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April 30, 1999
a year ago

Errands, Green, and Sushi

The day started way too early. Part of the problem was working with schedules where people had to go to work. So, breakfast was scheduled for 7:30 in the morning. The view from the balcony of the Rostyki house was just gorgeous.

We met both David and Jay at the Brown Bag in Redmond, and it didn't quite estimate the traffic delays as well as we ought to have. So we were a bit late. The two of them, however, were conversing quite happily when we arrived. It has been years since I've seen David, and it was good to catch up with him and his very recent adventures climbing in Patagonia. We also got to talk with Jay about what's been up with his life in the last month.

The breakfast there, as usual, was very hearty. Jay had to leave around 8:30, but we were able to sit and talk with David for quite a while afterwards about Land Rovers. He was looking to get a Land Rover of some type, but wasn't quite sure what would actually meet his needs. The main problem with Land Rover's as a main vehicle is that, since they are bolted together, they come apart with time and usage, so they have to be maintained at a fairly steady rate. When they are maintained, however, they will get one anywhere, eventually. Most of the old Land Rovers aren't really suited to freeway traffic or speeds, only the more recent vehicles are really equipped to travel at 55 or 65 mph. The gearing in the older trucks really can't keep up with the new speeds. So, if one once a Land Rover that can actually go on the freeway, it has to be one of the newer makes.

It was fun to talk over the many trade-offs.

We then wandered around Redmond, looking for dry ice, as we had a chest full of frozen goods at John's parents' house that we had to bring back with us. Dry ice would probably keep it frozen for the trip. We stopped by the seafood packing place near work, but they said that QFC sold dry ice. They used it for their business, but didn't sell it to the public.

Wave and dropped by Victor's. We were both puzzled to find that all the people working behind the counter were people we'd never seen before. Since it was Friday we were expecting Jane and Victor to be working. By chance, they had dropped by on their way to a weekend yoga camp. It turned out they had just started their four-month vacation, and we had caught them only by chance. Jane got our address and phone number, because they were planning on taking a long car trip through much of the U.S. sometime during their vacation, and they wanted to visit us at our new house. They weren't quite sure when they would make it to Colorado, but they wanted to drop by when they did.

We then took a side trip to Kirkland, where the Bernard C. chocolate store was. We parked right in front of the store, walked in, and bought one of every dark chocolate thing they had as well as a few extras. I also bought a bag of the bittersweet chocolate chips, as I really enjoyed them in cookies more than the semi sweet or milk chocolate chips. As we were leaving Kirkland, we suddenly saw a building on scaffolding and wheels! The entire construction was huge, filling a normal city street from one sidewalk to the other, and since it was on a very steep hill, the scaffolding underneath was extremely tall on the low end. Later, that night, Isabel found an article about the building, and found out that it was actually church that had been scheduled for demolition by the builder of new condominiums. There had been in the outcry in the town that Kirkland had found a space for the building, and the builder donated a portion of the funds needed to move the building. So, what we had seen was part of the process of moving the building from its old site to the new one.

We then ran into our bank to deposit the check for the Land Rover that John sold yesterday. We then phoned his parents to tell them that we were running late, and then phoned David to tell him the same thing. We then drove down to Issaquah and paid the roofer, because, when we went back to the house to pick up the Land Rover, John had seen that the skylight had been put in, so all the roof work had been done. The roofer lived out in rural Issaquah, where everything was green and lush. The final errand in the Seattle area was running out to the University of Washington and getting a copy of the x-rays from the fertility clinic that showed exactly what was wrong. We needed the films for when we found a doctor in the Denver area.

By then, it was around 1 p.m., and we started our drive north to David's place. He had a number of acres of woods in the far north that he was thinking about selling. John and I wanted to look at the property before we even thought about what kind of investing we might want to do. So, we folded that into a visit with David. It was really good to see him again, and we took a long hike up the switch back dirt road that was the driveway up the property. The hike itself was steep, hot, overgrown, sunny, and accompanied by dogs. The forest had already started to take over the driveway, lush ferns, prickly blackberries, and wildflowers were already taking over the open-space. Rosa and Noche, a little Australian sheep dog and a rangy, black hound were the two dogs that followed us all the way up and all the way back down. In many ways, the hike was a concentrated version of all the things I missed about the Northwest. There were creeks and tiny streams, all the lush growth. The things I didn't miss were also there, clouds of gnats, aggressive undergrowth, and uncertain footing from all the wet, mud, and soft loam. There was, however, also an impressive view of the Orcas Islands, the mountains to the West, and shining sections of the Puget Sound. Those with things that we could not find anywhere else.

As we walked, we talked about life, the things that had been going on, and caught up with each other. I was fairly dehydrated from all the exertion, and on the way back to Bellevue we stopped at a tiny grocery store and John bought me an orange-carrot SoBe and he got a locally brewed ginger ale that had real ginger bite to it. They were very good for the long trip back. We were going to meet his parents for dinner at I Love Sushi, and had just a little more time than we really needed to get there. So, we made a small side trip to Dixie's barbecue, and bought a case of Mount Angel root beer.

When we arrived, we found that his parents had already found a table and were seated. It also turned out, that it was the very first time that they had ever gone out for sushi. I hadn't realized that, but it was fun to go through the menu and find things that I thought they would like, and that they could talk to their neighbors about, since they now had Japanese neighbors. We got quite a few of the rolls that I Love Sushi does best, and they really enjoyed the salmon skin hand rolls. John's dad really enjoyed the rolls that had many different things in them, whereas John's mom liked the salmon oshi-zushi, which is plain salmon on box-shaped rice bed with a very thin slice of lemon on top. It was fun to see what they liked, and what they didn't like.

When it was about half through a party was seated near us, and one of the members, for some reason, looked very familiar to me. Also, his voice patterns and speech were familiar as well. I tugged John's sleeve and asked him if he was familiar to John as well from our Caltech days. John said he didn't know the person at all, which really confused me. I find that I rely on John's memory, sometimes, more than my own; but in this case I was positive that I was right. So, when we stood up to leave our table, I went over, and asked if he went to Caltech. He replied that he had, but as a graduate student and then asked me if I had been in the EE department. I replied that I had, and then he asked my name, and I said Phyllis Li. "Of course you are! I'm John Platt!" he answered, and, indeed, it was him. He was now working for Microsoft and was at the restaurant with a number of his co-workers, which was kinda amusing. We had known each other from the Internet, long ago, on various news groups and had actually seen each and the times that I had a visual recognition of him. The problem was, since I knew him better from email, that I didn't really have any good connection between his face and his name. It also explained why myJohn hadn't recognized him at all.

On the way back home, we stopped at Uwajamaya and bought our dessert. Dinner had filled everyone up to the point where they didn't want to have dessert quite so soon, so we were able to buy our dessert from Uwajamaya to eat later we got home. What John and I were reminded of at the restaurant were mochi ice cream balls, which are small balls of ice cream wrapped in a sweet rice dough, so that they are neat and easy to eat by hand. We bought both the red bean ones and the strawberry ones. They also had, on sale, cans of lychee nuts in syrup, which I hadn't seen much of in Boulder. so, I bought two cans of those as well.

The four of us went back to John's parents' house and sat down, ate our dessert, talked and drank herb tea until well after 11. When we ate the mochi balls, there were six in each package, so they saved the extra two for Mishi and Yoshi, their neighbors. It was really funny to find that both John and his mom felt that the red bean ice cream tasted as if it should have been strawberry, though to me the red bean ice cream tasted like red beans, and not at all like strawberry. It was an interesting example of how ones upbringing molds ones perceptions. It's really nice to have a good relationship with my in-laws, mutual respect and admiration as well as some shared interests is an unusual and good thing for us to have. I don't think that many people actually have that, given the stereotypical relationship portrayed in popular media. It's one of the reasons why I think we do so well in our marriage

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