Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Perfect Surprise

Hey, it's only 9:30 and the kitchen is almost done; the bathroom too! I'm grooving around here to the music on my player, stopping now for a tea break.

I actually have the keys for the new place -- not a foregone conclusion, since closing is still a distant hope, and I'll be renting the place until it closes.

But here's the amazing news. I was over there yesterday and spoke briefly with the selling realtor. I asked, again, Who else is moving in here? Still all women? How old?

He says a couple has now bought one unit. The only name of a buyer he knew was Nancy R. And I said, Oh my gosh, I think I know her. He confirmed her present address, which confirmed my idea.

She's my age, active, recently divorced. I had introduced myself to her and her daughter in the Fremont Branch Library a year ago because she looked newer in town even than I.

When I got home, I called up Nancy, and, sure enough, she's my new upstairs neighbor. We talked about our experience and our plans for the new place. At the end, I said, "You know, this feels like the grace of God to me."

And she said, "I'm so glad you said that. Yes, it feels like it was meant to be."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday?

I am tired of seeing WTF everywhere! My friends' darling little children have grown up into Facebookers whose entire comments sometimes consist of these letters. I know grown women -- mature, wonderful women of wisdom -- who use the phrase. It offends my dignity, I thought, and then I thought, What does that mean? and I hauled out my Random House Dictionary (Luddite that I am, when I could have wiki-ed it, I suppose).

Dignity: 1. bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect....

Oh, I do like that.

So imagine my disgust when I encountered my pill thing the other day.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Last Days I

Because I move to my new place on Friday, ever since last Friday I've been thinking things like, This is the last Saturday breakfast I'll eat here. And, It's the last time I'll be getting my bike from the bike room to cycle to church. And, even though it would be my last Monday to enjoy clean sheets in my apartment, I decided today I'll wait and put them in the new bedroom on Friday.

My to-do list includes things I should have done months ago that have nothing to do with where I live, such as, Repot the geranium, which I finally did this morning. My oven is cleaning itself as I write, and I plan to put the metal pans that go under the electric coils on my stove top into the dishwasher on Friday morning, along with the glass shades of the dining room chandelier. (When I was an innkeeper, I was devoted to the Clean Team advice, which includes this: If it can go in the dishwasher, it should go there. Another favorite maxim from their Speed Cleaning book: "If it's not dirty, don't clean it." I shared this once, enthusiastically, with my sister Marty who said, drily, "That's not really my issue.")

I phoned Ballard Hardware this morning, where I bought the 1/2 inch steel rods for my curtains here, to see about returning them. I don't want a refund; I just don't want to throw them away. I also asked them about getting new rods for my new place, which will require a cold-roll steel; could they bend it to fit my bay window? I asked. They suggested I try Hatton Marine, but warned me the men there might laugh at me. Since they hadn't laughed at me at Ballard Hardware, I said I'd take my chances. Now I have an appointment on Thursday for rod bending. (And all my quilting work with triangles and measuring angles will stand me in good stead as I measure the angles I need for my curtain rod.)

I had my last guest Friday night. When he headed for the airport Saturday morning, I stripped his bed and photographed it for craigslist. By 3 pm, it was gone to someone who paid me exactly what I bought it for in February 2009.

I've hired a truck and two men, who have provided me with 25 plastic bins to pack stuff in. We're estimating they'll need a mere three hours to complete the move. The hardest thing about packing is trying to maximize the use of space in the boxes, so I'm not going to: I've got more boxes than I need.

I want to bake cookies and bread and make soup so I'll be well-supplied for the moving days. And I dug out my favorite CD mix a friend made for me when I first moved to Seattle 15 months ago: he calls it Migraine Healthcare Clinic.

I'm dealing with a lot of the typical moving details -- address changes, service changes -- but I won't even have to learn a new bus route. I'll still get to enjoy that blooming pink dogwood at the end of my street whenever I walk down to Fremont library. I'll still walk to Fremont Peak Park for sunsets. And I'll still have Molly at Video Isle.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Moving Out Back to Fremont

Once again, I think I'm moving. I think I'm moving one week from today; this is my last Friday here in my apartment.

But I'm moving out back, to a condo on the same block.

And it's got me thinking about neighbors. I have been lucky with the young people I've met in my apartment building, the ones upstairs with whom I've shared a couple of meals, and a Scrabble game, who lent a bike to a friend of mine who visited.

And the woman down the hall who got married last summer to a man she met more or less in the womb: their moms were in the same childbirth class and shared a hospital room for the delivery. Great story.

So I love my young friends, but it's taken me awhile to notice how few people I ever see in Fremont who are my age. I posted something on the Fremont Universe blog to see if I can scare up a baby boomer or two. I'm thinking of checking in at my corner cafe on a regular schedule to see if/when grayhairs congregate. I've gone to two yoga classes, both mid-day, hoping to find other retirees, but it's always young folks.

So if you're my age and live in Fremont, will you please let me know? 


Hey, cutting the rhombuses for my quilt triangles turns out to be fun and addictive. Like so much in life, it's only scary until you get started. I'd say more, but I want to bake some brownies before I go back to cutting triangles.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quilting Alone

Today I want to have cut out quilt pieces. Which is different from wanting to cut them out.

I don't like that old-fashioned way the pioneers (I guess) did it, when you make a cardboard pattern ("Pioneers had cardboard?") and draw around it over and over on fabric and cut out the shapes one by one. No, I like the brilliant ideas smart women have applied to piece-cutting, where, for example, to get triangles, you cut strips, then squares, then bisect them once and sometimes twice, depending on the shape you need.

But I want elongated triangles I can't cut from squares. I need to make rhombuses, I think, and then cut them in half, but I'll have to ad lib on somebody else's related but not precisely applicable model. I'm afraid to start.

Which is not, frankly, an unfamiliar feeling, since every single time I walk down the stairs to my apartment's bike room, I feel a stab of fear of death on the road. And I just keep moving.

Though I admit, those fears came to mind as I read the weekend piece in the New York Times about health and marriage. One of the researchers, James A. Coan, said, “When someone holds your hand in a study or just shows that they are there for you by giving you a back rub, when you’re in their presence, that becomes a cue that you don’t have to regulate your negative emotion. The other person is essentially regulating your negative emotion but without your prefrontal cortex. It’s much less wear and tear on us if we have someone there to help regulate us.”

Is singleness adding to my stress? Or am I working my courage muscles? Sometimes it feels like I'm "going for the burn," as Jane Fonda used to say.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bike Rags

My beloved old pillowcase tore to shreds when I pulled it onto the pillow. It was one of a pair made with vintage fabric I found at a garage sale a couple decades ago, so the fabric has seen a lot of service already. Permeated as it is now with nights and nights of bicycle dreams, it felt appropriate to tear it into rags for cleaning my bike chain.

I like how girly it looks. But then, I like to bike in skirts, too.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Scrabble Issues for Singles

Say you're playing Scrabble for the first time with a nice man you're getting to know.

Say you're ahead already by fifty points or so, and then you get the tiles to make a seven-letter word. Do you do it?

What if the word you can spell is "dildoes"?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bike Naziism?

My blog also posts to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reader blogs. That's where I get the mean comments. I wrote the other day about 30 Days of Biking, and here's a response I got:

oh oh..the bicycle nazi.
You people are NOT better than the rest of us...just more arrogant.

Geez, what did I say? I was describing the joys of biking to me. I said, more or less, if I want to live an Amsterdam-like life, where people cycle everywhere, I myself need to help swell a biking throng.

How is this bike-Naziism? It's the cars that have the power and the budget and the infrastructure. It's true, it's hard for me to believe the pleasure of driving to things can compare with the joy I feel biking. But I'm not trying to force you to leave your car.

I'm a grownup. I know not everyone will like what I write. It's the level of the invective that disturbs me. I'm good with disagreement and discussion, but not with someone who starts out by calling me a name. Though I guess I need to get good at this, because how else will we defuse this creeping loss of civility in our country?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ariadne in Bellevue

Well, actually, Ariadne was auf Naxos, which I believe means, on Naxos, the Greek Isle. Where her lover, originally so excited about her and her helpful assistance in defeating the Minotaur, has dumped her in a cave. She's a one-man woman, that Ariadne, mourning ad nauseum, as opera is wont to do.

Which is why I had that sinking feeling last Friday. Oh, it was easy to say yes to friends who wanted me to go with them to Bellevue to see this opera at Meydenbauer Center, back when it was raining and April 11 seemed a long way away. On April 9, I was dreaming up ways to get out of the commitment.

Until I went to the website and discovered that this was Seattle Opera's Young Artists Program, young people singing these roles. Plus, it turns out that the opera makes as much fun of mournful Ariadne as I'm inclined to do. It's an opera about an opera, commissioned by a rich guy for a big party. To the consternation of the awfully earnest young composer, a local hipster comedy troupe will be sharing the bill.

So far, Ariadne auf Naxos is my favorite opera of all time. (I'm such a lightweight.) I could feel Ariadne's pain, and also laugh at it. And what a lot of gorgeous music!

I'm so sorry it's over, and you can't see it this spring in Seattle. But keep it in mind.

Now, Bellevue. What an interesting place. Since I was going with two friends, and three makes a carpool, we drove. No one is in Bellevue on a Sunday afternoon, except at the mall. We parked there. We walked twice past the attractive Transit Center, and never saw a single bus!

I notice that they have signs that say Downtown Bellevue, which is helpful, because it looks so little like other downtowns I have known.

But it could just be me. I didn't get Seattle at all until I moved here, and especially until I started bussing around. When you drive, you're so busy trying to find your way, it's hard to see what you're going past. I'm rethinking the idea that going in a car is a good plan when several are traveling together. Buses are more fun. Maybe a bus excursion is in order.

Monday, April 12, 2010

30 Days of Biking

The motto: "We ride our bikes. every. friggin. day."

Why didn't I know about this in time to start on April 1? I love Thirty Days of Biking. Couldn't be simpler. You take a pledge to ride some every single day. I think it started in St Paul-Minneapolis. They're doing it in Austin. Probably some savvy Seattleites are doing it here, now.

You can log your miles on some website. People post about how much riding counts as "some." They post about the rides they take just before midnight, rediscovering daytime neighborhoods. Somebody posted this: It takes 30 days to make a habit. Biking every day for 30 days is life-changing.

How would it change my life? First, I would figure out how to quickly get some padding on for bike errands. Maybe I'd buy padded bike underwear and just put it on under my jeans every morning. (The world needs jeans comfy for bicycling. Deal with those crotch seams, somebody, please!)

I'd make sure my lights are adequate for night riding. Last week, I took the bus to a Cascade Bicycling Club event at Outback Steakhouse on Westlake -- you know, the singles thing -- when my bike would have been way more convenient and then I wouldn't have had to literally jog all the way over to Town Hall for the lecture afterwards. But I wasn't sure my lights could get me safe home when the lecture ended at 9.

Walter Brueggemann was in town over the weekend, lecturing in the U District. I took the #44, a favorite, but I could have biked. And why would that be good? Because I want to live in a place like Amsterdam, where everybody bikes. The more we bike, the closer we can come to changing our world.

But honestly, the biggest change would be, I'd be out there! I haven't biked for 13 days! First, Mom came to visit, and she doesn't bike, and then, the weather has been fairly foul except on the days when I've had indoor commitments, and ... blah blah blah. Too easy to make the excuses.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cascade Singles Happy Hour

I went last night to my second singles event sponsored by Cascade Bicycling Club. I made a better job of the first one, I guess. I met a couple nice guys whom I now ride with.

And last night I met a couple of more nice guys I'd like to ride with. Two are dancers, even, though they're on the Eastside of Seattle, which isn't really as far away as I tend to think, and they like West Coast Swing, which I'll maybe have to get serious about. I met another Eastsider, a teacher, and I'm interested in education as my loyal readers know.

But nobody asked for my number, and I'm not sure I'm supposed to ask for theirs, though I didn't have a problem with it the first time I attended one of these things. I Googled "how to work a singles event," but didn't come up with anything but lists of singles event promoters in many cities.

So, what do you suggest? If a guy comes to an event like this, may I assume he's looking for somebody to ride with and wouldn't be offended if I proposed we exchange contact info? Or maybe I should just print up cards, and hand them out when I introduce myself, as if I'm not sure they'll completely get my name if I just say it? But probably I don't want to hand out a card that says I write a blog called Sixty and Single in Seattle, right?

Can I get some help here, please?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

911: Lost in Seattle

The day before Mom left Seattle to head back to Michigan, Mount Rainier finally showed its lovely ... butt. Yes, you could only see the foothills, but they were gilded with silver. I padded sleepily out of my bedroom to find my mom urgently looking out the window.

"I've already been upstairs -- I hope that's okay -- and the view is better out the windows there, but where can I go to get a better view?" she said. "Can I see it from that park we went to the first day?"

I'm thinking tea and breakfast, but I like it that Mom has so quickly grasped the fleeting nature of our Seattle views. "No, that's the Olympics over there, Mom. I'm not sure where to get a better view than this of Mount Rainier."

"Well, I'm going out," she said. "I don't think I'll get lost."

My mom told me several years ago she didn't want my loving concern for her to be disempowering. I try to honor that. And also, I was barely awake. I wasn't dressed yet, so I couldn't go with her. But I could have said, "Take your cellphone."

Nor did I say, "How long do you think you'll be?"

Forty nervous minutes later, I wrote a note and taped it on the door of my apartment building: Mom, I'm looking for you. Stay here. Love, Mary.

Days before, we'd found her a red Eddie Bauer jacket at Ballard Goodwill, so I had hopes I could spot her as I drove in my car anywhere I thought she'd be. I didn't figure she'd walk downhill, since I knew she didn't like coming back up, and I didn't think she'd figure out how to cross Aurora Av. But I couldn't find her.

I went home. After she'd been gone one hour, I dialed 911.

The woman who answered the phone was calm and thorough. "Does she have any health issues?" she asked. Well, she does have heart problems, and though she's not demented, I wouldn't be surprised if she'd find the anxiety of being lost in Seattle fairly disorienting. The 911 operator said they'd look for her.

About twenty minutes later, my phone rang. A man said, "I think I'm sitting here with your mom. Would you like me to wait with her while you come?"

I live in upper Fremont. She had gotten all the way down to Cafe Lladro at 36th and Francis. When I walked into the cafe, Mom was sitting with a nicely dressed youngish man in a brown leather jacket. "Thank you so much," I said. "Are you a plain-clothes policeman?"

No, he wasn't a policeman at all. He was the second nice man who had helped my mom. The first gave her directions to Dayton Av, which is where she thought I live because I talk about it all the time, since I plan to move there. The second was this guy who noticed how lost she looked as he exited the coffee shop. He asked if he could help her, and ended up buying her a coffee and doing a cellphone search for me.

She told me she asked if he was going to be late for work, and he said it didn't matter: he was the boss. I was too flustered to even offer to pay him back for her coffee, but honestly, he seemed to have enjoyed his encounter with my mom, and who wouldn't?

I'm left with a sort of "who was that masked man?" feeling. An adventure for us all. And actually, just the sort of story my mom enjoys.

All material copyright © 2009 by Mary Davies