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I struggle with this time of year, like many. Being an atheist, I celebrate the holidays for family. It’s a good excuse to find goodies for the kiddos and to shop, which I hardly ever do anymore. I mostly enjoy the decorating and music, although certain over the top displays and opinions can send me into a negative jag.

As I embrace my life as a somewhat single forty something, I find myself enjoying my alone time more and more. I do date and have a regular fella. We enjoy each other, but we are both in a phase of our life where we are working on erasing debt, planning for an uncertain retirement in 20 or so years. Not to say this won’t change, but for now, we are not planning on a future together or even on a short term future beyond our next bike adventure. I like coming home to my bedroom where I can sleep in peace. I also like the absence of drama.

Yesterday was solstice. I had lift tickets for The Summit at Snoqualmie from their big sale after Thanksgiving. Too bad it rained all night on Friday. The snow conditions weren’t too bad, but the base wasn’t deep enough and there were runoff ruts that showed up in annoying ways, one time sending me flying. At least I got to test my new bindings. They pop out just fine, I’m happy to report. I went with my roommate and we were both testing out new skis. We had to avoid thin spots, but mostly enjoyed the short runs they had open.


It was snowing heavily the second half of the day, so I think the base will be better soon.

After getting home, I went out to do some shopping and got most of the gifts bought. I did almost all of my shopping in my neighborhood, except some socks I’d gotten directly from Defeet. I’m not great at making a list and checking it twice, so I still have a few more things to get and I need to get a package in the mail for my son, although the main part of his gift is in the mail already. Thank goodness for shops that gift wrap and ship!

I also stopped at the fabric store and got some fleece to make myself a sleeping pillow. Not for my head, but to hug and keep my arms/hand from going numb in the night. I’ve had various stuffed animals over the years that have served this purpose, but the most recent–a blind bunny I got from my niece–has seen better days and as I was sewing up a mend the other day, I thought “why don’t I just make my own?”

On the way home, I stopped at Bitterroot, a restaurant in Ballard named after the Bitterroot Valley in Montana. My roommate, who is from Montana, met me there and I treated him to a birthday dinner (it was a few days ago, but he was neck deep in work then.)

All in all, an excellent day. Here’s a snap of the sunset from downtown Ballard on the Solstice.


I took a long vacation, with a short work stint in the middle. Then took a long weekend. I’ve had a few adventures.

My friend and I went bike camping to Tolt MacDonald Park in Carnation WA. It was a glamping trip really, since we got a Yurt for the two nights (you have to book 2 nights). It was fun and relaxing. We spent time on the river and I rode Stella around the trails a bit. On the way back, as a way to avoid a mile of 10% grade, we took a very flat detour that added a few miles to our ride, then also added miles by using the Burke Gilman Trail rather than the 520 trail. It was very pleasant, although I am pretty sure that I was just as tired as I would have been if we’d done the hills.

A few days later I flew to Reno to visit family, especially my one year old nephew. We had a nice hike and visited a few breweries. I got to spend some quality time with the little one.

I worked for 3 days, then took another 5 days off. During that time, I did some intense Bike Bingo-ing. I often revisited locations with friends as they went around. I got a blackout and some awesome prizes.

I also attended a bike/walk rally for safer streets with a couple of silly bananas. I gave out my thank you notes for a bingo square that day. It would have been cheating, except that everyone was so interested in Bike Bingo that I think it did the job well.

Next time I’ll tell you about hiking around on Mount Shasta!

I had a very good day off yesterday. I spent the morning tiding up a few ends and pieces, then went out to the garage and worked on the derailleurs on Stella, the Kona Sutra. My front has been traveling too far–and I didn’t get that fixed, so I will need to take another look at it on Monday. My rear has been skipping and making noise, but still mostly shifted okay. Once I started in on it, things seemed a little more messed up. I realized I didn’t have the full range and that shifting was off by at least one ring. I ended up having to adjust the cable, and since I don’t have a tensioner, I had to push the derailleur to where I thought it should be, hold the cable and bolt in place while turning the allen wrench, then try again over and over until I finally got it. The cable end was pretty frayed by the time I was done. I then realized I was late and couldn’t test it.

So I took Dark Star out for a ride instead. That bike is just so delightful after riding my Kona fully loaded with commute gear for weeks on end. It’s just always ready to go with minimal worry. The brakes are always perfect, things shift just right, it’s light and fast. Add a little air to the tires or lube to the chain and off I go. The frustration of working on the derailleurs drifted away.


I rode up to Kite Hill at Gas Works Park and met a friend. We sat and watched the people. Someone walked by below with a huge hundred dollar bill under their arm. Someone else had a picture taken in front of the chain link fence.  A young couple with kids argued about their destination, top of the hill or the playground with broad gestures.

We had lunch at the Pacific Inn and then I left him to ride up Stone Way. I had tickets for the Tilth Edible Plant Pre-sale, but that didn’t start for an hour, so I stopped for gelato and socks on the way. I do love socks.

At the plant sale, I met my best friend and we followed each other around to the different areas and chose just a few plants. I got sweet basil, mojito mint, and a variety of tomato called pineapple which is supposed to grow large yellowish orange tomatoes with a sweet flavor. These plants should compliment the seedlings I have popping up in the planters now. More tomatoes, a variety of peppers, lettuces, cucumbers, carrots, green onions and lemon balm. It’s fun seeing their little green heads pushing out of the soil.

I finished off the evening watching Star Trek: Discovery with my roommate.

The best thing is, when I rode Stella to work this morning, my rear derailleur worked like a dream.

Alexsis’ comment on my last post reminded me that I should update.  The Paperback Riders did come in first, both in miles (widely) and percentage (barely).  I’m really proud of my team and I have heard from other staff that observing us participate in Bike to Work month has motivated them to start riding to work as well.  Which is really the goal, right? ;)

I’ve finally done some real riding on the Surly, and she is a beautiful machine.  Really light and fast.  I went on a short ride with the new Mr. a week ago and I blasted up a big hill, leaving him in the dust.  Evidently he didn’t realize I had it in me and had settled in for a long slow climb.  Oops, I’ve got to stop complaining about hills. It gives the wrong impression.

I just got back from a Union convention in LA, where the only exercise I got was swimming in the salt water pool on the roof of our hotel and lots of walking. And breathing, that felt like exercise in LA.

Salt water pool on top of the Standard

Now it’s time to start training again.

I guess all I had to do was lament how hard things were getting for them to get easier.  I adjusted a few things on my bike and kept riding and it got easier again.  I am powering up hills now in much higher gears than I used to, and I ran over 3 miles without stopping after a 3 mile bike ride.  The sun definitely helped.

In Libraryland, TAG has been asked to make a video promoting our Summer Reading program for teens.  It might be difficult to pull it together in time, but they seem willing.  Steampunk Summer!  I think the adults will be jealous.

Yesterday was a difficult patron day.  Some days I just want to put up an invisible barrier that will bounce out anyone who doesn’t really want me to answer a question, they just want to hear themselves speak.  I’ll add it to the list of superhero powers I need to develop.

I got off an hour early to go to the Bike to Work celebration in Ballard, which was so nicely distracting.  The ride to Ballard was very satisfying; I felt strong and I passed a ton of people.  The weather was still ok and I met up with some good work friends and we finagled some nice swag.  I also had Second Ascent take a look at my bike and the guy said that I need to replace all my gears, front and back, and my cables.  Only a few hundred dollars.  Sigh.  Maybe in the fall.  I can’t really mess anything up worse by continuing to ride on it and none of it is going to fall apart in the next couple of months.  He did fix a snaggle tooth for me, though, so that should help with my chain problem.

I got the Boy last night and he has just been a bundle of depressed hormonal joy.  He is grumpy about a girl and doesn’t want to talk about it.  Much better to mope and snap and sleep.  Ah well, perhaps cleaning the bathroom will distract him!

What am I reading?  Well, yes I am still reading The Scar.  I am happy to say that I made it to the half way point.  I think this is my last day of check out on the ebook, so I’ll have to decide if I am ready for the second half right now.  Might be a good book for the plane next week.

I am also reading Paul Pope’s 100%, which is an edgy sci-fi comic.  I haven’t quite figured out the story line, but I like that sometimes.  I don’t want to be able to guess what is going to happen next all the time.

A friend lent this to me months ago, but somehow it got lost in the bedside table stack and I found it again just 2 nights ago.  Fascinating stuff.  Strong female characters who don’t have everything figured out (I get a little tired of feminist agendas where you are always supposed to have the right answer).

California was such a nice interlude.  I spent a wonderful evening at the Davis farmer’s market, drinking wine and hanging out with friends.  We visited Emeryville and another friend whom I hadn’t seen for a while, wandered another farmer’s market (where I may have found a cure for my acne–I have to give it another week to make sure), took pictures on her deck with a beautiful view of the water and met her wonderful new husband for the first time.

It was so nice to spend time with my best friend.  I haven’t seen her for months and well…she was in medical school, so in a way it’s like I haven’t seen her for years.  She took all 3 days off that I was there and we had a wonderful time together.  We wandered, we gazed, we shopped, we jumped in the cold pool after a hot day.  It was super.

Coming back to Libraryland was hard after 3 such spectacular days off.  The weather here in Seattle has been very nice, which has helped.  I have been riding my bike as often as possible, practicing my zen meditation to try not to be annoyed with the Green Lake riders and drivers.  My second Teen Advisory meeting went very well, as did my first school visit this academic year.  I went to a meeting to go over the strategic plan that is being developed, and that actually left me optimistic about the future of our library system.

What am I reading? I finished Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier, which is one of the books I picked up because I didn’t have anything interesting come in and I found it wonderful.  There is so much going on in this book and it all comes down to the main character, Dimple, figuring herself out.  At the end of Junior year, Dimple is a ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) who has a best friend who is blonde, beautiful and enigmatic.  Dimple would do anything to have her self confidence and poise.  As the summer goes on, she loses her friend for a while, but she finds herself.  Finally embracing both sides of her American and East Indian heritage and culture.  A very good add to your reader’s advisory list, almost everyone will feel some sort of affinity with the characters.

Now I am working on Will Grayson Will Grayson by a couple of my favorite (somewhat) reality fiction authors, John Green and David Levithan.  It is different, it is interesting, it is captivating.  More later.

I finished Monsters of Men and I loved it.  So nice to have so many good books right now.  Todd and Viola find themselves separated by necessity and responsibility.  They must stop the war that the Mayor wants badly and keep the Mistresses from making things worse.  Another several shiploads of colonizers are asleep just beyond the atmosphere, adding pressure to end things swiftly, but what is the right thing to do?  There is always more to the conflict than meets the eye and Todd and Viola have to wade through the mess to get to the best answers.  Sorry that all sounds so vague, but if you have read the other two books, you know how involved this story is and how easy it would be for me to give away some part that you should find out for yourself.  Let me just say that this book was just as satisfying as the other two, although I found the ending a little too pat.

So much!  My brain and heart are so full!

My lovely sister got married to her lovely fiancé.  The wedding was beautiful and perfect and it was so wonderful to see such wonderful people tie the knot.  Sister made a lot of what made the wedding special and it was cool to see all of that come together.  It was such a fun night.  Lots of dancing and I had my best boys with me.  The Mister came to town and we had a pretty amazing week.

On Monday I visited my friend who is leaving our system and she invited us to go sailing the next day.  We spent the day Tuesday on one of the Seattle Sailing Clubs boats with her, her husband and her sister.  We motored out to Poulsbo, had lunch at this fun little pub complete with penny beers, and scavenged in the local shops.  On the way back we got to put up the sails and I got to hold the wheel for a little while.  I’d love to do it again.

On Wednesday I helped my sister make her bridal favors in the morning and went to the Offspring’s school bbq in the afternoon.  It is funny watching him interacting with his schoolmates.  Because all 3 schools are on the same campus, all ages were at the bbq.  There was a group of middle school volleyball girls that seem to have quite a crush on him.  We recently had a talk about age appropriateness, so he was careful to try not to let them hug him while I was around.  The girl he has a crush on right now wasn’t there, since she is apparently home schooled.  She is 14 and supposed to be in 9th grade, he’s 16 and in 10th grade.  He’s not really allowed to date her, but they can be friends.  Being a parent to a teen is very interesting.  It is hard sometimes to know what the rules are myself, but we’ve had a lot of conversations lately about lines that cannot be crossed.  I hope he understands we aren’t just being stuffy old people.  Mostly we still get along, but he lies more now than he used to, and it is hard to know what is the truth.

On Thursday The Mister and I went out to St. Edwards Park and hiked around the trails there.  It is a really beautiful setting although the trails aren’t particularly long or difficult.  I had gotten some macaroons and a blackberry danish from Honore in Ballard when I picked up the umbrellas for Sister’s wedding.  We ate them in the car after our hiking and they were wonderful.  To top the day we went to Chateau Ste Michelle and the Columbia winery for a tour and some wine tasting.  I ended up joining at the Columbia Winery and got a really lovely Voignier to bring home.

Friday was the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner.  The first went smoothly and the second was yummy.  We have some history of going to La Vita E Bella in our family, and have even visited there with the grooms family in the past.   Saturday was sleeping late and getting ready.  We showed up at the reception venue at 2:30, got everything ready then went over to St. Mark’s for the pictures and ceremony.  Despite not being a christian myself, I was impressed with the priest, who was a woman.  Since St. Mark’s resembles a catholic church, I have always envisioned some puffed up man in the usual get up full of pent up sexual rage (ok, none of the priests I grew up around really fit that vision either, but it sounds good, no?)  Elizabeth gave a fine wedding ceremony despite all those words about making babies to raise in the ways of the lord.

The reception was held at the Daughter’s of the American Revolution hall, which I didn’t even know existed.  I always thought that building was somehow connected to Cornish.  It is a pretty interesting space, with persian rugs and crystal chandeliers.  Plus they have lots of shiny wood floors that are great for dancing on.  We had a lot of good dancers out there, and the biggest surprise of all was seeing the mother of the bride out there shaking it up.  The Offspring showed that he has some pretty good moves and I got The Mister to join me for a couple of songs, too.

On Sunday everyone dragged their asses out of bed for more fun.  Some went to the bride’s mother’s house for brunch, but we didn’t make it until the bbq at our dad’s place.  I got another chance to see family that had left the previous evening’s shenanigans early and we ate lots of good food and had left over wedding cake.  It was a nice end to the weekend.

All right, I am too tired to talk coherently about what I am reading right now.  I’ll try to get to that in the next couple of days.  There is also more on the budget front, but I have mostly been trying to let that go at the moment, since there is nothing I can do about it.  I did have an awesome TAG meeting (Teen Advisory Meeting) and I will write more about that later.  Tomorrow is cleaning day so I had best go get some sleep so that I can actually get something done.

There was a big to do that I pulled off last Sunday.  I didn’t write about it because at the time I wasn’t sure how it would work out.

The Offspring and I, along with various friends, have done the Step Out Walk to Fight Diabetes every year for the last 3 years.  Asking for donations has always been hard for me.  I don’t like asking people for money in general, but this is a cause I believe in and that gives me hope.  Some of you know, The Offspring has type 1 diabetes.  He was diagnosed four years ago and while dealing with becoming a teenager, which is hard enough for most kids, he has also had to learn to deal with pricking and injecting himself 4 times a day.

So, last Sunday I had a dinner party where I charged people to come.  I have a party every summer anyhow, so I upped the quality, did more planning than usual, put some tables out in the yard with actual table cloths and raised about $600 for Step Out.  Out of the 90 people I invited about 25 came, which turned out to be the perfect number.  I donated the food, since I would have had a party anyway, people still brought wine and I put out a tip jar on the beverage table.  I also made a few things and put them out for a silent auction, and the biggest surprise was they all sold.

And we all had a great time.  It was a good mix of people, some from work, some friends and some family.  A few people I had never had over before.  I enjoyed every minute.

And I had a lot of help from The Mister’s mother, who came into town the day before.  She helped keep me on track and motivated and helped with all the preparations.  She came all the way from Spokane to be there.

What a great day!

Wasn’t yesterday beautiful, fellow Seattleites?  We waited a long time for this summer to come but now that it’s here, it is amazing.  I celebrated my Wednesday off with decadent musings with iAsshole while cruising Green Lake.  There were many hilarious moments, which we often have when we were together.  There were also a couple of awkward ones that we had no control over.  At one point, a large man on roller blades yelled “hey, Red” at her while we walked by.  I wanted to say, “that’s pink to you, buddy.” but she just replied with a dismissive “Was’ up?” and we moved on.

The Offspring and I had a fun time wandering the streets of Seattle after I got home from my walky/talky date.  We went to Pike Place and braved the crowds for a little while–tourists…  We decided to escape that crush by going to a movie.  I do not recommend Dinner with Schmucks.  It had a few redeeming moments, but it definitely a DVD watch.  We ended our day with Sushi Mori, which is rather expensive for the atmosphere, but has wonderful sushi.  The Offspring was a lot of fun to be with.  No “I’m bored”s or complaining.  He even carried his stuff in a backpack instead of trying to foist it off on me.  His idea.

In libraryland, the weeding is going slowly.  I had a full day off desk on Tuesday that included a Teen Services Meeting and teaching an introductory email class.  My comics and graphic novels order has to be in tomorrow, so I will just have to get ‘er done. Time flies.

What am I reading? Pump Six and Other Stories by Paulo Bacigalupi.  This is the book of short stories where the idea for Windup Girl came from, although I haven’t gotten to that one yet.  So far there have been several different possible futures for man kind, most of them involving a very different moral compass than I would be comfortable with.  The story I just read featured three mining security officers who’s bodies still resemble humans, but heal almost instantly and can consume almost anything as food.  They find a real dog out in the wastelands around the mine and almost kill him through carelessness.  The only other animals they have ever seen were in a zoo.  I find these stories fascinating and Bacigalup creates a believable and vibrant world.