Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Catching Up

Saturday night we flew to Phoenix First Class. Ah, if only. We flew to Seattle First Class. Then, as usual, we got bumped back to Coach because our first flight was so late leaving Anchorage. Sure, how can you argue when they say they have to fix something, but still, every time?

We saw the Grand Canyon for the first time last night. They say it takes your breath away, and it does. Partly, of course, because you’re 7000 feet above sea level, so it doesn't take much.
We stayed in a lodge near the rim of the canyon. Slightly more expensive lodges were on the rim, when checking in, people are presented with a choice, abyss, or non-abyss.

Yesterday we drove along of the rim, getting out occasionally to look over the edge. It's a long way down. We went to an Imax movie about the canyon so we could see what it would be like if we had the stamina to walk down the trail, or the money to fly along the river. Even the movie was pretty grueling because I spilled coffee on myself, plus I had to eat the free popcorn that Karen couldn't finish. I could empathize with the hardy souls that first trekked the chasm. Later the Johnsons and I went to a tower on the rim that was built about a century ago in the style of Hopi towers I think. I wanted to go to the top, but we had dinner reservations and we needed to get back and eat in time to see NCIS (we're not exactly Walden Pond types) so I had to hurry. I briskly walked up the first flight of stairs, and then quickly up the next and then realized that I was experiencing exactly what the guide books had said was hypoxia. I paused on each landing after that and finally did make it to the top, but really, from the rim to the bottom is about 5000 feet. Adding another 70 feet or so didn't make it seem all that much farther. I had thought we were at about 5000 feet above sea level but someone told us that the top of the tower was 7,524 feet above sea level. Knowing how high we were made me short of breath just lying in bed. Or it may have been the crushing weight of the Doritos pressing against my waistband.
This morning we left the park in a blizzard. It cleared up nicely though as we drove towards Albuquerque. I had often talked about retiring to Flagstaff, without having ever seen Flagstaff. Since it was on our way, we stopped and had lunch there. There was more blinding snow and wind while we ate. People tried to tell us that it wasn't always like that, but Flagstaff had its chance and it blew it.
Now we're in Albuquerque for a few days. On Saturday we're going to the fiery foods convention that Sarah recommended.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Newton Was a Dreamer

"An object at rest tends to stay at rest..." "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

Clearly, Newton didn't have a cat. Every object in the universe, he said, attracts every other object, but apparently when I'm sleeping I am tremendously attractive to Al. He's much less attractive to me. :(

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Today's Date: February 53rd

Literary types wearing their tweed coats with elbow patches, smoking pipes and drinking whiskey may try and tell you that April is the cruelest month, but it's a lie. April is a modest unassuming month quietly going about its business of ushering in the May flowers.
February on the other hand, is a psychopathic tease. We read a story once about a woman who waited for her son to fall asleep and then tore the eyes out of his toys. That's February. The days are long enough to awaken hopes for spring. It's even possible to feel a little warmth from the sun, but it's getting below zero at night, and during the day the wind is flaying the skin from our faces.

Does anyone know what fictional plot device I hate the most? Mistaken identity. I know that Shakespeare used it, but we've had five hundred years of sit-coms, rom-coms and dot-coms since then, and it's tired and overused (I had said unbelievable, but just after I typed it, Leah came in outraged because she was mistaken for someone else and made me change it). Besides, if Shakespeare jumped off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff? Imagine how I feel then, that David Hart finished the Susitna 100 race on a bike. Jealous mostly, I guess, since I could never do that. And embarrassed for thinking that my little trips up and down the bike trails were worth reporting. And flattered that 2 people even thought it was possible that it might have been me.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Die, Blind Boy, Die

Our cat has taken to sleeping in the dark on one of the top stairs leading to the concrete-floored basement. This is exactly why there are guide dogs, but not cats.
Do you remember reading that sometimes the pharaohs were buried with their favorite cat? I always assumed that they killed the cat to bury with the pharaoh, but maybe it was the other way around, maybe the cat killed the pharaoh.

Speaking of Levantine people killing each other, how exactly are the Taliban and the Mahdi army any different from gangs? Maybe we should deploy an army of cats, they're stealthy and they have no conscience; Al walks on the kitchen counters even when we're standing right there.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Just Checking In

I remember hearing a pastor talk about staring at his Bible in despair, saying, "There must be one more sermon in this book somewhere." Luckily, I don't have to come up with sermons, although considering how we're to deny ourselves, if I did have to come up with one, I might call it "Get Over Myself". I can assure you, though, that myself would not issue an altar call.

Just as patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, Alaskan bloggers can always turn to moose if they're uninspired, as I seem to be. I always dreamed that I could line up words like a dogteam, crack the whip and they'd take me where ever I wanted to go.
So, do you want to go to Prague?, No? Just Czeching.
Are you playing hockey? No? Just checking.
Do you have a savings account? No, just checking.

See, that's what I actually come up with. So, moose it is. Yesterday after work I was riding my bike through Russian Jack Park. I came across my favorite checker from Safeway. She was with her three dogs on the trail in the off-leash section of the park. She was talking to a Teutonic woman with three German Shepards (dogs). I stopped to say hi, and they told me there were two moose on the trail up ahead. I stayed to talk to them for awhile, then realized I'd rather take my chances with the moose than with the barking dogs. By then the moose had moved off the trail, so a happy ending, or at least till I wandered off the trail and was quite jostled before finding my way back, whereupon my chain fell off. But then it fell back on, so another happy ending.

Today at work there a was a cow moose with her cute little calf ambling slowly down the street I was delivering. The cow got her foot caught in some Christmas lights that were strung over the bush she was eating. She eventually pulled free, so a third happy ending in one blog. How's that for value?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Don't Contact Myself, Ever

Ha, I feel so vindicated in a petty, pedantic way. I have long thought that "myself" is over and incorrectly used, and I was right! Apparently many people wrote in to ask Grammar Girl about this and this week she finally addressed it.
I was going to type her explanation, but I just realized that the only part that I remember clearly is the most important part; I was right!
So, send your comments to me or to her, but leave myself out of it.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Somebody Always Already Said it Better Part II

So, I've hinted at how vivid my dreams have become since I began taking Zoloft. I'm no Shakespeare, and neither was he if you can believe the revisionists, but here's how he described it:
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
What a show-off he was.

Peer Pressure; It's the Greatest

An old friend dropped by unexpectedly today. Usually we like to schedule well in advance so we can move the squalor into the corners, but it was nice to have him visit, and he agreed to go for a bike ride. As I've mentioned, since it hasn't snowed recently, the bike riding has been excellent on hard packed trails. Or I should say, it hadn't snowed recently. There was a light dusting yesterday, but even that was good since the hard pack was turning to ice and this gave it a grippable surface.
But (there's always a but, isn't there?) it snowed a little more this morning. I had agreed to meet Art just past the duck pond near our house and by the time I got there I was already getting tired. I had expected Art to say there was too much snow, and maybe we should just forget the ride, but he didn't and I didn't, so off we went together like King Wenceslas and his page. Like the page, I was soon exhausted, but no miracles were forthcoming until we got to Westchester Lagoon. Art said it was possible to ride on the ice and not damage it for the skaters who are, after all, taking sharp metal blades and dragging them across the ice. It's my new favorite thing. It was effortless. It was fast. It was flying. I was ET. We made two circuits of the Lagoon. I could have done that forever, but Art had to leave (and I was already missing an eye exam). So a long, long slog uphill through the snow, past two moose and then home.
Big Wild Life

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Would You Like Some Yin to Go With That Yang?

This morning when the alarm went off, I was dreaming that I was driving a dump truck to deliver mail. Oh, and I was also investigating a murder while I delivered mail. It brought together two things that are the complete antitheses of each other; having a great Zoloft inspired dream and having it shattered by the alarm.

After work, the real job, not the vivid, interesting one, I went for a ride. I'm trying to get a little farther each day. I made it to Westchester. I hadn't been there since my ill-fated ride with Ambre last fall. I don't think I ever blogged about that ride. It was probably just wrong to go biking in a hurricane, on a night when Campbell Creek had overflowed its banks and Westchester Lagoon had whitecaps. Sometimes people say, "It seemed like a good idea at the time." but I think Ambre and I both agreed it was dumb, but so were we.
Now, though, they've cleared ovals and trails and rinks on the lagoon. The sun was shining, people were skating, everyone was, um, you know happy, laughing.

Oh, oh, and they finally cleared the snow off our street!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tortured Foxes? No, Just a Tortured Metaphor Involving Foxes.

I was racking my brain today. I thought I was wracking it, but I checked, and no, it's racked. Totally.
So, anyway, I was trying to come up with something cute for Valentines Day. I got something sort of Ambrose Bierce-ish: If someone falls in love, are they suffering from cupidity?
I tried to parody the "Roses are red," thing, but it wasn't as easy as I thought.
I had,
Roses are red.
Hemp is unlawful.
The things that you said,
Made me feel awful.
but that wasn't what I was going for. I was playing with
Roses are red (like a stop sign)
Violets are blue (because they're sad)
Sugar is sweet (and fattening)
but that was just pathetic,

Then, like foxes with their tails tied together on fire, rushing through a field, I realized that two and a half years from today, I will be eligible to retire. Of course, Karen says I can't retire till I get a hobby, but still, being eligible to retire just sounds liberating.
I talked for awhile about learning to keep bees. A friend scared me for a minute when she said that they always die in the winter, but it turned out that she meant the bees, not their keepers. I couldn't see getting sentimental about a bunch of bugs, but then I wasn't sure that was a real beekeeper attitude. So, any suggestions?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Defined Benefit Plan

This winter, as I may have mentioned, it has snowed and snowed. Therefore, I've commuted on my bicycle to work, but not ridden much more than that.
You youngsters won't understand this, but my legs have lost some of their tone. So, since it hasn't snowed (or hadn't, it looks like it might be starting again, right now) for a couple of weeks, and the trails are looking pretty good, I've been trying to ride more.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Somebody Always Already Said it Better

Yesterday was warm here. Temperature records melted like Salvador Dali's watch. How warm was it? It was so warm that the brown bear at the zoo woke up two months early. He didn't have to be at work until half past April so he was fairly cranky about it.
Today was cooler, so the trails were once again hard packed. There were people skiing, skijoring, walking hand in hand, walking dogs on leashes, walking dogs off leashes (jerks), and biking (me for one).
The sun was shining, and for a full 7 hours and 58 minutes, too.
But why should I try and explain it, when the Beatles already have.

Everybody's laughing
Everybody's happy

As the winter has progressed, the boulevards have become streets, the streets have become alleys and the alleys have become fields, but, the snow blowers, graders, front end loaders and dump trucks arrived en masse on my route on Wednesday. For three days now, they have been hauling away the snow that has been making the streets impossibly narrow. It's been kind of exciting to watch, a veritable "Boy's Encyclopedia of Street Maintenance Equipment" come to life. And, the streets are really, really wide.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I Don't Mean to Disappoint

I suppose when nice things happen I should go ahead and report them, even if they're not irritating or amusing.
Yesterday Karen got her shipment from Caremark, this morning she had her procedure, and this afternoon I went for a bike ride on the trails. Because we had had so much snow earlier in the year (as I typed that phrase, the mayor came on the news as if he was reading over my shoulder to say, "We've had a lot of snow. Please be patient." I've been patient, no wait, that was someone else, but anyway, on our street, if I think about parking, then someone else has to think about another way to get home) the trails haven't been much fun to ride. I went out to look at them (the trails, I know that recent parenthetical interruption went on and on and on, oops) and lo and behold, they were great. Funnily enough, I saw a moose, but not on the trail, on the way through the neighborhood.
Which sort of reminds me that maybe we sort of suffer from scenery/wildlife overload here. A customer (the same kind lady that tried to help me with my zipper) had a question about her mail recently and as we discussed it, we were standing under a cottonwood tree with two bald eagles in it. Neither of us mentioned them since they're always there.
The Municipality just got a new slogan: Big Wild Life and I guess maybe it's true.