Christian is getting very handy

All parents love the gifts children make for you. It’s part of our make up. No matter how lopsided the clay bowl from art class, or odd looking the dog is in the drawing, we love the crafts out children make with their own hands.  (I still have the oddly shaped “spork” my son whittled at boy scout camp to pass a merit badge).  As we accept these gifts, and treasure them. we also wonder if they’ll one day be really good at this. We’d never say this to them. But we wonder if they will ever be the kind of good people who aren’t their parents would pay for.

The answer, of course, is yes they do become very competent people.  I told my son I didn’t have a good bread board for kneading the dough. You know, the solid maple kind with the downturned front edge that holds the edge of the counter when you push to knead the bread.  So he went back to his shop and came back with this.

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It’s perfect in size, shape, and finish. If there are any other bakers out there who need one of these, if you ask really nice, Christian might make you one. And you should look up on the internet to find the best bread kneading board there is…and pay him that much. Because his will be at least that good, and probably a whole lot better.

He’s just getting so darn useful to have around. And handsome too, but I may be bias on that


Merry Christmas to all.


Excitement in the Emerald City

Well, this Friday is a day that has us all on pins and needles. 


Oh, the humanity! Stormwatch 2008! Lay in your winter stores and supplies.  Run to Les Schwalb to get studded snow tires installed on your 4v4. Go buy a new 4×4 if you don’t have one. Your life, and the lives of all you hold near and dear, are at risk in what could be the most dangerous and deadly winter storm on record.   Hmm, lets see. It’s December. So it’s raining. There’s a blast of cold air coming from Canada. So the rain could turn into snow. But as I mentioned, it’s December. So getting a blast of cold air is kind of normal. And getting some snow also happens here sometimes. It never ceases to amaze me that we go through this every time it might, and I emphasize “Might", snow in Seattle.

But that’s not why we’re on pins and needles. No, the excitement around these parts has more to do with the fact that my nephew Jared Ashmead and is wife Lynn are about to bring a baby into this world. They moved to the Seattle area last summer, so we get to be the nearest family. Sure their mothers will visit from Idaho. But they will go home, and Karin and I have full plans to move in and assume all rights and responsibilities as Grandparents-in-training. We may be UnkaDan and AnnyKarin…but we reserve the right to be Noah’s favorite relatives. And we aren’t above buying this position with massive spoiling. 

So stay tuned.

Oh, and one other thing for those of you who are into sailing.  The boat is now in Seattle, and we still go out in the winter…so long as the days aren’t too gross.  So if someone needs a fix of boating…just let me know.  

I put Christmas lights on the boat, and she’s looking all festive, especially at night.  Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel, God Jul, and Merry Christmas to all. Boat at Christmas 072

Brady Leach and the Knappa Loggers roll to Oregon State Highschool 2A Championship

Well, the headline in the Portland Oregonian says it all…


What a game it was! Everyone in Oregon High School Football figured that the defending champs, Culver, with their superstar senior quarterback (who wears gold shoes….what was that about pride going before something…) was going to roll over the poor little loggers from out on the coast. But, well, err, that’s why we play the games people.

So with our own nephew/cousin Brady Leach a starter going both ways, Jeff, Christian and I figured it was time for a road trip to the Beaver State for a little afternoon high school football.  Now Jared would have come too. In fact, he wanted to come.  But as you all know his young wife Lynn is great with child.  And one thing we all know in the MacBean family is that when one of our women folk is great with child the only thing we say to them is, “Yes sweetheart. Not if you don’t want me to dear. Is that pillow comfortable? Would you like me to get up and give you this chair? And of course I’ll stay in town for your baby shower if you want me to.”  What a trooper. Good thing Aunt Karin was at the shower too and had promised to just keep filling Jared’s cup with many beers.

The morning was drizzly in Seattle as we left, but by the time we got to the stadium in Hillsboro (about 15 miles SW of downtown Portland) it was a lovely high overcast dry fall day.   The field was dry, the temperature was a comfortable 55°, and there was no wind. In other words, perfect conditions for a football game that would decide which school was the best.

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At about 2:15pm, the Knappa Loggers and the Culver Bulldogs took the field for their epic struggle.  OK, maybe that’s just a little too much hyperbole. In any case, Brady was a rock at the end of the defensive line and a tough tight end going the other way on offense.

Brady Leach State Champion 005The Loggers had a plan for this hot shot quarterback who had been running all over the other teams all across Oregon.  His basic trick was to take every snap, drop back as if to pass, getting the defense to rush in to try to sack him.  Then he’d use his considerable skill as a running back to beat them in the open field, and with all the defense pulled in…he’d run for big yards around the ends.  There was just one problem for Culver, Knappa Assistant Coach Dennis Leach has learned a few things as a high school and college football stand out. And he’s been teaching the Knappa kids a few new tricks.   So they were ready for this quarterback’s trick. Dennis trained them to rushed in about one yard…and then wait in a picket line.  The QB didn’t have anyone to throw to, as his receivers were blocking down field expecting their QB to be running. When he started to run, there was always a line of Loggers waiting for him.  They were able to score the first TD, but after that the Logger defense shut him down.

Brady played well, but then just 20 seconds before halftime he suffered a terrible sprain to his ankle. It was clearly painful.

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Through out the first part of the second half Brady was running up and down the sideline on his newly taped up ankle, trying to loosen it up. And he finally made it back in the game in the 4th quarter.

It was the first ever state football championship for Knappa, and when the game was over the family and friends who had driven down from the coast swarmed the field to hug the boys and bask in the excitement and fun of winning the whole enchilada.

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Karin and Dan tie the knot….again


Friday the 28th dawned gray and rainy in Seattle. But the hearts were warm at Blessed Sacrament Parish where after 29 years of wedded bliss, Dan and Karin Leach decided to make their union formal in the Catholic Church.  It’s called a convalidation, since the church recognizes their civil marriage in 1979,  but if you were there it felt for all the world like a wedding.

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In keeping with this new moderne’ era, both the bride AND groom were radiant. And there’s a real debate over whose dress was better. Our son Christian served as Best Man and our niece Lara Koler stood up for Karin and Maid of Honor. There was a friendly crowd of family and friends, and Father Daniel conceded that since many of them have known the couple longer than he had they would have to testify that the couple indeed still do love each other and should be allowed to be married.    …….

…..Hearing no objections. He was off on a full mass to celebrate the nuptials.


And as many there noted, father was in full voice and full of things to say about marriage, and about how he was sure that Dan and Karin loved each other in all 4 ways mentioned in the bible…though he was very clear in that he didn’t want to hear any details. “Oh, and another thing….”    Yes, Father Daniel does have a rather rambling style once he gets going.  And he was going on Friday, on and on.  But he’s also a pretty amazing theologian and biblical historian. So when he “gets going” he’s pretty interesting to listen to.  Combine that with a pretty wry wit, and you have a pretty interesting homily. Some people came up to me after saying, “You know I’m not Catholic, but if I were I think I’d want to come here to listen to this guy some more.”  That’s why we like Blessed Sacrament.

There were only two little issues with the service. First, the hundred year old steam radiators started knocking right in the middle of the homily.  The wedding coordinator had to head quickly to the boiler to shut off the steam.  The second was when Father forgot to bless the rings with holy water. But he quickly grabbed the sprinkler from the bucket…and made up for it…all over Christian’s hand. That was a lot of holy water.  His hand will be blessed…for a long time.


That’s the reason for all the laughing in this shot.

Afterwards it was off to the house in Terrace for a party.  Yes, it was our normal day after thanksgiving party. But this year we had a much more legit reason for our merry making.  Thanks to all who helped us get ready for the wedding. To Jared Ashmead for doing the readings. And to Shirley Runkel and Bob Kleinschmidt for making soup and stew for the party.  It made it much easier for us to get from the wedding to the party!IMG_0986

Birthday Gift

OK, many of you know it was my birthday a couple of weeks ago.  I keep getting asked how it was. Fine. Very nice small family dinner at the house in Mountlake Terrace with Karin, Christian, Jared, Lynn, Mom and BD.  All very lovely and low key.  And Karin, love that she is, made me my favorite lemon cake, But I wanted to show you all the coolest gift from my son.Chess Board 001

 Chess Board 002Yes. That is a chess board.  But more than that it’s a chess board that was hand made for me by my son, Christian.  He made it at work at Seattle Stair, and it’s beautiful.  I couldn’t buy anything nicer.  It’s about 16” by 16”, perfect size, and it’s made of black walnut and maple. Two very hard and beautiful woods. He finished it with stain and then multiple coats of butcher wax (think what they put on a bowling alley), and it just glows.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank him for the wonderful gift. It’s made all the better in that it came from his own hand and I will always cherish it.  Christian is well on his way to becoming as good a woodworker as his is a painter.

Next week is Thanksgiving, and Karin and I will be having our convalidation ceremony at the Church. So look for pictures and a summary of all that action.   Love to all.

Karin Blows Glass

So, we’re settling in here in Ballard this Fall.  Karin has her favorite coffee shop, and her favorite wine bar. I love walking everywhere and when I think about running an errand somewhere in Seattle or up to the house in Snohomish County I find myself saying, “Oh, come on. You don’t really want to deal with all that traffic do you?”  And, of course the answer is, “No.”   So I just walk to somewhere near by do get my errand done.  Think globally, walk locally.Karin Blows glass 001

Last Saturday night we took ad vantage of Ballard’s monthly Art Walk to toddle over to Art by Fire, a little gallery right across the street and up about half a block. They sell glass art by many NW artists, and they have a studio in the back.  For the Art Walk they were having “Glass Blowing” night.  You could sign up and they would help you blow your own piece…in this case a pumpkin.  They are very small, but very nice for future Halloweens and for Thanksgiving table decorations.

Karin decided…her time had come…and she signed up…and on the line of the release that said if her singed off her eyebrows it was her own damn fault. They told her it was hot.  Go ahead Karin, sign it…you don’t need to read it. (She was the only one who did. I think it’s all those contracts she’s handling for Sprint. Now when she has a legal document in her hand she feels compelled to read through it…and suggest improvements.)

So into the hot shop we went…Karin with her teacher James…and me with the camera to document all this. First, when they call it the “hot shop”, they ain’t kidding. It was very hot.  And they move really quick.  But Karin did it all

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So…why the dark glasses you ask?  Well, they have to look into the find the molten glass. And you betcha, it was more than a little hard for her to see in there.

Once she had the ball of hot glass on her rod, she had to pick the color of glass she wanted to add to it.  Then she rolled the ball in a tray of colored glass shavings.  Then it was back to the furnace for more heat…more blowing…and then some shaping of the pumpkin with iron tongs and wooden paddles.

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Finally, they attached the little stem and popped it into the cooling oven….which takes about three days to slowly bring the glass down to room temperature.   All in all, it was a lot of fun…and now we have a nice table decoration too.

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More “Adventures in Ballard” later.

Fall 2008

OK, it’s fall, and it has been some time since we’ve updated everyone.  Not that we don’t want to. It’s just not the first reaction we have.  But here’s the summer and into fall.

Karin and I had a lovely last few days saying goodbye to Aunt Roselee in Idaho before she passed away. It was hard to see her long fight with cancer come to and end, but it was also beautiful to see so many members of the family come to Idaho to be with her. It was hard for her to hear, but you could see that she loved having the house full of family who were laughing, hugging and remembering all the times on the family farm.  It was warm, wonderful, sad, and uplifting. She knew we all loved her, and hoped to be together as a family again…some day.

At the end of July it was back to Seattle for a few hasty preparations, and then shoving off in the boat to head to Canada.  I took the boat up to Anacortes alone, and then Jim and David joined me for the sail North to Vancouver. Frankly, this part was more of a cruise.  There was no wind.  But the new engine proved it’s worth…humming along flawlessly to get us to Vancouver BC for the big fireworks festival.September 2008 008






After that, Karin, her sister Suzy and Suzy’s husband Tom joined me for the sail across the Straight of Georgia and into the Gulf Islands.  We played around there for a while, then sailed South to the San Juan Islands. 

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Why is US Customers always so hard when Canadian Customs is always so easy?  Yes, it’s a semi-rhetorical question.  In any case, we did some sailing, fishing, and crabbing as we continued through the San Juan Islands.

It wouldn’t be a trip if I didn’t have some mechanical issue.  This year I started losing my coupler/shaft connection.  So we finally had to limp home in late August. But still…any day, week, month on the boat is still a good one.

Coming back a little early allowed Karin and I to execute on our plan to become dazzling young urbanites. We packed up a few things and moved into a condo in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

Canal Station 001  My son and nephew are renting the house from us, and that allows us to cover the condo.  All in all, it’s a wash financially. Well, not if you count the new furniture I suppose.  Hey, that mission style stuff at the house won’t fit in a 1 bedroom + den condo.   Still, the coolest thing is that the condo is right in the heart of Ballard, in walking distance from everything.  And I’m moving the boat to a berth at the North end of Lake Union in Seattle, and it’s a 12 minute bicycle ride from the condo.  So far, I’m liking it.  But Karin is missing the dogs and her garden.  So we’ll just have to say this is an experiment in progress.


Now it’s September, and I’m beginning the job hunt.  We’ll see what interesting new challenges are out there.  Who knows how long it will take to find just the right fit.

Later team

A little jaunt to the South….end of Bainbridge Island


OK, Karin was out of town last week and that means there’s nothing to keep me at the dock.  So I decided to head the Marie south for a few days of gunkholing around Bainbridge Island.  As is required when I go sailing….the wind was coming from the direction I wanted to go.  So that means a slow beat to windward all Friday long. 

Now that’s normally a lot of work, with the boat healed over. But since the wind wasn’t all that strong, I didn’t have to pay such close attention to sail angles, or looking out for logs floating in the water.  When you’re only going about 3 knots, you can’t get in trouble very fast.  So I let "Otto" the autopilot have that wheel, and I read books. You get into a habit of looking up every 5 minutes or so, to make sure you are still on course, that nothing is in your way, and that no freighters are steaming down on you at 25 knots. That’s not much of a problem as long as you stay out of the VTS lanes. (Vessel Traffic Service running North/South in the middle of Puget Sound. Think I-5 for big boats)

I tucked into Blakely Harbor at the South end of Bainbridge Island, dropped anchor far enough out to account for the tides, and resumed my reading.

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Yes, the sweater is an indication that it’s still "Juneuary" here in the Puget Sound.  But it got better over the course of the weekend.

The great thing about this little anchorage is that it’s quiet, and has a nice mud bottom for good anchor sets.  And you get to watch the twinkling lights of downtown Seattle at night. I’ve seen pictures of this harbor from 100 years ago, and it was jammed with really big boats, as there was a big timber operation here.


It’s wild to think about all those boats jammed in here.  Now it’s all fancy homes on the shore, and a few boats anchored in here on summer nights.

Looks more like this:

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After a nice Friday night, a bald eagle swooped by ten away while I was reading my book, I pulled up the anchor and sailed around the South end of the Island and went up North for a night anchored off Poulsbo.  After that, I knew Karin was coming home from her trip…so I also started back.   I love timing my arrival when she gets back from business trips.  Homecoming is always sweet.

Leaving Coupeville in our wake

It’s been a high and dry spring for us, as the s/v Marie was out of action with a defective diesel engine.  I took her on March 5th, and the folks at Harbor Marine didn’t get the new engine in until two days before Memorial Day, May 22nd. What a wait. But after being a on land for so long, we couldn’t wait to do the proper break in cruising near port.  We just loaded her up, and took off for the Memorial Day weekend.Cruising to Coupeville 099

The good news is, all works fine with the new engine. Very quiet and very reliable so far.  Just a little hard to get past when I need to do work.  But I’m not going to complain. I may have to lose more weight. But I will not complain.

So Karin, Christian, and I sailed North up Saratoga Passage, headed for Coupeville, a little town half way up the back side of Whidbey Island. It’s a fun get a way, but car or by boat. 

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But I thought it would make a good holiday weekend stopover.  I worried that it might be crowded at anchorage off the city’s downtown, but when we sailed in, there were only a handful of boats there.   That’s good to know, as other "cruising" destinations can be a madhouse on holiday weekends. Poulsbo in particular can be a zoo. It has a pretty big downtown, and is just the right distance from Seattle.  But Coupeville is smaller and just doesn’t attract the big crowds…which I like.

Cruising to Coupeville 015 Sitting at anchor Saturday night, we just enjoyed the company, the food we grilled, a bottle of wine, and the amazing sunset.  If you wonder why I like boats and sailing so much, here’s why.

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And it was a blast to finally have Christian with us on a cruise. He was down in California when we bought the boat, and this was his first overnight trip with us.  He seemed to enjoy it.

So now that this lovely sail is done I’m puttering around on the boat. I’m doing last minute things to make it nicer this summer when I’m out. That means installing a new galley stove, installing new waste baskets, getting the dinghy in ship shape, fitting it with new oars.

I’ll post more this summer when the s/v Marie is out and about in US and Canadian waters

Christmas 2007

Karin and I headed to Idaho for Christmas this year. Yes, I know. No one is surprised by that. It’s the Christmas’ we "aren’t" in Idaho that are the unusual ones.  But I digress. We headed to Idaho with one of our dogs; Minnie.  Now. many of you know Minnie, and also know that she hasn’t been very pleased with Karin since she brought home that new Bernese Mountain Dog named Grace last June.  So this was kind of Karin’s way of saying sorry.  Not for bringing Grace home. She loves that crazy big dog.  But sorry that you don’t like it Minnie.  Anyway, Minnie loved being the only dog again, and was very comfortable on the trip


But in Idaho, we all had a blast. Sunday before Christmas we had dog sled racing in Fairfield

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Monday, Christmas eve, before Mass at the tiny St. Anthony’s parish, we got to ride a horse drawn cart to sing carols around town. And yes, they did have bells on

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Christmas itself was a little quieter than usual. All the kids are growing up and have their own homes. So we aren’t all piled on top of each other at Rebecca’s Farm, and it takes time for everyone to arrive.  But the stockings are still hung, and we still have a fun family theme for them. This year…it was a Redneck Christmas. Everyone got a hunting cap with their redneck name attached.  Boys were Billys or Bobs, and girls were Jo’s or Sue’s.  Shoot…Grandpa Russ even put bullets in all the stockings cause, next to the trailer burning down….rednecks know that the worst thing is to "run out of ammo."

Wednesday was time for snow machines up by Josh’s place North of Fairfield.  Nothing says fun in the snow like blasting along on a snow machine at 90 miles an hour. 🙂  And the scenery was nice, if you like that wintery, mountain, paradise kind of thing.

Snowmachine day

My nephew Jake has a new machine for snow play.  Actually it’s his 4 wheel atv, with tracks slapped on where the wheels normally go. I think if I live in the Mountains I’m going to need one of these.

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Friday Karin and I escaped with Minnie to do some snow shoeing up in the Galena area North of Sun Valley. It was so much fun we did a little more when we got home to Seattle…only this time up by Snoqualmie Pass.  We had retrieved Grace by then…and both dogs had a hoot in the snow.

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All in all, a pretty nice Christmas holiday.  Now it’s on to 2008.  We’ll have some fun for sure this spring, but Karin and I are already thinking a lot about our next adventure….the Grand Tour of the US Cities we want to live in for 6 months.  At least that’s the plan today.  Who knows how that plan will be changed before we get around to next Christmas.

Happy New Year to all.