February 12th, 2006

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

That was the weekend that was

I didn't do bloggery yesterday because I was away from home all day. I caught the train from Bellingham into Seattle - and the south-bound train, which I was supposed to be on, had to wait for the north-bound sister train, which was late, to clear the station which meant delays and all that but I still managed to get into Seattle around about 1 PM, only about 15 minutes late, to be met by kate_schaefer and whisked off to lunch in the House of Hong with a couple of other Clarion West board members. The place was full of Chinese women wearing their hair in near-identical pony-tails or half-buns, wearing identical clothes, pushing identical-looking carts laden with (to me) mostly unidentifiable delicacies; we asked for a menu, about four times, from either four different women or the same one every time, until we finally got one (kate_schaefer is allergic to shrimp and I'm allergic to seafood and neither of us wanted to try pot luck with the unidentifiables...) and ordered garlic chicken which was very nice. We then all repaired to the fabulous Seattle Central Library, where the Clarion West Board meeting was to take place.

The meeting rooms at the library are on a floor accessible only by elevator, apparently, and one which I hadn't seen before. No, I mean that, I would have remembered. The elevator opened into a dim corridor lit by reddish lights and painted - floor, walls, ceiling, everything - a bright blood red which made me feel as though there should be an accompanying soundtrack of a muffled heartbeat because I just HAD to be in a remake of "Innerspace", having been injected into someone's bloodstream by accident. It's an impression only bolstered by the fact that there are no sharp angles except where walls meet floor and ceiling, and you hardly see those because it's all so RED - the place is all gentle curves, a truly weird space that plays mindgames with one's depth perception, orientation and, well, peace of mind, in a way. You feel... *swallowed*. And yet you remain fascinated by the experience.

Anyhow, we gathered up the Board and the rest of the members and nmoved through the meat and potatoes of the business meeting with admirable speed and focus. Clarion West is doing well, and I was very pleased to hear it. The dessert was Matt Ruff reading an excerpt from his latest (yet unpublished) novel, "Bad Monkeys", which promises to be every bit as Matt Ruff-ish as his other works and one whose arrival in bookstores I will be eagerly anticipating. After the reading I made my way back to the train station and caught the train back to Bellingham - but that day's train journeys were cursed, because the return leg was plagued with trips into sidings and lengthy waits there while passing freight trains and (yet again) the sister train coming in the opposite direction gained priority and sped past us. I got home close to 9 PM, and no, I didn't rush in to blog - but I had a wonderful day with wonderful, dedicated, talented people with whom I am proud to be associated. Go, Clarion!

On the way up I watched a movie on the train, about which I will probably write a separate post. But here's a few oddities or intriguing things that caught my eye during the trip:

- A golden retriever taking a man for a "walk" - and I use that word advisedly, given that the man in question was on rollerskates and did nothing more strenuous than hold on to the leash. The dog was trotting ahead at a brisk pace, towing his human behind him. I"m not sure what the purpose of the exercise was, and how, if that proved necessary, this particular couple could have braked without falling in a heap on top of one another.

- An old guy wearing a spanking-new baseball hat (or at least it looked spanking new) which bore an embroidered icon of a fiddle and the legend "Old Time Fiddler Association". I would LOVE to go to one of this Association's meetings. It must be an absolutely toe-tapping occasion. Unfortunately I just noticed hat and guy as they were passing me by with an air of purpose and there was no occasion to elicit further information.

- A grouping of three girls and a young man who stood chatting for a while there in the waiting area. Nothing unusual in that, you might think, but they WERE a little sartorially strange - because *all three of the girls* were wearing trousers... and the young man was in a kilt.

- The Department of Enormous Odds Against Something Happening observation of the day was the realization that in this same waiting room I was sitting next to a woman who was wearing absoltuely identical shoes - albeit in a different colour, but the same design - as the person I had just been sitting next to in the Clarion meeting. Given the HUGE variety of shapes and forms that a woman's shoe can take these days, this was sufficiently unusual to command my registering the fact with some surprise.

- A bunch of kids trying to fly a kite on the Edmonds waterfront, whom I watched while we were halted at Edmonds station for a few moments. They were utterly absorbed in kite and sky, and they would have made a wonderful photograph, had I brought my camera with me.

- Oh, and saving it for last - I was reading the Bellingham paper on the way down, and an ad caught my eye to the extent that I snorted out loud while I was looking at it. I actually kept the page, and showed it to the Clarion folks at lunch. It was, apparently for a needlework shop - but what you first saw, in eye-catching white print on black background, was this: "Sewer's Dream Outlet". The first mental images that brought to mind were... far from appetising. Even if some poor word-impaired person who had put it together had singally failed to notice its alternate meaning, shouldn't some helpful newspaper ad executive have pointed out the double entendre...?

So, then, that was yesterday. Today, we drove in to Fairhaven, and folks, spring is here - Bellingham is starting to enter one of the most exquisite periods of its year, when the whole town turns into a Japanese diorama of blossoming cherry trees (all right they aren't really cherry trees I am told but if it LOOKS like a cherry tree and BLOOMS like a cherry tree and QUACKS like a... you get the idea...) Bulbs are popping out everywhere, not least my own garden, and we already have daffodils and hyacinths in bloom in some places. The day was utterly perfect, what I call my "cold sun days", the reason I love living in a place with seasons - when the sunshine is bright and inviting and cheerful and glowing and makes you happy to be alive - and the temperature is cool enough for you to wear a sweater while enjoying it. Love it, love it, love it here.

Warbled on enough, now. I may still do a movie review later. This, however, is enough for the nonce...