2006 In The Rearview Mirror. Where did that one go? First, a little of 2005. Christmas was in Idaho, as per usual, and while the spirit was willing for a wintertime celebration, I must say the weather was not. Who wants a rainy Christmas in Idaho. Well, “wants” is really not an issue is it. Yes, we did go snow machining in the rain. Well, we didn’t really go out of the toasty warm shed all that much. But hey, you make do. And rain is what we had. But it was also the Christmas of the swashbuckley new Pirate Names. Arrrgh! Thanks be to niece Lara Koler (a.k.a. Musket Ball Tess) for all the scurvy new names, and fancy certificates for all so they didn’t forget. I’ll forever more be known as Cap’n Will Hatchetback, and me first mate is the ever dangerous Bloody Esmeralda Truelove. I’m not sure the s/v Marie will like her new name, “The Disgraceful Strumpet”, but if you see us on the high seas, I suggest you put on full sails and run!
In January is was back to work at Sprint for Karin, putting together more deals with the cable industry, while Dan finally launched his new educational direction, boatbuilding school! Sweet. The program will take 2+ years to complete, but at the end Dan will be a freshly minted Boatwright. That and his US Coast Guard Captain’s License might make him employable again…some day…we hope.
You can only take so much winter in Seattle, so with Christian still in San Diego, Dan and Karin decided to escape for a long weekend in February to see the boy. Warm escape seemed to be a theme in the coming months. At the end of March, during his Spring Break, Dan went to San Diego again to see Christian, and Karin got lonely and followed him down. As if that wasn’t warm enough, at the end of April, Dan and Karin went to Hawaii for the first time ever. Karin was sent to President’s Club on Maui by Sprint for being, oh, what, about the best person at her job in the company. Something like that. (Including cheesy award acceptance photo with the CEO and President of Sprint. Smile big Karin!) Anyway Dan got to tag along as the “Trophy Husband”. Karin’s love for pretty little fishies defeated her life-long aversion to putting her face in the water, and she is now an avid snorkeler. Ask her about La Parouse Bay and she’ll talk for an hour. And while the corporate pampering was fine, the best part of the trip was that our good friends Jim and Shirley Runkle took their sons Peter, Garth and Garth’s main squeeze to Maui the same week, and we had the most fun with them at the Old Lahina Luau, and just hanging out on the beach at their condo.
But we’re already ahead of ourselves. Back up to March for a second. That’s also the momentous month niece Sarah Ashmead, who has been living with us to go to school, GRADUATED. Uncle Dan and Uncle Dennis teamed up their skills to make her a Tiki Hut Storefront for her final project, which of course she aced. We like to think it’s what brought the attention of the Macy’s corporate office, which hired Sarah within weeks of her graduation from school. You go girl.
The amazing backyard landscaping remodel finally ended in March. It started in October, so if you’re counting…and we were…that’s six months of muddy, nasty, no where for the dog to exercise, waiting. And it was through the rainiest winter on record in Seattle. You know, watching two Bobcat machines sink to their axels in the mud in your back yard can be depressing. But the results are wonderful. The project has given Karin a backyard that is like a park, with a pergola (dubbed the Man-villion by the cigar smoking boys), a walking trail, little places to sit and talk, and a 17-foot waterfall into a deep pond. Nice.
Easter was a very big deal in April, as Dan and Karin culminated two years of study as catechumens and were baptized at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. It was well attended by family and friends. In fact we filled the front rows on the right side of the church, and all the other catechumens and their friends/families had to sit on the other side. Christian stood at our sides as Father Daniel poured the water. We were very well doused in the spirit and the water. (But I think that was because Jesson, our parish’s liturgy assistant, was standing behind Father Daniel whispering in his ear, “Get them good and wet. Use lots of water. Get them good.”
It was a heck of a spring for graduating and such. Sarah in March. Then in May we flew back to New York to be at the Culinary Institute when Ashley’s best friend Jen Izzaguari graduated from the CIA with her bachelor’s degree. Its was a lovely time, and we had a tremendous dinner after graduation at one of the CIA professor’s restaurant’s in Old Rhinebeck, and then another dinner at yet another instructor’s family restaurant in Wappinger Falls, NY. Talk about good food. It was great to spend a night with Ashley’s good buddies Jen, Jamie McAndrews, Dan Raia, and Chris Alfano. And Jen’s parents Cookie and Raul are a hoot. His English is much better than Jen claims.
To continue a theme, a week later niece Leah graduated at the University of Idaho. The best part of that is it meant a road trip to Northern Idaho, and a celebration at Charlie and Christine Ashmeads. Fun was had by all.
And if that’s not enough graduating for you, a week later, Lara graduated from Air Force Leadership Academy, and we were invited to be at the formal dinner at McChord AFB to honor the class. We should have known something was up when Lara, Lara’s mother Judy, Father Dana, Karin and I were all seated at a table right in front. Lara’s Colonel attended and was our host. Bottom line, Lara won the award for graduating tops in her class in academics and leadership…and this is a very big deal in the Air Force. Later in the year she got her Sergeant’s stripe, her AA Degree, and now they want her to prep for OCS, Officer Candidate School.
Whew, we need a rest.
But none of that. Memorial Day we were off to Portland for PDX LAN, the biggest LAN Party in the NW, brought to you in part by DangerDEN. Now, for those of you new to LAN Parties and such, this is where geeks and gamers bring their super charged computers to a hotel room, and hook them all up to one big fast local area network. This allows them to play computer games very fast. Just the way to spend a 4 day weekend, in a dark hotel ballroom with 600 sweaty gamers hopped up on Ballz, Jolt, and every other caffeine blast drink on the market…playing through the night. Uh huh, that’s just what we want to do with our Memorial Day. Well, in this odd world, Dennis and his company, DangerDEN, are actually rock stars…sort of mythic demi-Gods…who bring the chill to the processors. The cooling systems DangerDEN sells allow people to crank up the processor speeds in their computers, allowing them to run faster, and what…I don’t know….kill demons faster in “World of Warcraft”. Not my scene, but I’m there to support the team and my brother. So bring it on dudes, I’m hyped up on black coffee and ready to play “Battlefield”….all night long.
Dan’s school year ended in mid-June. And that meant for the first time in 27 years, he has summer break. Now I could have gotten a part time job for the summer. But you know what, I’m going to be working many years to come. So the heck with that! I’m on vacation. So, what to do first. Hmm, I have a convertible, and I have time. I think that means one thing. ROAD TRIP! The day after school got out, I headed the Miata South to see Christian in San Diego. I jetted down I-5 to Redding before cutting over to the coast for a long, slow, cruise from Bodega Bay North of San Francisco all the way to San Diego. Staying as close to the water as I could all the way. It was a lovely drive in a convertible. When I was getting through a city, I’d button up, and drive. But when I got to Point Reyes, Big Sur, etc, I’d drop the top , slow down, and enjoy the cruise. Oh, I also found coolest bar in San Luis Obispo that had a big band playing live on a Sunday afternoon. Very cool. But most fun was hanging with Christian for a few days in the OB, eating burgers a HooDads and driving up to Solana Beach for wings. But the pull of Karin was too much. After watching the US lose in the World Cup with Christian and Nephew Jared Ashmead (visiting SD for a wedding), I headed North to find Karin in Eugene, where I knew she’d be in a few days.
Fourth of July was a hoot on the boat, as we had folks over to munch on food while we waited for the fireworks. The barge for the show was just off the Jetty Island breakwater from our boat, so we had front row seats. A few days later I shoved off to reposition the boat to Anacourtes. Bill Anschutz and his wife Sarah Kimme, our friends living in Lima, Peru were coming to town for a few weeks, and wanted to so some San Juan cruising. It was a lovely time, with good food, good conversation about how life is as an ExPat teaching in schools in foreign cities. (Next year they move to Sao Paulo, Brazil). The day after they left, I was bringing the boat back to Everett when I blew the seals on my transmission. Well, I struggled all day trying to get back, but in the end, I called the tow boat for the last 5 miles. Unfortunately, that meant very little sailing for the rest of the summer, as it takes time to get that all dealt with. Such is life.
Late July in our family means just one thing. Camping under the stars below the Galena Wilderness in Idaho. You have to love a campsite that requires you to go through Ketchum/SunValley. You’re in the wilderness, but the last stop is a town with great supplies of food and a brewery that will sell you a keg of fine microbrew. Ah, this is the life. Ashley’s roommate Jamie McAndrews had such a good time last summer, she’s back this year with her father Alan and sister Teresa. As we always say, all are welcome. In addition to cooking in the mess tent, hiking, swimming in the river and nearby lake, Karin, Alan, Jeff and Dan when fly fishing. Now, the drive was long, but the lake was pristine, and the trout were biting. And Larry Jo, the oldest and biggest black lab I’ve ever seen, showed us how old dogs can learn new tricks. When you toss a rock, and I mean a big rock that’s up to 2 pounds, off the dock, he can fetch it from as much as 4 feet deep. I’ve never seen such a thing before…a dog swimming around on the bottom. It was hilarious to watch.
Early in August we headed to Yoncalla, South of Eugene, Oregon for Suzy Peterson’s wedding to Tom Ross. Karin’s older sister had found her man, and they decided to turn the farm into a wedding hall. It was, to be specific, a hoot. We sat on pews made of bales of hay. The bride wore white and green, the groom arrive driving his shined up John Deere tractor with the best man and his two sons in the front loader bucket. Yee Haw. Note to young men; do not sit on the side of a horse trough filled with ice water and beer and then ask Karin which sister is the “Big Kahuna”. Tom’s 25 year old son Tyler asked Karin this question, and found out…and got very cold and wet as he discovered… that, in fact, it was the sister he asked. He also discovered that you need to just recognize Big Kahunas, and not have to ask them to prove their status…because they will.
September started with Christian as best man in his friend Brandon McCaslin’s wedding in Port Angeles. It was fun to see them all duded up in tuxes. We also took time for the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, and finally the boat was repaired and we were able to do a little fall sailing.
Finally September brought a return to school, this quarter in the fiberglass boat shop. And most significantly, major re-modeling of the house. The kitchen and the downstairs family room would get a compete make over, and the wooden floors upstairs were uncovered and refinished. Now, I don’t want to get too deep on the remodel. I’m trying to blot the memory out. All I’ll say is that all those horror stories you’ve heard about remodels are true. We spent most of the fall living out of a box, confined to our bedrooms, and dealing with dust. It has not been happy…though I’m told our experience is pretty par for the course. I’m sure we had good times this fall doing something…I just don’t remember any of them.
Oh all right, I do remember.
Sarah turned 21 so we all went to Vegas to celebrate. We met Rebecca and Idaho friends there. The Runkels were up for a road trip too. So that was fun. We saw the new Cirque show, “Love” at Treasure Island, and Sarah, Peter Runkel and Dan went indoor skydiving. What’s that? Well, imagine a DC3 engine turned on it’s nose, with the wind blowing straight up. You jump into the middle of this vertical Wind Tunnel wearing a skydiving suit and a helmet. Oh, there are screens to keep you from falling into the blades. It was, in more ways than one, a blast.
Most, but not all, of the remodel was done by Thanks giving, so we held the traditional “Day After Thanksgiving” party at the house to inaugurate the new kitchen. The party is starting to become legendary now, and our kids high school friends even come back now that they are adults because it’s a great chance to see the friends you had again and catch up with who they are now. Every year new friends are introduced to the party…and that confirms their annual invite. Like the passes the curriers were carrying in Casablanca, an invite to this party is “non-revocable”. Once invited you’re always on the guest list.
Then we had Christmas in Seattle. I think I’ll have to cover that in another blog. I’m getting tired. But the pics are online at the family web site…if you want a look. http://groups.msn.com/MacBean/christmas2006.msnw?albumlist=2