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Pluviophile

Okay! So there is a word for it! That makes me extremely happy, because it means I have something I can use to replace “freak.”

Source: Urban Dictionary

Source: Urban Dictionary

 

Now, before anyone gets their fur up, I want to be clear that I am not criticizing my sun-loving fellow humans in any way.  Like a lot of people in this world, I just want to be understood.  Dry, warm, light-infused days are extremely useful, I agree.  What I want to convey is a mysterious phenomenon that I cannot even explain.

“…who finds joy and peace of mind…”

Joy and peace of mind. Why?  I really don’t know.  But we band of pluves (known to each other by secret handshake, aka manic happiness when clouds are present) just seem to thrive when the month names start ending with “ber” and “brr” is on our lips.

I take that back; it’s not really about temperature.  I think it’s about light.  For me, anyway, it has nothing to do with getting cold, or wet for that matter.  (Though, speaking as an avid knitter, I can’t wait to wear sweaters again.) I think the light is more beautiful to us, like the way film directors want to shoot outdoor scenes on overcast days to get more vivid colors.

My other theory is that it is linked to eye color. We blue/green eyed folks have Northern climes in our blood, and perhaps an instinctive sense of comfort in low light.  Moreover, there is a practical matter: bright sunlight hurts us.  It hurts.  I must have half a dozen pairs of sunglasses, and keep 2 emergency pairs in my car. And if the brightness doesn’t get you, there is the dreaded Sunlight Squint Headache.  When I encounter someone who has blue or green eyes and doesn’t suffer like this, I cling to my little theory by wondering if they are a medical aberration, or possibly in denial, having been brainwashed by the peer pressure of brown eyed friends.

Then there is the romance of storms: the coziness of a good book by the fire, the lovely sound of rainfall, and the grand finale – rainbows (just enough sun, but not so much to ruin a perfectly good cloud cover).

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The first year we lived here in the Snoqualmie Valley, where we have 80 inches of rain per year instead of the 35 we had in Seattle, we bought a treadmill.  That winter it rained and rained (and snowed) and I clung desperately to that treadmill while the blizzards and torrents leered at the window.  At first, that is.  By the end of that first winter I felt like I never wanted to pound that rubber track again. The Dreadmill.  In all the winters that have followed, two words have saved me: proper gear. It’s only water after all.  If I cannot run in all weathers, I don’t want to run at all.  Only two weather conditions will make me cancel a run: lightening and ice.  Learned those the hard way.  Nowadays I have a harder time running in summer heat than I ever did in storms.

In praise of tempests, I guess I should be noble and include a chat about how beneficial rain is to growing food, not to mention the beautiful green trees here. (Bill Murray, “…up there in the Pacific Northwest…” -first 15 seconds:)

But we are talking about joy and peace of mind rather than practical applications like pretty trees and good crops.

Joy and peace of mind. It is the reverse of Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Away goes the sun, and suddenly we pluviophiles are electrified with energy, ideas, confidence, a sense of well being, and goodwill towards most everyone… even the sun lovers, who shake their heads at our joy and long for California.

 

P.S. What I knit when it’s too hot for a half a sweater on your lap. Fingerless mitts. 🙂

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P.P.S  It rained yesterday. 😀

 

 

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WHEN WILL IT END?!? Don’t answer. I know it ends late in September. Regular readers of my blog might recall that I don’t particularly like summer weather.  Of course, I have to write this on the one day (the only day?) this summer which has seen us creep into the 90sF. Wimp.

This morning we awoke to a smokey smell and a warm pool of air, both of which were delivered by overnight express from Eastern Washington. They’ve been on fire over on that side of the Cascade range for the past few weeks, as usual for summer. Now it is nearly my bedtime but we are still in the 80s. (For non-local readers, that is weird. We generally cool off at night.) The thunder clouds are starting to roll in.  Tomorrow is going to be a hot, wet, noisy mess.

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Source: Weather.com

 

 

But it is great wedding weather! Well, not tomorrow, but in general the warm sunny days have been a real gift for anyone who wants to play outdoors.

Sunny and I take the stage at the Skagit Highland Games

Sunny and I take the stage at the Skagit Highland Games

What I am doing most outdoors is… cooking!  This is the first summer I have really taken full advantage of our grill, which has a little side burner for whatever needs to be cooked in a pot or pan.  My rule this summer has been: if I cannot cook it outside, I’m not cooking.  IMG_3596

The hardest part has been finding ways to use my CSA vegetables without turning on the stove or oven. Houses get hot enough without steaming broccoli or roasting chickens.

 

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Source: City of Snoqualmie

Sorry, that’s not funny.  These poor neighbors of ours had a 4th of July rocket land on their wood shingle roof this summer.  It makes me miss the wet, chilly days even more when I drive by the ruins. It makes me shudder.

Stay cool! Think October! Ok. I’ll think October and you go ahead and enjoy August.

 

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“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
-Alice in Wonderland.

I have little use for the impossible, being a very practical sort of person. And six is a difficult number when what you are counting might flutter by only every 15 minutes or so, over the course of hours.

So I count Five Beautiful Things sometimes. Mostly, I count them when I am running.  It is a marvelous distraction from ugly things (trash), annoying things (bad drivers, off-leash dogs), and discouraging things (“When will this summer heat ever end?”).

Wow. This really makes me sound like a new-age, lavender scented, dance-in-the-meadows kind of dreamer. Which I am not.  I like to rant and I hold grudges. I get very cranky about all kinds of things. Sometimes I laugh out loud at perverse or dark humor.  (To wit, have you listened to Welcome To Nightvale? It’s Twilight Zone meets Monty Python. So funny. )

But I have a very restless mind, and sometimes it likes the challenge of a counting game.  Moreover, there is a sort possessive urge in me to put things on lists.  For instance, if I list:  mist in a forest, orange tabby cat sitting on a white fence, Mt. Si with new snow, trellis with vines, pink cloud… I feel like I own them in a way.   And dammit, it feels nice. Who couldn’t use a little more Nice in their lives?

Pink Cloud

Number 5, a pink cloud.

UPDATES

Harp at the Black Dog went really well.  Knowing I was playing for a cause energized me and changed the way I was playing.  If you live in the area, I’ll be there every 2nd Sunday, 10:30-noon to raise money for animal rescue and shelter.

Fundraiser at The Black Dog

 

Knitting – Feels like I’m stuck in the mud.  I make progress, but there are too many projects on the needles! (Three cardigans, two pair socks, and a lace shawl.)  Unable (or unwilling) to set some aside and just finish a project, I rotate through them, changing every week.  Never again, Cynthia!  Bad, bad, bad!  Limits and boundaries are your friend! Here it is in writing in case I need to refer back: ONE stockinette project, ONE lace, texture or color-work project, and ONE pair of socks. That’s what I can handle.  Sheesh, what was I thinking?

Running – In spite of the hottest, most humid summer I can remember as a runner, I have stuck to my marathon plan fairly closely. I am not 100% sure that has been a healthy thing to do.  There have been long runs when I really felt ill from the heat but forced myself to finish. I hate that, because I cannot get a good idea of my real fitness when I feel that bad.  My last really long run before Marathon Day is this weekend, then we’ll see in two weeks. I might really be in miserable shape, or I might find it was all an illusion if the weather cools off on race day.

 

 

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I cannot believe it is only the beginning of August.  I think I might wonder at this every year, but it might be like childbirth — you just forget.

With all the lovely grey (no sarcasm – I really like it) that is our Normal Weather, it just seems impossible that a whole month of sunshine was just the beginning of summer, and that we have more to come.  Such weather was also a metaphor for busy times in July…  we have a lot more summer to go!

Here are some photo highlights from the past month….

 

Mt. Rainier from Snoqualmie neighborhood. One clear day after another…. is this my world?

One of many abandoned train tunnels on the Iron Goat Trail. By going both directions on the trail and doubling back, we got 14 miles out of it.

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Mr. K was awesome – though not a runner these days, he jogged-with-walk-breaks the whole 14 miles with me, even after falling and scraping up his elbow and leg. You can see the abrasion in this picture.

 

I enjoyed participating in the “Harper’s Circle” at the Enumclaw Highland Games, the one time/place all month where I actually got cold. (You can see me shivering on the far left in the picture.) It was so much fun that I think I will do more of these next summer (we have several Scottish Highland Games in this area), but I will bring along some good Scottish wool! I had such a cute outfit on too – and had to cover it all with one of my husband’s “emergency sweatshirts” from the back of his car. Sigh.

 

 

In the midst of having family visitors from out of town, we scrambled to get a couple of beds ready for our close friends who live a stone’s throw from the Mt. Si fire that broke out in late July. It was a close call, but they were able to stay in their home after all.

 

 

I brought my smaller harp on a 2 day getaway to The Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth WA. One of the most peaceful spots on earth.

 

There are two videos up this week on YouTube, and I hope to post more in the next couple of weeks.  Please subscribe to my channel, HarpMyDay, if you would like to see updates.

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I do love writing my blog.  But I do not write quickly.  And editing is always a long, long rumination over every sentence before I can bring myself to click “publish.” [Edit note: over 2 hours for this post.]

So rewind if you will to the beginning of the new year, and that magical 24 hour period in which we all make our resolutions.  I love resolutions.  I make them on January 1, on my birthday, at the beginning of September, and just about any other time I think of something that will improve my life. I know that this sort of fanatical self-improvement is not for everyone, but it seems to flood my brain with endorphins.  And I tend to keep my resolutions, unless they become irrelevant.


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Resolutions can be tricky though, since they almost always involve giving something up. Case in point, there is something new I want to do this year (more on that in a moment), and I must give up something else to make time for it.

The glaringly obvious candidate for schedule-pruning was “Computer Time.”  (That’s often the case with me. I don’t watch TV, so computer time is the only thing that seems frivolous to me.)  So on January 1, I applied my discipline to make a new start!  But next thing I knew, I had 30 pages of unread Facebook posts on my feed, and zero new blog posts in 2013.  Great. Now I have guilt.

I am really not sure what the answer is.  Facebook is a hard one, because it has this addictive quality; vows to limit oneself to 10 minutes, for example, don’t usually work out.  But if I ignore it altogether, I miss news about friends and family. I’d like to invent a Facebook Intervention Circuit that will shut down my home’s electricity after 15 minutes on that URL.

My blog is a different sort of problem. There is no way, no hope whatsoever, that I could limit the time it takes for me to post something here. (See first paragraph.)  For a time, I considered writing an official Closing The Blog post and giving it up. There would be no more guilt over the long silences, and besides, I like closure. On reflection, however, I think I’d better just let it live. There will be a place to collect and publish the occasional thoughts, stories, or pictures, even if it is infrequent.

So, what am I taking on in 2013 for which I need more time?  Back in December, my husband (who is also a fine musician) and I had a wonderful discussion about  musicality and the nature of musical performance.  We agreed that the music which one memorizes is usually played with much more expression and sensitivity than the music one performs while reading it off the page, even if the latter is something one has played for years.

I have memorized over 50% of my repertoire, but there are lots of pieces I never planned to memorize because they are so easy to read.  Moreover, I used to be less secure about memorization and liked the idea of keeping that page in front of me.  Did I mention I also have beautiful music stand?

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As so often happens in my marriage, my husband’s insights gave me a lot to think about.  (He is an incredibly smart guy.) I decided to start the long, slow process of memorizing my whole repertoire in 2013 (with the exception of ensemble parts). It goes slowly because I want to really internalize each piece. In some ways it is like relearning them.  Thank goodness I already have so many memorized. I am really looking forward to playing them with a fresh perspective, and hopefully with greater expression and richer musical ideas.

And my second harp goal for 2013 is to make more YouTube videos. Now that I have done it once and the ice is broken, I feel more confident about the whole process.  And speaking of ice…

In weather news, we had the weirdest stretch of cold, winter sunshine I have ever seen. I think it lasted nearly two weeks.  Most of the Puget Sound area was blanketed by fog day after day, but my house was above the fog most days. At night, however, the fog would roll up and lay a fresh layer of frost on everything. Nighttime temps were in the 20s, daytime in the low 30s.  The ice got so bad that I stopped running. Desperate to get my exercise (I will not use the Dreadmill!), I climbed Mt. Si, lifted weights, and even dragged out some of my old step aerobics videos, with the hilarious 80s-90s leotards.

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In places where tall trees blocked the low winter sun, the frost built up so much that it looked just like snow.

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I prefer the real stuff. Less slippery.

Lastly, I just have to share this picture of the Chicken Chess Board I saw this week. Those of you who know me are probably aware of how much I would like to have some chickens if our Homeowners Association would allow it. Alas, I will content myself with all things chicken-themed.

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I stopped dreaming of a white Christmas in 2008. I must have been super bad that year because instead of coal in my stocking I got my own personal glacier.  Mr. K was out of town on business just before Christmas, and we got a few inches of snow. Then, the wind started to blow. Hard.

It was the kind of wind that makes you wonder if a house can blow down even if you don’t live in hurricane country. We didn’t lose power, but we awoke to a snow drift  that formed a solid wall across the driveway. It was nearly 5 feet high and at least 10 feet from the house side to the street. My neighbor got one too.  The rest of the neighborhood was pretty clear. It was just so bizarre. People out walking their dogs stopped to take a picture. Cars slowed down to stare.

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It would have been nice to just get out the sled and enjoy our new private sledding hill, except that I was to pick up Mr. K from the airport that afternoon.  Out came the snow shovel and to work I went.

After about 45 minutes of sweaty digging, I had scarcely made a dent in the thing.  From over the top of the remaining heap I could see cars slowing a bit to yell helpful things like, “That’s quite a drift ya’ got there!”  Would it be so bad if my husband had to take a taxi home from the airport? I wanted to cry.

By and by, a woman in a minivan pulled to a stop in front of Mount Kuni, rolled down her window and apologetically explained that she had two teenage boys in the back seat who would help me but they wanted payment.  Oh glory be. Name your price!  They dashed home for more snow shovels.

Hours later, we three had created Kuni Pass. All was well.  Here I am the following morning, December 23, 2008, on my way out for a morning run:

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(Oh my goodness! Do you see Santa’s reindeer in the sky behind me?  Ok, yeah. Those are my neighbor’s xmas lights.)

Ever since that day, I always think twice before wishing for a white Christmas.  But maybe, just a little?

That is the Seattle forecast, and we are up in the foothills at higher elevation!

Dear Santa, I have been very good this year and I would like you to please bring me my own Bobcat.

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This is my absolute favorite time of year.  Now that the interminable curse of dry weather has lifted, the fall colors really shine. I read once that filmmakers prefer a grey sky for vibrant colors.  I heartily agree.

I normally do not go into the woods alone; I run with friends if I want trails. But today there were so many people out and about, and so many of them disappearing into the trailheads, that I decided to venture in myself.  The main trouble is bears (see my previous post on this).  Remembering a friend who always wore a “bear bell” on trails to warn bears of her approach, I clipped my house keys to my zipper pull and bravely jingled forth!

“I thought you were a dog,” said an elderly woman whom I passed along the trail.  I will try to take that in a good way.

Anyway, it was gorgeous.

Here is the view from one of the little paved trails I explored.

Gentle, light showers, beautiful colors… trail running is just fabulous in October.  I tried a few trails on Snoqualmie Ridge  I’ve never run before and had a marvelous time.

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