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

IMAG0017

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

Christmas 2007 074

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

Christmas 2007 080

Christmas 2007 088

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.

Christmas 2007 161

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.

Walking the dogs 024

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.

2007 in the rearview mirror

 

2007 It was a very good year for getting married

So, another year winds down, and it’s a good time to crack open a bottle of wine and sit by the warm glow of the LCD screen and bring everyone up to date on life…and what’s been happening. Before we get to 2007, we’ll cover a little of Christmas last year…since it was at our house in Seattle for the first time in a long time.

Gettin the tree_14First, of course, we needed the tree. So Karin, Christian, nieces Sarah, Lara and I packed Minnie the dog into the car and headed North. We figured that we were manly men, and should cut our own tree. We found a tree farm up near Arlington, not too far from Mom’s house. And with borrowed saw in hand, we dutifully marched around among the stumps…looking for that perfect tree. Not too tall, not too short, not too fat, not too scrawny. No flat sides. We were looking for perfection. Of course, when you get cold and tired of marching around stumps…your standards sometimes slip. So we found a nice tree. Not perfect….but it would do.

But Christmas finally arrived, and the flock of family and friends gathered around the hearth to toast “God bless us every one”. It was a lovely day, and everyone’s custom-made bowling shirt, with their custom-made bowling name embroidered on the shirt, fit perfectly. Half got red shirts, half got white. Oooh, custom-made teams. That’s important later. Everyone got what they wanted…well, that’s how I remember it anyway. Karin got nephew Josh and his wife Chanda to bring three month old Levi to his first Christmas in Seattle, and she just about hugged his cheeks raw. My brother Dennis got to hold Levi some, but I think he held that little puppy Lucy for the same amount of time. I know they both fell Christmas Day 082asleep on his lap. Dan got a new hat and a bunch of wood working tools. What more could a boat builder ask for. Christian got to spend a few days with Lindsay….grrrr tiger. Too bad she’s living in San Diego. She’s the kind of girl the family council would approve.

Everyone got what they wanted, except Lynn. She was none too happy with whatever my nephew Jared got her. Why? Well, it wasn’t a small box that might have a ring in it. I mean really, they’ve been together forever. Is he going to pop the question or not? I mean, what’s the holdup? Turns out, it was the arrival of Josh and Chanda’s plane. They didn’t get here until Christmas night. So while Jared had that ring all along, he was waiting until his brother arrived before popping the question. But as soon as they got here from the airport, Jared was down on one knee. Oh, she said “yes.” Nice.

Alan, Jamie and Teresa flew in from Pennsylvania for the festivities. Louie and Ethel were up from Oregon…so we were a big troop. Two days after Christmas we all donned our team bowling shirts for a battle royal at the Whirly Ball area. What’s Whirly Ball? Think basketball while you’re all sitting in bumper cars. That’s about it. beckys pics 063  Five on Five teams complete in 15 minute sessions while team mates like the arena cheering, drinking, cheering, drinking. You get the idea.

Some went sailing, others went buying wedding jewelry. Karin seems to have started a tradition. She buys the nieces their wedding jewelry. And since Lynn was now engaged she and Leah headed off to the Nordstrom jewelry counter to find the perfect look. I know the “perfect look” was not the one Leah found when the girls headed off to Seattle for “Girls Night Out”. Too many Cosmos and you find yourself leaning over a cardboard box. That’s what I’m saying. Ah, Christmas is such fun.

Mid January, our niece Lara invited Karin and I to McChord Airforce base down by Tacoma for a fancy awards dinner. She was up against a bunch of other Air Force folks for the “Airman of the Year” award in the Washington Air National Guard. Well, in a shock to no one at all, she won the darn thing. We were there with her mom, Judy, and dad, Dana. Her other Aunt, Suzy, also made it. We made a lot of noise hooting and cheering for no longer Airman, now Sergeant Lara Koler. Oh, and when you win one of these things you are Lara is airman of the year_11 automatically in the running for the Air Force-wide competition. I’m not going to linger on this too long, but Yes, Lara was later called to Florida because she had to accept her next award as “Airman of the Year” for the entire First Air Force. Nice.

Late January meant a wintertime trip to Idaho. Niece Leah and Phil finally tied the knot in a beautiful winter wonderland ceremony at the Portuguese Hall in Wendell. Nice location for a wedding. We all danced, a lot, and had a ball.

Spring was a whirl of more boat school for Dan. More deals at Sprint for Karin. There was some attempt at green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, but we’ve told Christian not to ruin the beer that way anymore. Dan sailed in a few races in the spring. Mom got that cute new golden retriever, Rudy.

In May, Dan and about 20 of his school chums set out for New Orleans to rebuild homes still damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Even a year and a half after the storm, there is still a huge amount of rebuilding to do. It will take a decade for some parts of New Orleans to recover. The good news is that the French Quarter is still there…and the music and food sound and taste even better at the end of a week of hard work helping folks out. You feel like you’ve earned the party.NOLA May 2007 032

At the end of May it was back to Idaho for a surprise 50th birthday party for the best sister, ok, the only sister, Rebecca. Her girls planned the 50’s themed party, and Rebecca had no idea until she was driving up that it was a party for her. We rocked around the clock and had a blast. And to top off the sweet Memorial Day weekend, we woke up the next day and Jeff’s horse had had her baby.

June arrived with a whirlwind…and her name is Grace. Karin has wanted a Bernese Mountain Dog for years, and she finally got her wish. The breeders are a couple we met at the dog beach in Edmonds, and they gave Karin first pick from all the pups. She couldn’t decide, so their picked out Gracie, saying she seemed to be the most happy and frisky of all the pups. They got that right!

Mid-summer was a blur and flurry of parties in Idaho. We have our normal Galena Campout in the Wilderness North of Sun Valley, but before we could even get to that, we had another wedding. Jared and Lynn, they of the Christmas proposal, tied in knot in the Wendell Portuguese Hall on what was probably the hottest weekend of the summer. And sure enough, the air conditioner fritzed out for a few hours, making it an oven inside for the ceremony. IMG_7892 Oh, did I mention it was a Scottish wedding with all the men in wool kilts and formal jackets. Actually, despite the heat, it was a lovely wedding. As you would expect the bride was radiant, the groom handsome, and our son Christian was best man…and a stud muffin in his kilt. And his best man speech was all you could want. Funny, touching, heartfelt, and pitch perfect for the evening. As you would expect, dancing ensued.

Once the party cleanup was done, it was off to the mountains for that camp out. It was a low key affair so we could all recover from the party. Still, there was river rafting, hiking, fishing, a little target shooting, and lots of food and drink. No major injuries means a good year.

Back in Seattle at the end of July meant it was time to weigh anchor and get out on the boat. We were planning a get away to Vancouver BC for the fireworks festival, and Dan convinced buddies Jim Runkel and David Huntsman to sail there instead of drive. We’ll leave all that sitting in the line at the border to the women folk. 😉 We found a slip for the boat in Burrard Inlet, right next to Granville Island. That’s Sailing to Vancouver and San Juans 2007 023 Vancouver’s answer to the Pike Place Market. Needless to say, re-provisioning the boat was no problem. There was all the fresh food you could ask for. We used our folding bicycles to get over to the site along English Bay where we could all settle down in the sand to watch the fireworks. It was a stunning show, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Everyone else had to go home, so on Monday after the show, Dan singled handed the boat across the Strait of Georgia to the Canadian Gulf Islands for a few days of leisurely sailing. Over the course of a week, Dan sailed back to the US San Juan Islands and finally to Anacortes to pick up Karin’s sister Suzy and her husband Tom who were coming aboard to celebrate their first anniversary. There were a few mechanical issues to tame, but there was also exploring, fishing…sort of, and a good time for all.Sailing to Vancouver and San Juans 2007 109 Karin and Dan dropped Tom and Suzy off, and then went out for a few more idyllic days drifting, sailing, and crabbing, in the San Juans. Karin left for work, only to be replaced by niece Lara and her date, Joe Henry. Again, how can you go wrong sailing through the islands.

Finally it was the end of summer and time for Dan to bring s/v Marie back to Port in Everett. But there will be more adventures. Tom and Suzy have already booked a long sail in 2008. Get your reservations in now folks.

September brought a return to school for Dan and Christian. And it’s the same school; the Wood Construction Center in Seattle. It’s the last quarter of Marine Carpentry school for Dan, but for Christian, it’s his first quarter that will lead to degrees from both the Carpentry and the Fine Wood Working/Cabinetry programs. Christian also had one more wedding where he was in the wedding party. I think he’s been to about 7 weddings this year. This one was for Boy Scout buddy, Brandon Sweezea. Actually, I was in the wedding too. He’s Buddist and she’s Catholic, and they asked me to do a reading for the service. It was a hoot, and again, dancing broke out.

Since this was my last quarter in boat building school, I figured I better take advantage of the time. I knew that when I went to work, time would become a little harder to find. So I used some of Karin’s bonus miles to fly to Miami Beach in October for the annual convention of professional boatbuilders. Miami Beach 023 This show had more boat making tools, and suppliers than you could count. The convention was ok, but the really interesting part for me were all the seminars on the latest techniques and technologies being used in boatbuilding g. That was just an extension of my school, and made the trip worth it. Ok, the warm beach and greatMiami Beach 001 restaurants also helped make the trip  worth it.

On my return I decided it was time to get serious about figuring out where I wanted to work after getting out of school. It turned out to be easier than I expected. I asked my instructors what shops I should apply to. They just said, go see Roy Dunbar. So I did. Now Roy is a 69 year old shipwright with a 4 person Marine Service company on the Lake Washington Ship Canal near the Ballard bridge in Seattle. If you’ve ever gone to the locks in Seattle to see salmon swimming upstream, that’s nearby. So Roy is a little particular about what he works on. He only does wood boats. In this age of mostly fiberglass, there are very few companies that only do wood. But it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more from a guy who has been a shipwright since before I was born. Roy said he’d hire me, but didn’t want to wait until the end of the quarter. So with the school’s winking approval, they’re just marking me present and calling it an internship, I started out in career number three, as a newly minted shipwright.Newly Minted Shipwright 004

Before we knew it, Thanksgiving arrived. Becky and Jeff came up from Idaho. Judy and Milly came from Eugene, and we had a big ole Thanksgiving at our house. And if that wasn’t enough, 24 hours later we threw another party, our traditional Day After Thanksgiving Bash. Suzy and Tom, Dennis, Terri and the boys all made it up from Oregon for that one. The food was great, the drinks were great, and no one went away hungry.

And that about sums up 2007. Christmas is coming up, and will be back at the ranch in Idaho. There’s a dog sled race, caroling, and a big dinner at the Church in Wendell. But we’ll include details in next year’s round up.

God Bless you in 2008.

Done with School…back to work

Well, who would expect it. My schooling in Marine Carpentry as ended early. I was supposed to finish in December, but one of the instructors got a call from Dunbar Marine in Seattle. They were looking for one more person to add to their "wood-only" boat shop on the Ship Canal.  The lead boat instructor told me to go meet with Roy, who by the way started building boats the year before I was born. So that’s a long time. 
 
Short story, Roy and I hit it off, and I started today. The folks at school are just going to mark me "present" for the next month or so. My first assignment, reef and caulk the teak deck on a 60 foot sailboat that was built in Seattle in 1928. Very cool boat. The s/v Nativa. I’m exhausted, but I’m also thrilled to help bring this beautiful historic sailboat back to like new condition.
 
Aside from that, life goes on.  Looking forward to the holidays.
 
Dan

Back in School

Well, it’s back to school for one more quarter of Marine Carpentry. Hard to believe it’s been two years now. As always, time flies when you’re having fun.  I’ve built boats out of wood and fiberglass. I’ve done boat interior work. I’ve done all kinds of repair. Now I’m trying to jam in all the other little detail jobs that need to be done on a boat…but I haven’t tried yet. You realize that once out the door people will expect me to be able to do them all.  I’m going to Florida for a boat building conference too.  It will be fun, and interesting to see demos of all kinds of new marine tools and gear.    More later.

Dan

2006 where the heck did it go?

OK, been a while since I’ve blogged on the homeport. What can I say. I’m not all that into self-publishing.  So I’m going to make up for it all at once.
 
Here’s sort of a summary of the last year. Travel, school, family, the whole shooting match at once.  Sorry it’s long. You all know I tend to blather.
 

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