Thursday, December 21, 2006

Vertiginous Pottering

I expect that somewhere in Being and Time Martin Heidegger declares that "Dasein, in his average everydayness, will sublimate the angst of his liberation in care for the ready-at-hand,1" the footnote stating that, "In the British condition this is primarily manifested in pottering about house and garden in woollen sweaters. Yes, I'm talking about you, Russell."

Obviously this is just speculation as I haven't actually gone to the trouble of reading it, but, presuming that it's true, he certainly had a point. With Rachel and Ethan dispatched to New York for the week to visit his great-grandparents, I was simultaneously assailed by feelings of anxiety and emancipated, vertiginous possibility which I then frittered away in a melange of trivial and totally put-offable tasks whilst wearing a sweater. Note that I use the term "sweater" in place of "jumper" in order to ensure that my American readers do not have to imagine me engaged in anything as racy as transvestitism (a jumper is a pinafore dress here) - indeed I was not. And not because there's anything wrong with that, either - no, it was simply due to a lack of imagination on my part.

I'm sure I never used to feel guilty doing eff-all. I wonder if I am turning into my mother. Still, I did take enough time out to go to the cinema twice, have breakfast with Joe and his charming new girlfriend Shar, and have a couple of steins of bier at the disconcertingly Germanic Widmer brewery. Mind you, now I come to think of it I find everything Germanic a little disconcerting. It's partly due to The Great Escape, but then again I am only too eager to eat sushi despite The Bridge on the River Kwai.

The highlight of course was a trip to the Rose Quarter to see Portland's very own Winterhawks play Tri-Cities, wherever that is. This was my first professional (ice) hockey game and I have to admit to being mildly disappointed by both the terrifically sporting and well-mannered performance and the unsullied, youthful appearance of the players, who presumably had to be driven to the game by their parents. Where, I ask you, were the ranks of mauled, perturbingly agrarian, indiscriminatingly violent Eastern European types, proudly exhibiting broken noses and missing teeth as badges of their machismo prowess? In the major leagues, that's where. Still, it's not the way you play the game but the winning that counts, and the home team took the match 3-2 whilst I screamed myself hoarse over a couple of $8 beers, so I must have had a good time.

Yay - Go Hawks!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Seattle, Thanksgiving and Squirrel Rendition

So we traveled north to spend Thanksgiving at Jeanne's new house in Edmonds, just a short distance from Seattle. Given the exercise in logistics entailed by a shopping expedition to Safeway these days, I was more than a little apprehensive about the whole deal, but, as is so often the case when one has unreasonably low expectations of any event, had a wonderful time. The whole family was there, including Ben recently returned from Afghanistan, and the minor chaos inevitable following a recent move made everything seem more relaxed and homely somehow. Also Jeanne and Johnny generously relinquished the most comfortable bed on account of Rachel's back; and Linda watched Ethan at night. So not only was I technically on holiday, but, for the first time in several months, I actually felt like I was on holiday.

Wandering around Seattle on "Black Friday" (the day after Thanksgiving) was a thoroughly pleasant experience. It was twelve years since my last trip, when it was the Mecca of the grunge scene and I sauntered moodily across town with supercool fin de si├Ęcle post adolescent melancholy. On that occasion I saw the Spoonman play live though I singularly failed to find the Soundgarden. Now a respectable member of society, I contented myself by touring the downtown, observing fisherfolk throw oversized salmon at one another at Pike Place Market, taking photos, eating crepes, buying a new onesie for baby fluffy, drinking coffee etc, without any trace of the ennui and general alienation that once bedeviled me.

Fishes a plenty at Pike Place Market. Starbucks started here in 1971. Really.

Skyscrapers and other architectural features uncommon to Portland. With a furry kitten on the left for scale.

This is a library, believe it or not.

Night falls over disease-covered Puget Sound (Nirvana fans).

For all of you who read this blog primarily on sufferance in the hope of seeing pictures of baby fluffy (yes, I'm talking about you, Sharon).

Back at the ranch, the war on squirrels progresses by process of slow attrition. I first procured a trap from the local hardware store (an event in itself given that the English pronunciation of the word "squirrel" is completely incomprehensible to Americans and I was forced to fall back on physical description: small, furry rodents, fluffy tail, live in trees, eat nuts etc). This device, primed with trail mix, now resides in our attic, or 'fashionable loft apartment' as the squirrels prefer to think of it. So far two of the part-time residents have been forcibly relocated to a more fashionable west-side zip code, following Linda's reasoning that these highly territorial varmints don't quite have what it takes to cross the river in order to return to their previous address. Time will tell.

Gotcha! Beneath that furry exterior lurks a soul of unparalleled iniquity.