Archive for June 2009


Well, as before, events simply overtook me down here, and I’ve just glided along.  We saw a great collection of bloody, funny, challenging, luminous drama, and got a couple of good hikes in as well.

As a bonus, our son came down with some high school friends, guys that he’s been coming here with since they were in middle school, and it was fun running into them around town, at the plays, and sharing a meal or two.

I have notes on the plays, and will spin out some thoughts later, when I ‘m not in the midst of the experience.  One funny thing: yesterday afternoon, we were seeing an old Italian comedy called Servant of Two Masters.  It’s derived from an old form of Italian improv called Commedia dell’arte, in which the actors all have a number of schticks in their quivers, a lot of it broad and physical, but requiring impeccable timing to work.  This play wasn’t improv, it was scripted, but there was some latitude.

At some point in the first act, one of the characters is starving and begins soliciting candy and sandwiches from the audience.  We’d been apprised of this, and brought along some of our saved airline snacks.  Our seats were in the front row in the cozy New Theatre, and this character, after importuning one man in the front row and coming up empty, turned to my mom on the other side of the aisle, sat down next to her and put his arm around her.  She was sitting across the theatre from us (it was “theatre in the round”)

She presented him with her airline snack, which seemed to take him aback a little, since I think he was expecting candy.  He opened it, pronounced it “trail mix”, and pretended to sample it.  Then he asked my mom her name, but she wouldn’t tell him.  After a couple of tries, he said, “OK, I’ll call you ‘Flo’”.  At various times throughout the play,  he’d refer back to her, calling her variously “Flo”, “Joyce”, “Barbara”, etc.  It was pretty hilarious, her 15 minutes.  We thought.

That night, we were in the outdoor Elizabethan theater to see Henry VII, and people kept coming up to her and asking, “Aren’t you “Flo”?”  I told her she was going to have to join Actors’ Equity.

I promised photos.  Here’s a pretty funny piece of video I took on the plane down here - it’s our flight attendant’s instructions to us before takeoff.  Ignore the video and concentrate on what she’s saying - she does a bit of improv herself.  She actually sang parts of it, which I regrettably missed:

Since we have to be out of our little cottage in 20 minutes, I’ll just link to some photos I posted on Facebook, and issue a rain check for better stuff later:

Our hike on Wednesday on Grizzly Peak east of Ashland.

Other photos, including a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail near Mount Ashland.

Quick Update

Sorry to be a drama queen.  I got my 3rd IV hit of antibiotic Monday morning.  Things didn’t look worse, I told myself they might be looking better, and I drove us down to the airport for our flight to Medford.

Right choice - the leprosy has been receding, and the arm looks nearly normal.

We got out on a nice 5-mile hike yesterday, and saw an outdoor production of Don Quixote last night.  Pictures and comments later - off to hike some more.

Thanks for your good wishes!

(click to enlarge)


So, as I’m flying home from Milwaukee Friday night, I notice that a scratch on my elbow that I’d been serially re-opening for a few days is suddenly swollen and sore.  Since I’d slept for a while on the MKE-MSP leg of the trip, I wondered if I’d whacked it against the arm rest, as we’d flown through some turbulence.

Saturday morning, I inspect the arm and muscles near the elbow are swollen and sore, and there are red patches spreading around the arm.  I ask Mrs. Perils for a second opinion, and she hauls me out of bed and sends me off to Urgent Care at our provider.

There, I learn that it’s a bacterial infection called cellulitis (thought that would happen on my thighs before my arms).  They told gave sold me a fistful of sulfa tablets and told me to come back if it spread beyond some GoogleMap-ish dotted lines they’d drawn around the red spots.

5 hours and two sulfa tablets later, I note that it has spread, and I’m feeling a little feverish, so back I go (stand in line, sign more releases, explain, explain).  This time, they call an infectious disease specialist, and come back with fistfuls of needles.  The doc wants to plunge his into my elbow to extract a sample for testing.  The nurse (nice woman, but still with the needles) is there to plunge an IV into my other arm and drip a dose of antibiotic so I’ll get a faster hit.  They give sell me a different antibiotic prescription, and tell me to come back in 24 hours for another IV if it looks necessary.  I have the option of having the IV removed, with the possibility of having to be stuck again on Sunday (I get the whim-whams about having needles stuck in my veins).  I opted to leave it in, and spent Sunday a little queasy about the thing just hanging off my arm.  No pain from that, but my elbow was on fire from the sample extraction.

I hustle from the ER to SeaTac to pick up my Mom, who was arriving from Detroit and, fortuitously for me, if not for her, an hour late.

I sleep well and wake Sunday feeling awfully good.  Some red spotches have disappeared, and my fever is gone.  I head up to the Urgent Care again and we look at the thing under good light, and it seems to have spread a little in other areas.  So, another IV hit and instructions to come back the next day.  I tell them I’m flying to Medford at 1pm for a week, and that it’s all paid for and much of it is non-refundable.  They say they open at 7am - come in then for one more IV hit for the road.

I’m hoping to see some kind of turnaround in the morning.  I’m thinking I’m going anyway, and correspond with them as they get test results back and figure out exactly which bug we’re dealing with.  I’ll take both sets of pills, and play it by ear.

More from the road.

Culchah, Again

So, I fly home tonight (Friday), arrive near midnight.  My mom will fly into Seattle from Toledo tomorrow evening, and on Monday she, Mrs. Perils and I will fly south to Medford, OR to make our annual haj to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Check any of the “Ashland” categories in the sidebar to see what we’ve done in prior years.

To recap, we started going to Ashland when our son was in middle school and a group from their school would attend the Festival.  After he graduated, we bought our own membership in the Festival and continued to attend each year.  We’ve found so many other interesting things to do there that we’ve kept adding days to the trip.

This year, we’ll be seeing:

I know it looks like a lot of dead time, spreading 8 plays over a week  (we fly back to Seattle the following Monday), but we are usually very busy, heading out of town for hikes and other adventures.  It’ll be really nice to get a whole week off of work, throttle back, maybe actually read a book.

Afternoon Delight

Another blogging deadzone this week, with lotsa work and some social obligations. I managed to squeeze in a weight workout session last night at a gym up the street, and tonight (Thursday) I retrieved my bike from my client’s file storage closet and headed out on the prairie for a nice 20-mile ride on a pretty midwestern pre-solstice evening.

I have some photos from last week that I’ve been meaning to post. On Thursday last, anticipating my travel-shortened weekend, I played a little hooky in the afternoon, and enticed Mrs. Perils to venture across town to a lovely in-city wilderness, Discovery Park.

THere’s a loop trail that, in 3 - 4 miles of hiking, takes you through varied terrain - forest, salt-water beach, high bluffs  overlooking the Sound.  Below are some beach pics (click any photo to enlarge):

From the beach, the trail heads up through forest to a sandy bluff with a commanding view of Puget Sound. I love foxglove, and was really pleased to see a patch of them on the upclimb (photo on left). Next from left is a view of the West Point lighthouse, around which we’d just walked, with an exceptionally low tide; the next is a ferry crossing the south end of Bainbridge Island (the day was a little hazy at times); and the pic on the right looks south towards downtown Seattle.

I get a kick sometimes out of the graphics on warning signs:

Friday now, and I’m posting from the Minneapolis airport, so I think I’ll upload this and start on a new one, which I may not get to post before my 9:45 flight home to Seattle.


On my way to Milwaukee again today, leaving probably the last remains of summer in Seattle.  Overcast today for the first time, I think, in about 3 weeks, mercifully obscuring the Cascades from my view as I fly out.

An epiphany of sorts - our son attended his 10th high school reunion yesterday.  Doesn’t seem that long ago that I’d arrange my morning departures to ferry him there.  I didn’t attend my 10th, didn’t make it until my 25th, by which time folks were really mellow and there wasn’t any detectable one-upmanship going on.  Not sure that would have been the case at the 10th, where newly-minted graduate degrees and promotions would have been on parade.  I’m curious what the kid’s experience was yesterday, but not hopeful about gleaning anything overly analytical ;-)

Hey, the kid’s a supermodel!  He got a free copy of the book out of the deal.

More from Cheeseland.

Odds & Ends, and a Milestone

Sort of a lazy and unambitious weekend. Ambled around, did some errands, hit the gym, took some pics. Here are a couple from a walk Mrs. Perils and I took around Green Lake, near the house. On the left, some turtles hauled out to bask in the sun; on the right, a red-winged blackbird that I was attempting to photograph on a branch suddenly flew at Mrs. Perils and hovered in front of her.  I had already zoomed in on him, so when I swung to try to catch him as he did his dance with Mrs. Perils, I cropped her mostly out of the photo. We couldn’t tell if it was defending territory or was used to being fed by passersby (Click any photo to enlarge):

Stuff is growing abundantly all over the yard. Below is a monstrous rose bush that has grown from a lowly stick that my dad gave me to fly home with about 15 years ago. It has this glorious week of bloom, then spends the rest of the year sending out runners all over the place. On the right, our front yard:

In the back, we have a vegetable garden in progress. Below, our son, his girlfriend and Mrs. Perils lay some groundwork a couple of weeks ago:

And today we have a lot of things above ground and looking hopeful: beans, corn, spinach, arugula, elephant garlic, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers:

One other thing - 35 years ago today, Mrs. Perils and I got ourselves hitched, proving that a Ball & Chain forged in Ohio is pretty impervious to rust.

Summer Camp

Last weekend I hooked up with one of my kayak clubs and paddled across Puget Sound to camp out on Blake Island, a marine state park accessible only by private boat. The weather was simply stunning - clear, warm, perfect. This was the first time that I’ve loaded this boat (a Current Designs Gulfstream II) for camping, and I wasn’t sure whether it would hold all the gear I wanted to take. I have two other kayaks that are a little more capacious, but this is the boat I want to paddle in almost all cases. Everything fit fine (lower left), and the boat handled well despite the load.  GPS track of the trip across here.

I think we ended up with nearly 30 in our group at the camp area. We all came from different directions around the Sound, so we didn’t all arrive in one ravening horde. A puzzling bit: out of all these campers, I don’t believe any two tents were alike. I brought along a brand new tent (lower right) which we’d bought at an auction a couple of months ago. You’d think I’d at least set it up once at home just to see if all the parts were there. But, no, the first time it came out of its bag was right there on the campsite. Happily, it wasn’t dark or rainy or both, and I was able to puzzle out pole insertions, rain fly positioning, etc. (Click photos to enlarge):

It’s cool to be able to launch from the city, paddle a short 4 1/2 miles and feel like you’ve flown off to paradise. I got way too carried away photographing Mount Rainier, fully visible from the campsite:

I actually tore my eyes away from Rainier to check out some other sights. There are trails on the island, and it’s about a 3-mile hike to go completely around it. Below are photos of Mount Baker, another volcano north of Seattle near the Canadian border, and a glimpse of the Seattle skyline available on the north side of the island:

I didn’t carry a stove with me, and had to be content grazing on cold and sorta boring food like salami, string cheese and pretzels. I did stow a bottle of chardonnay to wash them down with, though. Others with more camping experience prepared more scrumptious stuff, including a guy who baked brownies in a little enclosure that sat atop his little stove. And one guy with a double kayak left his wife at home and filled the hatch she would otherwise occupy with a loaded cooler:

Slide show with more pics here.

Wherein I Board a Real Boat

Sort of neglectful here lately. We’ve had a spate of really nice weather, and I’ve been out enjoying it as much as I can. there have been a few bloggable events.

Do any of you follow Discover’s The Deadliest Catch (I don’t, really)? One of my clients (the same client that sent me to Adak, Alaska  a few years ago) operates longliners and catcher-processors in the Alaska crab and groundfish fisheries, and celebrated the 20th anniversary of their flagship vessel last week with a luncheon at dockside. Here is the ship, which I photographed a few weeks ago as I paddled my kayak in the Ship Canal near Ballard (Click any photo to enlarge):

I arrived at the luncheon just as the vessel’s captain was about to conduct a tour of the ship, and I hustled up the gangplank. I’d been on the boat before for a short tour and to work on some onboard computers, but a tour given by the 15-year captain was a treat. The Starbound is a catcher-processor, meaning that it has a full fish-processing factory below decks to process its catch. Below, left is the bridge, bristling with electronics both for running the ship and for looking for fish. First question: where’s the wheel? Jack Sparrow would be lost here.

Below, center is a typical crew quarters. Fully crewed, the vessel houses 110 people. There are two more bunks to my left, and this unit shares a bathroom with a similar unit. Since they work 12 - 14-hour shifts, I don’t imagine it’s that often that all 5 or 6 sailors are in the room at the same time.

Below, right is the laundry room. There are two more washing machines and a dryer or two behind me.

More pics - Below, left is the boat’s main engine. 9 cylinders (spare piston hanging in the left of the photo) and, I believe he said 750 hp. Next pic to the right is the deck facing the stern, where the net is hauled in if they’re fishing for cod or pollock. I think he said that each load from the net is 9 tons. The fish travel through a hatch on this deck down to the factory, where they start their journey to fish-and-chip land on the conveyor, next right. After they’ve been cleaned and fileted, they are flash-frozen in the ingots on the far right. The end product is a 150-lb brick of frozen fish ready for delivery to the wholesaler.