then the piece de resistence, half a bag of jerky and half a bag of pork rinds, which disgusts me even to think about it, but sometimes you're just dying for something that crunches. All legal, except the wine, but way high salt. Today we went to the one store in Spokane where you can get really good meat, and we'll have salmon and a half a cup of cauliflower try to forget yesterday's debauch.)  I mentioned we'd rented one good movie yesterday: the second one, for which we had waited with great anticipation, A Shark Tale, we didn't watch all the way through. When we didn't like anyone in the film but the senior shark, and really activelydisliked the main characters, all of whom were extreme fools, we decided perhaps it was not going to be our cuppa, at all, and fast-forwarded and spot-checked it for redeemable scenes. Nope. Not even including the ending. It went back unloved.//Remember I was getting the skate boot stretched, and it really helped. I was afraid it would stretch too much and compromise the boot, but I skated today with a freedom from pain I haven't had in two weeks. And I'm improving on the backward edges---I had my MP3 player today, and let me tell you, the one to encourage you to get up on those outside edges is Leslie Fish's Hope Aeyrie. If you don't want to lift off and fly after that one, you need resuscitation. Other items on my player, for those of you at all interested in eclectic music: Son of Man (Tarzan: Disney); Temper of Revenge (Ecklar); Jezebel and Song of the Wild Goose (Frankie Laine); Kilgarry Mountain (The Chieftains); Greensleeves by Divisions (can't remember, but it's gorgeous); Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves: (Cher); Delilah (Tom Jones); Convoy (McCall); El Dorado (Elton John: The Road to Eldorado); He Never Came Back (Ventures in Outer Space); I Want to Talk about Me (Travis Tritt? [corrected later, 2/23/05); Ghost Riders in the Sky (can't recall, but it's the original); Charlie and the MTA and South Coast (Kingston Trio); Man of Constant Sorrows (Foggy Bottom Boys: Brother, Where Art Thou?) I've struggled to find a common thread in my collection: I believe it tends to be 'travel' in some mode or another, and largely minor key. I use the IRock MP3 player, which is incredibly tiny, for those of you into exercise, one of the less expensive of the players, and I download principally from RealPlayer Music Store, which requires no subscription, just bills you 99 cents a song, and once you've paid, you're on the list for that song and can download again if you lose your copy. I've never yet found an album I like all of---there's usually something on it that I really, really can't stand---so for me, it's a bargain: my favorites usually exist as one song on an album, in fact, so this absolutely the best way for me to build a music library. I can put it onto CD and save it, or onto the player, shift my playlist about, and take things on and off with a drag-drop menu via a USB cable and my computer, and personally, I think two hours play-time is enough. If it were longer, I'd never re-hear my favorites. Some people do keep their whole library on their player, but on the rink, I haven't got hands enough to manage a giant library. I just hit the button twice for "play" and hold it down for "stop", and that's all the controls I really need: finesse in fiddly little controls is not my habit.//Sharon and Joan didn't join us at the rink, both of them down with the flu---get well, you guys! You were missed!---but they had a major influx of newbie skaters. I personally helped a mom with two kids both new to the ice, one of them really small, and got the group to a safe base, helped another young lass learn to go backward, my good deeds for the day. And I'm home, kicked back, and only remaining chore tonight is to cook dinner.

Date: 02/19/05. Saturday. 34832. Well, the weight was up. Up 2 pounds. My rings are stuck on my fingers, which indicates I had way too much salt, but I'm beyond annoyed, since I was moderately good, well, except the bag of snacks. I'm going to have to get way serious, but I'm not going to burden the blog with my actual diet. However---for those of you who'd like to battle along with me on what we might call The Science Fiction Diet, for want of a better word, I'm going to create a special little pagelet, where I can track what's going on, along with recipes. Check the Menu Page for the link.//In the other half of the real world, we're battling a credit card company that can't understand they were cancelled 10 years ago and that doesn't answer its mail, and trying to figure out why we got a 10.00 late fee charge on a 2.00 amount owed another card. I swear, computers are a wonderful thing---but! And we'll fight an unjust charge rather than pay it, if it takes us mongths. I think these people count on you wearing out. Kudos to Nordstrom's for employing people bright enough to be handed the power to do their jobs without recourse to mysterious "supervisors," intelligent people who simply, on hearing the late fee business, even though we'd already sent the money, as we'd been incorrectly told the amount to pay, are refunding the late fee as a store credit---bright, bright people. What is a body naturally going to do, who has a small credit waiting at Nordie's? Go there, spend it, and a bit more besides. More companies should figure out that quality behavior like that gets happy, spending customers. We had no ice time today---it's crazy on weekends and the ice gets snowy, which means really bad for edge-maneuvers. And we need the days at home to catch up on accounts. By the way---all the complaints I've had about text size and legibility on the blog: read the new advisory I have at the top of this file. Jane pointed out that browser control feature, and it should help those of you who want some other size.//Jane also talked me into walking around the park---about a half mile in total. I'm still nursing a sensitive foot, but this walking thing tired me out so that I think it may be good for me. Jane's been talking about us signing up for the Bloomsday Run again. I can't remember whether it's 7 miles or 9, but we've got a way to go in conditioning. We have one set of "finishers" tee-shirts, and I suppose we could use another.

Date: 02/20/05. Sunday. 40781! Such a nice wordcount. And the weight is way down, and the rings slip easily! Can't provide you too much excitement here: I've done very little but work today, on my second roll-through of the outline, and my derriere is positively sore from sitting still for hours on hours. Not too thrilling a day otherwise, but I assure you, making real progress is a high that's beyond Godiva chocolate. There wasn't anything to provide me good background noise on my normal recourse, The Science Channel, that I liked (or hadn't seen); but The Midsommer Murders was on the Biography channel, in a strip, and these proved nice little mysteries: just where you thought they might turn cliche on you, they'd take a different turn, and they weren't difficult to follow in my off-again, on-again style of viewing.

Date: 02/21/05. Monday. President's Day. 41838. A nice session into new territory, workwise. Then off to the rink. We hadn't remembered until the last moment it was a holiday, which means rapidly chewed-up ice, and lots of snow and lots of newbies. I just put on my MP3 music and tried to ignore the bubblepop and the scudding clouds of teens---at least they bunch up and give you clear intervals---until I saw a young teen down on the ice and clearly in distress. We ascertained a break was possible---she'd gone askew with the foot, probably hit a rut, a fairly new skater in fairly new boots, which is a difficult combination. Her young companion and I got her off the ice without putting the foot down, management got her a wheelchair, and we ascertained her mother was coming to pick the group up at 1, which was only fifteen minutes. So we got her to the lobby, got the lower knee iced---the pain seemed to be localizing there---and not, as I had initially feared, on the side of the leg. A broken bone is still possible, and I hope she goes to x-ray, but it could, I suppose, be a ligament tear: it continued quite painful by the time we packed her off with her mum. That took us an extra hour, by the time all was said and done---we didn't want to leave her alone, so we stayed until her mum came. And now I've got to dredge up a few photos for the textbook people, who want some historical shots. I'd a few I wanted in, but can't find---me on the camel, in Turkey, and me teaching, holding a skull like Hamlet...but alas, such treasures are buried too deep for me to find. We settled for me in Roman ruins in Britain, me teaching, holding a book, and me hamming it up with the MMU (manned maneuvering unit) at Huntsville, AL. First time I had a chance at one was one of the training mockups back when Columbia was going to launch: they'd planned it for emergency in-orbit tile replacement, and had decided maybe they didn't need it, so they didn't have it aboard, as I recall, when Columbia shed tiles all over the launch pad on her maiden launch (I was there, too, with a press pass, with Joe and Gay Haldeman, and the government never let the press so close again: seems the cloud had drifted over us and we allegedly got hydrazined (the fuel is poisonous). But human nature had taken care of us: the shuttle had lifted up into the sun, and when we'd lost her from visual sight, we all raced for the tent where the tv displays were, to continue tracking her---so at whatever time the hydrazine came drifting down, we were under canvas, glued to the sets---or headed for the restrooms, because we'd had a long wait out there by that big lighted countdown sign, every two-inch hummock prized as a camera vantage on that flat shore.) The particular day I was getting the special tour at Houston, with the original MMU, was the day President Reagan was shot. So here I am in this photo, at Huntsville, and what was the grand new item back then had become a historical exhibit. I think that's the thing that so hit me when I went back to Canaveral, that so much that was brand new when I'd last seen it was now a fading museum exhibit; I felt so very down, so depressed I couldn't stand it until we finally got to a lab where there was actual new testing going on: I felt as if I was breathing fresh air again, as if I'd surfaced back in the future where these things belong.

Date: 02/22/05. Tuesday. 42843. A little scene-moving. It's more complex than just writing outline, so it is actually a deal of work.// We didn't expect to have a lesson today, but Joan showed up, cold and all. And just the other day, since Jane and I started skating just about a year ago this month, we wondered what our goal for the year would be. We decided maybe a waltz jump by next fall, and I joked that I'd probably nail the waltz jump before I ever did the mohawk. Well...after the initial exercise on edges, Joan proposes I learn a minor two-foot spin and then, yes, the waltz jump. It's kind of fun: mind, I'm only doing this 'on the wall,' meaning with one hand on the barriers. What you do, for the waltz jump, is swing, say, the right foot forward, while you drop the left toepick (that jaggedy thing on the front of figure skates) onto the ice, whump! which throws you up onto that toe at a dead stop. Pivot and hop with full weight to the right toepick, then lower the right heel and glide backward on one foot. The swinging foot gives you loft and rotation as the pick goes down, the spin happens without much thinking about it (arms have to follow through) and the natural landing is on that opposite toepick---thus "toepick, spin, other-toepick, glide back." And the crazy thing is, I think I may actually be able to do this. It's the bunny hop (similar move, with no rotation, and a flat footed landing, one, two) that can kill you: land with your weight on the tail of your skate and you'd better hope you have a wall to grab, because that sort of misstep can launch your whole body horizontally into the air and land you on your back---or head. The bunny hop is the first jump they teach the kids, but it's harder than the waltz jump for adults, because our center of gravity is so high, the chance of missing your balance point while learning is pretty good; as for the waltz jump, easier for adults than kids: at least speaking for us, our leg swing is pretty strong, our skates are quite heavy (I haven't weighed them, but they're at least several pounds--each), and we carry quite a bit of casual centrifugal force on that initial move. I thought in order to do a jump I'd have to fling my 190 pounds straight upward from a standing start; but with leg-swing as the prelim move, you don't exert at all to do the toe to toe hop. I can begin to see how this swing and hop business might lead to more altitude than I'd have ever thought I could achieve...maybe enough that I can actually do a single something-or-other, eventually, and keep my feet. And you'd better believe we're wearing the helmets and the crash pads. Stay tuned. We plan to survive this. Our chiropractor, the redoubtable Dr. Mike, is standing by.

Date: 02/23/05. Wednesday. 44218. Not bad. Except those pictures I've been trying to send to the textbook publisher keep bouncing. I hope I've got that solved. The skate today was good---and I'm beginning to work into some fairly strenuous practice routines that's wearing me out a little early. Jane wants to go up to the upstairs gym to get a little stretch in; myself, I'm looking for a good ab machine. What they turned out to have was a good slant board. That'll do. Old-fashioned crunches, at an angle. I'm starting small and I'll work up.// You'll have noticed the font size is back down. What I've gotten as a consensus from e-mail (I can't acknowledge quite all of it, though I try) is that a majority favor the color changes, are equally divided between teal and baby blue, slightly more like the dark text, and slightly more want the text smaller again. Note the text-size fix at the top of the page, which should let everybody pick their own size, if I start with a font small enough to let you resize it to your own preference. This slick trick covers Internet Explorer, Firefox, and, I hope, Mozilla, requiring just a quick adjustment for those of you that need the large font. If there's a problem with that fix, we can try again. //And of all things, in the confusion at the rink today, in a generally confused day, I misplaced my MP3 player. Generally we've had very good luck with honesty in the locker room, which is where I know I left it. We'll see if this holds true for a desirable little MP3 player..//Oh! And thank all of you who corrected me: the artist for "I Want to Talk about Me" is Toby Keith, not Travis Tritt.

Date: 02/24/05. Thursday. 46073. Now I'm into the messy back end of this project, and won't be satisfied until it's non-messy....back ends of outlines are always shaggy with things that have to be dragged into the middle or left out altogether, as well as the good bits that have to stay. This is the sort of thinking end of the writing process that's best done in outlline, so the major decisions are all made.//I did find my MP3 player---I'd put it in my boot bag, of all places. And I ran it over to the store across the street because it seemed to be out of battery---but it turned out it has a funky 'hold' button that can get jammed by the leather case. When it doubt on such matters, ask the youngest clerk you can find---and indeed, she knew just what it was. We had a pretty good skate today---I'm starting to find some of the finesse troubles I'm having are due to not quite trusting the full length of the blade---mainly I'm skating too far forward on the blade in some maneuvers. This is where you can really kill yourself if you just step off onto the tail of your blade---you can take a bad backward fall. But if you link that move to a deep knee bend, the heel is secure and your posture is good. It's a little scary, but I'm interesting in what things it does improve. And I'm wearing the helmet. We had a lesson with our junior instructor today: it went well. And Jane is trying to ftp the club website. The URL will be I'll put it in the links page once I'm sure it's working.//Weather continues disgusting, much too warm and clear for the good of the trees, and we're looking forward to the weekend where some of that moisture California would like to be missed by may come a little northward.

Date: 02/25/05. Friday. 47045. Another rainless day, and no chance until about Monday. And we expected to find Sharon and Joan today, but neither showed up--we hope they're ok. The ice was fairly well deserted, except for a regular or two. In all that quiet ice, I've been working on that getting-down-in-the-heel proposition, and finally, late in the skate, achieved it, however briefly. I can see why they don't encourage beginners to start with this, because if you forget and straighten up as you're, say, slopping into a lazy turn, boy, can you get into trouble! I did a brief Michael Weiss imitation, spreadeagle, leaning backwards at a near stop, and I swear it was only pulling my arms violently forward that kept me from doing a flatout backward flop. Quite a sensation, and I can't believe I recovered from that maneuver without falling down. But the heel-down business was just amazing---it requires a very deep knee-bend to balance against, or you go on your backside, but once you get it, with your tailbone tucked, your shoulders back, and the knees bent, it prevents that nasty forward lean that makes you hesitate and wobble, and looks awful besides; and the moment I got balanced with full command of the whole blade I could go over chancy ice in a pretty good crossover and then alternate crossover direction, which requires a hellish left to right balance shift, with no great problem---amazing what it did for general balance and solidity---and posture. Of course it was at the end of the session, so I couldn't keep after it---and we're coming up on a weekend, which we'll take off, so I won't get on the ice again until Monday. But Monday, Monday I'm going to work to get that sensation back.//I finally got the MP3 player straightened out---it got stuck on two bars of a Clannad song, but not the best two bars. I finally figured out the business about the leather case intruding on the 'hold' button, and got it figured, but Clannad is going out of the sequence for a while until my nerves recover. I replaced it with "Thunder Road" and "Hedwig's Theme," along with "Everybody Wants to Rule the World."//A reader wrote, re cat toys, that she's using silkworm cocoons, which have a natural rattle to them, and I'm going to get that URL---which is on the mail computer: this may take some doing, but I think this could be a lot of fun.//And after the pictures to the textbook publisher bounced yet again, we had to get those to the post, to express them up. Note: one silkworm cocoon URL is There's also supposed to be one at, but on that one I can't find anything but yarns: it is, however, a great site if you weave or stitch.

Date: 2/26/05 Saturday. 51329. The drought continues, with a light haze that probably means fire somewhere. I hate this kind of weather. Hardly worth opening the blinds until the jet stream moves and we get some moisture. It was one of those pj's mornings, and days. I just worked, quite happily, starting back at the beginning of the outline and filling in fine detail,. Why? Because when you reach a point where the outline is thin and you can't think exactly what goes in the gaps, it's time to start at the beginning again and add more texture. These things aren't thought up full blown and finished. They go down in layers. Late in the day, we heard from Sharon, and invited her over to watch On Edge, which is absolutely full of skater cameos and injokes, in the style of Best in Show. We had a great time, ate too much, drank too much, and broke it up at a decent hour.

Date: 2/27/05. Sunday. 53208. Good day, lot done. I'm beginning to fight the timeline. To make sure I don't have people in incompatible times and places, I often use a standard calendar and write in where everyone is and what they're doing, but I can't find a spare calendar, so I'm making this out on the computer, down to 15 minute periods. Didn't do much but work.

Date: 2/28/05. Monday. 53208. Not a good day. I had the whole timeline worked out in a meticulous, multicolor, 2 1/2 hour session on the computer starting at dawn, and my computer just collapsed under the complexity of it and the backup failed. Everything, every detail, plus revisions in the outline made to accommodate and tighten that timeline, and it all went. The skating rink---we had a pretty good time, though the ice wasn't quite smooth. And I came home to try to straighten out the fiscal year end accounts, and the printer (completely different system) screwed up on the credit card download, and wouldn't let me back into the site. After an hour of trying, I discovered it had to do with the default internet security settings on XP---and hence the glass of Scotch. I got the checks cut, but I made an executive decision not to do the credit card accounts until tomorrow. Jane says I'm due a new laptop---my old Dell 8000 ME machine is showing its age. And Dell is apparently phasing out the pointing stick, so if I don't get it soon, it's going to be a real pain. I'm not real happy with this notion, and whoever's running Dell should take note: a machine with a choice of mice-devices is always better than no choice, and there's always been a choice---until now. So I'm not pleased with anything at the moment. I printed out the entire outline and reinstalled the timeline from memory, by hand, but it's not what I wrote this morning, and I know I've dropped some stitches. They'll come back, but I don't know when or at what inconvenience.

Date: 3/1/05. Tuesday. 54039. Well, I sat up late last night and recovered the data, late, late, late. And this morning I had obligatory phone calls to make---two of them to Dell. Stand by for more computer mayhem. Seems last night I checked out the availability of the Inspiron---my current machine is an Inspiron 8000, which is a pretty tough, if aging machine. When I do replace my laptop, I want a big enough memory to let me move pieces of novels around wholesale (the naive salefolk say...oh, word processing? That's a light application. Well, my files exceed a meg, and I'm given to slicing and dicing them and keeping a lot of pieces floating---and yes, when I use word processing, it's a little different than your standard business letter.) I need good graphics, because I need to see if there's a little dot somewhere in that line. And I need my touchpoint (eraserhead) mouse, because when you type really, really fast, the last thing you need is a reach that takes your hands off the 'home' keys.//And what went wrong in this simple equation. I went up to the Dell site to look at Inspirons and discovered, after futzing for an hour with their graphics, that the only machine with a touchpoint is the original, not the first-gen, XPS Inspiron. Well, the XPS original comes with a choice of 3 snap-covers, a lava, a skull, and a pipes. The XPS Inspiron Next-gen turns out not to have a touchpoint mouse, and has snap-covers entitled lava spill, etc., etc. Trust me. This becomes germane....//Well, I started to purchase the XPS machine on the general sale page, decided it needed perhaps a little more thought, because it's way expensive; and then visited the factory refurbished page. 'Refurbished' had an XPS listed at 900.00 less than I'd expect to pay...but you buy these 'refurbished's as they're configured, no changes, and it had a lava-spill cover, a cover which doesn't come on the XPS original. So, think I, this sounds like not so good a deal---several hundred of that goes away if it's a next-gen XPS machine, which is cheaper in base price; and most importantly, doesn't have a touchpoint. While I was thinking about it, somebody else bought it. Well!//So I get up in the morning to reconsider the original-purchase XPS original, only to discover now it too has disappeared from the website. Last night, about midnight, they reconfigured the Inspiron site to reflect the new reality---none of the new Inspirons now have the touchpoint, and you can no longer buy the XPS original on the main page. Well, I was beyond annoyed. Livid is more the point. I started shopping around, decided I didn't like the other brands that have the touchpoint, so I went back to Dell and dealt with the second salesman of the day---the one from whom I got the prior information was not the best-trained I've ever dealt with. The second one was a nice fellow in the 'business' notebook line, not the 'home' notebook lot, who did considerable research while I waited and discovered the characteristics I need in the D800 or D810 Latitude, another variety of Dell which is pretty well a gray-flannel-suit machine, but it has the graphics to do the other things I need. So I'm not happy with Dell for screwing up the Inspiron, I'm not happy with salesman number one, but two was fine, and at least the Latitudes still have the touchpoint and the flexibility to do high-end animation computing and a Latitude D800 or D810 will also handle video games. So this is probably the direction I'll go, if I can't stabilize this old workhorse of mine: I love my machine---it's comfy, powerful, and generally does very well, except the keys stick, hang, and outright stick down, but I can fix that; and it crashes, which is a bit ghostier, and way more annoying when it happens, but probably the crashes are due to due to my cramming it with image-manipulation and piling files onto its poor little 40 gig drive and dumping them off, all of which requires frequent optimization or any drive is going to get cranky...not to mention I'm running with an older video driver because one of the games I have on prefers it. (Note: the 'new' video driver is on the machine: the 'new' driver has known bugs that aren't going to get fixed because the card is becoming an antique, which is why a lot of the games prefer the older driver.) The thing that convinces me it's about time to move is a) I most of all don't want to find they've phased out the touchpoint on the Latitudes and b) this current machine is running at the upper end of its video card and drive capacity on way too many programs I use regularly, c) it's still WinME, and can't be upgraded without potential trouble with my Dell-originated software and ME-based items, not to mention other hardware drivers, which is a can of snakes I don't want to mess with.'s probably about time I looked for an upgrade before these problems blow up one day right before a deadline and take a critical part of a manuscript to computer limbo.

Date: 3/02/05. 56938. Wednesday. More fun than I ever wanted. An optimization failed in midprocess (my fault: never do this with the machine on battery!) and Word Perfect 10, which has been shaky before, went amnesiac and would not close any file ever opened, no matter if you turned the machine off and rebooted. So after consultation with the house hardware expert, Jane, we decided the smart thing to do was uninstall WP10 and clean the registry (a button-push operation with System Mechanic), then install WP12, which we have. News flash! WP12 will not load on a WINMe machine. We've not been happy with WP10, and decided to reinstall WP8. To my great joy it reads the files and fonts created by 10, and we are back in business. That was entertaining. More later today, but at least I haven't lost 2 novels, one as yet unprinted. I think I'm going to print Pretender out, don't you think that's a swell idea? I've already printed Ice and its notes, but I think Pretender would be a good thing to commit to real paper. //Later: well, after some to-do, like no ink cartridge and a printer that wouldn't talk to the XP machine, we got Pretender printed safely. And backed up multiple times. This is, you will have surmised, the new Bren novel, of which I haven't done a read-edit yet. We're so much an electronic office that frequently I forget to print out on paper. Ice is Fortress of Ice, a new Fortress book...and the one under construction. So far the computer has only failed me a couple of times this evening. Thank you, all of you who wrote with comforting words and sensible advice.

Date: 3/03/05. 56938. Thursday. And I only thought yesterday was wild. I tried to get the accounts in order for the accountant, rushed off to the rink, and hadn't finished my skate when there was a bad fall and one of our adult skaters was down on the ice. We got help, got her to the lobby, where there happens to be a nurse, one of the other skaters---we fear the arm is broken---to find one of our regulars at the counter, and a really nice fellow, is in extreme distress of some kind and the ambulance is already coming. So in come the paramedics and the fire department---the paramedics went for the person they were called for, and the firemen start to leave, but I figure they have to have medical gear, so I ask, can you deal with a broken arm, and in they come, to splint the arm. Our adult skater's husband shows up, and by this time things are marginally under control. By this time I'm too stiff to skate---I've been walking on my blades ever since, and so I de-skate and head off to get the car oil changed, while we wait for our lesson at 4. By this time, Jane has a sore throat, I'm coughing, and our young instructor shows up with the strep case she's nursed since our last lesson. Sigh. So here we are trying to come down with strep after such a day, and we're just having a day. The good news is, I've begun to get my feet under me for the backward outside edge, and was doing some really nice moves---well, with Lindsey providing a steady hand on one side, but it really feels solid, with that little help. Solid and even graceful. Lord, it feels so good when you can do one of those swooping glides on one foot, and then just step off grandly in the other direction. Lindsey was also amused---she tried to teach me the bunny hop earlier in the year, and I'd just attempted to jump in place. But now I've got it---it's a dangerous move for adults, because of our height, but I'm getting it, and will, I think, ultimately be able to turn loose of the wall with not too long. Probably a good idea to do before attempting to take the waltz jump off the wall.

Date: 03/04/05. 56938. Friday. A much quieter day. I've been doing the accounts preparatory to taxes---its our fiscal year-end---and I just want to get ahead of things. Spring is coming: the weather is too warm for my preference, about 56 degrees, and the croci are blooming, the birds are flitting, and we could do with some rain, if not snow. We did have a nice skate this morning, and Jane's throat (and mine) are duly medicated; we got through in grand shape. I'm just beginning to feel the possibility of the backward edges, and I'm getting dizzy doing series's of 3-turns to backward outside edge to step-out, repeat ad infinitum around the rim. I'm beginning to let go of the wall, and to step out without wobbling. We did some more rink photography, and we got that settled, then went out to lunch with Sharon. We had a great time. //I've patched the old Dell back together for the while: I hope it holds, at least for the while. So far, the WP8 is holding up nicely, and the machine isn't crashing, the keys aren't currently sticking, and I'm backing up meticulously---believe me, I'm backing up.//Meanwhile, I did get a clarification re the silkworm cocoons: the shop that displays only yarn is the source for the rattly cocoons: they don't have many, and prefer to pack them in with the yarn they sell, because otherwise packing them is a pain---the USPO can manage to crush them, given a chance. But that is the right URL. Turns out there is an entire do-it-yourself American silkworm industry, and the trick is getting enough mulberry leaves---the little critters are like pandas and koalas: finicky. Now, mind, they do in the little worms to create rattly cocoons. If you want cocoons that let the worms hatch and become moths, Aurora Silks is your site.//And another flash from the natural world, St. Helens is creating a nice regular steam plume in current weather. At breakfast, I like to access the pnsn site (search: keyword "webicorder") to view the animated picture of the sunrise over St. Helens, which is of course as the sun rises on the west coast. Go to PNSN, then to "NEWS" and to "ST HELENS" and to "LOOP." That will give it to you. It's still quite actively building a dome, and little rockfalls are frequent. It's just being a volcano at the moment, not too noisily, and repairing the cone.//Newsflash. The computer mess is still giving me fits---it just decided to crash with the word processing folder, and then when I got into files to locate what it wouldn't give me, the backup file I'd ordered it to create, it now believes this has to be an html file which can only be opened with the web editor, so it went berserk converting my .wpd file to .htm. Isn't that just special? This is exactly the kind of mess you create for yourself when you do things like optimize while on battery. The whole computer needs to be taken down, the disk reformatted, and everything including Windows will have to be reinstalled, which will solve a lot of my problems---so bear with me. I'll solve this mess one way or the other, either a fix or a replacement. Rest assured I've backed up all files and printed out, so nothing is in danger of loss...except all the nice little finesses I have in the present configuration. A word processing backup that thinks it's on the internet, however, is not at all nice, so we'll start by figuring out what all my data files think is their "open with" software and see if I can fix it at that level, or if it's just completely unstable.

3/05/05 Saturday 56927. Well, as a first step in fixing the mess I created, I reinstalled WinME over the top, i.e., without reformatting C. I did use the housenet to transfer data files over to the desktop, so that’s protected. The tax files are on the other computer, which is stable and intact. And this one has behaved better since, was behaving better before it went down last night. I’ve of course lost all modem connection until I rework that, so we’re incommunicado and I’m doing this via the word processor to install in the blog later. And we’re in the throes of packing to make a run south, with a very shaky computer, which has way too much going on for its little 20 gig disk...can you believe I’m saying little 20 gig disk? But that is one of my main problems: it’s a bit cramped, given all I do. We were thinking of leaving today, but the computer mess has thrown us off: my room is a mess, I haven’t packed yet, and I was up last night until 2:30 trying to get that backup and reinstall done. So we’re thinking now of going down to the municipal rink to see their skating competition...we have a few young folk from LCFSC skating, and Sharon is judging. I neglected to mention Sharon’s run to do a house call the other night, in which she scaled our apartment complex fence—the perimeter gate had shut. Sharon, you see, is a skilled mountaineer, besides being a Nurse Practitioner and a figure skater. I wish I had photos of that moment. And I’m glad there was no passing patrol car.//Note: we did go down to the competition, which was, mind you, the only open air rink ice competition held west of the Rockies. Or the Mississippi—I can’t remember which. We went out to lunch with Sharon and went home to pack and fix computers. The cats know something is up...

3/06/05. Sunday. Nothing of writing done: we took out at 9 AM and hit the road for as far as we could get, on a sunny day. Jane read from Peters’ The Mummy Case. I read Pretender. Jane laughed in all the right places, and I have a little cleanup to do yet. We finally ran out of steam at Billings MT and decided to get a hotel in Sheridan WY, a hundred or so miles further on. So we covered about 700 miles today, and are turning in early. At least the computer seems to have stabilized, but of course I have no way to post this, nor will for a couple of weeks.

3/07/05. Monday. Up and on the road for Casper WY, where we have a room arranged—and over to inspect the local ice rink, which is a municipal rink in their sports center: various people there know various people in Spokane, and we’re going to go skating this afternoon, on the highly recommended (thank you, Sarah!) public ice, with supper at Banjo Bob’s Barbecue, which is fantastically good. I'm still deciding whether to kit up in tutus and all, but Jane points out we’re not used to skating our 3-turns and such in jeans, and could hook a blade if we’re not careful, so we may get into the complete rig—certainly we’ll wear crash pads and helmets.//Postskate: well, we did the full rig—I don’t think the Casper public skate folk, particularly the young ones, are used to seeing people in sequins on their ice. But it’s better than hooking a skate in a jeans hem and breaking something. Skating at altitude means slightly wobbly knees for a bit: took me quite a while to get my knees steady under me, not to mention the feet 'down into the boots.' And the ice was good, but there are dips in the rink, and ripples around the edge. This is where we have to remember to sit down on the blades and above all keep from riding the toe, which will of course catch the pick, nastily; but the converse, going back on your heel, is not good either. The ice is cold—not as simple a matter as you’d think: Spokane ice tends to ‘snow’ and flake, while this ice, at higher altitude, tends to chip finely and groove deeply, and to be very ‘fast’, meaning if you get onto a heel, your skate will squirt forward very, very fast for a nanosecond, a startling moment. So you have Hobb’s Choice, heel or toe.//We did go back to Banjo Bob’s for supper, bad us! The cats, who were left in their Kittywalk (a net tunnel) for a couple of hours, were quite glad to see us back for the evening, but have forgiven us. The Casper hotel is one of their favorites, particularly because Efanor can get under the bed and confound us in the morning for a nice little game.

3/08/05. Tuesday. 58392. Late last night I began to recalculate mileage and schedules, and decided we’d better look at a map come morning. As best I figured, and Jane concurred, if we didn’t take out on the road today, we’d really be pushing it the day after. So we went to the Casper ice rink, skated a little over an hour, and, with cats and all packed, took out back to Banjo Bob’s for lunch—bought supper, too, and hit the road for Cheyenne WY. We didn’t take our usual route for Denver and points south, but veered off on I-80, hoping to get as far as possible on flat ground. We passed one of the planet’s most incredible sights—the Great American Flyway in full swing: the skies were full of migratory birds on their way north, skeins and skeins of geese and ducks and cormorants and such.. And of course there was the Audubon site, with public viewing areas. Were the birds on the public viewing ponds? Well...the largest aggregation I saw was a massive confluence near a service station beside I-80. A real ‘darken the skies’ moment, letting one see just for a moment what the skies might have been before Europeans showed up on this continent. And for our attempt to gain ground on this remarkable day, ‘as far as possible’ turned out to be a Sinclair gas station in the middle of agricultural territory, where an inquiry after a motel sign turned up, yes, the owners of said motel having coffee at a small table in the filling station. They assured us cats who were litter-trained were welcome in the motel. So off we went in the dark of night with dubious instructions, across numerous bridges and through houseless farmland to the little Nebraska town of Sutherland, where we were the only guests in the Park Motel—it’s a little town that has had the highway built off to the side of them, and they’re really fighting for survival—an old story with the American superhighway system. Highways no longer go down main streets. Fortunately we had our bought supper, the cats were happy, and the beds at least were the most comfortable we’ve had on the trip.

3/9/05. Wednesday. We took off early in quest of coffee, which we finally got back at the Sinclair station, and took out on the highway again, looking for the link to I-35. Due to, I’m sure, incredible politics and regulations, the locals can’t tell you that Hwy 81 is that link...but I’d done this route and connection from the other direction, just before the notorious moving-days mishap that separated Jane and me on the road, and I sort of recognized the truck stop at the junction. Turns out it was the very one, and what we had to do from there was drive straight south on 81, which became, after Salina, KS, I-135, and then, somewhere around Wichita, changed all its exit numbers and ran into I-35, which is the route we need for Oklahoma City. The Motel 6 hotel we’d intended turned out to be Exit 50 on I-35, or "exit on Kellogg and drive east." Ha! We got to our hotel, after an incredible passage through a construction zone enveloping all of downtown Wichita KS, as they’re building a major highway through, sunken below street level, and our hotel was separated off in construction fence. We attempted a legal U-turn to get to it, discovered no driveway on that side, and the road heading, without remedy, toward the turnpike entry to I-35. We were furious. We tried again at the K-15 exit, and found two disagreeable hotels, and got so mad at this point we headed for the state line. We looked up Motel 6's, and found one in Stillwater, OK, where OSU is sited. A college town usually assures good food, so we went 12 miles off I-35, found our hotel, and headed for food. It’s a nice place. We’re only a few miles north of Oklahoma City, we’ve made contact with our friends in Norman OK, where we’ll stay tomorrow night, and we got our steak dinner. We hope to find the rink in Edmond OK tomorrow and get a little recreation in.

3/10/05. Thursday. Another morning quest for coffee, since Motel 6 has gotten so protective of its tiny cups it doles out of mornings. We headed on down the road to Edmond OK, where I used to live, after and before I lived in Oklahoma City: it’s about 20 miles north of OKC. And after some little to’ing and fro’ing, we found the ice rink in Edmond. We ascertained the time of public ice, then went on a brief run to OKC to deliver some records to my accountant, then ran back again—again decided to kit up in full gear for the rink. And it was a very odd experience. The ice was very deep, so deep the hockey boards felt short and the markings hazed, I’d estimate about 4 inches of ice down. It was quite chewed up: a member of the Oklahoma City FSC is landing triples, and they take out quite a divot. We should have come onto club ice: we’d have been better off, but we were pretty late for that. So with high hopes and good feeling we got the public ice, and the chewed-up mess that (again the difference in altitude, humidity, and general air temperature) alternately generates thick snow with deep ruts and slick spots that feel oiled. Getting used to that took about half an hour—during which the musical selection was not the classical music or bubblegum rock our rink favors, but a whining country rendition of some offshoot of Christian rock, a whole lot about death, descriptions of dying, and a generally depressingly morbid take on most everything. A vandal in the women’s restroom had gouged "I (heart) Christ" in three inch high letters in the otherwise good enamel. We were appalled. We left early, demoting this rink to our desperation-choices. And we went to the old neighborhood in OKC to go to our old favorite restaurant: it’s changed hands and doesn’t look appetizing. A good number of the places we recall are gone. So we had a diet bar for lunch and headed for our friends down in Norman OK. We’ll stay with them tonight, then go to the hotel in OKC for two nights for the events—

03/11/05. Friday. Heading off to OKC proper, downtown, for events surrounding the fact I’m receiving the lifetime achievement award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book, on Saturday, and have a couple of days of appearances and speeches to give. It’s a very nice honor and nice of them to ask me back for it.//We stayed with friends last night, Bud and Lois, and had a good time, went out to eat, mostly caught up on old gossip. Of course we used to live in Oklahoma City, and we have a long list of people to catch up on.//We checked in to the Sheraton convention center hotel downtown in OKC, with a view of the Myriad Gardens, or Crystal Bridge. We hiked down the street in the afternoon and visited the koi ponds—mostly sunbathing turtles, with the pear trees only just blooming and the air a bit nippy—but the flash of one huge koi tail, orange, when we reached a shallow pond. Koi hibernate in their ponds, and won’t start eating until the water warms enough to let their digestion operate. And the koi here are huge. We walked through the botanical gardens, which are in a huge glass tube that crosses the koi ponds, with waterfalls you can walk under, and it’s a lovely place for a brief walk. We also walked over to the Bricktown Canal, which adjoins the convention center area, and went to a Native American jewelry shop: Jane did not escape unscathed. The canal isn’t too busy yet: it’s sort of a nighttime venue, and it’s still cool.//Then we went out to dinner with the board members of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, and had a very pleasant evening—dinner and an afterward at the hotel bar with Arlo Guthrie. Joyce Carol Thomas pleaded the need for a clear head on the morrow and sensibly retired. But we talked philosophy until late.

3/12/05. Saturday. The day of the event. We caught breakfast, and then I had to go to the library to speak, where we met up with Brad Sinor and Sue Truelove, and Bev Hale and Mike Moe, all friends from way back. We started out to the next venue, and caught lunch on the way at the Bella Vista Brew Pub, at 51 Penn Place. A signing at the Full Circle bookstore, and back again to the hotel to get ourselves together for the awards banquet in the evening, at the Petroleum Club, one of the nicest festive venues in OKC, with a glorious night view of the city all around. Annette Asprin arrived, with friends Bud and Lois, Elaine and Monty, and my mother and brother and niece arrived from Dallas, plus former students of mine, Tod and Mark, from my teaching days in OKC, now successful businessmen—and people who knew my mother’s family: Oklahoma small towns are like that: a hundred years, and people know someone who knew your great-great-uncle, with all pertinent details. Seems my grandfather sold grocery supplies to one lady’s father’s store the better part of a century ago, and yes, they remember.//The presentations were well-done. I won the lifetime achievement award, and Arlo Guthrie’s father Woody Guthrie was honored with the Ralph Ellison Award, the posthumous equivalent of the lifetime achievement award—with very pretty medals. We had a nice celebration in the bar—all but my family, who’d had to run on back home in Texas, through epic construction zones, in the dark: my mother detests hotels.

3/13/05. Sunday. We checked out and took out to Norman, where we resumed our room at Bud and Lois’ place—Xanadu, it’s called, and quite a place it is. Plenty of room for two wanderers with cats. The crowd gathered in the parlor, including Bev and Mike and Annette and Elaine, and we partied on all afternoon, then had a quiet supper at a local Red Lobster.

3/14/05. Monday. Up at an early hour, to pack the car: we were able to say goodbye to Lois, but Bud was still sleeping. Cats and all, we headed south, reading and driving, and made it to Dallas for a family visit. Sharon phoned us en route to inform us she medaled at Sectionals, and to lament that she’s bored, bored, bored. We promised mayhem and mischief on our return. Meanwhile my brother’s on crunch at his company, but we had a nice evening with my mother, took her out to dinner at the Texas Roadhouse, and turned in early.

3/15/05. Tuesday. A leisurely breakfast and we went to go check out the skating rink in Plano TX, which turns out to be a Dr. Pepper Stars rink, and a very posh sort of rink indeed, very reasonable in price and very reasonable in attitude: we’re out of towners with my mum in tow, hoping to watch us skate, so instead of holding us to rink 2, which has a cold viewing area, the staff put us out on club ice out on rink 1, so mum finally got to see us, and a good time was had by all. We’re coming back tomorrow. Max confusion trying to join up with my brother for supper, but we went back to the Texas Roadhouse, mum got her ribs, and we got well fed.

3/16/05. Wednesday. Our last day in Dallas, and a reprise at the rink, only this time we got in on the Adult skate, and had beautiful ice and a generally good time. We had to rush home, me to pick up mum for a doctor’s appointment, and here the comedy of errors ensued. My brother David had written and drawn such precise instructions for getting there...again, quite a distance. But he had drawn arrows to get me onto the North Dallas Tollroad...and I, not knowing the local symbols, saw something of a green sign with a circled D, and decided, well, that should be it, and I was to go north, right? Wrong. We ended up back on the road from which we had started, in Frisco TX, instead of down in Plano...and I’d been suspicious something was wrong, because the exit was to be on Parker. Well, I knew from going to the rink in Plano that Parker precedes the Plano Parkway and has nothing to do with Frisco TX—which, let me tell you, is totally under construction, with detours every which way. I began to be suspicious that the name of the road is "North Dallas Tollway," not ‘north’ on the ‘Dallas Tollway’, and we’d missed the tollway because of I U-turned in Frisco and chased back through the maze of local streets, gaining southerly ground at every chance (thank goodness I have an in-car compass) and finally found Stonebrook or Stonecreek or something that I recalled crossed the Tollway or the Parkway, which parallels the Tollway—. Meanwhile I couldn’t find my cellphone, finally located it, couldn’t figure the number of my brother’s office, and just chased north thinking we could still make the appointment, if I just didn’t stop to call for directions. We went back down the North Dallas Parkway (every entry onto the Tollroad being under construction) and found Parker, took it, and found the clinic....whereupon I called my brother to tell him that he should have written "go south on the North Dallas Tollway," which still would have done us no good because of the construction. I think we will take Parker back.//Note: we did, and it took absolutely forever, in evening rush. If there was a wrong lane to be in, I found it. But we got home, finally matched times with my brother and family, and were able to meet my former sister-in-law and a very nice young woman, a friend of hers, who’d dropped by to see us. A quiet evening, more or less, with lots of barbecue.

3/17/05. Thursday. We took out around 8am, and headed west for Whataburgers in Wichita Falls, TX—the cats were in mourning, knowing we were in Texas, knowing that Whatachicken had not come their way (our diet). But before leaving Texas, we nabbed (me) a Whataburger with bacon and cheese, (Jane) a junior version and a grilled Whatachicken, and (Efanor and Ysabel) 4 Whatachicken strips. Bad us! And the restaurant had a new chap on the register, who added a spare juniorburger to the sack, but we just figured, hey, we paid for it, so we took it against emergencies. And off we went for Amarillo, trying to figure out whether we were going on to California, or going north to Spokane. California turned out to be doable, confirmed with family by the time we got to Amarillo and we launched due west on I-40 for Tucumcari, where we hoped to get rooms at the old Palomino motel, which has been there since the 50's, and where I remembered a nice restaurant. Plus we’re hoping to score tickets or some such to the Mariners game in spring training in Peoria AZ. Well, repeated phone calls turned up no hotel rooms in Phoenix/Peoria, because it’s a weekend game and simultaneously a Nascar event in town. But we found the motel—most peculiar, the landscape since Amarillo, since it’s under melting snow at 55 degrees F. They’d had a bad snowstorm in the last week, and there are wrecked tractor-trailers and dead cattle on the roadside, not to mention blitzed railings and snow all across the landscape. Very unusual for this season, but never trust the Texas panhandle. And when we got to Tucumcari, the restaurant I remembered wasn’t there, though we got rooms at the Palomino for 35.00 for two people with cats. We went across the street to the recommended ‘family restaurant’, which served up something called a quesadilla which involved not a tortilla, but an Indian frybread pancake with some vague unspiced ground beeflike substance combined with hash browns inside. It was so bad we just left it lying, figuring that we had the makings of supper in our travel supplies, and we’d be sick if we ate that stuff. It was a very heavy carbohydrate hit, and we just can’t take that. Nothing’s more expensive than food you shouldn’t eat in the first place, and have to diet off. So we did just get up and walk off and leave it—paid for it, of course, and left a tip: they served it in good faith: we were the ones who couldn’t cope with the local notion of quesadillas, which, elsewhere, are within our diet definition. We returned to the room, and remember that extra hamburger? We split it, had some nuts and cheese and Scotch with diet bars. Then we set out to battle the ticket/room situation in Peoria AZ, via cell phone: turns out we can’t get tickets to the Saturday afternoon game, but we can come and watch morning practice, which will be nice, and we did get a confirmation number at a Motel 6 right in the area, where we’d already been told there were no rooms. This should be interesting. But we found out that the Peoria Sports Complex where the Mariners are practicing also has the local skating rink, so we’ll just bring our skates and helmets to the practice, and go over there for a skate. We’ve booked two nights there, and we’ll take out from there for San Francisco, maybe by way of Joshua Tree National Monument...who knows?

3/18/05. Friday. Well, after an all day drive through hills, then beautiful pine-covered mountains, from Flagstaff to Phoenix, last night we got the last hotel room in Phoenix...the traffic jam going into the city was epic, stretching back into other communities, and here we are, walking into the line at the Motel 6 on a weekend, with the harried clerk saying repeatedly, "If you don’t have a rez, we have no rooms." To our relief, our number was valid, and we got a nice room overlooking the pool, in a hotel on Bell Street, which is also the street for the Peoria Sports Complex. We thought last night we’d get supper at a Mexican restaurant and fracture our diet slightly, in this land near Mexico, but alas, it was all fresh-Mex, and we prefer Tex-Mex, thank you. So there turned out to be a little sports bar called Shenanigans just a little hike in the other direction down Bell, and we were happy. Good quesadillas and poppers, not the dinner we’d hoped for, but good, all the same.

3/19/05. Saturday. In the morning we nabbed a diet bar apiece, left the cats in their portable kitty condo, instructed we get no maid service, and went hunting baseball. It was delightful. You can park free, for the duration of the practice, there’s free admission to the practice, and you just try to be polite and not distract the players, but you can snap photos to your heart’s content. We walked from AAA to the majors, and watched the new Mariners take practice from a handful of feet away...access you don’t get, of course, during the season. After that, we went over to Polar Ice, which is immediately adjacent, had a pretty decent skate, with quite a showcase rink—they had about 15 kids’ birthday parties all going at once, and the crowd was pretty dense, but if only they’d Zambonied before public skate, they’d have been excellent: as it was, it was snow interspersed with a split-second of fast-skate. We went on to have lunch at a sports bar across from the Mariners’ complex—to our disgust, it was almost all basketball on the screens, but we had our baseball screen near our table. And we headed back to the hotel, tired, but happy, to sit for a little. We weren’t sure we’d want supper, but indeed, we did go back to Shenanigans and hiked back and fell asleep watching the World Figure Skating competions—such a nice day!

3/20/05. Sunday. We hit the road early and headed back to Flagstaff, through a rainy, cloudy mountain drive, which was beautiful, while I did a little reading of the manuscript. Now, what we should have done was take the route out of Phoenix toward Los Angeles, probably through Joshua Tree National Monument, but we didn’t: we got back on I-40, and headed west, through beautiful scenery, and through the Mojave Desert, which, thanks to the torrential rains, was in heavy bloom. I don’t think I’d want to take that route any later in the year, but from snow near Flagstaff to desert blooms near the town of Mojave, it was quite a varied drive. The only down spot was the huge delay while the supposed 4-lane California highway let a train across, and cross, and cross. There should be a bridge, thank you, but local politics and the train company probably preclude it, and inconvenience everyone for the better part of an hour to get that crossing made. We headed across the windmill-topped hills to the San Joaquin Valley, and up to Fresno in a rain. Fresno proved about as far as we had the energy to reach...and well we did put in: in an hour the skies opened and driving would have been very slow. We’d already passed one poor chap who’d spun out against the median. And in Fresno, at the Motel 6 at Olive Street, we discovered a nice little brew-pub by going over Hwy 99 and into old Fresno, as we guessed it to be.

3/21/05. Monday. Up at the crack of dawn in Fresno, and on to San Francisco to see Jane’s two new nephews. We were actually about to make our first wrong move on the way, failing to make the 880, when at that very moment we got a phone call from Jane’s brother, who set us right just in time to cross the painted-division line, so we lined up for the San Mateo Bridge and made it in, fine. The cats were put out about the cage being set up, and they were 'on' last night, into absolutely everything, in a room where everything is offlimits. Like small children, they think because they can have perfect freedom in a texture-poor hotel room, the same applies amid Jane’s brother’s collectibles, but we protected everything behind cupboard doors. And Efanor can open the upstairs doors---every one of them. Let’s hear it for clever cats. We had a nice lunch with Jane’s niece, and went to the rehearsal of Jane’s brother’s musical revue, which lasted until 10...then a stopover at a restaurant (everything in San Mateo folds at 10 pm, but we found one restaurant open until 11) for supper before heading home.

3/22/05. Tuesday. A day visiting with Jane’s family, and a pleasant boat ride to a local restaurant, where we really and properly blew the diet. An order for a margarita proved to be a tank of a margarita, and I also indulged in corn chips, but the food was great, and I skipped the beans and rice, at least. And while Jane went off to part 2 of visiting kin and attending play rehearsal, I stayed behind to do catch-up on the Pretender manuscript, all 170 pages of it, single-spaced, well, at least editing up to where I stopped reading—I’d gotten way behind on inputting notes, and I had to get that organized or lose all the benefit of our driving and reading. My notes, which often consist of a circle and squiggle in a margin, lose comprehensibility if not followed-up fairly soon. Scholars of my work may despair: even I don’t know what I meant by my squiggles after two weeks have elapsed: the most common interpretation to be attached is: "Something needs to be done here" or "this is where you need to go back and check a fact against another point in the manuscript which I’m too cramped for space at the moment to look up..." So I found all those needful spots, straightened out who’s related to whom in the story, and after I was done and run out of coffee, Jane and her brother came limping in—literally: an onstage fall, which fortunately doesn’t seem to have been serious, beyond a few bruises. We provided Bengay patches.

3/23/05. Wednesday. Last day of our visit here. I spent the morning playing Solitaire, having no more brain than that after the rush edit yesterday evening; and we’re going to go skating at the local mall and probably go to another rehearsal, but tonight I’m holding out for dinner instead of diet bars. We’re also going to hunt down some more diet bars, however. We’re running short.//The skate: the ice was very strange, like skating on plastic, snowy-surfaced, but very slick, in a seaside environment where it’s rained for weeks. The rink itself, the Ice Chalet, in a local mall, is hard-ceilinged, and even without music playing, it’s so echoey and loud that you can’t hear yourself think. I saw a young skater coming toward me backwards, took evasive action in two vectors, and her coach was shouting at her, but there was no hearing—her reaction to her coach didn’t involve a backward look until the very last moment, but her direction changes took her right into me, and at that point the safest thing to do is to grab the oncoming skater to make a cohesive lump as you go down and avoid blades and stray limbs. I think I could have withstood the impact on my feet, but she was a little skater, and I feared she’d rebound and hit the ice much harder, with no helmet, which I had. So down we went, neither hurt. Fortunately, though I was wearing street clothes, I was also wearing crash pads, and we landed with a little thump, no damage. I later bumped (though gently) a novice skater at the rail, myself, again because it’s impossible to hear anyone coming. It’s a safety issue, and I’d think it could be abated considerably just by tacking up some insulation or cloth in the overhead, to absorb some of the echoes. But we had a nice skate—I’d vote it best ice after Plano and our own rink, and probably if you’re used to skating deaf, it’s fine. We met Jane’s brother, had supper at Red Robin, across from the rink, and Jane and her brother went off to rehearsals, while I stayed in the house and watched television, trying to rest up for the drive tomorrow. I wanted my camera, to be sure it was charged for Crater Lake, and went out to the car in the dark (I couldn't find the porchlight switch) and just as I got back into the house, Ysabel turned up downstairs---and that meant someone had let her out. I went upstairs and discovered Efanor had opened every door to every room but the bath, and was missing...after I'd had the front door open, on a black, rainy night, with a black cat who's very good at darting doors. I searched the street. I called. The back yard connects to the Pacific Ocean, via San Francisco bay. I tried there. I went upstairs and closed all the doors, figuring if the wretch was there, his change of rooms would tell me where he was hiding. I took Ysabel on an Efanor-hunt, and she seemed to be interested in Jane's brother's room. Well, finally I went upstairs to the ahem, powder room, just before Jane and her brother should be home---and here comes Efanor, who can never resist anyone in a bathroom. And I can't catch him---until he plops down in front of our room's closed door, just sprawls smugly on the floor, far and wide, smiling at me and completely willing, if I'll just open the door for poor helpless him, to go inside, because he probably wants his litter pan. I do. Happy cats. Disgusted me. Jane and her brother got home, and of course everything is just as it was, as if nothing's gone on. Nice evening? Oh, quite.// Oh, and our plans for tomorrow? It’s snowed up in Oregon, where our next target is the long-postponed visit to Crater Lake. It should make it a pretty drive, but it casts doubt on our plans to take a direct cross-country to Spokane from here via Crater Lake. We’ll try it, but we hope it’s a good road.

3/24/05. Thursday. Well, the Crater Lake business seems to have fallen through yet again—my first attempt to get to this remarkable planetary feature was, recall, was in my teens, when a family vacation veered aside, and several times since, when a casual ‘we ought to’ was sidetracked. This time we were determined. But Jane called Oregon’s Department of Transportion and turned up chain-requirements in the passes and a severe avalanche warning around the rim drive. Now, I swear, if I were solo on this one, I might try it, but (sigh) responsible thinking, and the fact we have the cats aboard, who wouldn’t favor being stuck in a snowdrift, as Jane wouldn’t like to be swept down the mountain, dictates we just take out and truck north on I-5. Which we did, and by the time we got to Grant’s Pass OR, without the least sight of snow, need I tell you? we decided it was time to pull in. And do we then get the usual cheerful Motel 6 greeting and acceptance of pets? No. Out of all Motel 6's we’ve stayed at, in about every state where the chain exists, for 65,000 miles of travel based out of these motels, we’ve had no trouble at all—until the Grant’s Pass OR Motel 6, who inquired sharply if we had pets, how many, and told us we couldn’t have but one pet per room. Now—if we were willing to distress our pets and the neighbors, we’d have asked for adjacent rooms and let two separated pets take the doors down and howl all night. But we won’t inflict that emotional and physical stress on our pets. And, oh, no, no problem, the supercilious clerk says—the Super 8 Motel just across the street will take them both, no problems. We are very suspicious there is an arrangement here: the Super 8 is the pricier motel, and we wonder about ownership of both hotels and standing orders—nor was the desk clerk polite at all—defensive, in the way of a young person who knows she’s following orders that have often brought unpleasantness her way. Instead of the Super 8, we go to the Shilo Inn just across the street in the other direction, which also costs more, but no more, and gives us satisfaction, to fund the local competition. We’re also lodging a complaint with the national Motel 6 customer service. As was, we had an excellent room at the Shilo, a nice supper at the adjacent restaurant, and I happened to catch the World Figure Skating exhibition as a bonus, but Jane was fast asleep and didn’t respond when I told her it was on.

3/25/05. Friday. We trucked, skipping breakfast in favor of diet bars, and headed up I-5 to the junction with I-84, which leaves Portland and goes at river level up the Columbia River. Lunch at a local Mexican Restaurant in West Linn: the Ixtapa. Beyond that was a beautiful drive, and we ran up beside Multnomah Falls, which is one of the highest waterfalls in North America, and just right beside the highway—park, and take the handicap-accessible under-highway walkthrough, and there’s a nice giftshop/restaurant and accessible view of the falls besides higher hiking trails. It’s a gorgeous two-tiered falls. And need I say after all those warnings from the Oregon Department of Transportation, and after it was too late to change our route, there was still no snow in evidence, and I’m highly supicious about the accuracy of their warnings about Crater Lake and Highway 97, around Bend. (I’m going to check their webcams tomorrow, I promise you.) We made our northerly connection at the Tri-cities (Pasco, Richland, and Kennewick, which sit right together at the confluence of the Columbia, the Snake, and the Yakima rivers) and headed up 395 across the back of the Palouse toward home, while I finished reading and editing Pretender. We snagged a deli chicken at our local supermarket, had a glass of wine, and headed for our own beds in a pleasantly cold apartment. Jane, found wandering about later, protests the broiled spiced chicken we got did not sit easily on the stomach, and that I should be glad my general distaste for chicken kept me to the poppers. But bad chicken spice or not, we’re glad to be home, having had all the fun we could possibly stand over three weeks. Equally glad to be back are the cats, who, having slept half the day, have immediately gotten down to work and performed a tour of the house designed to rout out all encroaching gremlins. Now we find it’s coming up on Easter on Sunday. No fancy dinner for these two piggolettas! Diet bars, and probably a lot of sleep. And once our rink reopens, probably on Monday, we’ll be glad to be back on home ice, where I can work out that 3-turn routine and do my backward edges with a sense of familiarity. If you want to imitate what we’ve done, re touring the rinks, here’s how: investigate websites and get phone numbers and addresses, go to the internet and look up maps, and after you get where you’re going, call the rink and ask about public skate hours. We’ve found skaters all over the country very friendly and rink customs, while varied (cones seem to have varied interpretation, and our home ice doesn’t use them at all) are available by reading the posted rules, pretty universally. The most frustrating differences are the availability of hot drinks (quick and easy and can-take-to-rinkside at our rink, vending-machine at many) and the use/don’t-use of the hockey benches (silly to us: the hockey benches are a perfectly good way for the skaters to secure their gear and hot drinks in a place inaccessible to the casual public: nobody’s going to let a toddler make off with your mysterious and dangerous lace-hook from your pile of gear if said pile is over in the penalty box, rather than in the public bleachers, and no rampaging 6-year-olds can knock your latte off the bleacher footboard and onto their heads.) So we’ll post this—Sharon, we’re back! Phone us when you can—and my apologies to "Pearson", who I fear sent us some books to sign or some other sort of packet while we were gone: UPS seems to have delivered the final notice on that package somewhere around March 11, and we hope it has gone back to you safely.

Date: 3/26/05. Saturday. Well, we found Sharon, or she found us. And we spent most of the day totally collapsed, except my inputting changes on Pretender, which was why I haven't put up a word count on Ice. It's just been steady work on the other manuscript, but I'm nearing the finish.

Date: 3/27/05. Sunday. Easter. I spent the day again working on the older manuscript. Not too much to report, except that I slept a lot, worked a lot, ate too much, and I'm nearly finished with the Pretender manuscript. I've come down with a nasty head cold since Friday, and as long as I'm on Theraflu I can function well enough, but the minute it wears off, I know it.

Date: 3/28/05. Monday. 59669 on Ice. And back to rink ice for the first time in three weeks: home ice felt tremendously good---didn't keep me from a silly fall: I was getting too careless, slopping about near the wall, and got my weight back on a heel through sheer obnoxious clowning around. I was laughing so hard it took me a moment to get up, but I was feeling good. The turns are getting very easy, and I've begun to hit the backward outside edge just enough to know if I can straighten out my balance I can do this. It's about time to haul out Bebe and Booboo, the Beanie Babies, which, if I perch them loose on the backs of my hands, let me know the minute I mess up my balance, by falling off. We're setting up for some lessons this week, and I hope to make some definite progress on various items. Oh, and I actually managed the bunny hop without touching the wall, and have nearly got the rhythm on the Mohawk: I don't know where that came from, but there it was, surprising me when I realized I hadn't touched the wall. I did it several more times to be sure. I've been three weeks on unusual ice, and getting back to ice I know, I can do some amazingly overconfident things---which was how I fell down, as well as how I did the hop free of the wall. No damage done on the fall: I've gotten good at just sitting down. But I also know that I've been sitting still too much in our 5500 miles of driving. I was quite sore afterward, not from the fall, but from the workout.

Date: 3/29/05. Tuesday. 60468. The cold I picked up last Friday is still obnoxious---hard to sleep at night, what with coughing, and every time I cough I disturb Ysabel, who has to get up and then settle again. Got some essential work done, and headed off for a lesson. Joan thinks we can do the---what did she call it? I can't remember. But it's 3-turns down a line, meaning half-arc outside edge, 3-turn, half-arc backward to the line, step off across the line at 180 degree angle, repeat on the opposite foot. This is going to take some doing. I'm just not hitting the backward edges yet, and I've developed some bad habits on bad ice: an inward-rolled left shoulder is causing many of my problems. We also went back to Dr. Mike to get crunched and straightened out, which may help the shoulder.//On a grimmer topic, I'm appalled by the rash of child-abductions that have turned up while we've been gone...and by the situation of young parents afraid to let their kids outside the house in the evening or even in the daytime, which is entirely sad. When I was a youngster, on temperate evenings, front lawns were the thing: parents came out to sip tea on the porches---and let me tell you, our one-bedroom house was no mansion with a veranda, nor was our lawn large. Kids came out to chase fireflies or play tag at breakneck pace all up and down the block, and we played into the dark, until we were exhausted, at which point, with diminishing visibility, everyone came in. Our town was rated "sin city" by the press, and a "rough" town (Sin City Band was the banner our enterprising highschool band pinned to the outside of our bus, to defy the newspaper articles, til our band director saw it, oh, several cities on in our trip to state contest and made us take it down.). And teens? They'd camp out in some parent's car to talk in private, or sit in groups, or walk up and down the block. But the key thing was that parents were sipping iced tea while sitting on most porches, or sitting on lawn chairs as islands in the play, or talking with the neighbors with one eye on the kids, getting acquainted with each other. And if it wasn't your particular parent watching you, it was the parent or older sib of someone in the group, until the light was gone. Nowadays lawnchairs are not seen in front yards, porch steps are not designed for sitting, parents and young kids are glued to the telly during prime playtime, teens are in front of their computers and the yards are all vacant, the streets spookily deserted all day long. And if you asked a street full of parents to give up telly and computers even one night a week to go out in a block playnight, I'll bet you you'd hear protests that they (or their kids) just couldn't give up television for that three hours or they had 'other committments', meaning they weren't talking to neighbor X since the dog incident. In my own opinion it's not that society is more cruel or predatory than it ever was, but that our national behavior has radically changed and we've abdicated control over our own front lawns in a way that favors predators. And what did people do in the winter when nobody could be on those porches? Parents found work by the windows or worked shoveling snow or doing minor outside repair while kids played until they were frozen enough to quiet down, usually about an hour in a good winter. Then the obligatory shivering warm-up by the kitchen range or hot air register, and, after supper, an evening with no television, in the living room, doing homework, maybe catching a program or two on radio, (after which the radio, yes, went off), and then playing quietly underfoot until bedtime---the operative word being quietly. No music. No background telly. No phone calls accepted except emergencies, and, yes, a firm bedtime. You just didn't call people during family time, and phone calls if received were to be disposed of quickly during family hours, which ran pretty well from 6 to 10. I don't think our town was that atypical, and I wonder if people nowadays trying to bring up children in total isolation inside their fortified houses have any idea the telly has an off button or that 4 hours on the internet is way beyond typical homework research. The country is suffering from a lack of tranquility and neighborly interaction, in my humble opinion. We're getting our information about what's happening in the world, or on the net, but not on what's going on next door. And adults sharing close space with kids? The legs of chairs were our castle pillars, the corner of the couch our ambush. None of this puffed-up plastic monster-toy architecture that, as soon forgotten as any other toy, becomes the object of Clean Sweep projects. I think I've covered that elsewhere. But if somewhere parents get the notion of taking back their lawns one night a week, I think it would be to the kids' good, and make the streets safer.

Date: 3/30/05. Wednesday. 63382. I'm still suffering from the head cold, but not so badly...decided to sit out morning public skate today, since we have a lesson this evening, which meant work this morning and this afternoon. We got matched up with our younger instructor, Lindsey, and we both felt quite good about the lesson---it's the backward edges business, but Lindsey has a really great knack for providing support smoothly for a difficult exercise. And the whole business of backward maneuvering is working out a whole different set of muscles---which means aches, pains, and exiting the ice after an hour or two just about fit to fall over and sleep for several hours. Since this was late evening, we pretty well did---we'd had nothing to eat but diet bars, and I didn't bother to cook, just caved in.

Date: 3/31/05. Thursday. 64122. I got a little new territory mapped out in the manuscript/outline, which seems solid. Skating---well, I'm still battling the backwards edges, but Jane and I are finally stable enough on our feet that Jane and I can do a little assist for each other on balance points, just an offered hand in case of balance-loss at the critical turn and back-edge to stepoff moments, requiring sort of a squaredance-like handoff, and this will help a great deal...but let me tell you, the choreography required to get out of the way of where the person you're helping is going to be... We stayed after public skate to watch the tests for high level moves-in-the-field, which is the things skaters do besides jump, moving across the ice; and freestyle, which includes jumps. This testing involves the regular skating track for youngsters and so on through men's and ladies', leading to the skating levels you see on televised competitions. When you get up to high competitive level beyond this set of tests, in other words, you're in the same track as leads to Nationals and Worlds and the Olympics. Being Adults, our course of testing is a bit different than the youngsters: Adults learn some things fairly fast, because we can be told verbally and anatomically what to do, compared, say, to the very little kids---edges, for instance, can be explained to us intellectually, and our mass actually helps hold us where we want to be; but certain other things that very light little kids do naturally, like hop and stop easily, we have to approach with the caution proper in people with a much, much greater mass and higher center of gravity. So when we take our test, which will be this summer, for at least our first crack at the tests, we'll have leapfrogged from our last summer's very basic question (can you skate forward on one foot without falling?) to much more complex stuff, like the 3-turns and backwards edges that eventually make up a program. We don't know if we can do what they call Pre-Bronze by summer, but we're certainly keen on trying. And watching the tests gives us at least a clue how things work. The young folk out there today were testing at very high levels, very high skills---quite interesting to watch and open to the public for free, if you happen to have a rink near you.

Date: 4/01/05. Friday.  April Fool's. 65332. Well, the outline's going well. And skating practice went well enough, too, but either because of the persistent cold that I'm trying to get over, or the new backwards edge work, I'm just exhausted faster than usual. It's been a really quiet week on the ice, only one or two of the regulars a day, besides us, and the ice is great, and we're getting good work in, but one foot grew cold, which is unusual. I think I laced a bit tight on that side. Rare that I can't finish two hours on the ice, but I pulled off 20 minutes short, and after I ran across the street and picked up some cookables to restock the fridge, we went home and pretty well collapsed, both of us. We're not being real interesting just now---just work, exercise and sleep. We're going to take the weekend off from the ice---weekends are always chaotic---and finish the cleanup from the trip, if we're good. I don't promise.

Date: 4/02/05. Saturday. 65838. I've now finished the outline for the first section, and from now on word-count gets a bit tricky, being gain and loss simultaneously: I'm starting to trade outline for rough text, which means I go back to the beginning and begin two operations: converting outline text to story text, then erasing the bit of the outline that's just become story. It's one of those operations where computers are both your friend and your enemy, meaning that if you start getting mentally tired, you can leave in those mysterious bits that can float right past a copyeditor and mystify a reader who's reading for sense. This is why we do on-the-road readings, which is the only way to slow down the of-course-it's-right reaction and make us look critically at the text and catch all those plausible little fossil-bits. The other method is making sure the story text is typed in fresh, not converted-tense revision of the outline, which is where most mistakes happen. Those are the downside matters: the upside is that it's a way to know where the macro-story is at all times, and a means not to get distracted or bogged down in minutiae: you always know exactly where you're going, and if you have the discipline to leave the petty details for later and not to go on long digressions (meaning trusting the outline to have just the level of detail you need, and to have confidence that other things you remember needing will be turning up later in the outline, as needed) you can save yourself pages of deletions of useless embellishments that then turn out to be mispositioned. A well-done fiction outline contains markers for all the important information in the sequence in which it needs to occur, and by reading just a bit ahead in the outline you can double-check that critical points are covered. I worked until about noon, and then we'd agreed to meet Sharon and go see Ice Princess, which is well, a teen flick, but a nice teen flick: small children aren't going to follow what's going on and most of the ice shots---well, to really see what's going on, it helps to have the camera shot back off enough to see the whole skater and about a yard of ice. The camera here is focused on the skater's center body, cutting off head and feet---great for inserting a body double, but not particularly good for seeing much---sort of like watching a horse event while focused on the rider's knee. Since the movie is about technique honed by physics, it would have been really nice to have the camera-work reflect the details of technique, be it in slow-motion detail or wire-diagram or something other than blurring fabric...but they didn't deal with the ice parts well enough to be edifying to anyone who doesn't skate, and the items they do put in I won't warn you about. If you're a non-skater who's been paying attention to this blog, you'll reach a few omigod points that do pan out, thank goodness. As was, we ate too much, watched the movie, ate too much supper, and then went skating on Saturday evening public ice---which is recentlyly hockeyed ice only scantly resurfaced, filled with the usual combination of nice people spiced with a couple of fools and three total brats, the latter accompanied by parents who will get their rewards when their darlings become teens. Sharon's been on constant work for a week, no time to practice before she has to go to Nationals, and last night she was trying to squeeze in a little practice under those conditions. She can skate tomorrow and then won't get a chance until Thursday. Last night the conditions were downright hazardous, not just from the people but from rutted and grooved ice.

Date: 4/03/05. Sunday. 66283. Change to Daylight Savings Time. Just working along, writing and erasing. Chapter 1 is done, chapter 2 is started. Jane is coming down with the crud I'm just getting over, and we didn't go skating today---not looking for the ice or the situation to be much better. Work and sleep, all day long.

Date: 4/04/05. Monday. 66283. Well, the DST change caught up with me, and I didn't get a thing done before we took off to the rink. The ice was nice this morning, as it usually is on weekdays, and while we had a lot of spring-breakers, they were all nice folk. The 3-turn is almost good enough I can aim for a quarter-sized spot and execute it, instead of sort of hoping to do it somewhere along a 10 foot stretch of ice, when the edges 'feel' right; and I'm able to run-out on the same foot I turned on---a great improvement. I was able to do the back crossover almost all the way around the rink edge---interrupted by traffic---which is pretty good; and the backward edges are beginning to have the right 'feel', too, now and again. We did a little necessary shopping, then ran home to catch the Opening Day game for the Mariners---we won, and won nicely. We're settlling down to a nice evening of idleness.

Date: 4/05/05. Tuesday. 66283. Trust me, we're about to get to work---but I decided one of the reasons I'm not making as much progress as I'd like is that I can't see, so I decided to make an appointment with the simplest of all health-delivery systems, ie, the local WalMart, because a) I can get in fast and b) it's contact lenses I want, which are a very simple prescription. Now, the reason the last chap wouldn't give me contacts was that my previous (6 years back) optometrist had prescribed Neomycin despite my frequent warning this is not good with a capital NG. So it scarred my eyes, or at least caused a whole lot of abnormality, and he didn't like the look of it. But I'm graced with a serious torque in the vision, neither eye matching the other in this regard, and attempts to try to get both eyes to work together have been iffy. I've had monocular vision all my life, have learned to compensate for a 3-d world, but when my optometrist decided to try to compensate for this and give me true 3-d vision for the first time since 3-d movies, I agreed---and the experiment has been an iffy success. First, I was excited to view television for the first time in 3-d, but I discovered the box in which it appears is more 3-d (and therefore more exciting) than the on-screen image. And my first 3-d airplane flight (at night, over Dallas) gave me my first-ever airsickness problem. So, yes, the 3-d world is great, but it has its problems. I've learned to compensate for 2-d vision in much the same way you know when watching television that something has reached impact-point, or when you realize two things are going to intersect. And the doctor this time agreed with me. A, I don't wear glasses when I'm not working, which means I'm back in the 2-d world for hours interspersed with 3-d while working at the computer, which doesn't do you a lot of good. 2. When you bend your glasses or change glasses, the 3-d/2-d conversion may vary. and 3. when my eyes get tired, they're fighting. I can't normally read what I write or see what I'm eating, both of which are great annoyances. And if I get monofit contacts, I get the best of both worlds, being able to spot a sparrow in a pine tree across the creek and down three stories, and b) being able to read my manuscripts. Suffice it to say, when the doc proposed to fit me in contacts, I was so happy. I can do all of the above now. I'm writing this without glasses, and yestereve, I couldn't have seen anything but a blur. I drove home (I'm naturally monofit, so it's not a hazard, and when in danger, shut one eye. Though the two fools who stepped out in front of me this evening at the supermarket should have known the person behind the wheel was 30 minutes into a monofit adjustment (it usually takes days.) I ate a supper I could see, and I'm typing without glasses at all. Hurrah. The technology has changed, too: I have a very steep curvature of the eye surface, and the old lenses used to shrink during wear, which meant that I had to take them off in the shower only, and then with difficulty. This new version of Acuvue has a guaranteed non-shrink lens, which should make life much nicer, and let me do as recommended, which is to take them out every night. Lens fluid is now autoclean, and they recommend, quite sensibly, I think, that you replace the lens box when you run out of fluid. I must say, I was quite impressed with the WalMart doctor, who was thorough, well-equipped, and by the number of children she treats, has the patience of Job. I intend to go back, let me tell you---and if I can guess from my own brother's early days as a lawyer, that sometimes unexpectedly fine professionals take up office in commercial venues simply because they need to get a financial start before they can buy their way into a going practice. I don't know that that operates with optometrists and other such, but it sure does in professional ventures in the law.//We had a Joan-lesson today, and I did my first bunnyhop at full speed, meaning pretty darned fast, without touching the wall, though along it---and then Joan thought I should do the waltz jump off the wall, meaning she ( a third shorter than I) holds me on my feet while I try it. It wasn't bad. I was amazed. I may get this jump business yet. We had a pretty good time at the rink---I lost my third lace-hook, and proved, no, I can't finger-tighten. I need the hook for the top two laces before the ankle, or I fall out of my skates.// We also had word they're going to start melting down Rink 2, which we usually use, and Monday we have to show up at 9:30 am, not our usual 11:30, and skate on rink 1, the sand-based rink. This will be the rule for the summer. Be advised, Sharon! And, Jan and Janne, if you're reading the blog, please drop us an email: we've lost your address!

Date: 04/06/05. Wednesday. 67665. Well, the new contacts are a bit of a struggle where their focal length is nearly equal---this is normal for a monofit---but the benefits! I start to do the simplest tasks, and realize, no, I don't have to remember where I put a specific pair of glasses. I can read labels on bottles---I couldn't, not with my best reading glasses. I can see the food on my fork. I can thread a needle. It's all miraculous. And I can still see the top of the pine trees on the far hill. As for the new miracle material that resists drying and shrinking onto the eye: no better proof than wearing one of each type of lens when I went skating. Despite wearing protective sunglasses the ordinary lens dried enough to become painful in 3 hours at the rink. The miracle material was unfazed by the long exposure to dry air. You could wear them skiing (with goggles), at a hockey game, or on a long plane flight, three of the best dry-air situations. I'm sold on them.//We spent the evening listening on radio to the Mariners---who didn't win. And we're resolved to take Saturday to do a major clean-up.

Date: 04/07/05. Thursday. 67665. Up at the crack of dawn today to get to the rink for an early (9AM) skate, because we have a complication with schedule of our younger instructor. We made it, but I was still so un-coffee'd (yes, I've backslidden into my old bad habits, because I love the stuff) I was looking for my skating jacket for several minutes before Jane pointed out I was wearing it, and I fell down twice (toppled is more the word for the first one, meaning I leaned on one toe too far forward and just put hands on the ice and sat down) and the second? I tried changing edges during a backward runout, lost my balance, did several creative side-steps and ran out of ice---a skate toe hit the wall, and down I went, again, sitting. This isn't clumsiness: it's way too little coffee at an hour at which I'm not always awake. We had a chance at the other rink after, skated a bit: they Zambonied, and we went back out, for the rest of a second hour and a half of skating before the rink officially opened. I kept going through public skate---I'd had the foresight (pardon pun) not to wear the new contacts, knowing I'd be in rink air a very long time, which turned out to be wise---until 20 minutes before the end, and finally decided a loose orthotic in my left boot mandated getting off the ice. I'd practiced mostly 3-turns, right and left, over an 8 foot arc, for, oh, about two hours, which is why the metatarsal orthotic slipped in the first place. The total icetime was about three and a half hours, which is a good long workout even for a professional. We went out to lunch at Antonio's, over the river falls, which were running high: Sharon and Joan and the two of us, and had a good lunch and a beautiful view, after which we went home and I nursed a sore left foot for several hours. Tomorrow I get work done.

Date: 04/08/05. Fridaay. 67726. Remember I erase about as much as I write, and I'm still gaining. We showed up a bit early at the rink---tried to defend Sharon from the random particles of public skate, because she's had to work all week (not to mention intervening in auto wrecks [when Sharon's late to a supper engagement, she has a good excuse] and has had precious little time to practice her program for Adult Nationals. Nationals are next week---this is about the last practice she can get with Joan, and public ice is the only option she's got. Afterward we took out to Tomato Street for lunch, then home---I turn out to have lost one of my new contact lenses, which is a real pain: you can't really break a monofit in properly if you don't have both lenses, and I have just the one reading lens. We have resolved tomorrow, Jane and I, to get up early and start to work on what we euphemistically call 'the craft room,' meaning where everything goes that we can't figure out another place for. Lynn Abbey's coming to visit, and we want to have a place to put her. And we've been promising ourselves that we'll get that mess straightened out for---way too long.

Date: 04/09/05. Saturday. 67726.  We did a 'Clean Sweep' number, moving out everything that's loose in the craft room to the carpet in the living room and sorting mercilessly. Well, relatively mercilessly. We at least have to observe two rules to get something back in the craft room: a) it has to have a place and b) the craft room cabinet doors have to be free to swing with whatever-it-is in the room. Jane came down with the bad version of the crud today, and hit herself in the eye with the dumpster lid---she's utterly miserable. And I'm exhausted. I did make a run to the doctor to get a replacement lens, and won't put it in today, anyway, since I'm only porting boxes.

Date: 04/10/05. Sunday.  67726. Well, up again to get at the boxes, and we've made clear headway. We're going to go join Sharon on public ice today, and I've gone ahead and put in the lenses...the doctor additionally gave me a slightly longer focus on the reading eye, which may or may not work. The jury is still out. I may go back to the shorter-focus one. We're tired. I've pulled a charley horse in one leg---I don't know how this is going to go on the ice, and plan to put a pain patch on it before we go. We're stiting here catching our breath and watching a Mariners's hoping they do better than yesterday.//Had supper with Sharon, at Tomato Street, preparatory to her heading off to Adult Nationals. Go Sharon!

Date: 04/11/05. Monday. 67726. Up at the crack of dawn, staggered out first to try to get a new left contact---mine tore, first time I've ever done that. Of course the doctor wasn't in yet, and the place was locked up. to try to skate. Yesterday---I have a bit of arthritis in my left little toe, and I will tell you, a little toe is not to be ignored. Yesterday it hurt so badlly I could scarcely limp back to the locker room to get the skates off, and I had to leave early. Today I took a lesson, and it hurt like blazes. The lesson, on the other hand, was major. When you learn, you stand on the center of your skates, to prevent falling backward. The more you get down in your knees, and I mean really down, the more you go onto your heel, which can kill you if your balance isn't right. So Joan discovered, as she was working with a very sore-footed skater, that I was doing all my manuevers on center-skate, clear up on the rocker. Well...Joan set me back on my heels, literally, which I had begun to do on our friend Larry's advice just before the big trip, with an exercise (skating with one foot extended in front) which sets the proper balance point---but not as specifically as Joan set it in this lesson, which is pretty basic: go forward with your weight right on the front edge of your boot heel, and skate backward with your weight in front, right at the back ball of your foot, where your arch starts (or should start, if you don't have that feature). Well, simple to say---heel forward, ball back. But it's amazing what it does to your speed and your ability to hold a backward edge. I can see why going onto that balance point isn't lesson one for generic skaters, because without the muscle and the balance-experience to enable your whole body to compensate for a slight rise out of that squat, you'll fall, and fall nastily backward---if you're still learning basics, don't do this yet. Get an instructor or senior skater to show you the initial exercises, and then stay close to the boards for a bit, because you may have a few exciting moments. We decided it's time to get the skates sharpened, that's one; and we made contact with Larry and got that done. And I got some blades and have decided to give my left skate gills---I saw that the new model Riedells have this feature, to lessen pressure on the outside of the foot, and it looked like something worth the risk. I cut four slits in my boot right where the pressure is, and I'll treat it with waterproofing---besides that I wear over-the-boot tights, which protect the boots from damp and dirt (and keep your feet warmer.) So we'll see whether I've just compromised an expensive pair of boots, or whether I've solved my problem. Yes, I've tried punching out that spot, but the punchout isn't enough. So this is the drastic step.// Beyond that, I signed books---lots of books. And after that, I was just exhausted. We're on spring schedule at the rink, which got me out of bed without adequate coffee, and I'm really feeling it.//Jane's updating her blog again.//And I'm ready just to sit and stare at a test pattern on the telly. I hope Sharon's flight isn't one of those stranded in Denver, with the snowstorm. We haven't heard from her.

Date: 04/12/05. Tuesday. 69822. A good day of work before rushing off to Dr. Mike and getting crunched---I'm doing very well, having taken a couple of tumbles and still not being greatly out of shape. We finally got all those boxes mailed---we pass a UPS station near Dr. Mike's: at least this time the USPS didn't cart them up our 3 flights of stairs: we picked them up in the car, and there they could sit until I could get time to sign them. We didn't do too much after but sleep, because a lovely cold front had rolled in, with rain, and I just hibernated.

Date: 04/13/05. Wednesday. 69822. Today began with: "Carolyn, we have a problem..." Jane's doing her taxes, and various documents turned up missing. We thought we might have taken them to my accountant by accident, but no, I'd accidentally sunsetted most of them, while the missing W-2's turned out to be a genuine problem. It's the annual American ritual of 1099's, W-2's, 941's, E's, and 1040's...and Jane spent the day talking to herself, while I retreated to my room as the safer place to be. Complicating our lives, our modem cable has broken its connector's locking tooth, and if you jostle the thing (read, roll the keyboard drawer out or set your coffee cup down on the counter particularly hard, or if the cat shows up to supervise) it falls out and loses the internet connection. So you have to unplug the router, (a get-out-the-stepladder proposition) unplug the modem, turn off the computer, plug in the router, plug in the modem, balance the broken plug in the socket, make sure the lights are flashing correctly, fish the ladder out of the narrow workspace, turn the computer on, and cross your fingers you got the plug seated correctly. This had to be done, oh, about 5 times during the day, as I tried to find out why 2 checks failed to show up in accounting, and tried to do 941 routine reports, and find out where the W-2's are, and print some off, and make appointments for bank, hair, and car...oh, I hate that modem! And it's likely to be a real nest of snakes to replace it, sitting as it does at the heart of the housenet.//We interrupted this fun to go skating, and the bone bruise I've nursed since last Friday recurred, despite the cuts in the skate boot, so I decided rather than push it, I had to go de-skate and sit out the session, to my great frustration. We can only skate 3 days a week since the switch to spring ice times, and missing one just depresses me. Plus we were supposed to have a lesson, but I couldn't, and we had to cancel. The foot is extremely sore. I'm going to rest it through tomorrow and hope for a good day Friday.

Date: 04/14/05. Thursday. 69822. Plus a good deal of editing work on Pretender, as Jane got a third of the way through her read of the manuscript and I incorporated her suggestions. And then I tackled the taxes. Our financial advisor called, so we can get the IRA's figured out, and Jane can interpret one of the bank documents she needs to understand: we hiked over half of downtown Spokane trying to find our downtown branch, which we've visited many times---but there's so much construction going on down there it's confusing. It was cold. I was cold, and since I spend my days on the rink, that's pretty chilly. And Jane had had a night---you'll have to read her blog to get the full story on the driver who crashed the apartment complex gate and took out a car---there were police, there was massive confusion, people running through the night---it happened under our front balcony and I slept through all of it, since my room is on the other side of the apartment. But it was spectacular. It looks like a crime scene out there.//And I finally got hold of my accountant to find out that I've got an extension filed, and the emergency is ok, and I can still make changes, because I found some documents I'm not sure reached the accountant. Like 68 dollars worth. Sigh. But accuracy counts. I did the state Business tax. I did the payroll deposit. And I settled down to try the new X-Box game, MLB Baseball 2005. Shall we say, the Mariners are really lucky not to have me in charge. I didn't think a baseball score could reach the high 20's...for the other side.

Date: 04/15/05. Friday. 69822. We had a late-night call last night from Sharon, who just took Gold in Ladies Interpretive at Adult Nationals in Kansas City---hurrah, Sharon! We're so happy to hear it! We went off to an early-morning skate, and most of the rink found out last night, when it was announced at the ice show practice, but we were happy to tell anyone who hadn't heard...And what with a day and a half off the ice, with gill-slits cut in my left boot, a Clear Clouds (tm) patch on the sore spot and a gel separator on the index toe, hey, that foot was cushy. I managed to 3-turn into full circles backwards several times, and am making real progress. Jane has decided that nothing but sheer guts is going to be the appropriate next step in her mastering the backward edges, so she is simply flinging herself up onto that edge, and, while shaky occasionally, she's making real progress. She has an elegance about her form that I wish I had. Flinging is easy for me---I recover somewhat like a newborn horse, with feet and legs every which way. Jane has a sense of center that makes her panic recoveries a little less spectacular, if not less heart-pounding: elegant, is still the word. One of these days, when she's got that edge down, she's going to beat me again---I know it.//I picked up my official prescripted contact lenses, which I'm extravagantly happy with---I have to turtle a bit to see the screen when typing, but that will improve with practice, and it's worth it, just to be able to pick up a bottle of something and read what to do with it. Meanwhile the apartment complex is repairing our gate---I don't know about the unfortunate van that was in the way of the impact, but hopefully this is getting fixed by insurance. The city of Spokane has entered full spring mode: the lilacs haven't bloomed yet (they come in 3 colors at least) but the yellow forsythia is blooming harder than ever, the coral flowering quince bushes show occasional bursts of bright coral, the towering pink magnolias occupy one small section of town, and above all the huge flowering apple (white), cherry (pink), crabapple (reddish pink), little white star magnolias, pear (white), are ubiquitous. The whole town is awash in blossoms. The deciduous trees (half our trees are evergreens) are in that delicate first leaf, and the shyest trees are just breaking into bud. The river that runs through the heart of town is running high, the falls are sending spray up, and over all, the occasional rhododendrons and azaleas are breaking out into a riot of purples and pinks and whites.

Date: 04/16/05. Saturday. 70566. Erasing and working. Jane reminds me that Bloomsday is coming---the all-city 9 mile run---and we have Abbey coming in to participate, and Sharon will be joining us, and I have no desire (though probably it's inevitable) to be left behind to slog solo up the hills. So...I at first declined Jane's invitation to go exercise for this event, and then thought twice, put on the detested tennis shoes (they always hurt, no matter how many pairs I buy) and we took out to go down the hill we live on, on the back-face route, a descent of, oh, at least 800 feet, and down to the bridges. To my great surprise, the tennies didn't hurt, despite the recent injury, and I decided to jog a few steps, which felt good, so I jogged the entire downhill trail and within a child's pitch of the bridges, at which point we caught our breaths, turned around and then climbed up the very steep trail to street level. I don't think I've run that far in the last thirty years. So I'm in a fair good shape, for me, and didn't even collapse. I had to stop numerous times on the upward climb to let heart rate settle: at my age, this seems prudent---too many weekend athletes have done themselves harm, pushing just way too far, and hauling my 40 extra pounds up an 800 foot rise is sort of like doing the same carrying a full pack---but I had energy enough at the last to take the 15 foot 'cheat' path, which cuts off the last 30 feet of trail by going up at an extreme angle. Not bad, not bad at all. And the new tennies, which are Avia FOM, I can heartily recommend to anybody with a serious 'lace bite' problem with regular tennies: 'lace bite' is what happens if you have unpadded bone atop your foot, where blood supply passes across the bones, and you lace down too tightly. My feet are not plump, to say the least, and lace bite is why tennies are always unworkable for me: my feet go numb within half an hour of wearing them. Let me pass along what skaters do: there is a company that produces Bunga (tm) Pads, and another with Clear Clouds (tm), and both make lace bite pads, which prevent that from happening. I don't need them in my skates, which put the lace stress on the sides of my feet. But they might make cheap tennies wearable for me, or for others who have specific sore spots.//I'm making a little progress on the X-Box MLB game, where I was beaten last time by the Cardinals something like 25-2. Now I'm down to 5-0. This is more acceptable.//Jane proposes we do the cliff run again tomorrow. We'll see whether I can walk. But it's a lot better to do it in 48 degree weather than in broiling sun. The overcast and feeling of moisture in the air make it much nicer.

Date: 04/17/05. Sunday. 71394. Well, we didn't get our cliff run. We decided to work early, while the brain is sharp, and not to run until afternoon. Then we started cleaning curtains again---you know that you can do a lot for heavy drapes if you a) study carefully how they're attached before taking them down, b) study how the hooks are inserted, then remove hooks, c) put them in a good dryer at a low heat with a damp towel, and run them through the cycle. Do not attempt to wash: some draperies don't withstand this. But a damp dryer, even on Air Fluff, will remove dust and other contaminants. We were doing quite nicely, cleaning the dust---and here it's volcanic dust, so it's a good thing to get it out of the environment. Rehang immediately: the more wrinkles you allow in, the longer it takes to straighten them out. The same goes with large bedspreads and other cloth items.//Well, we were de-dusting the curtains when the dryer broke---not stopped: broke. Some of the shielding on its wiring and circuitry inside the drum just shattered, no fault of the curtains. We've had this dryer repaired before. We'll see what apartment management does on this one. Nice thing about apartments: when major things break---it's not your major thing.//But we did get a lot of items cleaned and rearranged. Spring cleaning, for sure. And next on my agenda is getting the birdseed hulls off the balcony. The birdfeeder is going into storage until next fall: the little seed-throwing dears can fend for themselves during the summer. Fat birds are hawk-bait around here: they need to fly farther and trim those little plump waistlines.//The Mariners beat the White Sox, in a matchup of two Seattle pitchers, one ex-. And otherwise, we just wrote, cleaned, and collapsed.

Date:  04/18/05. Monday.   71559.  A chaotic day. A little work at the crack of dawn, then off to the rink, where we had our lesson with Joan. The back edges are progressing fairly well, if I launch from a 3-turn. The inside front edge, however, that most primary of all edges, is undergoing reconstruction. Getting onto my heel is one thing. Remembering to slant the lead foot on the ground heelward from a side T position, rocking it simultaneously onto an inside edge, shoulders way back, head up, left hand swung way over to the right---you push off with the side of the foot without losing balance or moving the hands, tuck the off foot up as you start to move, then swing the ltucked foot and the left hand forward as you reach the apex of the arc, rotate right foot sharply to 180 degrees to make the next push (while you're skating on it: trust me) just before you set the left foot down, repeat all on the other foot. This is a whole lot of moving parts. But it's the meticulous version of the inside edges, designed not to let the back bend or the tucked foot stray to the side: read, to build strength in the gut and back and fix that foot (which can ruin a jump, later) firmly where it needs to be to keep the axis of movement on the ice where it has to be. Deceptively difficult, when it's the first edge you learn, and I'm going to have to get Bebe and Booboo back into service---my little stuffed animals that ride on the backs of my hands when I'm practicing balance. Bebe's light, and falls easily. Booboo is heavier, and has a better seat. If you drop Bebe, it's not uncommon. If you drop Bebe and Booboo, you were way off. Let me tell you---figure skating (as opposed to recreational skating) is a lot of finesse-work before you get to the flashy stuff, but, if, during the flashy stuff, you let that foot or hand stray out (carrying weight off the tight axis of turn) you'll miss your move.//Well! And speaking of flashy stuff---we got a call from Sharon, who was sitting on the ground in Denver, homeward bound on standby. We got the house cleaned, met Sharon with champagne and a card---she, if you've been reading above, just got a gold medal at Adult Nationals in her section, and we hosted her with wine and champagne until her husband Steve could get off work and come get her. We hope she got some sleep, since she'd started out at 3am (PST) to try to get home. The Mariners game was wretched: our team has been battling the flu and our first baseman dropped 9 pounds in 3 days with it this weekend, so we have hopes the performance will improve when they get rid of the bug. At this point, the best offense seems to be to run over and hug their opponents.

Date: 04/19/05. Tuesday. 74254. Work, work, work. We were supposed to go skate today and have supper with Sharon, then finish up at a writers' event at a local bookstore, but only the last came to pass...Sharon got snagged by an appointment, and we decided to stay and work and have supper at home---but disaster struck that, two-parted. We had gotten some shrimp from the usually reliable Freddie Myers store, and it smelled bad when we got it home: so we reported it and got a replacement. Now, I never throw things out that might become aromatic unless a trash bag is going imminently downstairs, so when one is going---I fling things. So we were cleaning up Monday before Sharon's plane, and I flung various things that had to go, including some from the freezer. You guessed it. Somehow I flung the new packet of shrimp. Brilliant. So when I go to fix dinner, no shrimp. We went out to eat, then went to the writers' affair, which was long, except Sharon managed to join us there; and we saw several folk we only see at sf and writers' events. Then we got Sharon back to her car, which was way down the street, and retreated home.

Date: 04/20/05. Wednesday. 74254. Well, early to the rink---I'm beginning to get these boots broken in properly, after about, oh, half a year in them, and I'm beginning to feel what the balance point should be: this is good. We went off for a haircut, both of us, which takes quite a slice out of the day, because we have the same hair-cutter. And then to the organic grocery store, which has the best meat, and home again to drop off the refrigeratables. Then I just declared the cook was on strike, and we went out to Antony's on the river for supper. We did fine, except Jane ran into the door, and went home with an ice bag on her eye. I can't say I did too much today, but at least the hair is no longer driving me crazy. It even looks pretty good. Tomorrow we have to get the dryer parts ordered and get the car oil changed, and get some word count done....

Date: 04/21/05. Thursday. 76372. The day started well enough---we're getting ready for Abbey's visit, trying to get the place looking good. And I made the momentous decision to replace my laptop. Finances were leveled out, all was well, and I ordered a new Dell Latitude with considerable capability. I took the car off to get the oil changed---about 5500 miles on our last trip meant it was due again: those little stickers they put on your windows to indicate when a change is due don't really reflect the difference between highway and city driving, and we routinely---routinely! run a couple of thousand miles past due. So that was fine: we checked the car out, no problems. But while I was working in the waiting room, on my computer, the mouse button broke off. The poor thing waited at least until I'd sprung for the replacement, and now it's shedding keys. There are, fortunately, other buttons, though farther away on the keyboard. A Dell, with two pointing devices, has a redundancy in that department. So the day is less good, but the new computer is on the way. Only when I head home, right at a bad spot in traffic, I got a phone call. Now, for me to ignore a phone call is viscerally---well, at least difficult. I couldn't reach the phone, so I waited until the stoplight, grabbed it, and returned the call, which was, of course, from Jane (nobody else tends to call me on cell.) She realizes I'm in traffic and won't talk. So it was something bad. At this point I can imagine all sorts of bad news, so as I was heading up the final street toward home, I got her to explain, which boiled down to: "The apartment's been sold...(click)" as the phone ran out of juice. Well, at least nobody was dead, but it wasn't good. I got home, and Jane was sitting on the couch visibly upset---it seems the repairman for the apartment complex dropped the news on her as a "why we can't replace this clothes dryer which is falling apart", and the full story is that some company in New York has just bought the management company that runs a number of Spokane apartments, and intends to start condo-izing. Besides they fired our manager and everybody but the repairman, who's trying to hold the pieces together. Price? Oh, around 450,000 on the ones they're working on now. Well, we love our apartment, we love our view, but for various reasons including the things we know about the building, and the fact we don't want to be tied down, we aren't in the market for a condo. So at some point, apparently, they can advise all of us to move out.  Goodbye beautiful creek, beautiful trees, and our eagles and all. And I certainly wouldn't have ordered a new computer if I'd known there were going to be moving expenses. But I found this current apartment building on the internet, and I sat down to find out the status of certain other places I'd had on my list when we rented here. There are possibilities. We launched out and went to look at some. By the time we came back, Jane was feeling much more positive about the business. We're both mad about the way information was handled at our current apartment; I've had enough experience with management transitions to know what I'm hearing doesn't sound good for the future here; and all in all, we know a place we could move on fairly short notice that would have a lot to recommend it. Meanwhile Jane's working on Pretender---we edit each other---and is giving me fixes to put in. And we went off to take our lesson with Lindsey: turns out she has mono, it's her graduation week, she shouldn't be doing physical exercise, but here she is. My laceup wasn't good, and my bad foot started hurting, so I retreated off the ice with about fifteen minutes to spare, and we just went out to eat afterward. I'd had it.

Date: 4/22/05. Friday. 76372. Jane's eye is turning black. A veritable shiner. And for us both, early up and onto the ice. We'd agreed to have lunch with Joan and Sharon, a celebration for the medal, and that was great. Afterward, Jane and I ran around looking at apartments. We're doing much better today. We have one very strong candidate, which would actually mean two apartments, one up, one down, and trying, in this move, to purge everything we don't reasonably need. We're beginning to say this could have benefits, like getting rid of things we ordinarily couldn't part with. Once you start weighing the notion of carrying item X up and down stairs you look at it far differently.

Date: 4/23/05. Saturday. 76372. Woke about three in the morning with pain in one eye, went to a mirror, and I'd gotten myself a really spectacular subconjunctival hemorrhage---the whole eye, except the iris and pupil, is blood red, and swollen. I iced it, went back to bed, and by morning the swelling was greater, the eye hurt, and I put out a desperate message to Sharon, on a Saturday, yet. And I went to Jane's room and woke her up, just to share my misery. Sharon got back in touch, told me yes, ice it, keep vertical, never mind patching it, and don't touch it. I set about entering Jane's edits of Pretender. I hate down time. Sharon came over noonish, with her medical kit, looked at it, declared it was the most spectacular subconjunctival hemorrhage she'd ever seen in her years of practice, and in the upshot of the whole thing, said ice it periodically, and expect it to last about two weeks, so go for the maximum sympathy. You have to get the whole picture here. One eye is, to distant observation, quite black---not the skin: the eyeball---with a pale blue iris. The other is, of course, correctly made up and normal. Even Jane can't talk to me without staring at it. So it's sunglasses whenever out in public. We took Sharon on our apartment hunt---Jane's driving; and we saw a few, still not as good as the one yesterday, but we are getting word that certain other tenants of our apartment are out looking, too. The trickle could become a flood on the market at any moment. So we had lunch and supper with Sharon, who then headed home, while I spent the evening alternately icing the eye, watching the Mariners lose a hard-fought game, and looking up more apartment data on the internet.

Date: 4/24/05. Sunday. .........the eye is still totally red, and the area beneath the eye is turning black---a real shiner is developing. Sharon swears it's sympathy pains, exactly the same eye as Jane's. Update: not too much improvement. The upper lid has periods of purple, then turns normal again. It's hard to work, because it hurts to concentrate for any length of time. I've devoted most of the day to hunting down apartments, which we can't visit because the apartment offices are closed today. Jane's suffering from allergy, is not happy, and here we are trying to lay critical plans and get the place cleaned up for Lynn's visit. It's just become apparent that the pile of things we meant to take to the storeroom have to go into a moving pile, and it's just no use shifting them about.

Date: 04/25/05. Monday. We went to the rink. I walked out into the cold section, but couldn't stay there: the dry air hurts the eye. Tear ducts are swollen shut and it's not irrigating properly, so I had to sit and watch Jane and Sharon skate, and have a lesson. Sigh. I occupied myself by phoning apartment offices---no one seems to stay near a phone. But when Jane got off the ice, we headed out to several, one of which had a good view, but a crazy management who, if he could install a meter on the sidewalk, would nickle and dime you for that, too---a couple who didn't have anything available; and we got the news that under Washington law, you can be evicted on 20 days notice, so this provides a bit of hurry-up. We drove by one that was clearly too small, one that was behind a huge shopping center (no view except of its own courtyard), and then headed out to Spokane Valley, which is, lately, a separate city. We drove up to a promising candidate, looked up at one apartment in the complex perched by itself on a volcanic bluff, and said to each other, wistfully, "Wouldn't that be a view?" Well, it's a huge complex, and it was hard even to find the office, and then the manager was "gone to the bank," but because it was such a nice place, we waited, and guess which apartment turned out to be going available? We saw it, kept looking at each other as if to say, "Do you like it as much as I do?" And before all was said and done, we filled out paperwork and paid for the background check (no, we're not bank robbers on the lam, as the report proved), and we think we have a place, now. We have the floor plan, we have a few days to plan what goes where, and then we will sign up and prepare for a move. They're putting in new carpet for us, letting us move things in a week early at no charge---we get a garage and a carport, and this is so far from the manager who wanted to charge us separately for every little item. It's the attitude that sold us---you have to live with that. But we have a marvelous view. It's going to require getting rid of things, and living in shipboard order, meaning nothing out of place, but we are resolved to have an apartment with at least a front room that looks like a magazine, and to use a well-organized on-site storage, starting with that garage, to keep things in order. When we came from Oklahoma, we moved in a downpour, with movers throwing things (literally) into random storerooms and scrambling up what should be in storage and what went to the apartment, and we never have gotten that straightened out. Now we're going to do it right.

Date: 4/26/05. Tuesday. We cleaned, boxed, I purged my closet of two bags of good clothes I will have no room for, and made as good a diagram as possible of the new place, so we have an idea what furniture we can accommodate and what has to go. The 'go' list is going to include some very nice pieces, alas, but we just have to shed them and get smaller. Though I am hoping to bring the dining table and the coffee table out of storage. This time Jane, who has languished for five years in the public-balcony side of the apartment, gets the master bedroom with bath, and I'm happily going to settle to a rightside room with the same view, but I get the slightly larger bathroom---we're so looking forward to this. And the apartment manager called and informed us the background check had no problem at all---no history of bank robbery or gunrunning. We'd asked to be informed if they found one...but they were quite happy with us. I think the background check improved the impression the manager might have gotten of two people with black left eyes (one spectacular: yes, it's still blood-red with a blue iris) out hunting for apartments. But now we have to make a final shift for cleanup for Lynn's visit. Sharon brought over the monitor she'd borrowed, and as she hit a bump, the stand fell off it. I tried to help get the base off to reattach the stand, during which the thing snapped and cut a triangular piece out of my index finger, but I think I'll live. We got Lynn from the airport at a timely 10:40 pm, had a nice talk, caught up on current affairs, and turned it at about 1 am.

Date: 4/27/05. 74802. Wednesday. It's that erasing business: sometimes you just clip out outline by the handfuls. But I'm recovering. I was able to take the ice today with Jane and Lynn, and I wasn't bad, despite the balance-affecting aspects of this eye problem. Lynn hasn't skated in years, but she bravely soldiered along the boards and was able to turn loose of the wall by the time long-unused fine muscles began to overload---we all remember that problem. Then, dodging the 20 block area of our city currently cordoned off in a shootout (I'm not kidding), we drove over to the apartment to settle some papers and rent a garage so we can start moving things. This is so exciting. The wind over there on that height really kicked up last night---took off a piece of siding near the office. Our place over on the other side of town was just still and too warm, and the blasts of cool hill air were quite nice---remember how we love the cold. The management isn't even going to charge us for the extra two weeks of garage use as we move in---puts a very good taste in one's mouth for the new digs. We're going to get some boxes and get started with the move next week, getting things over to storage. Tonight we're going to take Lynn to one of the prettiest restaurants in the city, Anthony's Homeport, on the Spokane Falls, and we should have a nice evening, all told. My computer is on its way, and should arrive tomorrow---this one is really struggling. It hangs on boot, it crashed about fifteen minutes ago for no good reason, just went black, and I need to get its keyboard repaired, which I will do once I'm satisfied the new one is what I need. After the utterly wretched end of last week, this one is shaping up quite nicely. Who knows? They may even fix the dryer that started us on our apartment quest, and I may be able to do my washing without hanging it over the balcony rail to dry.

Date: 4/28/05. 76628. Thursday. A day to work. I need desperately to get at the bills, but haven't. Lynn and Jane went walking---I decided I probably have one good walk in me, so I laid out and just worked. I did make a run to the store room---and turned out not to have one of the necessary keys. I did locate a helmet and a spare pair of skates for Lynn. But I also found I didn't have the plastic bins I thought I had. We should have had a lesson tonight, but Jane canceled us: we're just too harried. We went out to a Thai restaurant for supper, and crashed at home.

Date: 4/29/05. 76929. Friday. Off to the rink. The better skates I think did help Lynn. I had a lesson, and a good one, catching something I've been doing wrong for, oh, at least since Jo Williams last July---a posture thing, which means getting my left shoulder back and my right arm under precise control. This has great promise. We joined the whole complement of adult skaters over at Tomato Street, this time for the whole group's celebration of Sharon's medal; and we did celebrate. We also, Lynn, Sharon, Jane, and I, went downtown to get the numbers for the race on Sunday. Bloomsday will draw a lot of people into town: runners come from as far as Kenya, not to mention neighboring states, as well as Spokanites who use it as their personal annual test. For days we've seen an unusual number of people in running shorts jogging around the parks. We then settled in for an evening of watching DVD's.

Date: 4/30/05. 78282. Saturday. A good day of work. I still haven't gotten to the bills---they're right behind where Lynn sits to do her work, and I fear if I went out there, we'd end up talking and neither of us working at all. I'll get them, well, maybe Monday. We worked hard all day, as was, and laid out things for tomorrow, trying to find things we don't ordinarily use, like fanny-packs. I will say skating has done one thing for me. In the last dozen years I wouldn't use a fanny pack, because my waist couldn't take any additional girth: now I don't look too bad. Dinner---I cooked. It was well enough received. And we had another evening of DVD's.

Date: 5/01/05. 78282. Sunday. Bloomsday. We got up early and dressed in layers. The morning dawned chill and clear, which we knew would give way to heat unless clouds moved in. I put on the tennis shoes. I detest tennies. But I'd found a pair that fit and didn't hurt, which was a vast improvement over any others I've ever worn. And we grabbed packs and pinned on our racing numbers and caught the bus out front to get down to the race area---parking on Bloomsday is a mess, and key streets throughout town are blocked off by dawn. So our bus let us out, I swear, a mile from the hotel where we'd agreed to meet Sharon. We hiked, and hiked, and my feet began to go numb in the tennies---it's the old problem. All the blood supply in my feet runs atop the bones under the laces, with no natural padding. I resolved to re-lace when we reached the hotel, and I did---Sharon looked resplendent in her new warmup suit (gotten while picking up our numbers, in the dealer's area): we looked, well, layered. So the 9:00 start time looms, and we hike toward the Green start-line, a distinction we'd gotten by claiming we could do the 7 and 1/2 miles in 1 hour, 20 minutes. And we stand and we stand, in the street that is our start-zone, and my feet start going to sleep again. It's also hotter in the sun, so we begin shedding layers. The custom is to wear good clothes you don't mind losing, then to shed them into the trees overhead as you need to, and volunteers (who wear t-shirts bearing a logo of trees full of clothes) send trucks by with poles to hook the clothes and load them up for charity. So the gun goes off. The elite runners, the real contenders have long since gone, and probably completed the course, by our start time: from where we are in the pack it takes us 2 and 1/2 minutes actually to cross the start line. And we start out jogging. First disaster in front of the post office, where the string on my MP3 wore through, and I'd have lost it, but for a runner behind me. We jogged on, intermittent with walking, Sharon and I: Jane and Lynn are good walkers, and can about match my jog with their walking pace. So on we went, myself still trying to get feeling back into my feet. Run and walk, run and walk. We passed the first mile, and by the second mile are on pace actually to make that 1:20 mark. And then my toes begin to cramp up with the lack of circulation. It's no good. Sharon refused the chance to just go on: she helped me totally de-lace the left tennie, and we slogged on---accompanied by most of the bands in the city, which station themselves along the route and play whatever they play, from bagpipes to belly dance troupes, rock, alternative rock, 50's oldies, a hula group, folk, c & w, you name it, not to mention the dance/marching groups, fantastically costumed. We had walkers in tutus. We had two costumed as fish, and one Star Wars storm trooper with Princess Leia. And on we went, with plenty of audience in lawn chairs lining the route and cheering, while other householders held hoses to spray down the runners who wanted to be sprayed, and certain loosely-supervised children in the race thought the water handed us was for throwing, so there was a lot of water about. I had to pull the other lace. Now I'm walking with both tennies completely loose, and at least not in acute pain, but we're much slower. Mile 3 heads us for Heartbreak Hill---there are several hills on the route, and you think you've seen the worst, but Heartbreak Hill is about a half mile unto itself: a chap costumed as a vulture annually cheers the runners at the top. By then, I'm sure there are blisters, and there's a first aid station, where we pull in for four bandaids. A block along, the worst blister bursts, involving the heel callus, and every step is really acute pain, sort of like a knife-slice. So we borrow a spectator's chair and Sharon helps me use one of the tennie laces to bind the back of the tennie flat, so I can put just my toe in, and step atop the rear of the shoe. This means a very uneven limp, but it keeps me from having to go barefoot over the graveled asphalt. By now, cell calls inform us Jane and Lynn are nearing the finish line. And Sharon, bless her, sticks it out with me, while I walk in six-inch steps, tiptoe on one side. We reach Mile 6. Somewhere in it, we turn the corner into the long straight leading to the finish. My slow pace gets me run into and stepped on by pain-crazed would-be runners who can't see clearly any longer. We're beginning to be bumped into by the baby-stroller racers (yes, there are strollers meant for jogging, and they're vicious in a pack: people use their children as battering rams, especially during starts and when they get tired and crazy.) And we can now see the finish line, and we've passed mile 7. Half a mile to go, and I'm hoping that shoestring holds out. Both calves have cramped, my hips are beginning to lock up, my lower back is a mess, and de agony of de feet is considerable, but not as considerable as Sharon's patience. We delay to question another elder runner who looks as if her back's gone out, but she too is a blister casualty, and just wants to rest. On we go, and cross the finish line somewhere around 3 hours and a minute or so---Jane and Lynn have long since crossed, and are waiting somewhere beyond the t-shirt lines. Well, it turns out there's another half mile down to the t-shirt pickup, and I can see the shirts we get, which aren't nearly as cool as the shirts we got the last time we did this. I'm beginning to ask myself if I can go that far. But there's nothing for it: I'd be bored if I sat down and waited for the pickup for hours, and hell itself isn't worse than boredom, so I hobble onward, a six-inch stride now seeming about what I can manage, and most of all I'm thinking that if I've screwed up my feet so I can't skate for days, I'm going to be really upset. We're about halfway between finish line and t-shirts, around a corner and down another couple of blocks, when we get a phone call from Jane saying the finish line is a block or so from Anthony's Homeport, which is open, and they're going to go try for a table, grunge clothes and all. We make to the t-shirt lines, we get our shirts, and limp onward. And miracle of miracles, Jane and Lynn have not only got a table, they've gotten a water-view table. We limp in, talking about Scotch to dull the pain. We reach the table, get a good brunch, at which I downed three glasses of wine, and felt a little less pain, altogether. Jane and Lynn went on to get the bus, to get home to get the car to pick up me and Sharon, and get Sharon to her car. Then we went home and crashed for the rest of the day. DVD's in the evening, but we just had diet bars for supper, and turned in early. We were on pace to do it in 1:30, if not for the confounded blisters. I swear, next year, I'm doing it in the sandals I mostly wear. I'd started to bring them along, and forgot in the haste of getting ready, and oh, if I had, I wouldn't be in such misery. I'm just hoping to patch the blisters well enough I can skate tomorrow. I think Sharon's going to the rink tonight, but I'm sure not up to it.

5/02/05. 79211. Monday. Well, I can hardly walk, but skating wasn't so bad. Jane, however, has done major damage to her knee, a pulled ligament, which didn't hurt while skating: we got our friend Lynn actually out and bubbling around the rink this session, which is pretty fast progress, and the ice was groomed beautifully, a very nice session. We're taking it easy, otherwise. I walked about 8 miles yesterday, mind you, and actually gained a pound.

5/03/05. 82188. Tuesday. Lynn's last full day here. We worked in the morning, then went off to the chiropractor, a once-postponed visit, and had a nice drive back via Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene.

5/04/05. 82188. Wednesday. We dropped Lynn at the airport and then (of course it was pouring rain: it always does when we have a moving day) we visited the U-storage and gathered up boxes, inquired after the free truck (not free if you're moving out, only in, sigh) packed up a load and took it over to the new apartment. We were able to get in and take pictures and measurements. My room is going to be a bit of a Rubik's Cube puzzle, getting in the pieces I want; Jane's happy, since her room has a window nook where the little divan will fit, which is what she wants for work space. The rocks outside began to produce little animals---several bobwhite quail, and a small rabbit, which were amazingly cute. We offloaded our boxes, went home, and collapsed. But on the way I'd noted another storage facility belonging to the same company we're using in the west side. Ha. And if they have a truck---we'll be inbound, won't we?

5/05/05. 83827. Thursday. We packed, we loaded boxes, we made another run to the new place, and secured our garage, which requires some real maneuvering to get into, since the approach is a dogleg around an unforgiving lump of metamorphic rock that forms part of the landscaping (and the bluff it rests on). That's the one drawback to the apartment. And more quail ran across our path as we drove out. The whole apartment complex is shored up with massive natural and rubble rock, and the rocks are full of marmots and other such creatures. We're quite charmed. On the way back, we stopped at the storage that is, yes, our brand, with a truck: we rent a room for our rough storage, car carriers and such like, and now we're going to have access to a good truck for free. We got a big box of bubblepack. By last night, I made one additional run, to get Jane some ice for her knee, which is using it up way fast, and Jane packed up all the fragiles in the living room, so the place is beginning to look much sparser. We also got the accounting done, and got some notifying done, on the COA. By the way, thank all of you who have written with suggestions for better footwear: there are some really good suggestions there that I plan to investigate. The blisters are still deep and painful, any time I have to leave my feet parked heel down---like driving. And in the midst of all of it, we left our younger skating instructor in the lurch, and felt really badly about it: she's in the midst of graduation, she has to drive clear across town to get there for our lesson, we didn't show, and we really owe her an apology: we were just so harried we forgot what day and time it was: we'll pay for that session. It's only fair.

Date: 5/06/05. Friday. Went for a skate, and it felt very good to get back on the ice---before my feet forget what they're doing. Afterward Jane and Sharon and I went to our apartment to pack up, Sharon having brought in more boxes, and we loaded up and went to the new place to drop off mostly books. We get the truck tomorrow.

Date: 5/07/05. Saturday. Up at the crack of dawn getting ready, and off to the new storage complex to get the free truck, which is in beautiful condition, and a very nice moving van. We set it outside the apartment, and Sharon and Steve showed up to help---Steve can carry quite amazing things, which I'd have considered a two-strong-people sort of carry. They're both mountaineers, and in good condition, let me tell you. The two of them worked non-stop, except a pause to watch the Kentucky Derby and have Thai carry-out. We'd ambitiously hoped to do two loads today, but with Jane's ligament problem in her knee and the fact I'm not a mountain climber, either, Steve and Sharon did the bulk of the work. We levered out three massive four-foot-wide floor to ceiling bookcases, two end tables that weigh like lead, several cabinets, cases, chests of drawers, and boxes of books, etc., filling the truck totally. We were just able to squeak in before deadline to return the truck, and while Jane and Steve did that, Sharon and I reinstalled the shelves in the bookcases and started emptying book-boxes to be taken home and refilled. Amazing how many books those shelves can swallow when totally packed. Steve went on home, Sharon came back with us to get her car, and stayed for a DVD and a drink---she'd gone off call by then, and we were sore, exhausted, getting punchy from lifting and shifting, and for the last hour or so, overstuffed on Thai food. The apartment looks quite bare now, with only a handful of larger pieces for the movers to take: we're just absolutely fried, and won't work tomorrow except boxing things: I don't think I can lift and carry. Three flights of stairs, with very heavy loads, are quite a workout. It was, needless to say, pouring rain for at least part of the day.

Date: 5/08/05. Sunday. 84532. We were just too tired to do much, so we packed. We had picked up all those boxes, and now fill them, with about, so far, a 7x7x4 stack of filled book boxes, the remnant of the in-house lot. Sharon came over and helped us with that, and I tried to find out information on movers before we (temporarily) lose the internet. We're going to have a truck, but no guys to help, next weekend. Sharon will help, thank goodness. We were hoping to go skating Sunday night, but Jane's knee is still swollen and we're just not going to push it. I managed finally to get my right (reading) contact in for the first time since the eye incident (still have redness in the left, which is improving, but slowly) and when it came evening and time to remove it, we couldn't find the special liquid these super-hydrated lenses use. At first I contemplated that book stack, wondering if Sharon had put it in a box. I searched my room, the medicine shelf, the kitchen, and the pile of loose things in the dining room again and again for a very conspicuous willow box full of remedies---and finally found the bottle on the medicine shelf, where I'd overlooked it at least a dozen times. So I was able to store the lens and get to bed, finally.

Date: 5/09/05. Monday. Jane got up unwilling to go skating, and we have a lesson today. She's hurting. I decided I would go solo, and did. I had a good lesson---Joan finally pronounced my forward crossovers good---which I can do with her holding on for balance. It's a lot like a lunge in fencing, only one leg crossing over the other and a lot of centrifugal force building up that you have to fight---not to mention the mental conviction you're going to skid sideways. That's what the edges are for, a 'rail' on either side of the bottom of the blade, microthin, but capable of biting deep, if you get the edge engaged as you ought. Well, during practice, I was trying the extreme crossover Joan wants, and a)didn't get the riding knee bent enough b)didn't get the crossing-foot heel down before the toe c) didn't get that leg bent enough either d) didn't get either foot's edge set into the ice as a consequence of a), b) and c), and e)consequently I was too upright while having my weight on my riding-foot heel. Result? I skidded sideways and went down, mostly on my right hip before I bounced my head off the ice backward. Crash pads or not, this one bruised. The helmet saved my head from anything more than a jolt. But several muscles needed pain patches---the opposing shoulder, and the whiplashed neck, not to mention the landing spot. Second time I've ever fallen on a crossover, certainly the most spectacular, and the lesson has been hammered home: heel down, then toe, and don't rush the step, exactly those things Joan's been trying to get through my head. I did the shopping, got home to find Jane up and still packing (she was supposed to be doing bed rest) and the two of us began trying to arrange the movers, the cable, the internet access, and the satellite people simultaneously. Quel zoo! Our friend Larry, our star male skater, also had offered to help last weekend, but had a serious illness in the family; this weekend he's going to try to help, on Saturday. Sharon says she'll help Friday afternoon and Saturday. And Joan offered her help Friday afternoon. Then we realized---all our people are Saturday or Friday, and we'd secured a truck for Sunday. So we started looking for another truck. U-Haul had a 2-hour queue of call-backs before we could even talk to them. We tried Ryder and Penske, and found a vast difference in what we can get when. We settled on a Penske truck, which will give us all weekend for 75.00 with no mileage charges: 15 miles several times doubled can add up at U-Haul's 79 cents a mile. So we now have to call the other truck provider, cancel that. At least this way if everyone else has emergencies, we can putz along and do it the slow way. The piano---the movers advised us they're not comfortable: it's an Astin-Weite (or some such) upright grand, with an iron frame, and weighs like you wouldn't believe. Then we had to call the renters' insurance people and the piano mover, who has no hesitation about taking it on. Then we're going to have to call the mover back and advise him we've handled the piano business and they can do the job with two people, not four. We get actual access to the apartment this Friday, and we're set up to switch cable and such early next week, with movers bringing in the last stuff late next week. We're going to be offline for a bit at some point in the process, while we deconstitute the net and prepare to transfer it over there, but I'll keep the journal on the computer, so there will be a post when we get online again. So updates will continue mostly daily until the net goes down, then drop for a few days. Be patient with us.

Date: 5/10/05. Tuesday. We’ve got a week and two days before the heavy movers show up, and the cabinets and closets and drawers have disgorged their contents into our living space. Our program is to clear one room and pile everything in there as we box it. I have one piece of advice for all young furniture shoppers: wicker and light pine are really good things. When I lived in a huge house I bought some very solid hardwood pieces that are now the bane of our lives. The wicker things with removable drawers are a dream to move. Things that fold and disassemble are even better. This modern trend of oversized furniture with massive wood—oh, my friend, go back: it’s a trap, when you end up having to move it. And let me tell you, the saying that "friends help you move: real friends help you move books," is beyond true. Sharon is volunteering to move books, and we’re surviving. We're a pair, Jane and I---she's limping, I'm limping, and we continue to pack out the apartment. I've got whiplash from hitting the ice and bouncing, I've got a spectacular sore spot on the right side of the hip---thank goodness for helmet and padding---and I'm keeping the pain patches on, nonstop. No good trying to work in this chaos. I've packed my removeable drive (accidentally) in a cabinet that's already over at the new place. And I haven't yet migrated my files over from the old computer. I did get Pretender out in the mail, along with various other packages that have waited for a trip to the post office, so those of you awaiting the new book can know it's at least headed for my agent, who will send it on to DAW, and so on. Jane's swearing her knee is better and therefore she can climb stairs: she packed the car while I was trying to straighten up other messes. We got new address labels printed out---if we can find them in this mess. The cats are stressed. Goldfinches have finally found the birdfeeder, and now I'm going to have to remove it, which just upsets me. I'm so going to miss this place, but I'm not buying that roof, thank you: it leaks in the next apartment, and it's not the only one, not to mention the earthquake crack that bisects our apartment. As an apartment, these things can be lived with, but as a set of condos, there's going to be massive bills, and probably politics: condo associations are good at that. At this point it's all but irrevocable, and we're going. A significant lot of furniture has gone. The books are half gone. I'm really looking forward to Friday, when we can actually get into the new place. We took a load over, dropped it into the garage, and did see the housecleaner pull up in her car and take gear in that direction: management had promised us she'd come in and clean up, then they'd carpet, then she'd do a final clean, and they'd be ready for us by Friday, so we were glad to conclude things must be on schedule. We decided to take a little drive up the main road to find out what businesses are nearby. We located the post office---nearer than the one we have. And then we couldn't remember whether we'd shut the garage door, which is illustrative of how tired we are; we drove back to confirm we had, then took out in the other direction, looking for eateries and merchants. We found a couple of candidates: we like small neighborhood pubs, but the watering hole nearest the new place seems to be an exotic dance parlor, so scratch that one off our list: there are some nice places about a mile away. We came back, watched the Mariners lose to the Yankees, had supper and caved in for the evening. I want to be back at my book, but we have only a week before the heavy movers come in, and we have a weekend with help to shift the books and medium-weight furniture, plus start getting things into the apartment. Our current plans call for us to shift ourselves over Sunday. We're going to keep at the skating, meanwhile: it keeps us from getting stiff, and lets us blow off steam. Jane is anxious to get back on the ice. We have both concluded the most dangerous exercise in our reach is walking these races: we were in good condition this time and still hurt ourselves, Jane quite significantly. So it seems to us we'd be better off staying on the ice, where the worst we get is a bruise or two that goes away rapidly. Jane's been nursing this one since Mayday, and it could last another month.

Date: 5/11/05. Wednesday. Jane skated, and I stayed home. I’m still nervous, not about falling per se, but about falling on my right side, which is going to have one heck of a bruise from the Monday event. And she fell—not seriously, but enough to get the kind of whiplash you get from your helmeted head hitting the ice. We’re both just so exhausted we can’t recover our balance as deftly as we could under normal circumstances. Sharon came home with us to help box and move things, and Jane’s really having a time with her knee. Sharon can name the ligaments at issue. Jane, I think, has other words for them. She keeps insisting it actually helps to carry boxes. I’m not so sure. And Jane took a fall, as she later confessed. She really didn't need this. We still can't get into the new apartment: we see trucks coming and going with cleaning materials and carpet, so we're hopeful that things are on schedule. We try to take at least one load over every day, and install it in one of the two garages.

Date: 5/12/05. Thursday. Boxing and moving more things into the garage of the apartment, thanks to Sharon, who is absolutely indefatigable. We’re hurting, both of us, and Sharon’s carrying boxes of books, which we then unbox and install in the bookshelves we've fitted into the garage. Sharon likes books. I wonder if she'll feel the same about them when all this is over.

Date: 5/13/05. Friday the thirteenth. Can we pick a move-in date, or can’t we? Sharon points out that in atevi terms it’s a very felicitous day—and it's the first day we get into our apartment. I came over early to fill out paperwork and get the keys, and Jane and Sharon came along next, with a large load of things. And we've actually gotten in. It’s all bare walls now, but freshly painted, freshly carpeted, and not smelling of either, thank goodness. It’s in immaculate condition, and the flowthrough of the breeze with the patio door and the front windows both open is quite icily wonderful. It’s raining, of course. And we’ve already moved in a few items, just to start spreading things out, with a lot more to come.

Date: 5/14/05. Saturday. The guys, bless ‘em, Larry from the rink, whose images you can find on the LCFSC site, and Sharon’s Steve, the mountaineer, turned up to help on the day we had the truck, two very strong guys who know how to pack and move, and Sharon was there with them: with all this help, things really moved, incredible things, and a flood of boxes hit the garage and the upstairs. We went back for our last night in the westside apartment, our last night by the cliff with the eagles and the like, and in a way it’s sad, but at least where we’re going has a great view, and marmots, and bobwhite and rabbits and squirrels, not to mention birds. Lots of birds. And a wonderful view of clouds on the mountains, and our own huge pine tree that we hope will host squirrels and birds that favor pines.

Date: 5/15/05. Sunday. Rita from the rink, the LCFSC president, joined Sharon and us two carrying things from here to there, and mostly up and down stairs. Real friends, etc. We’re worried about Sharon, who has a skating test this Friday, and who is now having pains in her knees—she’s carried far too many books. It’s spitting rain, of course. This is the first night we spend in the new place, and the cats have come over with the last trip. They’ve been angsting greatly over the upheaval, the boxes, and the disappearance of their things, and once let out in the new place, heaved a heavy sigh, poked about in a catly way, and then heaved themselves down in relaxed poses as if to say, "Well, we knew something was up. But this will do nicely. Where's my supper?"

Date: 5/16/05. Monday. First full day in our new place, waking to the loudest birds I’ve heard in my life, and most of the day actually spent over at the old one packing and boxing and trying to find bits of the things we’ve already moved over, like things without their specific power sources, etc. Nothing interesting here, just a lot of up and down the stairs. We’re having a slight parking problem: the person whose parking space we’re supposed to have is still moving out while we’re moving in, and we’re constantly in each other’s way. The new place is on a steep hill and parking is at a premium.

Date: 5/17/05. Tuesday: I’d set up all sorts of things to happen today, notably to have Comcast installed, which includes the internet, and also scheduled the piano movers. Now, Jane’s our tv expert, and our internet guru, so she had to be at the new apartment, and I headed over to the old one to wait for movers and pack out the kitchen. I carried things downstairs and trudged up three flights endlessly until finally the piano movers arrived, and we got Jane’s very heavy iron-frame piano downstairs—it’s an upright grand, by classification, and a good thing we got the experts to do this. They’re quite remarkable. Dan the Piano Man, if you ever have to have a piano moved in Spokane, fyi. I followed the piano people over and carried kitchen stuff every which way to get it put somewhere. Finesse comes later. The piano’s in good shape, but we’re not. We went out to the Iron Horse for supper, which wasn’t as good as the first trial, and came home and collapsed.

Date: 5/18/05. Wednesday. We’d wanted to go skating today, but Jane’s knee is miserable and I’m too tired—skating tired is a good way to get hurt, and that bruise I got in the latest fall is still about eight inches by five—not to mention sheer exhaustion. We did find my missing billfold: it was at Frankie Doodle’s, our breakfast restaurant, and they’d tried to get us, I suspect, but we have no phone at the moment. We set out to shift and sort about 20 bins of material half filling the former living room, and boxing what passes, and shifting that to the do-take or don’t-take areas, plus cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. This side of Spokane is dusty: Mt. St. Helens dust gets everywhere from the eruption twenty years ago, it’s abrasive, so you can’t just swipe it off a fine finish, and it gets through window screens. The side of Spokane where we’re going is far less dusty, and we’ll be so glad of that. A package delivery failed in our absence across town: I’m hoping it’s my new bed. We signed the slip to let it sit at the front door and have hopes for tomorrow. We'd planned for ever so long to go over to Seattle tomorrow to go to the Mariners' game---the freebie for the game is the caboose of the train we've been collecting for a few years; but we just couldn't do it, so we won't get the caboose, or the hot dogs. We had dinner out, and carried more loads back in the car, and carried more things upstairs at the new place, before we settled down.

Date: 5/19/05. Thursday. Up at the crack of dawn, well, at about 5:45 am, and haste to get on the road. We still had things to do in the old digs, with the movers due at 8am. We stopped for breakfast (Frankie Doodle’s has the best omelets), and got there well-fed, but needing to move fast, piling the last few items either into the kitchen or Jane’s bedroom, so they won’t get swept up by the movers. Jane shouldn’t do stairs, and I can hardly dissuade her from trying it. We’re of course on the third floor. I’m in serious pain from stair-climbing. And the movers showed on time, but no one had told them about the massive tv, which they weren’t prepared to handle. They got it as far as the number two landing and called for the piano board, which another of their trucks delivered. The two guys nearly killed themselves getting it down and into the truck. The rest of the furniture was no great sweat, except the boxes. We filled a 24 foot truck, and our car, and took out to do the whole thing in reverse, up 3 flights, stopping on the way to drop Jane off to get truck #2 from the storage facility (they give you a free one for moving in, and this was Jane’s bright idea: the moment certain items came off the big truck, we waltzed them over to truck #2, which Jane could whisk off to storage. No problem: we shut the cats in Jane’s bedroom, opened the front door, and the garage, and we played traffic director, mostly, having been staired-out by now. Then the big telly, which went up easier than it went down, but the big cabinets we’d planned to use with it just overwhelmed the room: the advance one of that set went back down, with apologies to the movers, and they’ve become storage. My mysterious package arrived, and turned out to be the new face for my old Dell, which I’ll attend when I have a brain. We ended up with everything where we wanted it, a first for a move, and went off to Panama Jack’s for supper, then collapsed, having proved the big tv still works. We’re not real happy with Comcast, for all the reasons that drove us to satellite in the first place, but we’re going to try to work with it. Tomorrow we attack the boxes and set up the office.

Date: 5/20/05. Friday. Well, we’re still up to our ears in boxes. Neither of us are getting any writing done until we reach a liveable level of chaos, and that means getting boxes out of the immediate area, getting the internet up again (you’ll read this late, of course) and getting other communications set up. It’s pouring rain. We lucked out yesterday. Today it sounded as if the apartment was flooding, but it was only rain going down the rainspout by my window. Sharon’s testing today, and we’re going to go cheer her on. We also have to stop at Freddy Myer’s and get all the things we’re out of. Jane made a flying trip over to the west-side storeroom and found the missing chandelier so we can get our ceiling fan down and replace what was there in the old apartment: she’s limping, but swears she’s fine; I doubt it. I’m so sore I can hardly move. She continues to make trips after this and that—I did well just to unbox things in the dining room. But I have a table again. This is good. I’ve missed having a dining table. PS: Sharon passed her Adult Pre-bronze test, the same test we’ll take when we recover from this move and learn how to keep our feet while going backward on a curve. And Lindsey passed her Senior level test, never mind the mono and breaking her leg this last fall—on her 18th birthday, no less.

Date: 5/21/05. Saturday. We spent the day straightening up the place. It has high ceilings and several ledges on which one can put display items, but we’re not to the point of climbing anything. It's all practical things at this point. Pretties can wait. I got the kitchen arranged, and put casters on my chair, elevating it so I can see landscape instead of just sky out the window of my work area. And the greatest to-do of the day was the point at which we were sure we’d lost the list of codes for all our computer connections. We found it. I gave Jane a glass of Scotch and she sat down with the list and got us on the internet, so I can post this, when I get my own electronics sorted out. We were going to eat in tonight, but discovered we have forks, but no plates. Out we go. Our diet is a mess. We’re going to have to reform. I’m using pain patches by the boxful, and both my big toes have turned black with bruise from carrying things up and down stairs. It seems as if we ought to have a smidge of carbs by way of reward, but I’m sure the reward we’ll get is pounds.

Date: 5/22/05. Sunday. Up before 6 to go over to the old place and get all the piles of things out of the kitchen, the living room, and the bedrooms...what’s not piled high, you ask? Good question. There’s just lots of junk that needs sorting. And Rita and Sharon showed up to help, bless them. I ran the sweeper on the lanai (balcony) rug, to get up the birdseed that had dropped, and I swept up, additionally, about a gallon of volcanic ash. I’m not kidding. When dust from the central plain gets up and moves on the wind, ash comes with it, still, after the 1980's eruption. It’s why the west side is dusty. We packed up the kitchen, and all the fragiles I’d stowed in the kitchen since the last packup of the kitchen. And then the crew unanimously decided I’d had enough carrying on stairs, and banished me with the first load to go over to the new place and fit the load into the kitchen there. I feel a little miffed at this, but I’m also very sore. I sat down to take a collection of pens and determine whether there’s life in them, and just capping and uncapping the pens hurt my hands. So who knows? Maybe they were right. My back was seizing up, and a dose of magnesium had it unkinked within the hour, but it’s still sore. Everything’s sore, not to mention my knees and the Texas-sized bruise I’m still nursing. They stayed 3 more hours and brought another load over, reporting the old apartment nearly cleared, and a good time was had by all, without me. Sniff. The only casualty was a cup, so we’re running a pretty good average above, say, Allied Van Lines, which smashed our television set and scarred several items of furniture when we moved up to Spokane. Our friends did far better. So did Spokane Movers, who wrestled that television upstairs without a scratch. Tomorrow, however, I’m going skating. Jane’s still nursing the knee, which today made worse, and I hate going without her, especially having been relegated to larking about the kitchen all day, but I think it’s time I got back on the ice, before I forget how.

Date: 5/23/05. Monday. 85021. I got a little writing in. Jane stayed behind to unpack and set up the office while I went off to the rink to try to rediscover my feet. I can say after weeks of heavy lifting (different muscles and different balance) and a bad fall, and incredibly sore muscles to boot, that first step onto the ice was uncertain and pretty scary. I settled toward the heel, felt uneasy, and spent quite a while circling the rink to try to get my balance back, and doing my forward inside edges (the safest) for about half an hour, until I dared do the outside edge. Three-turns came back pretty easily. Backward inside edges work better than ever; backward outside---I'm still iffy on those. I created a misunderstanding with Joan, who asked how I was doing and if I wanted a lesson (Monday's my day, but Sharon's working up for the ice show and can take the time) and I answered: "I'm recuperating after the fall," which she heard as "I'll recuperate until fall," or some such. Fortunately, Sharon reported her puzzlement when we were de-skating, and I got her on the phone to inform her no, that wasn't the case. I need a lesson Wednesday. I came home to help Jane in the office sortout, and as we've been doing, we turned in early. These 5am wakings leave us pretty well flagged by 10pm.

Date: 5/24/05. Tuesday. 85838. Jane went over to the old place to do some repair and cleaning and I stayed behind to receive deliveries from Walmart Online: both turned up in town, and the first was our small rollabout freezer, an item we've long wanted: it has a bottom drawer as well as a top dropin, and means we can have ice when we want it. It's from Heier, and isn't that pricy, for a freezer. Next to arrive was a platform bed, since I've given up mattresses, in favor of the Aerobed, which I find much nicer. Unfortunately the platform bed is particle board and formica, is heavy---about 177 pounds and five feet long---and UPS had sent it out to be delivered to the third floor by a young woman who stood several inches shorter than I and looked somewhat slight. This was not kind. Two very stout men would have struggled with that lengthy, unstable object, and our stairs, hollow underneath the tread, require a refrigerator dolly, which she didn't have on the truck either. Her choice was either to call UPS and request help, thereby having that on her record as some kind of deficit, for all I could tell, or the two of us getting the thing onto the dolly, getting it to the foot of the stairs, and me, myself, deciding to unpack it then and there, hauling pieces up one to three at a time. I'm not happy with UPS, no fault to the young woman. I did get the pieces up and assembled, and cooked supper besides, the first meal I've cooked in the new place, and a matter of hunting down everything and working in small bare spaces on the countertop, but I succeeded. I had a major fight with Comcast, when they wanted to charge me 14.95 for delivering a box they were supposed to deliver in the first place, figuring it as an "upgrade," when if I'd just raised hell and played stupid, saying my bedroom telly didn't work right, and demanded one of their free service calls, I could have gotten around the 14.95, while taking much more of their service time. And this followed our other runin with Comcast, in which Jane asked how to wire up our DVR to the Comcast box, and got an insulting and obnoxious woman who took the position it wasn't her problem and she didn't have to know that. We're going to Comcast offices to get a box, and file a complaint, which we may also file with the FCC, Washington state corporation commission, and the city council, who approves cable contracts. I've never seen such attitudes on the part of a company's phone representatives.

Date: 5/25/05. Wednesday. Up just in time to get dressed and head to the rink, where Jane got back on the ice, got her feet under her with Joan's help, and I got a posture correction from Joan. We had a very good lesson, and also signed up for the Jo Williams Memorial, which is this July. We know bits and pieces of Basic Skills all the way to the end of the program, but are going to have to compete at Level 3, because that's the first level where we'd only have to learn one thing---in this case, a basic two-foot spin. So that's where we put ourselves. And a spin isn't going to be hard---a little scary at first, but doable. We did practice it. Then we went off to tackle Comcast in person, and found some very reasonable people. Turns out the woman Jane dealt with didn't notate her call, either, that sort of employee; and the one I talked to was wrong; and next time, we're going to take names when we talk to their phone people and report the behaviors. I got the box, it works, and Jane got a wiring diagram which may help, at least in theory. We went over to the old place, gathered things out of the fridge, and got, of all things, a battered TEAC audio cabinet from a secondhand place, where we were just looking for a cup tree for our kitty cups (Jane has some treasures). The cabinet is one of those mostly glass affairs, needs repair, but those things are expensive, and the fix looks easy: some idiot took the back off, and then as the whole cabinet began to wobble, it nudged off some of the hinge pivot caps and became generally unstable. We're going to put a back on it, and then replace the hinge pivot caps, apply some windex, and have ourselves a unit ordinarily we wouldn't buy because of its extravagant cost. Whoever originally owned it must not have made his money as a structural engineer. Sometime today, we have to get Larry his desk that he wanted, and I have to start looking at getting Frontpage onto the new Dell, and getting it so I can update the webpage from there, because I'm going to strip the face off this Dell and replace the whole keyboard, touchpad and all. Turns out once your Dell is out of warranty, you can get the whole face replaced for about 99 dollars if you're willing to do the work yourself, and this should be the world's biggest jigsaw puzzle: first you remove all batteries, then strip off the screen, the face of the computer, and replace the so-called palm rest (bottom half of the face) and the keyboard, then reinstall the screen. Bingo: good as new. The trick is having a second computer so you can get online and yell for tech help if you can't get the display back on.

Date: 5/26/05. Thursday. 85920. I still haven't found the CD drive for the other computer. I know it's in a box. Everything is in boxes. We spent a while cleaning and porting a number of things over from the old apartment, and worked ourselves to exhaustion. We've both just given up on the diet for the while: anything that presents itself to be eaten, gets eaten, carbs or not. I'm afraid to look at a scales, but I am sore down to my fingertips, my toes are bruised and going numb from the upstairs and downstairs carrying, and over all, we want to be through with this.

Date: 5/27/05. Friday. A turn at the rink, and then back over to do more packing and boxing. Jane is reaching the point where the promised program book for the LCFSC has to be done, and they're still getting her text and pictures which should have been here two weeks ago: big catch---most of them involve rehearsals, which are being done without costumes, so they have to be posed, and the people involved have to be identified. And the ads have to be sold, and some merchants tear off the top of a sales slip, point to that as their ad, and expect us to create it and make them look beautiful. Jane's willing to take it on, and Rita keeps helping us, because if Jane collapses there's no program book. Also, she says cheerfully, it's fun. We're not so sure about the fun part, but we're glad she's helping, because without her, we're sunk.

Date: 5/28/05. Saturday. Jane's hot and heavy into the program book and Rita's come over to help, mostly to identify people, write bits of text, and about all I can do is proofread. What kind of format does the printer want? It's a mystery. No one's ever in who knows. No one can guess. Big pdf? Page by page? We're not sure. Pdf versus jpgs? We can't find out. Jane's writing, but there's no info. Sharon, meanwhile, the other member of our little enclave, has gone mountain-climbing. She and Steve are off to join others at Mt. Athabasca in Canada, and she's taken Jago the bear with her, her good luck bear, which we gave her before Nationals, and which posed on the podium with her. She says she's hoping Jago may summit on this trip, but promises to take care of herself and Jago. We finally flagged, Jane and Rita and I, and had supper, and crashed.

Date: 5/29/05. Sunday. We had to start the day over at the old apartment, and with Rita's help, packed and carried and packed and carried and cleaned and patched. The rumor is out among other tenants that they're not refunding deposits, but we have our standards of how to leave a place we've loved, so we keep patching. I did take up the floor we laid down in the kitchen: Armstrong flooring is highly portable, if you know how to look at it. Our vacuums live for a long time, and little annoyances become major ones, over years. So I got what I knew would serve, and it waits in the car for action tomorrow. Meanwhile we got The Phone Call from Sharon, who was not on top of Mt. Athabasca, but stranded in Lake Louise, where the Truck had given out, bigtime. Now, understand, Jago saw to it they weren't stranded in the great Outback of Canada, but they were in a place with no spare parts and very few resources----but a lot of scenery, at least. We figure if they can't get a ride from one of the other climbers, we're coming up to Canada after them, but between moving and the program book, we don't know how. We watched our baseball game (the Mariners are struggling) and collapsed. Jane is still patching program book pieces.

Date: 5/30/05. Monday. No skating today: it's Memorial day. We have the program book mostly done, And we swept up more volcanic dust and swept and swept until the vacuum, a very nice Phantom, bit the big one and gave up the ghost with one room to go. Jane and Rita ran our loads of stuff over to the new place, while I went vacuum-shopping, and ended up with one of those Dyson numbers, which cost more than I liked, but the ease of use won out. Meanwhile we do get a phone call from Sharon, who's sitting on the cooler in the back of a van, with Steve, and Jago: they're safely homeward bound, thank goodness.

Date: 5/31/05. Tuesday: we close the old apartment. And with new vacuum in tow, we drop over to the house, assemble it, and do lastminute fixups. And then we head off to one of the big office stores who've promised to print this in exchange for a back cover ad. Well, after an hour and a half standing around with nobody doing much about our files, we get proof that their machine can't run the files. Seems it's having communication difficulties. They'll try to fix it. The program book isn't printing, or when it does print, is way small with lines around the text. Jane is beyond frustrated. And after supper, which I didn't cook, we headed to Kinko's to find out if it was our files or the other shop's machine. Answer? Our files are perfect, on Kinko's machine. We have to call Rita and tell her the people who were going to do this for an ad can't do it, or if they do it, will probably enter meltdown of their equipment: the person in charge doesn't realize it, but running a printer that's going line at a time and that slowly for hundreds of multipage copies---that's going to do their machine no good at all.

Date: 6/1/05. Wednesday. Well, we wake among heaps of boxes...heaps and heaps of boxes. We went off to the rink, and found the ice, as foretold, painted blue. Now, this is quite pretty and novel to skate on, but the dye gives the ice some peculiar qualities, one of which is microbubbles, which will slow a skater very suddenly when you come to a bubbled patch, enough to pitch you on your nose. It freezes more slowly, meaning puddles of water that act like light oil on your blades. And if you do pitch up a chunk of pure white ice, a curl from off your blades, it may freeze solid in a few minutes, meaning little crispy lumps that you can meet with a toepick. Several of the adult hockey-style skaters nearly came a cropper on a white patch of bubble ice, and I caught myself several times. I did have a lesson, but I was having ice troubles, as well as being very, very sore from all the lifting and moving. My legs keep wanting to quit, and now and again the right one tries to. Jane had a lesson with Joan, too, and fell, and, as turned out, hurt her ankle, the one opposite the knee she's been trying to rehab. You can't win. And we called Rita to report what we know, and to hope that the store who is supposed to print the file can convey it to another of their shops where there are more modern printers. This turned out a negative; but we did find out that there's as yet been no gratis printing, so Rita called Kinko's to offer them the deal. To our absolute delight, they accepted, and we're getting the program book as Jane designed it. Sharon is home safely, the program book is being printed, we're out of the other apartment, and life is good, except for Jane's ankle.

Date: 6/02/05. Thursday. I at least got the web page updated before rushing off to the hairdresser, an unfamiliar route through general construction throughout downtown Spokane: every trip is an adventure, and this one proved the rule. This, after serving Jane breakfast in bed, because of her wounded ankle. But when I got back, she'd had to get out and run one more file to Kinko's, and we hope now that everything will be in order for a pickup of our program books tomorrow. We're going to help sell program books. It's going to be quite a show---some of our local folk are natonally competitive and others are professional skaters with various ice shows, not to mention some of our coaches; and the junior skaters are going to be out there causing mayhem in various patterns. If you're within reach of Spokane, it's Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, admission 10.00, and tickets can be had. Call Eagles' Ice Arena for times, but Friday's I know is 7pm,. So everything is coming together. I sat down and went through a mountain of bills and other accounting messes, and tested the reach of the new office: Jane's set it up beautifully, give our take the various, yes, boxes sitting about. The front hall is full of boxes. Our bedrooms are full of boxes. The kitchen, well, fewer boxes, but a lot of bottles that haven't yet found homes. I'm going to update the diet page...mostly that we've been bad. But we're back on the straight and narrow now. Jane detests omelets, and a restart on Atkins requires lots of that sort of thing. And steak. It's going to be quesadillas tonight, I think: we can have a tiny bit of carb, when we've had none otherwise. We were supposed to have a lesson tonight, but the ice is reported just too chaotic with small people, and blue, and difficult. We're going to skate tomorrow morning instead, and then come back to tutu-up and sell programs. Footnote: we gulped down supper and headed for the rink for dress rehearsal---which went well, except Sharon was having skate troubles. She's up to her eyeballs in alligators, between work and a rocky start to the week (getting stranded in Canada), so we volunteered to get her skates to Larry for sharpening. We'd hate not to do that and then have Sharon take a we went kiting off into the dark to get to Larry's place, and Larry kindly did the job, in the midst of the little family time he's had today; then we discovered Jane's wallet is missing. By now the rink is shut, the Kinko's where she was earlier in the day is shut, and while we'd looked fondly at a little dietary indiscretion at a new place called Scotty's, on our route home, we ran home directly, to find she'd left it in her chair. Sigh. It's been like that lately. She said, however, that a shot of Scotch helped the sprained ankle.

Date: 6/03/05. Friday. The rink ice is just too bad, until they either get enough layers of clean ice on or scrape down past the dye. We decided to give Jane's injuries (and mine) a rest: besides, we've got to pick up the program books, deliver Sharon's skates, sell the program books and now the tickets, and it's just too crazy. On the other hand, I did find the missing removable drive for my new Dell, got FrontPage installed, and actually managed to import into the new program. The fact you're reading this indicates it worked...well...updating worked, after 4 days of hammering at this program. FrontPage has some untidy habits, like duplicating files, and it had duplicated folder into folder into folder, and it took some doing to figure out what was in use, what was superfluous---I know, I know: it tells you it's an unlinked file, but are you going to believe the program that just handed you a folder Dagwood sandwich? So I finally got it. And in retrospect...the ice show. The people were really good, and the show had rare magic. The lights go down. The lights come up: there are skaters, quite suddenly, on blue ice that acts quite strange under the lighting, and shows the traces particularly well. We sold tickets and programs until we were quite exhausted, and went home to our new neighborhood---decided to try Scotty's, a new bar, which turned out to have excellent chile lime wings.

Date: 6/04/05. Saturday: we ended up being late, and still found ourselves at the same jobs. Jane shouldn't be standing on her injuries, but there's no one to relieve us, no one to take the cash box. People have abandoned purses in our venue, left the cash box, and Jane wanted desperately to see the show. She'd promised some of the performers to take pictures, and here we are stuck, not just for one performance, but for both. By near suppertime, Jane was in pain and frazzled, and I was furious; we managed to get relief (I'd been there solo for an hour and a half with no way to take a bathroom break), and we left, returning after food and a Scotch, and much happier, to resume our post in the evening show---but by then we'd made some new understandings, and actually got to see the show after the start, and after the intermission. And we did one good deed: someone had left keys in the trunk of a car, and a showgoer turned them in at the lunch counter. We happened to have overheard this, and when Lindsay (our instructor) came bewailing the fact she'd lost her car keys and it was her graduation eve party night, we could suggest the snack bar. We ran down the Zamboni driver, who had keys to the snack bar (everything was shut) and yes! The missing keys were there. Lindsay headed for her party. The only problem was, Jane's still hurting, and when we virtuously skipped Scotty's and went straight home, Jane fell on the stairs and broke her digital camera, no inexpensive item. We had a Scotch to ease our pain and turned in.

Date: 6/05/05. Sunday. We couldn't sleep in. The phone kept going off. We finally hauled ourselves together and got to the rink, at least in a better frame of mind. I tipped various people off that if they saw Jane on her feet they should lecture her severely, and we got through the show, finally---the finale saw the hockey team borrow skating tutus from us (not mine, thank goodness: I don't think the ones that were borrowed (and there were two new expensive ones) will ever be the same. The guys also tried on the tights, ignorant (until then) as to why they're called 'tights.' They learned, poor fellows. We hope everything will wash. We drove out to our instructor Lindsay's high school graduation party, a good time was had by all. And we went to Panama Jack's and broke a few diet rules. Jane's camera is truly kiboshed, the tutus aren't in good shape (we hope washing can recover them) and we're just glad we survived it all. I spent the evening trying to get this program to behave. There's no skating tomorrow (the rink will be putting its barriers back up and reviving its ice, and we can benefit from a day to finally get groceries, open our boxes, hang pictures, and generally try to find the pieces of our lives. I also plan to get some writing done. What a notion!

Date: 6/06/05. Monday. 85503. Back to work, and a little erasing, a little writing, if you wonder about the bouncing word count. At last---chaos is beginning to recede. I'm still in a lot of pain from abused joints, all that carrying on stairs. But it's getting better. Jane swears her knee feels better this morning. I'm dubious, but we've agreed it cures itself in a few weeks or there will be medics. The ankle---less worrisome. And this file is the messiest in the whole website, but bear with me. I've nearly tamed this FrontPage monster, and just need to straighten out the links on this particular page, which seem to have multiplied, and my attempts to fix the situation have only created a ridiculous mess. If you find any others on the site that don't work, let me know. FrontPage is not the most intuitive software out there and the instruction manual ought to have a chapter entitled "If you've always been able to run this software and the XP version isn't behaving..." Which, of course, it doesn't. We worked hard all day, both writing and assembling the video cabinet (Jane did that) and nailing things to walls (my job) and getting things out of boxes (both of us), not to mention carrying the 70 pound air filter back down three flights of stairs because it doesn't fit (me, because Jane bashed her sore knee on it). And we decided to do a small diet breach and go to TGI Friday's, which is nearby. Mistake. The Jack Daniels chicken strips were carbonized pellets and Jane's decision to splurge on a margarita...well, if you're going to sin on a diet, you want it to be really worth the carbs. The raspberry one tasted like old laundry. So she ordered a lime one. It tasted the same---both of us love margaritas, both of us sampled both offerings, and we agree they're unqualifiedly the worst drinks we've ever tried, anywhere in the world. We offered to pay for them; the restaurant didn't charge us, to their credit, but I fear TGI Friday's is no longer on our list of places to take guests.

Date: 6/07/05. Tuesday. 86372. Spent the day making and mending, so to say---unpacking boxes, fixing what broke (few things, thankfully) and trying to get RealPlayer and my music library to behave: I had a version of RealPlayer on my older machine, but couldn't find a doorway to let me into their site as a user. I finally found it in  the fine print in one of the pages, got in, got my new install, and began, laboriously, to port my library across. Yep, I should have used the jumpdrive. It shouldn't have taken that long. But the other Dell is limping quite badly; not only is the keyboard and touchpad iffy, one of its batteries has begun to fail, and if I don't get everything off it soon, I may be put to trying to rebuild it with files I need on it, not a good situation. We went to Panama Jack's, violated some diet rules, and came home to collapse and watch AZNTV, one of the brighter offerings Comcast has come up with. Comcast has also just upgraded its menu functions, about time, say I: it makes it at least tolerable. I do miss my DirecTV.

Date: 6/08/05. Wednesday. 86372...but I'll get some done this afternoon. We went off to the newly reconstituted rink, had a lesson with Joan---I'm beginning to get the rhythm of the outside backward edges, which is going to make life and 3-turns and waltz-8's a much happier proposition. If I can just convince the brain I won't die if I fling the opposite hip up, a lot of things will be easier. Afterward, we bought our year passes: the new rink ownership is now in force---and are legal on the ice at any public session. Everything was quiet today, good ice and a fairly sparse session. Just wait until next week when the ice time goes to midafternoon. Then, to my memory, the crazies start coming out. I'm also officially taking to the kitchen again, setting up to keep us legal on the diet. We hope this will drop a few pounds.

Date: 6/09/05. Thursday. 90048. At last, some progress. We're still opening boxes. Jane's been working like a Trojan: she's much more of a decorator than I am. I just accumulate things and set them on shelves according to the whimsy of the moment. Jane lingers over the artistic arrangement of her items, while I'm still looking for not-too-destructive screws that will fix my floating shelves to the walls. We're feeling good---going to bed exhausted at 10, getting up at 5. I'm actually cooking breakfasts. No diet bars for the moment.

Date: 6/10/05. Friday. 90048. Early to the rink, and I finally discovered why I'm unable to pull the trigger on a turn while out in mid-ice, when I can do it very well up near the wall: sometimes I have to alternate what's working and what isn't and analyze from the head down to figure out what I'm doing differently, and in this case---arms. When I'm on mid-ice, for some reason, my arms rise. This throws my balance off. I get the hands back down where they belong, and, lo, I can do it. I'm working on the waltz 8, which (on a hockey circle) starts on the right foot toward the right, then a 3-turn, skating backward now, two-footing it into a stepoff, again to the right, and completing the circle back to the hockey dot, and on again to the identical lefthand pattern, the other half of the figure 8. And it had been stopping cold on my inability to complete that turn. Now it's going, however shakily. It should be a fun figure, when I get it perfected. It tests a whole lot of things: outside edge, turns, step-off, and both feet. I'm just aching to get another hour on the ice to try to iron out the details on this, and can't skate again until Monday. (I thought it was next week we go to everyday schedule, but it's one more week, on the 20th.) We braved the local buyer's club (Costco) and brought home a half a ton of supplies and food to be ported up, and I was too tired to cook it. Dinner at Scotty's, a losing baseball game, and a documentary on the Trojan horse, which turned out to be pretty interesting: some things I'd professionally quarrel with (they never get what I think is the real reason for interest in Helen) but pretty good, all the same. On a side note, I figure I'm going to have to archive this blog soon and shorten your download, but I'm not sure enough of this version of FrontPage behaving itself. I want to have it a bit better under control before I do.

Date: 6/11/05. Saturday. 92191. Housekeeping, among other things. A lot of things still to unpack, find, and organize. Jane's worked from dawn to dusk trying to get the place in shape, and I'm trying to do the accounts, locate any remaining address changes we need to do, and make sure the business items are fixed.

Date: 6/12/05. Sunday. 93227. More housekeeping, and a bit of discount store shopping---exhausting. I really don't like shopping. Sharon called to tell us there'd be an oddly scheduled public skate, which usually means no people to speak of. Well, this wasn't quite: it was the dreaded Sunday skate, which means rafts of novices, absolute first-timers, and the usual lot of hockey dads who haven't read the rules on the rinkside and who egg their kids on to violate every rule in the list, to the peril of everyone on the ice. A father who has to caution his kid not to throw body checks at complete strangers---I heard this---needs a long, long conversation with his son; that's one. And a father urging two kids to violate directional rules to charge full tilt up the ice toward a pack of complete, wall-clinging novices---is a father way out of control, himself. Generally, however, the session wasn't too bad, give or take the two exceptions noted, and the fact that the ice was too crowded for figure skaters to practice our moves safely (does it ever occur to the hockey dads that those of us of the open-blade persuasion aren't practicing full-out, that we don't do jumps and spins that could skewer their precious little darlings, or in the case of us pre-test sorts, we don't pull short spinabouts and stops) ---of course we'd love to cut loose, but instead we skate mostly in frustrated circles, looking for rare patches of unoccupied ice where we won't hurt someone. We got back late---I'm struggling to keep the blog updated, with the schedule we've been keeping, but trying.

Date: 6/13/05. 93227. Monday. Up early and off to the rink. I'm beginning to recover the form I had going before the fall and before the move. Still sore. But getting my nerve back, now that the soreness has diminished. Sharon thinks it was a bone bruise I had. Jane lost a bag full of expensive skating outfits and was quite out of sorts, but we got the DVDs from the ice show today and decided, Sharon, Joan, and ourselves, to have lunch at our place and view the DVDs. And we found the skating outfits, in the kitchen, of all places. Jane was very happy about that. Early to bed---we've changed our chiropractic appointment and hope to get some kinks straightened out. Still too much box-toting.

Date: 6/14/05. 92861. Tuesday. To and fro, the word count. We mostly rushed south to Dr. Mike the chiropractor, to get our backs straightened out after various adventures in moving. That helped. But by the time we got back, got to the store, got things collected and upstairs, we were pretty done. We did watch the game, which went our way, and after that weren't worth much. We've decided to spend Thursday getting some of the storerooms straightened out: I'm still missing an important letter from my accountant, outlining information he wants, and I can't even find the letter in this chaos, let alone the requisite information.

Date: 6/15/05. 92861. Wednesday. Well, I fell again today, no fault of Joan's---hooked a toe on the crossover: I've only done that twice in my life. Usually it's less straightforward, involving a sitdown on the ice. helped me figure something out: that I've been watching the wrong foot. The foot that goes underneath and to the outside had all my attention: I kept worrying about its position; but a curious thing occurred to me: the foot that crosses over to the inside becomes the skating foot, even before it quite hits the ice, and forget all the fuss about straightening it---it just has to set down ready to observe the curve and keep the inside edge. If I do that, so that I can instantly use it as the riding-foot, I can do anything in the whole world with the foot that's just slid underneath---because all my weight is on the riding-foot. That's major. I can see why I've fallen: I can see why I've had balance problems: a whole universe has suddenly become clear to me. I went round and round and round, getting brasher by the pass, and didn't fall, so this is good. Went to the bank, turned in the tax stuff, came home and tried baking a bun for sandwiches, from an Atkins mix. The thing is 1 carb, but I swear it consists of bran and egg, period, and nobody should eat more than four bites of the thing: heavy, really heavy. So that went out. The fish for the sandwich wasn't that good either. So we swore we'd have dessert later: we certainly don't want any more fish sandwich.

Date: 6/16/05. 93288. Thursday. No skating today---up at 5, breakfast, a little writing, and then off to the storeroom to get the loaner truck. I'd planned simply to move stuff from the westside storerooms to the valley storeroom, and clear out two storerooms that are pretty pricey. But Jane didn't like the valley  storeroom we had, too dusty and a little inclined to leak, so she arranged to move us to another, midrow storeroom across the street, same complex. Sigh. This means loading one entire truckload (and 3 chairs that wouldn't fit the first load) of a 15-foot high-bed truck (involving a ramp) over to the new place, which I agree is ever so nice; but the temperature, which has been in the 60's, picked today to soar into the 80's, and because we'd started in the 60's, I'd dressed in my rink sweater, and was about to bake, especially when standing in the truck to offload. We agreed to lunch at Scotty's, and after a cooler sitdown and a glass of wine, I decided I had enough life left to go attack the westside storerooms. We were going to empty the 5X10, which mostly is fragiles, so we thought. But there were also some obvious bottom-of-the-stack boxes that had to come over in the 10x10 room, and so those went on first, then the storeroom. We were able to check out of the 'closet' storage and give notice on the 10x10, and took another full truck over to the valley storage. The catch is, what you load in 80 degree heat, you have to unload in 80 degree heat. By the time we were finished, we were finished. We caught appetizers at Scotty's happy hour (for my overseas readers, this is a couple of hours around quitting time when snack food and beer is half price) and then came home, deciding that we were too tired to stay upright. We did watch the game, but had little more energy. Me, after a fall yesterday, I'm a bit achy, but not too bad. We turned in early. Job well done.

Date: 6/17/05. 93288. Friday. Up just in time to get dressed for an early session at the rink. Jane's been fussing at me to take ballet for skaters, for the balance exercises, and since Joan offered to teach me, despite the bad taste I developed after junior ballet lessons---I always say, Only a fool refuses to learn what someone offers to teach. So off I go---discovering that part of my reluctance is my unwillingness to face those full-length mirrors in the exercise room. Tutu and all, I show up for a 30 minute session, and to my relief, I don't look as bad as I thought. Turns out I actually have a 'back line,' meaning my back can flex and I can do about half the things Joan wanted me to do without pain. Legs turn out to be the problem---all strength, but little flex. So it's 'walk the line' and watch alignment. Lunges are different. I used to be a fencer: in that, the back foot goes at a 45 degree angle to the other. In skating, naturally, both feet are in the same line: doing otherwise applies a drag brake, and a whole lot of stress to areas we'd rather not mention. Balance is not what it could be. My shoulders are often the primary problem---too much typing, sitting like Bob Cratchitt (Christmas Carol) over the accounts. If I can stop rotating the shoulder inward, life should be much better. So it wasn't so bad as you might think, but I was moderately worked-out by the time I got down to the ice for an hour and a half skate. And when I got home all I wanted to do was sleep for about an hour. Pretty good, however, for a person who remembers the end of WWII, worrying because I can't grab my toe from the side and stretch backward...heel is all I can manage, but I'm going to work on it. A year and a half ago, I'd have worried about standing on one foot and holding my balance. I'm supposed to do off-ice lunges, bends, stretches, toe-grabs, toe-touches, and none of this should do any harm to the weight-loss effort. To my amazement, I'm finding it more natural in the last few months to stand straight than to slouch, a habit I plan to continue.

Date: 6/18/05. Saturday. 95373. A little work done, and a shopping foray: Jane's got the notion to make new cushions for the office futon, and the foam she got being little short of concrete, batting is de rigeur, here. It went on half price at Joann's Fabrics, so off we go to brave the hordes of craft-crazed women. It wasn't as bad as I'd figured. And I got a pot for my philodendron, which has fallen over twice, trapped me once (I had to yell for Jane to come get it off my back---literally, when I brushed against it), and this evening threatened to lift off during a high wind. This brave but grabby plant deserves a large floor-based pot before it kills itself or goes airborne. So now I need potting soil, but we got home with way too much stuff to get up 3 flights of stairs easily: not to mention Jane's 4x3 foot bale of batting, and the groceries. We finally found a source for Sobe Lean, which, if you haven't tried it, is great stuff---a green tea mixed with fruit flavor and it's zero carb, meaning no useable sugar. If you're reducing carbs or calories, and miss fruit flavors, it's good stuff, but hard to find: regular Sobe usually chokes the stands. Maybe Pepsi is wising up (they're the distributors.) Anyway, we got all that, and I solved a problem with one of our credit cards---their fault, not ours, and they agree: someone pushed the wrong button somewhere. So glad we keep good records. Speaking of which, I was supposed to do accounts today; that will have to be Sunday. The brain is just too tired, not to mention the aches from yesterday's session and the follow-up exercises. The paperwork will get done by Monday.

Date: 6/19/05 Sunday. 96376. Well, the cushions which, with their bale of batting, filled the office yesterday, have composed themselves into useable sitting space, and I've begun collecting all the paperwork that's scattered over the office into a half-foot high stack. I've constituted the new filing system, with tabs (everything is organized pre- and post-move) and I'm whittling away at it, filing things as fast as I can create tabs for it, writing checks as needed, and trying to find out where we stand with the accounts after the move. We had one bit of silliness in which Jane was absolutely sure I'd taken the financial papers in a folder to the bank when we ordered new checks. We turned the place upside down and searched the cars and the storeroom for that folder, until Jane recalled what I should have remembered: that there was no folder, nor ever had been: against all previous custom, I'd taken the necessary document in my purse, and we had it safe and sound. So we didn't get as much done as we wished, but a great deal, all the same.

Date: 6/20/05. Monday.  96376. Friends of Jane's came by, on their way across the country, and we went out to lunch (Panama Jack's had a rare misfire, really horrid food, for the first time since we've been going there) and then decided to go over to the rink for a late public skate: they've changed the hours to mid-afternoon. We were a little late, but not terribly. The ice was pre-used, not optimum, and both of us ached, possibly from a change in the weather. I just couldn't get my knees steady, but I didn't fall. We did get an hour's practice in, and to the better for our lesson tomorrow. By the time we got back, the temperature outside was 88 degrees, and we'd left the windows open and the blinds up, so the apartment had heated up, particularly the office, so we gave up, did some housework, watched the ball game, and gave up for the day.

Date: 6/21/05. Tuesday. 98382. A relatively calm day. I worked in the morning, did accounts at noon, still trying to solve the accounting mess from before the move (advanced physics? No great conceptual problem. Balance a checkbook? The concept of tunneling electrons seems to apply to penny amounts in my balance), and we got off to skate at 2. This is actually the way I'd love my days to run---but there are too many flaming emergencies to let things settle into comfortable routine. I suppose it keeps life from being boring. I had a pretty good skate---I can do the waltz 8 in extreme slow motion and with not a very pretty line, but hey, I didn't fall down. Jane, who's suffering from a bad knee, has been somewhat held back in learning a few items on the ice, so she took the whole hour lesson, and was pretty pleased with it---she fell down, once, but thank goodness for helmets and crash pads, and she didn't reinjure the knee---which was done walking, mind you, on concrete, not ice. A hot day---it reached 93. In the evening, we had a massive front roll through---curtains of dust rolling down off the mountain that divides us from the Palouse, and looking rather like that sandstorm in The Mummy---it hit with 70 mph winds, and while everyone around us got rain, we're in the two blocks of our avenue that didn't. Storms to the north of us, storms to the south, and we get the dust, lucky us. I was particularly worried about the massive old pine tree that abuts our balcony, but it's healthy: it tossed mightily, it heaved, and the wind got onto our balcony and broke a couple of expensive pots, but the old tree survived quite nicely---we live near its upper middle branches, and these big old pines can really flex and toss when they have to. Quite an interesting perspective, with a tree that size that we can reach out and touch---almost like living in forest canopy.

Date: 6/22/05. Wednesday. 100583. Finally past the hundred thousand mark, which is a good sign in a book. It's ripping right along, and things I'd planned are actually happening, more to the point. This isn't always the case. The wildlife was out today, taking advantage of the windfalls from the storm last night: a massively fat yellow-bellied marmot (his real species name) was in full sun on the rocks, munching fallen berries and seeds. The bobwhite came trotting out for the grain. And various sparrows have dug themselves a dust bath in the heart of the rocks. Off to the rink again: ice is every day, now that we're into summer sessions. Today I had the lesson with Joan, and it was one of the best lessons I've ever had. I've been practicing those stretching and balance things, and this time, for some reason, all my mistakes came down to a) not lifting the off hip high enough and b) going too fast and executing before I'm ready. A little more nerve, shoving myself onto that backward outside (hand-side) curve with considerable, but not excessive, elan, quieting down my turn, and, again, getting the free foot (and hip) up during the turns, not letting the foot swing free. Funny thing, I'm now completing the 3-turns without falling out onto the free foot for a save. I'm actually going backward securely on one foot and beginning to control which direction I turn. This is promising. The grocery run turned out to take much longer than it ought, and rather than go out to eat, which always involves more food than we need, we just had tv dinners at home. A little baseball, maybe a movie...the temperature yesterday hit 83 today, but the airconditioner in the new place really copes with that kind of heat very well, unlike our former residence, where anything above 80 required not only the main airconditioner but two rollabouts---I'm thinking we can put one of those auto windowshades in the only big west window during the afternoon and maybe save ourselves having to those those power hungry rollabouts at all until the temperatures rise well into the 90's and stay.

Date: 6/23/05. 102838. Thursday. And my dear readers, if all my links work, I have a proposition for you---please click on Speak! and give us some input. I'm hoping my readers will support us.----Postscript: your responses are very helpful---I'm forever impressed by the variety and basic goodness of my readership. Jane is very grateful for the notes. There are far more than I can easily respond to, but we are reading each and every one, and we are requested by our editor to provide the information (and salient quotes) to help her decide.

Life does go on, meanwhile: while my mailbox overflows with answers, I'm still trying to find the pieces of my former office system, like a critically important notebook, and my accountant, poor man, is calling trying to get information I can't get without that notebook. We did finally have our long-postponed lesson with Lindsay, who is very good. She kept saying, "Down, down!", meaning get down in the knees, during backward crossovers, and most importantly, during backward edges, and all of a sudden I felt the solidity in those backward edges I'd been looking for. I'm so excited. I almost think I can venture those on my own, without a helping hand.

 Date: 6/25/05. 104554. And going well. Friday. The responses continue to come in, bless you all. And here's a new word for the book: Piriformis Syndrome. Ever since that really bad sideways fall, I've had pain---at first I thought it might be a cracked femur; or a pulled ligament in the upper inside; or the hindside---it varied. And then again, it could be the lower back, because the hip hurt. Well, Dr. Mike the chiropractor helped, but the pain didn't stop, day or night, and sitting down hurts worst. I finally decided that if there are some good diagnostic programs on the internet that tell you about disease, there might be some for chiropractic. Well, no, there aren't. But I started looking up particular symptoms, and found a sports medicine site that in a lengthy discussion of leg and hip problems, got down to this one. Seems this little piriformis muscle and its attachments run from the tailbone to the top of the femur, across the hip, and if strained, it's ghosty and produces that kind of pain. It's treatable by exercise: stretching the leg back, for one---you do a lot of that in figure skating. And, yes, it hurts. But we learned another trick from a physical therapist, second-hand, which is tennis balls: lie down on something solid enough to resist, stuff a tennis ball right under the kinked muscle, and lie there, oh, fifteen or twenty minutes. The area gradually numbs-up. This pressure, applied right next the tailbone, gave me the first relief I'd had in weeks. Then, about half an hour later, relief gave way to intense pain and generalized lower back stiffness. Whoa! I'm miserable. "Silly," Jane says, "you're supposed to drink a lot of water when you do that. Carries the lactic acid out." Well, I tend to regard that as kind of witchdoctory or folk medicine, but I drank the water. Bingo! The pain ebbed, and remained ebbed, in the hip, in the ligaments, in the lower back---a wonder. Well, I don't know if tennis balls and two glasses of water work for everyone, but it's hard to hurt yourself too badly applying that cure. Ice and tennis balls. I am going to talk to Dr. Mike about this little muscle and the fall, and see if he can help. In the meanwhile, the skating today was marvelous: I applied what Lindsay showed me, and I was able to go back and forth backwards down the hockey line in arcs, two-footing it a significant amount of time, but single-footing it on the height of the arcs, and not feeling at risk. It's worth caution: I quit when I did go off-balance (a moment of inattention), proving that yes, I can still fall, if I'm a fool---and I still have to analyze what made that happen, but I didn't fall, and it felt great. I did the waltz 8 twice through without stopping---a major thing---and in general, I'm beginning to find the balance-point on which I'm solid. That sense of absolute stability is so fine a point when you first find it, and broadens out marvelously once you discover where the center is. And the kids are back on the ice---little kids in borrowed skates that don't fit, sometimes aren't sharpened, and aren't laced right. I've laced, coached, held hands, and advised parents on skate fitting over the last two days, and generally the ice is chewed up and snowy after an hour of public skate, to boot. It's so warm in there I'm down to one pair of tights and a short-sleeved tee over the tutu (usually its two pair of tights and a fleece jacket) and the ice just can't be as nice as it is in the cold season. But the weather has stayed moderate for June---whole weeks of temperatures around 77 degrees and nights in the 50's or 60's. We had one day when it reached 93, and we got one of our car sunscreens and put it in the only west window in the apartment: we hope this may suffice to keep the house cool. It's been cloudy, a great deal; and if it would stay like this all summer, in the middle seventies and overcast, I'd be happy. I would like a clear night or two---there's a nice conjunction of planets going on in the early night, and I'd like a view of it. Go outside and look up tonight or Sunday night, and you may see something marvelous.

Date: 6/26/05. 106234. Saturday. I ought to be doing the accounts, but I'm having one of those days when my work is ripping right along, and I just can't bear to leave it. We did take off in the late afternoon to go to the movies---Madagascar is a riot. Unfortunately so was the particular group of children attending, with parents who really hadn't a clue---a parent who tolerates it when one of her four children makes a volcano out of a full bin of popcorn must be on tranquilizers from the start of the event. Here, darling, have some more'll settle you right down.  Remember the days when there were ushers, with flashlights, to spear the offender in a ray of light and toss him/her out of the theater? I sigh for the days.  But the movie was good enough to overcome the audience. We watched the game, and the weather is bidding to turn off rainy and cool, very nice for near the 4th of July.

Date: 6/27/05. 108485. Sunday. Again, I ought to be doing the accounts, but the office is a mess in there, and the work is going well. I've been able to abate the hip pain so that work isn't a matter of shifting pillows against daggerlike pain every fifteen minutes or so---which it has been for the last month. The tennis ball treatment is really working, freeing up that extreme lower back, and making life ever so much more pleasant. So I work with more concentration, and just don't want to stop. Jane's working steadily on the final most absolute revision of her manuscripts on the new Groundties, which needs to get into the mail, and doesn't surface from her room except for food and drink. Sharon called, asking if we were going to public skate today, but having gone last Sunday, with a rink full, we decided we'd better take the day off.

Date: 6/28/05. 110322. Monday. Rainy and cool, around 58 degrees. Wonderful. And I really ought to take a couple of hours this morning and get accounts done---the anxiety about the accounts is really making me a little crazy, but Jane's using the main computer, trying to get manuscript in shape and printed, and we've had a real headache trying to get the printer set-up (there are three) to have any one of them talk to the right computer. Quel pain! Then when she did get it to talk---the printer in question ran out of toner. And when she's having simultaneous computer problems while trying to work on manuscript, it's not a good time to say, hey, I need that computer. She's having fits. So I turn my attention to other matters, like my own manuscript, which is moving right along. The publisher is beginning to inquire how far along it is, and I can at least say---it's moving well. And we went after the toner---got lost on a new route to avoid construction, wasted a batch of time, and arrived at the office supply store so late we didn't have time to really consider the new shredder we need. Jane and I disagree on which one we want, so we'll have to iron that out. I'm peevish and difficult today, Jane's frazzled and doesn't feel well, and we headed off to skate. It turned out we have a lesson, so Jane suggests I take the whole hour to myself with Joan, since she feels wretched. The lesson went quite well, improving my mood immensely: I'm beginning to get the backward edges. And we were able to review a lot of things we haven't reviewed in a long time, and to add in a little bit of a spin---spinning's fun, and I'm beginning to find my center of balance. Now, understand, this is a 3-rev two-footed spin, but it's a beginning. Jane thought to cheer me up we should go over to Tomato Street, and it got me out of cooking, and more, shopping before cooking, which did improve my mood a lot, not to mention the two glasses of Chardonnay. But on the way home, I began to figure what might be wrong with both of us---a little too much fat in the diet. We'd had a bit too much fat, Jane had taken an oil supplement, and snacked on Macadamia nuts, which aren't innocent either, and I think we just overloaded, which can happen on Atkins, if you don't track what you're taking in. It can make you feel pretty awful. So several gallons of green tea later, we hope things will improve tomorrow. The poll, by the way, is progressing nicely: any of you have permission to copy that poll and reply link and post it where useful. We're getting good information, and every answer is read and appreciated.

6/29/05 Tuesday. 112998. The book is going right along, thanks to a good outline. We're having internet problems, which is why update has been spotty this week. We had a chiropractic session---Dr. Mike crunched the hip problem really extraordinarily well: he did know what I meant by piriformis, and he got it---one crunch, and I walked out, when I'd limped in. I'll tell you, a chiropractor who can do that is worth is weight in pizza. The weather has stayed nice: 50 degrees at night, which takes until 3pm to warm up much. We had a lesson with Lindsay this afternoon, and I'd never skated directly after getting crunched: I'll tell you, I'm feeling a bit done in. Jane had her go with Lindsay. And we came home, to sit like vegetation in front of the tv and collapse utterly, both of us feeling better, but exhausted.

6/30/05. Wednesday. 112827. Back and forth. A bit of work---and we were going to use the morning to go empty out one of the big expensive airconditioned storerooms. But the truck didn't come back on schedule from the last person. We showed up all dressed in rough and ready to work on a nice cool day, and no truck. We've rented it for Saturday, which I had set aside for accounting. I've got to get to those accounts, but I'm just not mentally prepared for that mess. Much nicer to write. I tell you, the national madness that installed our income tax system is amazing. We spend so much time and energy on bookkeeping and proving our case on the so-named 'honor system', which really means you have to keep absolutely meticulous accounts---to be ready to prove your honor, I suppose. Skating was fairly unsatisfactory---I tired early. But at least the weather has held cool. The 70's during the leadup to the 4th is extraordinary. We'd like to go downtown to see fireworks this year, but we've bought tickets to the local class A team's celebration, which involves hot dogs as well as fireworks and baseball, so that will serve, very nicely.

6/31/05. Thursday. 113382. Steady gains. We finally hooked up with Sharon and Joan, went out to dine at Tomato Street after Sharon's lesson, and had a fine if overfed evening. We spent the rest of it watching "Touching the Void", which Sharon brought over. I tell you, it's quite a piece---if you like mountains, scenery, survival, and one heck of an incredible but true story, it's worth watching.

7/01/05. Friday. 114282. Oh, my, into a new month and a new quarter, and I still haven't done the accounts. I'm in trouble. The credit card that got fouled up in online payments (it messed up its draft thanks to their clerical error and didn't draft for 3 months) is going to draft bigtime in a few days, and we have to have the accounts in order. We came home to tv dinners---with the late skating schedule, it's the only way to manage. The Mariners game was wretched.

7/02/05. Saturday. 115384. Up early, about 5, a little work, and I decided to try to figure out why our internet is running like molasses. I have all kinds of checkered history with Norton software---my fault, I'm sure, and everyone tells me trust it and don't mess with it. So after much frustration in the fact I've been running for two months on very little security, I decided I'd better find out if I've got a virus in the system, so I purchase the new Norton Internet Security package and download. It worked great for several hours---but the system is still slow. Then it flashed some advisory up and we lost the internet. About that time Sharon called, having volunteered, dear person that she is, to help us with the storeroom. So we get the truck, load on, load off, and head out to lunch. Two candidates were shut for the holidays, but we had nachos at Panama Jack's, and then on home to watch our 4th of July celebratory DVD, 1776. If you've never seen it, do. It's lengthy, but absolutely great---a musical, with biting humor as well as serious bits. Sharon had to get on home---and we flagged early, the game having been another disaster. I still have no internet. Tomorrow I'm going to have to see if the main computer can get out, and if not, I'm going to have to confess same to Jane and see if she can make sense of it, before I start poking at the settings. It's helpfully kiboshed my Microsoft firewall, and put its own in. I wonder.

7/03/05. Sunday. 117888. The day set aside for office work. I got up early, set to work on manuscript, then hit the office and started clearing boxes and stacks, getting down to a floor, the rug, the cat, and the papers I'd put there last week. So I set about filing and trying to figure out why a certain company can't tell our bank routing number from our account number, and trying to file our business tax---the system ate it, refused to file, and now I've printed a check for them, if I can get a sane answer out of Washington Revenue. It says don't mail 'that form', but it's all I've got if it won't allow me to push the send button. I have to call them on the 5th. And the accounting program went to the internet for an update, crashed the update, lost my payroll data out of the 'print form 941' routine, and I'm just not real happy with our internet connection just now. I spent three quarters of an hour trying to reconstitute the payroll numbers. And I think I finally got it, but now it wants to print some alien form completely unrelated to any 941 IRS form I've ever used. It's gone mad, and I'm close behind it. I confessed to Jane about the Norton program; she was unhappy, I promised never, never, never to install another internet firewall without advising her (our IP)---and she rebooted the system, which promptly came up on my machine without difficulty (proving I need not have confessed at all) and immediately slowed to glacial speed, proving it's still screwed. I now officially suspect we have another bad modem, helpfully installed by our friends at Comcast. We plan to call Comcast about that. And what do I find when I do finally get back onto the internet, but that the my favorite team, the Mariners, have just put my favorite player, Bret Boone, on assignment, which means he's cut from the team. I take this extremely personally, not least because Boonie is probably a second or third cousin of mine, but also because I love watching him field. I'm not sure I'll take the same joy in the team as before, for one thing because I think this was hastily and shabbily done, to the best second baseman in baseball, no less, and one of the most popular players, to boot---while we keep on people...well, suffice it to say a glass of wine and one of my favorite calm-down movies hasn't saved this day. I've never followed professional sports before, and I suppose it is business, but this isn't right. My best to Boonie---I may get MLB Extra Innings just to watch his games wherever he ends up. And I'm not sure I'm that eager now to drive 300 miles over to Seattle and spend money to watch the team any time real soon.

7/04/05 Monday. 120382. Work all morning, and not too hot weather, considering it's the 4th---high 80's, but the air conditioning is keeping up with it. We celebrated the 4th by going to the local A team and having hotdogs and fireworks---a brief but beautiful show. We could have seen it from our back windows, but much better to be there, even if our team did lose.

7/05/05 Tuesday 120382. Back to the ice. I was absolutely worthless today. Maybe it's hotdogs to blame. We've resolved not to be out of sorts with the Mariners---the team's not at fault: the office is. But we don't think this is going to be a good move.

7/06/05 Wednesday. 122686. Did quite a lot yesterday.  A book tends to be only 150,000 words, or less, so you can see I'm coming right along on Fortress of Ice. Got a haircut, and dashed back to get some errands run, among them getting the bird feeders set up on the back porch. We've gotten the loyalty of some goldfinches, and we're out of thistle seed, for one thing. And then I decided to doublecheck Mastercard and find out if they've fixed our ongoing problem, as the chap this weekend assured me would happen. Good thing I did. They still hadn't fixed the account number, and the payment draft went to our bank with the wrong number. I went through several tiers of supervisors this time, finally found one senior person whose name seems to rattle doors there, and finally got someone to agree we were right and they should refund all late fees (since March) and the supervisor is going to fix things. We've had bi-weekly calls from their collections people ever since June, having to explain again and again how the account is screwed up and their customer service people said it would be fixed in July. And I had a bet on with Jane that they'd call again tonight, since they'd sent through one more wrong-number attempt, even though I'd paid the bill already. We went off to skate---turned out we'd gotten lessons with both Joan and Lindsay, so I took my lesson with Joan and Jane with Lindsay. And I did the waltz jump 'off the wall' (in clear ice) with Joan to steady me, and I did well enough then she said she'd show me the toe here I am working on two jumps. Aren't I clever? It put a nice finish on a gruesome day. I'd gotten my combat adrenaline up while dealing with Mastercard, and was still vibrating, so we stopped by at Scotty's for dinner (behind a woman who kept her cigarette away from her dining companions by holding it back over our table space: words fail me to describe the classiness of this person) and went home. The goldfinches were grateful. And Mastercard called. The name of the Personage I'd talked to made an impression, and that call concluded cheerily: I'm sure we'll continue to get these until the information percolates through all the depths of their computer system. And I have a feeling that our case will become a staff-meeting instructional piece in their offices, before all's said and done. I think the notes (taken by over a dozen people) alone will be quite a volume. And I hope it is now fixed, at least at upper levels. I utterly collapsed, after that, and found myself dozing through the last of the wretched Mariners game.

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