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autumn leaves

Where the wind takes me . . . .

Another day, another several inches of snow
red polka dot mugs
Everything is closed again! Last night Friend H. and I were wondering why the studio website showed a full day of classes, when the city told folks at 7 pm to stay off the roads unless there was an emergency: the priority was keeping the arterials clear, with plows "responding to residential roads as able". We could both walk in, as could Friend N., but anyone outside Winslow who doesn't have access to a snowblower and tire chains is pretty much stuck. By morning everything was cancelled, as were H.'s classes at the senior centre, and the two of us happily snuggled down with cups of tea and books we'd meant to read.

Several of my neighbours are hosting impromptu gatherings, which are not quite phrased as "You're tired of looking at the walls; we're tired of talking to the people we live with and eating only food we've cooked ourselves" but the subtext is there. :D Tomorrow morning I may well meet my next-door neighbours! They live in Connecticut and bought their place as a retirement property; why they chose this particular week for a visit eludes me. I'm guessing it's their car that's been parked on the street for the last three days and is topped with a foot of snow.

Yesterday P. and I said "Let us go for a walk, as the pantry has no beans for chili and insufficient quantities of other things", and down the hill we went. A fair bit of that trek was made in the street, as the sidewalks were ice sheets. In front of open businesses! I don't miss a lot about my former state of residence, but the law that said "12 hours after the cessation of snowfall, walks will be clear edge to edge and down to pavement or we will take your birthday away", I miss that one. As the person who was doing the shovelling? Yep, still support it, especially when I was also the person walking around on said pavement. (Neighbourhoods were generally good about finding out who needed help.)

We reached the store to find the tinned bean shelves bare! A man in the aisle was on his phone informing someone of this, with a note of frustration in his voice. P. and I made "Hmmmm" noises, wandered to the bulk bins and found the one for red kidney beans was full. This is why people buy Instant Pots! Well, it's why I bought one, I didn't have a pressure cooker. 30 minutes to tender beans from a standing start, no soaking, and I can control the salt levels? Hand that thing over.

Salt, a bay leaf from the little tree on the balcony, a small onion, tablespoon of apple cider vinegar; rinse the beans and toss in the Pot with the above and some water, set for 30 minutes at high pressure, allow the pressure to release on its own. They are soft and delicious; I will try chickpeas next, though recipes I've seen do recommend soaking those overnight for consistent texture. It's nice to be able to put the pot out on the balcony to cool, too.

If either of us had to deal with a daily commute, this would be a nightmare. Having been away all the previous week, P. is happy to be back in his office, or in bed falling asleep 10 minutes into an episode of The Good Place Podcast. If the power were out, I would be a lot crankier about being "stuck at home", and I am so grateful that the lights are on and there will be cooked food tonight. I am a little cranky about not seeing H. and N. tonight, or Teacher F.

But it's beautiful, and quiet. I've been away from snow long enough to appreciate that, and how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to simply curl up and watch it fall.

I have not done a Friday Five in a long time!
red polka dot mugs
And as my bed is one of my favourite places . . . .

(These questions were written by Dreamwidth user Archersangel; picked up from manoah.)

1. What size (twin, full, etc.) is your bed?

US queen size (60 inches wide by 80 inches long), and it's probably time to think about replacing the mattress.

2. How many pillows do you sleep with?

One: a fairly high loft pillow for my head, as I sleep on my side

3. Do you have a weighted blanket? If so, does it help you?

Not as such - at the moment there's a thick quilt under the duvet, as P. is often very cold upon first getting into bed this time of year. I do like to have something with some weight over me, even in the summer.

4. Do you sleep with any stuffed animals?

Does P. count? :D

5. Do you have to have the TV on to go to sleep?

Don't have a television in the bedroom, though I will sometimes watch something on a tablet. Evening routine is usually screens off an hour before bed; lights color shift at sunset and begin dimming at 10.30, with rain sounds running for a couple of hours after lights out.

robin in snow
No, really, that's what they're calling it.

P. is safely at the ferry terminal, waiting for the 3.50 crossing. 200 flights cancelled, 90 delayed at SeaTac as of two hours ago - his original flight is still on the board as of now, but I don't like its chances: a friend who lives a mile from the airport said it's gotten quiet, and we're trying to find out if they've ordered a ground stop.

Wine on the Rock has been postponed to next weekend, doubtless frustrating a lot of caterers and B&Bs who were counting on happy groups wandering between five of the wineries tasting everything, and being hungry and sleepy after.

The snow is now coming down at a speed only slightly faster than that in my robin icon. It's steady, and the streets are quiet; everyone who could has moved their cars into their assigned spaces in the underground garage. Under the usual weather conditions, residents tend to park in the four-hour area on the street just outside the building, to the exasperation of guests who have to drive around to the handful of spots in the first phase, and then walk through. There is guest parking downstairs, but I don't think many people remember they're available.

Edited to add: six inches on the ground as of this morning. We still have power, but folks in outlying areas of the island don't.

Snow here is miserable for a lot of reasons: local terrain is very hilly, with housing built right up to the roads; you spin out, you've got nowhere to go. The pattern is snow-melt-refreeze-more snow, with the precip coming in as big wet flakes known locally as "Seattle cement" - it doesn't drift, it compacts. With the density of the local tree canopy, especially the evergreens, you get bare patches of pavement followed by ice patches for miles.

And preparing for it isn't baked into Puget Sound culture the way it is in Minneapolis or Boston: a city can prepare for most things, but it generally can't afford to prepare for everything, and historically this has been a once-a-decade event. Last year it didn't snow at sea level at all.

(Just received a text from the city saying the emergency operations center has been activated, with reports of multiple power outages and road closures on the island; SeaTac airport is having trouble with their deicing trucks, so it's another day of "we have no idea when/if the flights are actually leaving" - P.'s original flight yesterday was cancelled after a two-hour delay.)

I did get a laugh from a tweet this morning saying "If you're not from Seattle and this snow is nothing to you, city leaders are asking you to wait until the ground freezes, then head to the corner of Queen Anne and Roy to be honored by a parade of vehicles heading down the hill in your direction." Or there's the rather sharper conclusion to a post by a local sportswriter:

If the hardy-har-hars in Los Angeles and elsewhere - including transplants here who often laugh loudest - want to argue, go ahead and take your Lexus to the top of Queen Anne Hill the next time "Danger Jim" Forman puts on his yellow parka.

I’ll meet you at the body shop and you can tell me how it went.

The Queen Anne neighbourhood has seven of the twenty steepest hills in Seattle; the Hill, Upper and Lower, is closed at the moment. That isn't stopping people from sledding on it. An older vid, but you get the idea.

Sun before snow
robin in snow
Again. With the snow. Tomorrow, when P. is coming home late from Denver with a grundle of stuff - thus far swag acquired includes a Patagonia jacket, a Fitbit, a Target gift card, and he chose colours for a pair of custom Nikes, to be delivered in a month's time. As a friend put it: "What, is he attending a conference for late-stage capitalism?"

Also bringing things home is DS, who bought his first car this week, a 2011 Mini two-door, black with white racing stripes. This colour combination moved another friend to suggest the name "Pepé le Vroom". :-D I only had a minor tantrum over my son getting a Mini before I did, and not where anyone other than P. could see it.

Part of the vexation involves the TARDIS, which at the moment is really most sincerely dead: my otherwise lovely upstairs neighbour accidentally broke the passenger-side mirror, and the replacement part appears to have defective wiring, as the battery was dead the day after we changed it out. It's a two-person job to get the mirror off again, and moving the car out of the underground garage for a tow is going to be a non-trivial problem. With P. away since Sunday, I have been buying only what I can haul home myself from the grocery store; last night came the reminder of the annual inspection of the Agate Pass Bridge starting the 16th, meaning delays of at least 30 minutes for anyone wanting to cross for the next three weeks - Costco runs are about to require a good deal more time.

Plus, you know, snow. The storm that began Sunday afternoon shut down most of the island and a repeat performance is expected starting tomorrow. I'm going to get dressed and bring home what I can.

(no subject)
robin in snow
I know I have been quiet of late, my very dears: my father's cancer has recurred. Our relationship is complicated; efforts to respond with grace and compassion are very much a work in progress that I haven't been up to sharing beyond P. and my hardcopy journal. Thank you for understanding.

In silly news, P. has new work equipment, to the hilarity of all. :D Namely, a 34-inch curved monitor that required moving everything on the desk to make room for it, which led to dusting, which led to sneezing, and finally to packing the old one up.

Yesterday we put it into the car to ship it back.

Sound Reprographics, just down the hill, was shut; the UPS Store here no longer accepts FedEx shipments; the nearest open FedEx office was in Silverdale, right next to the mall.

On a Saturday. In December.

Well, we were heading to World Market anyway, and it was that or haul it home again, so off we went. SO MUCH TRAFFIC, and even with directions it was a trick to get into the lot; off a side road, with an Asian market in the same pocket. I will be going back to explore that in depth another day. We had to wait rather longer than we would have liked - Silverdale has a naval base and many people were sending packages overseas - but once we reached the counter it all went quickly enough.

Food was acquired before plunging into the shops. Friend H. texted me while I was queueing for the cashier; she'd been looking for a new GP, I'd recommended mine, and she wanted me to know that they'd met and she was now on Doctor C.'s books. Bits of the conversation kept me going as I went on:

I can imagine the number of people and that really is the nearest FedEx? What a bore! Hope you have chilled eve planned?

Woolly socks and spiked hot chocolate. Or I'll just grab the vodka here by the cashier.

I'd grab the vodka and, unless driving, proceed to open immediately.

P.'s driving. :D Do these people not have homes to go to?

Now, now, you know the holidays are in twenty-odd days and we should all be going into a blind panic. :P

In the midst of all of this, my faithful phone at last gave up the fight: the screen was cracked, the batteries losing the will to hold a charge, applications stopping at random, but apparently the flurry of rude commentary on people with so many parcels in the back of their cars that the rear windscreen was blocked proved too much for it. :D While getting a gift card for P.'s mum, P. found an unlocked phone on sale and waved it at me; I took a very deep breath, nodded, and we took it to our carrier for a new SIM card. (During this, the technician discovered that some of the "new" cards already had numbers associated with them (!); the manager was not best pleased, and checked my new one three times before transferring the number.)

When we at last made it home, after putting on yoga pants and the promised rag wool socks (and sending out for pizza) P. and I moved all the data over; I made room for the new wireless charging station on the nightstand - the cable for the old charger is worn through, and the base is cracked. Use my stuff until it needs recycling - and set the new phone on it. Just set it down, and the blue light came on and it started charging! We live in the future!

P. and I did test the assistant programme. The "bedtime" sequence made us both squee like three-year-olds with puppies: saying "It's time for bed" resulted in the calm announcement of the next day's weather, the time of the alarm, the time of the first meeting of the day, and a quiet "good night, P." while the lights dimmed and rain sound effects began.

And then we shut it off, because we've both read enough genre writing to Know Where This Leads. But there was a brief moment when P. actually mused aloud about buying the bridge for the motorised blinds and adding that to the menus.

Today is much quieter: P. is gaming with DS today, as DS's roommate moves out tomorrow and the internet connection goes with him. DS moves into a studio in the other tower on the 10th. M. and his girlfriend have decided to find their own place; DS is sorry to lose the comfort of another person around the place, but will not miss the girlfriend's ability to completely wreck the kitchen without cleaning up after. I am scrubbing down our kitchen and prepping the Instant Pot with the chicken and chickpea stew we both liked so well.

A very Le Guin week
autumn leaves
DS's copy of The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition arrived today. It's three inches thick (!), packaged in a neat cardboard outer cover and I did not park myself on the sofa and start reading it. It's not my book.

(the last story is in there the last one she wrote I'ma make him read it to us Christmas Eve)

A Ride On The Red Mare's Back should be here in time for Friend P.'s shower on Sunday. The invitations note that significant others are also welcome, which translates to "B. is here because his mother and sister are hosting this shindig: please bring male companions so that he doesn't have to endure this alone". :D It is very kind of Friend P. to have given her MIL my name; as I am the age of said MIL rather than the majority of the guests, I will probably duck out after an appropriate interval and head for Downpour, as there is talk of fielding a table for movie trivia night.

Friend H. and I (and apparently Friend H.'s mum and I) seem to have moved to the level of "Have you listened to/read this?" friendship. She is still working through The Goblin Emperor, and I think I will suggest that her mum track down a copy of Searoad for herself, a good introduction to Le Guin's style for people who might shy away from speculative fiction.

Went to the gym with P. and played on the erg; let us not speak of my 500m time, it was deeply shaming. This gym pleases me on an "incorporating reminders of our history" level: it's in what used to be the bowling alley; it was briefly an antiques market in 1994, converted to a gym that closed unexpectedly in 2005 when the owner was arrested for stock fraud, and was at last reopened under new and more honest management. In the free weights section, the original floor is uncovered, and the lanes and the dots on the wood where the pins were set are clearly visible.

I did wind up asking someone at the desk when the NordicTrack was last serviced and was told as there is one man who uses it about twice a month, it had not been recent. Nodding thoughtfully, I told her I understood that it's not a priority, but if she could make a note for maintenance that the back end roller bearings are failing, as it's a straight pull-and-replace . . . ? And the ski glide buttons are worn flush and need to be replaced, too?

(Yes, NordicTrack ski machines rightly have a reputation as one of the world's most expensive clothes racks. The one I found on the pavement with a "free to good home" sign on it - well, I know how much they were new, because DS's biological father bought one and it was in regular use for about three months, and then a source of arguments for years. The movement is tricky. Having the skis go out from under you and falling on your arse at least once is a rite of passage, and anyone who weighes that against their own levels of coordination and goes "Nope!" will get no argument from me. But they can deliver full-body no-impact aerobic exercise and it is possible to service nearly everything on one yourself: it would be a shame if a spendy piece of equipment was permanently out of commission over $50 worth of parts and a little time.)

Then there was the Bake-Off final. P. actually teared up!

Now it is time for bed. And it's raining! How perfect!

Don't wanna
autumn leaves
I am embarrassed by how spoiled this is, but apparently not enough to keep me from sharing. *grrrrr*

Major construction is starting on the north side of Colman Dock. Tonight two of the three slips are closed so that a giant barge with a floating crane can be moved into position, which means delays of up to an hour on the Seattle side. And of course P. and I have a concert tonight.

I am burning out on these concerts: I have to dress up and spend an hour travelling, invariably someone sitting nearby is wearing enough cologne to stun a moose, and with a handful of exceptions over five seasons (the LSO performance, John Williams with unexpected Steven Spielberg, Itzhak Perlman conducting Mozart's Requiem in D Minor) it's horribly passive. I would far rather go to Downpour Brewing on open mic/trad night and pet people's dogs, affectionately heckle the musicians I know, dance with small children and generally carry on until the lovely owners kick us out. Maybe after this season I can persuade P. that we don't need to do quite so many? He'll have had The Planets (a bucket-list performance for him) and Morlot leaves at the end of the season, a break while the new music director settles in could be just the thing . . . .

P. is home! Yay!
autumn leaves
He is still coughing, aaaaaaaaaaargh. I don't know what this virus is, but I wholeheartedly recommend that none of you make its acquaintance, as it seems to hang on for weeks. One of the cashiers at T&C told me that last Tuesday their manager sent three people home sick before noon, with instructions to rest.

T&C is one of the better places to work on the island. Every year someone new throws an absolute fit on social media about the store being open Christmas Day until 1; every year someone who works there posts a cheerful note to the effect of "The store was founded by Nisei siblings who returned after the Exclusion; there are thriving Buddhist and Jewish communities here on the island; we're all volunteers and we're paid triple time. If you find you're out of Cool Whip on the day, please do come in!"

The fog has blanketed everything in the last two hours; it was only a few swirls over the harbour when I woke up, and now I can't see past the roofline of the houses on the other side of the square.

Whilst P. was away, I only left the house for yoga classes and a shopping trip to Silverdale yesterday - I gave the house a good clean on Monday and then slept at every opportunity, ate lots of skyr and open sandwiches and vegetables, and played Spotify stations full of happy bouncy music. The shopping was mostly a raid on World Market's grocery section, as "The Time of Olives" has arrived, aka "all the food people buy in the hope they're going to host parties: load up on the smoked salmon and wacky pickles". Two blocks of baking marzipan for cardamom twists, a big jar of mixed dried mushrooms, another of olives packed in orange zest and spices, two of preserved lemons (for a better price than I've found elsewhere, and without chilis!), imported arborio rice, a couple of bottles of passata, rice noodles for soup, big bags of Puy lentils, the good ramen noodles from Australia, a large tin of Twinings English Breakfast and the 500g container of Cadbury drinking chocolate, only available this time of year.

Oh, and the cookie plate! pondhopper, it is very sweet and goes well with our existing mugs - the red ones that match are not as cleanly pressed and hold 20 ounces; DS said that he would far rather refill the smaller ones. I might get one of the Dala horse plates as well.

Can't cry, dead from cute
autumn leaves
I was about to fall on my face, I am so worn down, and then Goddaughter K. sent me video of Toddler H. greeting cows as part of her pumpkin patch experience. Tiny girl in a bright pink puffy coat, wearing a purple hat with an electric blue pompom nearly as big as her head, very thoughtfully saying "Moo? Moo! Nana, I moo!" It is difficult to remain weepy when presented with that.

(P. is rounding the corner on his bronchitis now, which is good both because he is leaving Monday for a week in Boston and I am so tired from caring for him that -- well, I was on the verge of throwing a block of lard at two very pretentious women having an argument in the baking aisle at T&C before my inner Simone grabbed the controls and reminded me that there are only three grocery stores on the island, and getting banned from the good one would have long-ranging effects. Basically, I am waaaaaaaaay sleep deprived, should not be in charge of a shopping list, and didn't even think to actually use the online shopping option I wrote about not two weeks ago.)

Let me tell you instead about the wonderful time I had at IKEA with DS, about crying together over That Line in The Goblin Emperor, wondering why that rug wasn't in these colours as it would be perfect for the hall, buying storage things for garden tools and office supplies and heading for the checkout just as people started putting the Christmas things on the display, shrieking with joy and grabbing two packs of the multi-sized red pillar candles because I am not making that mistake again.

And about my favourite pillowcase finally falling apart after so many years, literally shredding as I tugged at a seam - it went on to serve as tack cloth for the butcher block on the kitchen cart, and to wipe down the bench I bought for the entryway after sanding out a nick (fu, I went with the SKOGSTA) - providing an opportunity to pick up a sample pack from a company on etsy and soon thereafter having a beautiful blue linen envelope pillowcase made; Teacher H., upon seeing the pack, said they reminded her of Farrow and Ball paint colours and clearly I needed one of each.

And Teacher H. herself, who texted me silly things while I was staying away, and let out a joyful shriek and ran to hug me when I finally went in Thursday night. I gave her one of my lavender thymes the next day, forced to pot it in a Dickey's Big Yellow Cup when I couldn't find any of my plastic plant pots, and she was thrilled to have it! "I was just talking today with a friend in Kentucky about this place, and she was telling me about the cups, and now you've brought me one and garnished it with a plant!" ". . . you know there's one in Poulsbo, right?" "WHAT?!?" "Okay, clearly a field trip is called for."

Bainbridge is smelling ridiculously autumnal at the moment, all apples and fallen leaves and woodsmoke, with occasional notes of sea air. The Honeycrisp candle from TJ's is helping that along inside.

It's a small grief, on the grand scale
autumn leaves
It's only a little bit silly to be thinking of buying a second-hand Tripp Trapp for the flat, right? Just because I like how they look? Let's be honest, the odds of someone bringing a small child to visit are vanishingly small.

. . . but they're so cool.

A hummingbird just buzzed the balcony! It makes me happy out of all proportion to their size, seeing them. Pouring rain, can't see the other side of the harbour for the fog. Two months in my new place today; even though I'm knackered from being up all night with P. being poorly, it's good to curl up near the windows with a cuppa and watch the hummingbirds dart into the porch out of the wet.

(P. has a viral thing that's going 'round; the clinic said "Rest and fluids, call us if the fever climbs or his chest starts hurting" - which I figured, but wanted to rule out a sinus infection, as he's been under the weather for four days now. Hopefully it will not turn into pneumonia/I won't get it.)

The poor visibility is reminding me that I need to have a difficult conversation with my eye doctor and a potentially awkward one with the County Court system. I've been selected for jury duty at month's end and told to report to the Municipal Court in Port Orchard, 35 miles away. To get there in time, I'd have to leave the house at 0645; the sun isn't up until 0750. My PDS has wrecked my night vision - if I drive in the dark, I am driving impaired, and putting myself and others at risk. There is no public transit between Bainbridge and Port Orchard; a cab would be $230-280 one-way, an Uber $80. P. will be away, and there's no one else I feel comfortable asking to take a couple of hours out of their day to ferry me back and forth.

So the first chat is with my ophthalmologist, to find out if I'm legally required to inform the Washington DMV about this, and if there are potential problems for my getting a "daylight hours only" restriction code on my driver's license; the second is with the Clerk of the Court, explaining the situation (with documentation from my doctor if needed) and requesting postponement of my service until the summer, when I can get there safely.

I am genuinely upset about this. Some of my happiest memories are of driving at night, particularly on cross-country trips with no light pollution, and giving that up at only 53 had me weeping on P. last week. But my last night trip was in June, the 10 miles from Friend P.'s house, and it was terrifying. I haven't done it since. It's time, as much as I hate it.