Ready for the next phase in the home improvements

I finally told my dad about Northwest Notes. He read some of it, then asked me to send the URL again so that he can “keep tabs on what kind of drivel you are writing.” This is a perfectly friendly and supportive response if you speak the language of Frank. Now do I have to watch what I say?

For lunch today in the cafeteria at work—strangely, one of my favorite places to eat—I had marinated, thin-sliced flank steak with fries and Swiss chard. I was in the mood for a huge lunch so I was happy to see steak on today’s menu. It was really good. I’d never had Swiss chard before and it was really good too. It looked like rhubarb, with red stems and dark green leaves. I love greens. And the fry guy was very generous.

I went to boxing the past two nights, and I was seriously thinking about not going tonight. I thought I’d stay in and do some writing, and maybe surf the web looking for a topo map of Seattle and of my favorite creek in the Ozarks. It’s easy to find topo maps for sale, but the sites that sell them seem to have confusing layouts. And a lot of them, once I painstakingly narrow down my search, they don’t have the maps I want. I want a topo map of Seattle because I do a lot of walking here and think it would be fun to see a topo of the different hills and waterways in town. Then when I walk across town, or ride my bike, I can pretend I’m finding my way in the woods. And this section of creek we used to swim in when I was growing up, on our vacations in Arkansas, no longer belongs to my uncle and aunt, so I want a map of it almost as a way to try and own it myself. They made the right decision when they moved to Missouri to be next door to my grandmother, but it makes me crazy knowing I can’t play in that creek any more. I want to look at a map of it and see where it starts and where it empties into another river, and imagine myself wading along its whole length.

Anyway, if I find a good site for buying topo maps, or any good, free online maps, I’ll post a link.

When I got home the siding contractor was almost finished with his work. He was fine-tuning the front storm door he’d installed. Then he was going to spend a while organizing all his stuff and loading it into his truck. I walked all around the house, looking at the new, primed-but-unpainted siding and trim from all sides. It looks like a different house. So much more solid and square, instead of flabby and fragile. He did a great job. (If you’re in the Seattle area, let me know if you want a referral for outdoor remodeling.)

Then I wandered around the yard, checking on all the plants. They all seem happy and ready to sprout, or sprouting already, except the tiny new shrubs that got trampled in the front beds. The contractor was unable to avoid them; I was supposed to put buckets over them but I was afraid they’d smother or be afraid of the dark, or something. Now I’m going to have to loosen all that soil and replace some plants. It’s okay because they were new and small, not goodlooking or well established yet. They were dwarf dogwood ‘Kelseyii’ and a small Japanese barberry. There are also a few little creeping groundcover plants in those two beds, but I think they will recover. I’ll add some more anyway. But I won’t do any of this until the painters and gutter installers are done. Those are the next two phases.

The point I’m getting to is that with the contractor working on the front door, the house was freezing, and I could see I’d have no peace and quiet until he left. So I quickly got changed and went to boxing in spite of not having planned to. As always, I was glad I went. I discovered I could easily do a new jump-rope routine that we tried for the first time only yesterday. Yesterday I couldn’t do the new routine even once. The trick was to do a double and then a crossover, and continue alternating the two, which seem to require completely different rhythms. That made it impossible for me to switch back and forth between the two yesterday. Fast! Slower! Fast again—whoops! Slower! Fast! Today I felt quite smug when I started right up and did the alternating sequence without stopping until I was winded. The secret was to jump in an unchanging rhythm and just vary the speed of the rope from one jump to the next.