Archive for January 2010


The return leg of our evening walk to Green Lake generally takes us past one of those generic neighborhood bars, no ferns in sight, more patrons on the sidewalk smoking (even in the rain) than inside watching WWF.  As we walk past, we can often hear tantalizing bits of conversation, as often spoken to a cell phone as to a live person.

A couple nights ago as we walked past, a nice-looking woman was saying into her cell phone, “ involves a big, muscular guy, some alcohol and a handshake…”  It took some discipline to keep walking nonchalantly.

The next night we were walking past again as a group around the butt-bin was talking and laughing.  As we approached, they went absolutely silent.  Mrs. Perils cupped a hand to her ear as we passed, and they burst out laughing.  Someone said, “You just made my night.  We quiet down when real people walk by.”  Our disguise endures.


I’ve needed a haircut for the past couple of weeks (or more), and Saturday night was pretty dead around here, so I walked over to 45th to the sort of “alternative” salon I’ve been patronizing lately.  I go there mostly because I can almost always just walk in and get a decent haircut.  I used to patronize a perfectly fine and professional woman at a regular salon, but I increasingly find it impossible to make an appointment for non-work activities and actually show up.

I’ve been perfectly happy with the haircuts from the “alternative” place.  I usually end up with the same woman despite the lack of an appointment.  She’s pretty cute, and my haircuts with her begin startlingly like a lap dance (Not that I’ve ever had one - ED).  She stands directly in front of me, legs slightly apart, but that’s where the fantasy ends.  She’s totally focused on how my head looks from the front, and how she can possibly do anything positive with it.  I don’t envy her that task.

Well, Saturday night was a different kettle of fish.   The sign said “open” when I arrived, but the guy at the desk looked like he was getting ready to leave.  “Do I have time for a haircut?”, I asked.  He hesitated, and I turned to head for the door, but he called me back and said he could do it.  Once I was this close, I had to follow through, cuz it might be weeks before I got myself back there.

Once I was seated, he asked me what size clipper, #2 or #3.  I had no idea ( “Elena” never used clippers), but instinct told me to choose #3, presuming it would leave me with longer hair.  He snapped on his clippers and started mowing my head.  After the first stroke, I knew I was getting more of an amputation than a haircut, but after two strokes there was really no alternative to letting him finish, unless I wanted a mullet.

“You’ve got really thick hair, mister!”, he said.  I replied, “It’s thick on the sides, but thinning way too much on top.”

“I don’t really talk much when I cut hair - sorry.”  A few seconds pass, and he ventures, “What’s your name?”

“Phil,” I reply.  “What’s yours?”

“Blue Bear.”


Although the guy was pasty white with assorted head piercings, my mind immediately flashed to Blue Duck, the lithe Indian villain in Lonesome Dove.  We were alone in the shop, and even though it was next door to the wildly popular Molly Moon ice cream store, it was still the middle of January, and the street was deserted.

Despite these misgivings, my haircut ended uneventfully, I paid and left without further harm.  But a look in the mirror confirmed my initial suspicions - he’d cut it preternaturally short - shorter, perhaps, than it’s been since junior high.

When I arrived at my client’s office this morning, people were taken aback at being able to see my ears. They both insisted that it made me “look younger”, which might have seemed flattering if the corollary didn’t immediately present itself: they thought I “looked older” before.

This would have caused me much more angst when I was in high school, college or even a young adult.  These days, I’m only concerned about how much heat I’m losing through my skull.  Old age can be liberating.

December, Part 1

The world finally slowed down a tad, before turning on its heel and hurtling into 2010.  I’ll recap December a bit, then turn and face the new year head (and blog) on.

The month started, I think, with a cold, enough of one to make me postpone a business trip to eastern Washington.  It was still lingering a bit on a Friday afternoon when I boarded a plane for a week away from home, first to visit my mom in Toledo for a weekend, then on to Milwaukee for a week of work.

We had a really pleasant visit.  I did something over that weekend I hadn’t done in about 40 years - practiced my trumpet in the basement of the house I grew up in.  See, I’ve been hauling it on my business trips since I’ve been playing in this band, because laying off for a whole week would just kill any progress I’ve been making all fall, and our holiday concert was coming up the next weekend.  (In the hotel rooms, I put my cup mute in, sit on the floor and point the horn under the bed. On a good day, it might sound to anyone in adjacent rooms like space alien sex.)

We made a trip to visit the Toledo Art Museum.  It’s one of those venerable old civic institutions endowed by industrial barons of the gilded age (in this case, Libbey Glass), and has a surprisingly extensive collection.  I would say it’s easily twice the size of Seattle’s.  Toledo was known for a long time as the Glass City, owing to its housing the corporate headquarters of Libbey Glass, Owens Corning, Owens-Illinois and Libbey-Owens-Ford.  It’s no surprise, then, that one of its featured collections is glass art and artifacts, dating from ancient Egypt.  They opened a Glass Pavilion annex a few years ago, and we watched a glassblowing exhibition and perused the exhibits (Click any photo to enlarge):

On Sunday, I did a few odd jobs, including hanging some curtains, that required me to go out to the garage and riff through my dad’s tool shelves. They are laden with tools that date from the 40s and 50s, and the sight of them stirs some of my oldest memories. My dad was a delegator, and when he was doing some job around the house, he always wanted one of us there with him - ostensibly to learn the particular task or skill, but more to the point, to run to the garage and retrieve tools as he needed them. As I touched them, I could hear his words: “electric drill; brace-and-bit; 3-in-one oil; Phillips screwdriver (this one confused me for a while, as they called me “Philip” in my early years). The tools remain there even with the infrequent use they get now, a shrine to a doggedly resourceful DIY guy.