Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Better September

There are leaves! And semi-cool weather (mid-seventies)! And corduroys! And Joe is back to school today!

Cedric was ready to go with, wore his top-hat and everything (he thinks it makes him look more distinguished), but there was no room on Joe's bike. 

Lately I've been looking back at my posts from last year, and it's been fun to see how much more settled/comfortable we are these days.

According to a year-old post, last September 25th I was at the Rocket Bakery, drinking a cup of coffee next to two girls visiting over a glass of wine. I thought of them as I sulked home, as I listened to moody music and moped about how I had no friends to sit with. But, now, a year later, we have found a great group of friends, and I've found a few girlfriends who I can sit and talk with, or just as important, sit and not talk with.     

We're also no longer eating oatmeal every day, or fighting over one little camp chair, or using boxes and plastic tubs for furniture

So things are better!  But do I love Spokane, this dry and dirty city? 

Do I love what it does to my lungs, my skin, my eyes every time I go for a run or a bike ride?

Do I love that I can't go to the grocery store without having to walk around someone being arrested for shoplifting?

Do I love that I can't leave the house without having a conversation with someone I'd rather not--do you have a cigarette, can you buy me a beer, would you like to buy this vacuum? 

Do I love how often I have to determine whether or not I should ask the person lying the ground if they are ok: Are you just resting after your run, guy in gym shorts? Are you just passed out drunk, dude next to your bike? Do you need someone to call an ambulence, or are you waiting for some unsuspecting girl to lean down so you can stab her?  

Do I love the lack of important foods: certain doughnuts, proper cake-batter ice-creams, olive burgers?
Uh, no, no, no, no, no, and no. But these are small things, and when you have friends to talk to about these things, it doesn't matter so much. (It also helps to move with your best friend/soul mate).

Oh, and my neighbor's are still obnoxious. Example: I'm currently listening to my music at full volume to cover up the sound of my neighbor yelling. Is he mad? No, he just has to shout so whoever he's with can hear him over his TV.  

And, oh man, I really wish I hadn't pulled up a picture for cake batter ice cream. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cedric the Bee Whisperer

Don't move, Cedric!  Bee!!!

I had a run-in with a bee this weekend. But, unlike Cedric, I wasn't able to tame it. Before Sunday, I hadn't been stung by a bee since grade school, and I don't remember having such a strong reaction. 

He got me on the left side of my right knee, and the next morning, it had swollen to a firm, red patch the size of my palm. I took a few pictures as evidence, but all of them portrayed my leg in a not so pleasing way. You'll just have to take my word for it. 

The swelling/pain has gone down for the most part, but it still itches. Cedric promises to show me his bee-calming ways.

Other than that, things are speeding right along. I'm already in my fourth week of classes, and Joe starts his next week.

What else is happening in ol' Spokane? It's very gray here, as fires from the middle of the state have been sharing their smoke.

I'm still working hard for Sundog Lit. We're hoping our first issue will be out October 1st, so I've been working on a cover and planning the web layout.

Joe's still working hard at the bookstore. They recently took his photo for the website, and he thought it would be funny to be holding one of the strange books he came across the other day.

Oh, and it's still warm here. I know from last year that fall comes later here than it does in Michigan, but it still feels weird that it's going to be 91 tomorrow. I'm ready for socks, and sweaters, and chili!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Can't Get Out

For the past couple of weeks, Joe and I have planned to take a day trip whenever we've had a day off together. Today was going to be our third attempt to drive to Sandpoint and bike one of the nearby trails. 

But the car is in the shop today. Cedric tried his best to fix it himself, but it turns out he knows nothing about cars. He's used to horses and big-wheeled bicycles

Maybe soon Spokane will loosen its grip on us and let us see something new. Until then, we've got plenty of work to keep us busy. And it's finally, thankfully, cooled down a bit in these dry and dusty parts. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Manito Park

On Monday, Joe had to get some writing done, so my big plans for fleeing town didn't really work out.

Still, I was determined to see something new, even if it was in Spokane. I rode my bike up the South Hill, a part of town that is a lot like it sounds: a big hill on the south side of town.  And to be honest, I should say I rode TO the South Hill, and then walked my bike to the top.

Manito Park is 90 acres of ponds, playgrounds, gardens, and trees. The first area I visited was the Nishinomiya Japanese Garden.

I probably picked the worst day of the year to visit, as there were plenty of screaming kids and yelling parents. Taking pictures without people in them took extreme patience. But, even if the garden wasn't so supportive of the "personal reflection and tranquility" that the sign requested, I can see how it would usually be relaxing.

Next I headed to the rose garden, which had so many different varieties! Each group of roses was labeled with a little wooden sign. They aren't my favorite flower, but I do love all the funny names: Eyepaint, Chuckles, Little Buckaroo, Presto Bucket, Dolly Parton, Scentimental.

I was really excited to see the dahlias, and they were so big, some taller than me!

Look at all those petals, unwrapping into perfect little curls.  

 There was also a fair share of bugs.

This dragonfly, and even the flower it's hanging out on, aren't looking too cute.

 I never found the greenhouse or conservatory but that leaves something for another visit.

Since I was already all the way up South Hill, I thought I better visit my friend who was working at a nearby ice-cream shop. I had no choice!

 Birthday cake remix: cake batter ice-cream, brownies, sprinkles, chocolate syrup. Yup.

A pretty good day off.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Over the Hill

The first week of classes went well. I think I have all 70 of my students' names memorized. And as usual at NIC, they all seem really nice.

One day last week, I went for a long bike ride through cemeteries and parks and then up one giant gill. Here are some photos.

There's not a lot of color here this time of year, so you have to look for visual stimulation in the contrast of things.

Even the wildlife is kind of monotone.

 This guy is blending in quite well.

 But color or no color, there are still some great views.

Though, there is still some green grass to be the graveyard.

And some flowers, here and there, are still hanging around.


And then came doomsday hill (named by the runners of the Lilac Bloomsday Race).

When Joe and I first tried this hill last August, I was in pretty good shape, was used to biking up the steep hills in Marquette, but I barely made it halfway up this one before I felt a sudden wave of nausea and had to stop. We had only been here a few days, so I think it was the change in altitude. Or allergies (my body hates this dry climate). Joe was just fine, and waited for me at the top.

I've tried it a couple of times since then, but have never made it. This picture doesn't really portray the terribleness of this hill.

Neither does this one. But I did find some proof. Runner's Magazine ranked it as one of the ten most daunting hills in U.S. races.

There was a point this time, about half way up, where I saw a strange looking weed growing out of the curb, and I thought taking a picture of it would be a perfect excuse to stop. But I kept going, and going, all the while grunting and pedaling and hunching over my bike. When I got to the top, I noticed a young guy taking photos of the river and wondered if my wheezing and bike lurching was ruining his view.  

Who cares. I made it! And then I coughed all the way home because I had inhaled so much pollen and dirt.

Tomorrow is labor day and the first time in a while that Joe and I will have a day off together. Hopefully we'll be driving somewhere new!

Happy September!

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