Friday, June 29, 2007

posted from my iPhone

This is a phone, not a word processor!

iPhone report

After spending 12 hours in a folding chair outside the AT&T Store at the Northgate Mall, I'm not in the best shape to report on my new iPhone. However, it took only 3 minutes to actually buy it, and it activated itself so quickly via iTunes that I was receiving calls from people within 30 minute of getting home. I've explored a few of its features; it found my contacts and Safari bookmarks and synced them. My mom called while I was downloading a movie and it handled the two tasks without a hitch. I've been web browsing, played with the camera, and added some events to my calendar (which the iPhone then synced back to my iMac as soon as I put it into the dock).

Whenever I touch the screen, it automatically manifests exactly the set of controls (volume for the movie, details for a contact name) I was about to look for. How easy is the iPhone to use? If you gave these things to gorillas in the zoo, they'd probably be composing and sending emails in a matter if minutes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Folk music on the Internet

My friend Roger turned me on to a website on which a Virginia musician, Patrick Costello, and his dad teach a folk song a day. It's banjo and guitar, and lots of advice on playing in a jam situation. Even if you aren't learning folk music, it's an extraordinarily good site for watching a gifted teacher in action.

This is the sort of Internet content that, had it been around when I was a teenager, would have changed my life.

Check out Tangier Sound. And, if you're in the Chesapeake Bay area, the Costellos are hosting a weekend musicians' retreat in Crisfield, Maryland, in late August.

Friday, June 22, 2007

iPhone Friday

I'm planning to spend next Friday in line at a nearby AT&T store to purchase an iPhone. I'm looking for another aspiring iPhone owner who'd like to join me, so we can save each other's places for breaks during the day. Email me if you are interested.

Phones go on sale at 6 p.m. There are rumors that all stores will have very limited supplies of the phones. I'm planning to scope out the situation at the AT&T store I've chosen early in the morning. (Hanging out at an Apple Store might be more fun, but I suspect the lines there will be longer.)

Don't know if I'll manage to get a phone, but I certainly ought to come away with something to blog about.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Uphill battles

The past two weeks have been a real scramble -- moving steadily along, but up hill and over a lot of obstacles.

It started with the realization early last week that our new accountant was really out to lunch. I had to sic Zorg on him, which means I'm at the end of my rope. Zorg, of course, got results. The guy finally did our taxes, and now we're going to switch to a more reliable accountant I've already lined up. But anything that involves the IRS (which had sent us some ominous letters) makes me queasy.

Smokey, our cat who likes to live with elderly neighbors, went in for his annual checkup and turned out to have an abscessed tooth. Smokey is the only one of our cats who had not gone in for expensive tooth cleaning procedures ever other year -- and he's the first one to have a serious dental problem. Well, he'll be going in next week, getting the tooth removed, and getting the cleaning. He currently lives with an elderly woman five blocks north of us; we'll be kidnapping him and keeping him in our basement the night before the surgery to make sure the doesn't eat or drink anything after midnight.

Zorg and I both worked as volunteers at the Fremont Solstice Parade over the weekend. I did "traffic control" at a major intersection, keeping the parade route clear. Have been a spectator in previous years, it had never occured to me that 95 percent of the people at the parade want to see the parade, but the other 5 percent want to barge across the road right through the parade to see if there's something interesting on the other side. I must have body checked one guy ten times ("I'm sorry, sir, please clear the parade route and step back to the sidewalk"). It was discouraging.

(What I immensely enjoyed about volunteering was assisting with the midnight procession that moves the floats from the Powerhouse on Fremont Avenue to the area near Lucca Statuary where the parade begins the following morning. The floats move out into the roadway, we put down flares and stop traffic, music and drumming starts up, and dancers roll the floats through the night. It was beautiful!)

My yoga teacher has been out of town this week, and one of the women in the class has been leading our sessions. I have a whole new set of sore muscles from her new routines!

Another bit of fallout from last week was the new glasses. I ordered some that were supposed to be "just like" a pair I'd admired; they're done, and I don't like them. Oh well, I have my old ones. My expensive attempt to look more fashionable flopped.

Finally, we've been coming to grips with the consequences of firing the lawn service with the noisy, smelly gas-powered mowers and edgers. Zorg is mowing with a push mower, and I'm edging with an electric trimmer. He's discovering that our itty bitty sections of lawn with pavers and benches aren't easy to mow, and I'm discovering that lots of pieces of lawn mean lots and lots of edges! My guess is we'll be hiring a new lawn service (a better one) in September when the rains come and the grass starts growing again.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hi-ho, Silver!

Me: Tomorrow is the Fremont Solstice Parade.

Friend: With the nu--

Me: Don't say it!

Many years ago Mad magazine had a cartoon of two earnest young kids watching public television, listening to a Leonard Bernstein-type conductor introducing a pops performance of the William Tell overture. The conductor is assuring the children that as mature young people they will be able to listen to the famous piece without thinking of The Lone Ranger TV show.

The symphony begins, the kids scrunch up their shoulders with the effort of connecting to the music sans pop culture references, and then their dad strolls by, beer can in hand, and bellows "Hi-ho, Silver!"

I'm going to be a parade traffic monitor at the Fremont Solstice Parade tomorrow. So do me a favor -- scrunch up your shoulders, think of clowns, belly dancers, mimes, drummers, stilt walkers (whatever it takes) and don't say "with the nude bicyclists!"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fashion notes from all over (Ballard)

Last year I wrote about American Apparel tees. But fashion is fickle. My new find is Alternative Apparel. Independent designers are decorating Alternative Apparel's plain tees (aka "blanks"), and today I purchased one of the "vintage soft" long-sleeve boatneck tees, decorated with a line drawing of a typewriter, at a vintage-inspired boutique on Ballard Avenue.

The model I got is similar to the longsleeve crewneck shown on the manufacturer's website, but with more of a scoopneck and an unfinished hem. (Probably last year's style.) Very attractive and incredibly soft. I did not try on any of the short sleeve tees, so can't report on the sleeve fit. And I noticed that many of the short-sleeve tees at the boutique had ran long, long, long -- way over hips. Trendy, but not my style. (Sorry not to name the vintage/boutique, but there wasn't even a name on the receipt! Is it, perhaps, 20Twenty? At any rate, it's next door to Elephants Gerald, and across from the Tractor Tavern and Bop Street.)

I also stopped in at Merge, the high-end European clothing store on Ballard Avenue at the intersection of 20th Ave. NW. Absolutely lovely clothes, well-made, mixing classic styles with updated details. Expensive. Having spent some time in the high-end departments at Nordstrom last week, I have to say that I liked the thoughtfully selected offerings at Merge much better.

Over at Re-Soul, they're carrying Mandarina Duck fabric/leather bags from Italy. I had a Mandarina Duck when I lived in Genoa in the 1980s, and it was pretty wonderful. The current model I was admiring is the Reverse (K3TO2), which goes from large messenger bag to mid-size purse with a flip of the fabric. There's apparently also a Reverse backpack, though not at Re-Soul. Hmmm!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A happy blogiversary

The Mysterious Traveler Sets Out is four years old today.

I was wondering how to celebrate, but a web designer from New York took care of that for me. He emailed to say that a MTSO blog entry about my father's beautiful matchbook collection contains one of the few references on the web to a Washington, DC, restaurant owned by his late grandfather in the 1960s. I emailed back a photograph of that specific matchbook.

This is good. This is what it's all about.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Little surprises

The day was full of rather unpleasant little surprises:

• Shopping for a new pair of glasses frames, I found myself at a high-end optician's in which every pair of frames on display looked like something designed to wear as part of a Halloween costume.

• Yelling for the cats on the back porch tonight, I attracted a young raccoon who scampered eagerly up the stairs as if planning to come in for a midnight snack.

• Our dining room was once painted a bright Cheese Puff orange. (Discovered this when I started removing the hardware that had supported the old dining room curtains. Now our off-white walls have bright orange patches above the windows.)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Summer wardrobe

When dressing for summer evenings in Seattle, I need to keep in mind: There is no such thing as "balmy" — only barmy. As in "nuts." Because everyone out here suffers from a communal delusion that because it's "summer" it must be "warm."

You think we'd catch on, when, as the second weekend of June approaches, evening temperatures are still dipping into the high 40s. Women are nevertheless going out at night wearing strappy summer sandals and sleeveless sundresses.

I looked at my summer party clothes today and tried tell myself that I could wear them to evening events in July and August. You know, when it's really hot.

But after 22 years in Seattle, I should know better. I once attended an evening Fourth of July party in Port Townsend wrapped in an elegant down sleeping bag. Last August I put a pair of shearling-lined Ugg boots in my husband's car so I could thaw out a bit on my way back from an evening event in Bellingham.

But every year, before this reality sinks in, I dress up in a sleeveless sundress and sandals and trot off to dinner at someone's house, where the hosts, too, are in the grips of the annual hallucination. They have set a large festive table out on the deck, and clearly expect us to eat there — all evening. Like something out of Sunset magazine.

Sunset, I'll remind you, is published in California.

Guests sit down, oohing and ahhing over the summery decor. Initially, half of the table is blinded by the glare of the setting sun. When it finally sets, there are sighs of relief, quickly followed by a round of shivers as the 80-degree temperature plummets to 60 degrees in a matter of minutes. And a frigid breeze springs up from the direction of the nearest body of water. Perhaps the Bering Sea?

Someone mutters something about having forgotten her sweater. I realize that I've forgotten mittens, mukluks and a down parka. A dessert of chilled fruit and ice cream gets a noticeably cool reception, though the offer of coffee is greeted with great enthusiasm, and several people crowd inside and into the warm kitchen under the pretense of "helping" to serve it.

At this critical point, you discover the extent of your hosts' delusions: Will they keep everyone shivering out on the deck because "it's summer!," or will they come to their senses and let the guests into the house before frostbite sets in?

The suspense, I'm afraid, is too much for me. My summer wardrobe this year features an immense woven purse. Inside it? Big fuzzy socks, a nice fleece jacket, and a can of windshield defroster for my glasses.


Monday, June 04, 2007


I took the "what kind of pet would you be?" quiz and turned out to be...a cat! (Big surprise.)

Well, I'd have been extremely disturbed if I'd turned out to be somebody's pet bunny rabbit. Or a canary.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Summer starts with a cookout

Summer is here, and the weekends are filling up with events.

Last night we enjoyed a spur-of-the-moment neighborhood cookout organized by Zorg and our friend Jeff across the street. The guys dragged our gas grill over to Jeff's driveway and six households contributed grillables ranging from lamb sausages and hot dogs to steak, garden burgers, and corn on the cob. Paper plates, plastic forks, plastic cups, and napkins materialized. There were two tossed salads, potato chips, cheese and crackers, plus a great variety of beers and white wines (and juice for the three little kids), followed by watermelon and ice cream sandwiches and popsicles. Ages of the attendees ranged from 4 (next week!) to 87.

Sunset found us gathered around a picnic table in the driveway, sipping our drinks, and discussing lightning bugs, June bugs, and remodeling contractors while the neighborhood pre-teens played basketball just down the street.

The calendar for the rest of the summer shows a lot of birthday parties, concerts, baseball outings, and dinners -- and even a trip to Vegas -- but I hope we've left room for a few more cookouts with the neighbors.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Sheba is famous

Our deaf white cat, Sheba, is one of the cats of the day at the LOLcat (laugh-out-loud cat) site, I Can Haz Cheesburger?

I wasn't sure they'd be interested in this Mac-oriented photo and caption,'s the perma-link:

Many thanks to the folks at Lolcat Buildr, who have a web-based app for quickly creating LOLcat captions and submitting them directly to I Can Haz Cheesburger? (However, be aware that sometimes not all the photos you'lll see at the Lolcat Buildr home page are "workplace safe." Too bad they can't move the one or two questionable thumbnails to a separate area...)