A singer once more

After last year’s time with the Cascadian Chorale, I took the fall off from singing. I had started to realize during my therapy last year that part of the reason I kept looking to singing groups was to feel needed, and I had to break myself of that cycle.

But this fall I really missed being in a choir. And I realized I also wanted to explore my faith more, and to be in a position where my singing meant more than just applause.

So I’ve joined the Cathedral Choir at University Presbyterian Church. It looks like it will be a good group, both vocally and spiritually.

Culinary nirvana in Wallingford

Lisa and I have finally found a worthy Italian restaurant in this mostly Pacific Rim cuisine city. Wallingford’s Asteroid Café, despite its non-Italian name, has some of the finest Italian food and wine we’ve seen since leaving Boston. Just down the street from Dick’s, with twelve tables barely fitting in the storefront in front of the open kitchen, the atmosphere was nevertheless festive and the food was spectacular.

Perhaps because of the mad cow scare, osso buco was off the menu, replaced with rabbit in a white wine, sage, and rosemary sauce with tomatoes and olives over polenta. Knowing how Lisa feels about polenta, it will perhaps come as no surprise that I enjoyed the rabbit while she had the duck, which was served with a sauce made from stonefruits and berries over balsamic-tossed cabbage. With such divergent meals (I kept quoting Looney Tunes in my head: “Wabbit season! Duck season! Wabbit season!”), and the 125 Italian reds on the wine list, we could very well have fallen into vinicultural disaster, if not for the timely intervention of owner and sommelier Marlin Hathaway. He recommended a fantastic Nebbiolo from Lombardy that was made with part dried grapes for an Amaronesque slight sweetness that played off the rabbit sauce and the cabbage. We had a great conversation with him about Italian wines, the difficulty of keeping a good white wine list in a restaurant that’s barely big enough to have a bathroom (you have to go back through the kitchen to find it but it’s there), frozen desserts, and the neighborhood (he remarked that I looked familiar, but maybe it was just because I resembled Dave Matthews, who apparently lives a few blocks away).

I think we’ll definitely be going back.

What quake?

Looks like I’ve just slept through my third earthquake: we had a 3.6 just after midnight last night, centered at Bremerton (just about 20 miles away). For the record, the first two quakes I slept through were in the summer of 1995, when I was jet lagged and essentially sleeping with my eyes open in a conference room at Ridgecrest, California, during a 5+ magnitude tremblor; and of course in April 2002, when we had a 5.1 in Boston that almost woke me up.

Snow? In Seattle? Quick, start a blog!

I just got a reminder that the amount of snow that has fallen is never the issue; it’s how the infrastructure deals with it. In the case of the Seattle suburbs, that would be: not well at all. We’ve only had a few inches of snow here, but there are no snowplows, no sand trucks, no salt spreaders, nothing. I made the mistake of leaving my laptop at the office, so I had to go in and fetch it—and see the madness first hand.

I think I’ll get out of here before things get too much worse.

In the meantime, I found this Snow Storm Blog at the Seattle Times pretty amusing.

First ski of 2004

Lisa and I went back to Snoqualmie today for another half day ski. The difference is that we had our own boots and brought our rented skis with us, both courtesy REI. We are definitely getting into skiing as a serious lifestyle, and we figured ski boots were the right place to start investing in gear. Man, were we right. My feet feel so much better than they ever have after skiing.

The skis were a mixed blessing. On the plus side, we paid $10 less per pair than we would have at the mountain, and didn’t have to deal with the line (which cost us almost an hour on Monday). On the minus side, the skis were crappy. I don’t know if all Rossignols are bad, or just the ones we’ve rented. But then we did rent them on Saturday.

And, oh my goodness, it was freezing up there. Icy road conditions from Issaquah all the way to the summit, and about 7° F on the slopes. (Fortunately it warmed up. A little.) But good skiing, even a little fresh powder on the slopes, which for Snoqualmie is really saying something.

Snow falls; Seattle surrenders

joy and jefferson in snow

It’s so quiet here this morning. Except for the dogs, who are having their usual morning romp, in spite of the thin snowfall. Yeah, sadly, the first real snow we’ve seen in Seattle is hardly “real.” The area under the tree shows nothing but green grass, and the stuff that fell on our skywall has already been washed off by the rain. But it’s still pretty.

And, apparently, a hazard to Seattle drivers. Area blogger Jake’s girlfriend Kymberly writes on his blog that her work declared a snow day today. Apparently the “up to four inches” might “test the resolve” of Seattleites. I’m remembering trudging to grad school in Boston with a foot of unshoveled snow on the sidewalks and I’m laughing hard.

Last ski of 2003

Just got back from a quick morning’s skiing at the Summit at Snoqualmie. Regular readers of this blog will recall that I very quickly started writing about other resorts shortly after our visit last January. That was because Snoqualmie lived up to its nickname, “Snow-crummy”—less than 3 feet of base snow, coupled with rain.

Today, Lisa and I left the dogs in their crates for four hours and made a blitzkrieg assault on the slopes at Snoqualmie—elected because of its proximity (less than an hour away) and because the snow conditions are so much better than they were last year. The base at Summit West, which last year stalled around 30″ all season long, was 63″ today, with more falling later this week.

We fell right back into the routine. After one cautious descent, we quickly moved up to more difficult blue runs. Given our short time on the slopes, I don’t anticipate too many aches and pains, but we didn’t really have the time to stretch out and explore more difficult runs. Still, if you had told me two months ago that I’d be able to ski even a few hours so soon after getting our dogs, I’d have thought you were crazy. It was really nice to get in one last ski before the calendar year ended.

Back in the land of Mad Cows

It’s weird to be back in Washington State, knowing that there may be a sponge-brained mad cow lurking in my grocer’s freezer. Guess I’m crossing the Sunny Dene Ranch off my list of places to visit in Yakima.

Scary to read this article in the New York Times speculating on the probability of additional undiscovered mad cows. And funny to hear that the infected cow has been traced to a Canadian herd. I hope this doesn’t turn out to be the same “blame Canada” phenomenon that sought to put the blame for the August blackout on our Northern neighbors’ shoulders.

Ski season opens early

I spoke too soon when I mentioned that the Washington Weather Alert RSS feed showed no active watches, warnings, or advisories. For the past few days, there have been winter storm warnings throughout the Cascades and Olympics.

As a consequence of all the snow that has fallen this month, several of the ski areas are opening early. My local fave Stevens Pass is actually open today, with 48″ of base and 7″ having fallen in the last 24 hours. Whistler is holding the line and will officially open on Thanksgiving, Snoqualmie opens on Friday (with 26″ at the West Summit, they’re definitely getting the short end of the snow stick yet again), and Mt. Baker (which we never got to last season) is open today with the biggest opening day snow base in a decade—70 to 80 inches!

Sadly, I don’t think we are going to be able to take advantage of any of the early skiing, at least this week. But that’s a story for another day.

How shall we sing in a strange land?

I sang for the first time at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle on Sunday. The group was a pick-up men’s chorus made up of men from the Cathedral Choir and from the general congregation, which is how I got to participate. For having only half an hour of rehearsal I thought it went quite well.

There was also an interesting discussion during the service with US Marine Colonel Andy Hutchison, a reservist who was called away from his work at Boeing (and membership in UPC) to become deputy for Logistics Operations for the Marines during the Iraq war and subsequent occupation (article mentioning Andy’s work here). He spoke about his faith and the progress being made in Iraq. Acknowledging the bad news that was coming from Iraq, he also discussed his witness first hand of the relief of the Iraqi people of being out from under the Hussein regime. It was interesting hearing the voice from the front lines.

Tony Pierce goes to dangerous ground

Tony Pierce asks: “dear bill gates, let me write your blog.”

Be careful what you wish for, Tony: you might get it.

On the other hand, it would be pretty cool to have Tony in Seattle. At least until his Southern Cal ebullience wears off in the perpetual darkness of the Northwest winter and he turns into another Starbucks addicted Seattle blogger like the rest of us.

Wait, I’m sorry: was that bitter?


…I got slammed today. Between the company meeting and the work I need to get done before I leave tomorrow, and trying to get the leaves up off the ground before I disappear for a weekend… I’m finally getting things done, just in time to get to bed and hop on the merry go round in the morning.

Man, do I need this vacation.