Saturday, June 28, 2008

farm fresh fancy

summer came early this year.

here it is just june 29, and we've already had consecutive warm days.



you have to understand, we don't count on summer weather until july 5. if we get sunny and hot anytime before that, people don't know how to act.

they complain about it being too warm, or too bright, or too dry.

it's none of those things, by any reasonable standard, but weather in the PNW is not comparable to the rest of the country.

just to the east, however, on the other side of the cascades, people depend on hot, sunny weather -- and not just for conversation.

they grow and transport and sell the stuff we in the urban areas like to call "food." fruits and vegetables and organic chicken and holistic cheese and steroid-free floral arrangements. yes, those are edible, too. (aren't they?)

we live within walking distance of the magnolia farmer's market. it's an enthusiastic conclave of noise and color and people and pets and politics that seems to send everyone home happy.

the strawberries and rainier cherries are amazing. huge and sweet and priced like gas is $4.55 a gallon or something. which is to say, startlingly expensive.

some of the customers grumble that it's all cheaper at qfc or albertson's. which may be true, but is wildly irrelevant, isn't it? at a time when food of indeterminate origin is packing a salmonella punch and maybe an e. coli gift-with-purchase, locally sourced comestibles are less a luxury than self-preservation.

if you can afford the luxury, that is.

we wonder, idly, what'll happen when gas hits $5.50 or $6 bucks a gallon.
it ain't cheap to drive a loaded-up truck over the cascades every weekend -- and somebody's gotta absorb that cost. whom do you suppose will be the first to blink: the growers, the customers, or the saudis?

it's a rhetorical question. for now.

so far the relationship is still mutually beneficial -- the vendors keep coming back, and the locals keep showing up, cash in hand.

but summer in the PNW is just beginning, and crops are coming in, and migrant workers are working full-time, and growers have a limited window to make what they can, and oh-by-the-way, oil hit $140 a barrel on friday.

if anyone can say they know where the tipping point is, you can bet lots of folks will be eager to hear about it.

our trip to the market yesterday was the stuff that summertimes should be made of. we put on shorts and t-shirts and sunscreen and walked around our neighborhood. children ran and played, adults sat back and watched, time slowed. it was warm and sunny and memorable and simultaneously indistinct...just another day, the way summer days are supposed to be.

we were able to set aside, for a few hours, what we think we know about prices and economics and markets and variables beyond our control.

summer has come early to seattle. we hope it settles in and stays awhile.

* * * * *

addendum: not many people in this neighborhood have air conditioning. around here, we just don't need it all that often. as a result, most people currently have their windows open.

if someone sneezes two doors down, we say "gesundheit."

and if the nubile next-door neighbor has a sleep-over, we hear that too.

we live in a great neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

my trip around the sun

i had a birthday this week.

never mind how many. a lot. okay?

among the handful of well-wishes, one friend asked, "so, how was your trip around the sun?"

it's a great question, i said. because, you know, i hadn't really thought about it like that.

what's happened with the spaceneedl family since last june?

first, the fundamentals. we're healthy. the mrs. and i have decent jobs. we have enough to eat, and we have a roof over our heads. these things put us in the ridiculously fortunate 99.99th percentile.

and that's enough. but it's not all.

we were disproportionately fortunate to do a bit of traveling in the last year. to hawaii (twice). skiing in canada. arizona. and a ferry ride to orcas island for thanksgiving. an embarrassment of frequent flyer miles (there's no such thing as frequent ferry miles, as far as i know).

we also traveled for business. to san francisco and vancouver and orlando and miami and san diego and baltimore and boston and denver and chicago and washington, d.c. for all we saw of these fabulous destinations, however, we might just've well been in wichita. (note: i'm sure wichita is a lovely town. really.) most often you go from the airport to a hotel to a convention center to a hotel to the airport and back home again. in between there's a lot of standing in a trade show booth.

it ain't glamorous...but it is a break in the routine, and this can be a good thing, in moderation.

extended cross-country travel also can lead to dvt, which is bad, even in moderation. (note: no one here has developed dvt. yet.)

my company moved further away from the spaceneedl estate, adding hours and dollars to my monthly commute. (note: gas prices are bad for us, but much worse for others who can afford it less. how nice it must be to have to choose between gas for the car to get to work and, say, food. or child care. or health care.)

mrs. spaceneedl took a new job, requiring a major logistical shift from her previous home-based position.

the effects of these changes are still being tallied. they're in our favor in the "paying our bills" column. they're a significant drain in the "having a life" category.

i can see these things clearly, as my eyes are now surgically enhanced. lasik is a fabulous thing. i can see the trees on the mountain ridge to the west. i can certainly envision the exceptional grapes growing in the vinyards at the bainbridge island winery. i can see some bottles of that grape juice on our wine rack.

i recommend the madeleine angevine.

a lot has happened here in the past twelve months. much has been done, leaving exponentially more undone. looking ahead to the next ride through the solar system, there are things i would like to change. i would, for example, like to spend some time at san juan county park.

i would like to be able to hear myself think, on occasion.

i want to spend less time commuting, more time communing.

i wish to be more patient with my son.

another ride is in the books. a new one winks and beckons. "c'mon," it whispers. "it'll be fun. i promise."

hang on, everyone. for as long as you can.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

an avery day occurrence

suddenly the world seems such a perfect place
suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace
suddenly my life doesn't seem such a waste
it all revolves around you
and there's no mountain too high
no river too wide
sing out this song and i'll be there by your side
storm clouds may gather
and stars may collide
but i'll love you until the end of time

come what may
come what may
i will love you
until my dying day

-- come what may, moulin rouge

* * * * *

i used to sing that song to my daughter on the way to day care.

i couldn't hit the high notes, but she didn't seem to notice. it was a heartfelt serenade, and sometimes i'd get a little choked up on the "until the end of time" and "until my dying day" lines.

she didn't seem to notice that, either.

last night was the annual dance recital for roseanne's dance academy. our third performance, hard as it is to believe. it feels like i've seen the four year olds perform "hopping bunnies" a thousand times -- a thought i shared with mrs. spaceneedl. "be nice," she warned me with a smile. she couldn't fool me. she'll have the infernal "hopping bunnies" chorus ringing in her ears for at least the rest of the weekend.

earlier in the day, the girl's drama club put on a performance of "the great kapok tree." it's the story of a hapless logger who runs afoul of an angry hoarde of animals in the amazon rainforest.

not to spoil the ending or anything, but the animals win.

and it occurred to me about halfway through the show that my daughter was up on stage, delivering lines in front of a crowd of people.

this is the same girl (albeit a later version) who came into the world refusing to breathe. it had something to do with the respiratory depressive effects of the stadol mrs. spaceneedl was given.

i stood there stupidly as our daughter was whisked away, and the nurse anxiously said, "breathe, baby!" time stopped, and we cried, and then the baby cried, and we had a little come-apart as it dawned on us the magnitude of the disaster that had just passed us by.

flash forward several years to last night, and the girl was the best jazz dancer on the stage. she was one of the very few who looked like she was having fun up there. she moved with grace and confidence and no, i'm not just saying that because she's my kid.

full disclosure: i may have been suffering from some kind of paternal myopia. as far as i could tell, she was the only one on the stage.

after, she sat with us holding a very nice bouquet of flowers, raptly watching the older girls performing longer, more intricate routines. it occurred to me that she'd prolly outdance them, too. not that i'm biased.

then "come what may" began drifting out of the speakers, and i became a bit of a mess. time and place and emotions got all cross-circuited, and i was obliged to keep myself together. thankfully, it was dark in the auditorium.

this morning, it's father's day, and i woke up to see a handmade card on my nightstand. "happy fathers day i love you" it said. "love, avery."

i have, over the years, occasionally asked my wife to explain why it was so necessary for us to have children. the question usually coincides with high-pitched shrieking, or egregious room-trashing, or dumping of hot chocolate in the back of the car. or other random childish behavior.

today is not one of those days.*

(* note: the day isn't over yet.)