Movie, Burgers, Dungeon

Last night, Phillip and I went over to Colin and Sam’s place, in Lake City. Sam cooked us homemade hamburgers, while Colin and Phillip and I watch The Conjuring. We couldn’t let Sam watch the movie because it gave him nightmares the last time he watched it. It didn’t stop Sam from peeking out from the kitchen every once in a while.

The burgers were delicious!

After dinner, we played Dungeons & Dragons. None of us had ever played it before, and half the fun was trying to figure out the rules. (We never did figure out if the rulebook was using the words “square” and “tile” interchangeably.) It was a cooperative game, and we all won. It was a whole lot of fun.

Phillip and I finally gave Colin his birthday present, a month late.

We left their place around midnight, and slept late this morning. We did some house cleaning. We didn’t even leave the apartment, except for trips to the recycling and compost bins, and to the corner store.

I didn’t turn my phone on until four o’clock this afternoon.


A Book That’s Published In 2018

Layover, by Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer, was published in February, 2018.

The first sentence is: “It’s become my favorite sound in the world – the soles of my shoes slapping the pavement erratically.


Layover is narrated by three siblings: Flynn, Amos, and Poppy. Each chapter is told from one of these three points of view.

Flynn Barlow is nearly sixteen. Two years ago, her mother died in an accident. She was then moved from San Francisco to live with her father and his wife in Manhattan. She was never interested in recreational running, until she moved to New York. (That opening sentence is from her chapter.) She is trying hard to hide the fact that she’s in love with her stepbrother, Amos.

Amos Abernathy rarely sees his parents. They’re always off jet setting somewhere. He’s been raised mostly by a nanny. He’s been raising his 9-year-old sister, Poppy, mostly on his own. He’s just returned from boarding school, and an extended stay with friends in Vermont. He sent himself to boarding school. Vermont was a lie. He just didn’t want to deal with the fact that he’s in love with his stepsister, Flynn.

Flynn, Amos, and Poppy have been sent by their parents on a vacation to Bora Bora. A town car takes them to JFK. The flight has a layover in LAX.

During the two-hour layover in LAX, Poppy reveals something she’d overheard – something about the real reason for the trip. Because of it, Poppy doesn’t want to go to Bora Bora. Flynn says they don’t have to. Once he realizes his sisters are serious, Amos objects, then eventually gives in. He knows what they’re about to do is wrong, but he’s guided by his feelings for Flynn.

The three siblings throw their phones and credit cards away, and run away to Los Angeles. With only about a hundred dollars in cash, and not being old enough to rent a car, their mobility is limited. They consider two options: contact Amos’ father (which Amos is dead set against), or contact a guy named Neel, who Flynn met at camp. They agree to call Neel. If he knew how hot Neel is, and how much Flynn is still crushing on him, Amos would have never gone along with any of this.

Layover is a story about family, and the broad spectrum of what that term means. Are Flynn and Amos sister and brother, or something else? What should they do about their feelings for each other? Flynn had a mother before Louisa. Amos had a father before Jack. Poppy has never had any parents except Jack and Louisa. If Jack and Louisa were to divorce, what will happen to the three siblings? What will Flynn and Amos be then?

I love the way this novel is written. I’ve read other books that switch points of view from one chapter to the next, but Layover takes it a little bit further. The action flows directly from one chapter, often ending in mid-scene, to the next chapter, continuing the scene from another character’s viewpoint. Amos’ chapter ends with: “And just as I’m trying to remember why I decided on this detour to the city in the first place, she walks in.” And then Flynn’s chapter begins: “He looks at me blankly, and I can’t tell if he’s mad or indifferent that I showed up even though he told me not to come.” I think it works very well.

I loved this book a lot. The story, as unusual as it is, was believable. The characters were interesting. Flynn, Amos, and Poppy acted like I believed kids their ages would act.

Why I chose this book:

As soon as Popsugar’s 2018 Reading Challenge was published (or, more accurately, when I discovered that it had been published), I began doing searches on the internet for books scheduled to be published in 2018. From the lists I’d found, I picked ones that sounded interesting to me. Then, from that list, I searched the Seattle Public Library web site for the ones it had planned to order. I put Layover on hold, and became number 1 in line for 4 future copies.

One of the reasons I chose Layover was that, as an alternate plan, it could also be used for “A book by two authors”. That was before I’d found The Man Who Went Up in Smoke.

I’d recently finished reading Silas Marner, so I checked on my library holds, to try to get some idea of what my future reading would be. Layover had gone directly from “On Order” to “Ready Now”, without ever being “In Transit”.

Those Back Doors

I’ve been noticing that the yellow “Touch here to open” strips on the back doors of Metro’s newest trolley buses have been blacked out – covered over with black tape.

I think I first noticed it on a trolley a couple of days ago. I thought the door was in need of repair, like the strips had broken, or something. Then, later, I saw it on another bus, and then another. This morning, exiting the 47 at Westlake Station, through the back door, I formed the theory that Metro has discontinued the passenger-operated back door feature.

I think it was a nice feature, but I’m not sad to see it go. (Assuming my theory is correct.) I personally liked it, but I empathize with my fellow passengers’ confusion. There’s not many doors we encounter that require us to touch a yellow strip to open. That drawing of a full hand was confusing, as well – it looked as if you needed to place your full palm against the door – or worse, push on the door – to make it open. (I’ve opened those doors with a light touch of a single fingertip.) I wonder how much damage those doors have suffered from the repeated, unnecessary pushing.

I haven’t found any information about why – damage on the doors, customer feedback, safety, or something else – but it seems I’ve opened my last bus door.

A Book With A Female Author Who Used A Male Pseudonym

Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe, by George Eliot, was first published in 1861.

“George Eliot” was the pen name of Mary Anne Evans.

The first sentence is: “In the days when the spinning-wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses – and even the great ladies, clothed in silk and thread-lace, had their toy spinning-wheels of polished oak – there might be seen, in districts far away among the lanes, or deep in the bosom of the hills, certain pallid undersized men, who, by the side of the brawny country-folk, looked like the remnants of a disinherited race.

Silas Marner

Silas Marner is a linen-weaver who lives and works in a stone cottage in the village of Raveloe. He keeps to himself. As the story opens, Silas Marner has been in Raveloe for fifteen years, and many rumors have circulated about this man who rarely speaks to anyone.

Before he came to Raveloe, Silas Marner led a different life. He was well respected among his many friends. He led an exemplary life within his church in Lantern Yard.

Silas Marner formed a close friendship with William Dane, a fellow church member. He became engaged to a woman named Sarah. Life was good to Silas Marner in Lantern Yard.

Then Silas Marner stood before the church congregation, accused of stealing the church’s funds. The evidence was strong against him. Silas Marner pleaded innocent, but was found guilty by the drawing of lots. Although he could not prove it, he knew it was his friend, William Dane, who stole the funds.

A month later, Sarah married William Dane. Silas Marner lost his faith in both Man and God, and he left Lantern Yard.

That was Chapter I. There are still twenty chapters, and many changes to Silas Marner’s life, to go.

Silas Marner lives a miser’s life. He makes good money from his weaving, but he allows himself few indulgences. The rest of his fortune is kept hidden under the floor of his cottage. Then, one night, while he is out tending his yard, his bags of guineas are stolen by the son of Squire Cass, the richest man in Raveloe.

Silas Marner doesn’t know who stole his money, of course, and accuses the wrong man. When his accusation is proven false, Silas Marner apologizes for his error, and gains considerable respect among the villagers. The citizens of Raveloe join in to help find Silas Marner’s stolen money.

As much as the people of Raveloe admire Squire Cass for his accumulation of wealth, they now admire Silas Marner even more for his loss of wealth. People begin visiting Silas Marner, and he begins opening up to the community.

Silas Marner’s life changes yet again when he decides to raise an orphaned girl who suddenly appears in his cottage. The child’s mother is found dead, and her father is unknown to all but one person. Silas Marner considers this child a heavenly gift in exchange for the money he lost.

With the help of his neighbor, Molly Winthrop, Silas Marner learns how to raise a child. Because the girl needs to be christened, Silas Marner returns to church – a different kind of church from the one he knew in Lantern Yard.

Silas Marner gives the girl the biblical name Hephizibah. When Molly Winthrop advises Silas Marner that people will have trouble pronouncing that name, he nicknames his adopted daughter Eppie. Molly Winthrop becomes Eppie’s godmother.

That was Part I.

Part II picks up sixteen years later, with Eppie having grown into a lovely young woman who is catching the eye of Aaron Winthrop (Molly Winthrop’s son). Silas Marner and Eppie are seen at church every Sunday.

This lengthy synopsis I’ve written could have been a lot longer. Silas Marner is an intricate novel, full of rich details of the lives of both the rich and poor citizens of Raveloe. There are many plots and sub-plots. I’ve covered about a quarter of the story here.

Despite the antiquated language and massive sentences, I found Silas Marner an easy read.

As I read Silas Marner, I had no idea where the story was heading. For that reason, I found it an exciting book to read.

This is a wonderful, enjoyable book. I loved it.

Why I chose this book:

When I saw this category, I immediately thought of George Eliot. I’d never read anything by George Eliot before now, and the 2018 Reading Challenge was my nudge to finally get out of my comfort zone and read an Eliot work. Silas Marner seemed like an interesting character, and the novel seemed more intimate than other works involving a community of characters, such as Middlemarch. (I was judging by the descriptions I’d found on Wikipedia.) Of course, I eventually discovered that Silas Marner was also a story involving a community of characters.

Another Snow Report

Today was a day of gaming in Everett. Kelly has decided that the game isn’t her thing, so her satyr has become an NPC. We were joined today by Lynn, who wanted to merely observe, but seemed interesting in joining, sometime in the future.


Brian cooked this ham.

PB lasagna

Joe made this peanut butter lasagna.

I’m not sure I fully grasp this game, but I’m having fun playing along. We have a great group of gamers.

These days, it seems like a post on this blog wouldn’t be complete without a snow report.

During our game, it started raining heavily, with snow mixed in. Google reported that it was 45 degrees outside. The snow wasn’t sticking to anything except deck furniture and some grass. Joe and Laurie’s ducks and chickens obviously weren’t enjoying it.

On our drive home, it started snowing, and sticking to our car’s windows, at Lynnwood. Farther south, the freeway started turning white. We exited at 175th Street, waving to our second library as we passed, and took surface streets the rest of the way home.

Starting in Maple Leaf, the snow started coming down hard. It was sticking, but not piling up.

Driving down Roosevelt Way NE, a pickup truck ahead of us tried to turn right onto NE Campus Parkway, but couldn’t stop, so it kept going across the University Bridge. The roads were getting slick. Phillip and I arrived at the same idea simultaneously: That it would be easier to go up Capitol Hill via 10th Avenue, rather than our usual route, the much steeper Belmont Avenue.

10th Avenue was slick, but the snow turned to rain, and the streets lost their slickness, right when 10th Avenue leveled off and merged into Broadway.

As we drove along Broadway, the snow on our roof and windshield began melting and chunks of snow slid down the windshield.

It was a fun day, and we made it home safely.



A Rather Unusual Day

My parents have been in an assisted living facility in Bothell for several years. Today, my family moved them to a facility in Kenmore with a higher level of assisted living.

As Phillip and I drove off of Capitol Hill, the snow was falling so heavily that it created near-whiteout conditions. It wasn’t sticking to anything, however. The car’s thermometer said it was 41 degrees outside. Still, we worried that we may have to turn back home if it got colder as we made our way north.

The snow turned to rain even before we reached Montlake, and we didn’t see snow for the rest of the day.

We kept our parents in the building lobby as packed and moved their belongings. My father was in no shape, physically, to help out. My mother was confused and anxious, obviously not understanding what was going on. It was best to keep them both out of the way.

My ex-brother-in-law and one of my nephews had vans, and my brother-in-law had a full-sized pickup truck. So Phillip and I were assigned, along with my niece and future-nephew, to packing and sorting, while others did the moving.

We left my parents in Bothell as the packers met up in Kenmore and, once the movers arrived, became the unpackers.

It was a strange experience to set up someone else’s apartment, without them there, deciding where they’d like their desk placed, where they’d like their pictures hung, how they’d like their kitchen cabinets arranged, and so on.

We all started work in Bothell around 9:00, and finished in Kenmore around 4:00, shortly before my parents were brought over. We gave my father a tour, showed him where everything was, and were able answer all his questions regarding where we’d put medications, and papers, his laptop, and so on. My mother still seemed confused, but a lot less anxious. Even though she may not have understood why she was there, I think she was pleased with the new apartment.

I think we were all pleased with the new facility. Everyone we met was friendly, and seemed happy. A neighbor from down the hall stopped by to say hello and chat (before my parents arrived). A woman from administration stopped by to welcome my parents.

At the end of the day, Phillip and I, and my sister and her husband, and my niece and my future-nephew, were the only ones left to say goodbye to my parents. As we walked down the hall together, my sister commented that she felt like she was leaving her kids at kindergarten for the first time. It seemed that we were all feeling that way.

Phillip and I, and my sister and her husband, and my niece and my future-nephew, went to dinner together, at Beardslee Public House, in Bothell.

It’s been an unusual, rewarding, exhausting, and fun day.