Friday, December 26, 2008

Damn You Bing Crosby!

OK. Enough already. The Christmas spirit is still here, still feeling goodwill toward men and all that, which is good because we postponed our Christmas until tomorrow. But really ... enough with this weather. It is still snowing!!! Where is the rain we were promised? Why doesn't Santa love me? I have been a very good girl this year and all I asked for was a little rain. I couldn't even get inside the grocery store today because my car kept getting stuck in the parking lot because of the ice/snow/slush piles and Albertson's inability to rent a plow.

Seeing this white stuff flying around outside my window makes me want to run out in the street and punch each little fluffy flake in its little fluffy face. Fast flying fists of fury!!! Righteous weather rage! I realize that this might make me look like a bit of a lunatic but oh how glorious it would feel.

On another note, I never want to hear Bing Crosby sing how he is dreaming of a white Christmas EVER AGAIN. Bing can take that song and cram it up his Bing-hole.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas You Old Building and Loan!

It's back! I have the Christmas feeling again!!! Late in coming and sticking this year but apparently the best thing for my crabby self was to go to work today. Christmas spirit and good cheer was everywhere. Even with the lousy weather everyone was upbeat and friendly and full of warm Christmas wishes for all. A resident's wife that I helped back in May thought enough of my help that she brought a card and a 2 lb. box of See's chocolates for me. People wishing each other "Merry Christmas" in the halls as they leave for their holiday. Something about saying "Merry Christmas" to people just melts my little withered heart. It also helps that our family Christmas was postponed to Saturday so no one had to worry a bit about the weather tomorrow. I now have a three day Christmas Eve and can get out to the store on Friday and gets some things for Christmas dinner and for a little Christmas baking. Stretch out the joy!

On my way walking home from work (with detour for cheap 7-11 wine) the Christmas spirit made me feel a little like George Bailey. I felt like yelling out: "Merry Christmas convenience store! Merry Christmas faceless condos growing like a cancer in my fair city! Merry Christmas you old fabulous nursing home!! Merry Christmas all you people driving in the slush! Merry Christmas apartment building!"

Most importantly, a heartfelt "Merry Christmas" to all of my friends. As Clarence tells us every year on Christmas Eve (you all ARE watching aren't you): "No man is a failure who has friends".
I am truly lucky to have such wonderful friends and to have you all in my life. I hope your holidays are filled with much love and joy!

P.S. Don't worry. Snarkiness will resume shortly.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blue Christmas

I love Christmas. I look forward to it every year and I can hardly wait to feel the excitement and the joy of the season. This year has been quite the opposite. No matter how hard I try I can't seem to sustain any sort of Christmas spirit. I decorated trees, visited reindeer, listened to music, did the luminaria walk at Green Lake, saw "The Nutcracker", made out Christmas cards, drank eggnog, wore my reindeer antlers, bought and wrapped packages and still . . . nothing. This happens to varying degrees some years but this year I blame Mother Nature.
I know some of you LOVE the snow but it has dampened the holiday spirits of most everyone I know. A little snow was pretty but a week and a half of ice and snow and not feeling like we can drive anywhere is enough. All I want for Christmas is 40 degrees and rain. Glorious, gray Seattle skies and rain. Wash this crap away.
Because of the weather we have cancelled my dad's birthday party twice. I had my traditional Christmas dinner and gift exchange with a good friend cancelled. My mother was to come up for a girl's night at Hotel Ann-Marie -- cancelled. Two different outings with two dear friends -- cancelled. Now there is a very real chance that we will be postponing our Christmas to this weekend because of the weather. UNCLE!!! UNCLE!!!
However, I know that shaking my fist at the sky and complaining won't change things so I am trying to look on the bright side.
I can't get out to visit my friends and family but at least I have wonderful friends and family I want to visit and who want to visit with me.
I can't get to the grocery store to get food for Christmas but at least I have the money to buy the food and am quite clearly not going hungry.
I might have to slog down sidewalks packed with at least four inches of ice but at least I have a good job to go to and really great co-workers.
I can't dump my garbage or recycling and it is piling up in my apartment because the city can't get here to empty our dumpsters but at least I have food, newspapers, magazines and (most importantly) Diet Coke to consume so I that I need the garbage service.
I can't get out to go anywhere but it has allowed me to spend a peaceful few days organizing the apartment, really unwinding and snuggling with the kitties.
I can't ramp up my running like I wanted to when school was over because the sidewalks are far too dangerous but I have my health so that running is even an option for me.
Thinking about this situation in these terms seems to make it a little bit better.
But Santa? 40 degrees and rain please.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Solstice!

Hooray! Starting today the days get longer. I can't wait.
I left my little cocoon today and went for a walk this morning. Here is what the first day of winter looked like around my little corner of the city.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Cocktails

One of the beautiful things about Christmas is that it is so heavy on tradition. There is something comforting about listening to the same songs, eating the same foods, and watching the same movies each holiday. It is nice to have new things thrown in as well but it is the traditions that really make it feel like Christmas.

Growing up one of our traditions was the Christmas Eve "Christmas Cocktail". We would all get our "cocktail", a.k.a. a Shirley Temple, and have our pictures taken while we felt very grown-up. It was just one more way of adding something to look forward to to the evening. These are a couple of pictures from all of our cute years.

I just might make a Christmas Cocktail for myself tonight. Of course, mine will be a Roy Rogers made with diet, caffeine-free Coke and I have no footy pajamas but the spirit will be the same.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Dear church I pass on my walk to work,

Next time you feel the need to ask yourself "What Would Jesus Do?" why don't you include de-icing your fucking sidewalk in that answer?



Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oy! Christmas Trees!

There are few things I love more in life than a Christmas tree. I light up like a little kid whenever I see one and I look forward a ridiculous amount to decorating mine every year. Last weekend I got the pleasure of setting up and decorating four different Christmas trees. Sadly, they aren't all mine but I do get to spend lots of quality time with them.
First, on Thanksgiving night, Kevin and I set up my little tree. Then my boss and I set up our tree and village at work the next day. It is much prettier now that we have covered the pictures with wrapping paper and big bows.

Friday night Kevin bought his first big Christmas tree. It is still pretty minimalist because he doesn't have many ornaments. I fully intend on fixing this.

Since the parent's health isn't so great these days I spent Saturday decorating their tree while Matt and Kevin put up their outside lights. Six of the 18 gallon tubs of ornaments later the tree was mostly done. There was at least another tub that we were missing but we ran out of time and energy. I come by my love of the anti-minimalist tree naturally. I hope you all enjoy decorating your trees. I, for one, am quite done for the year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Stop Dashing My Hopes

For the second time in a week someone has taken the last of the See's Chocolates from the box, closed the lid and left the box sitting on the table for poor, hungry, unsuspecting co-workers to find. What kind of sadist does this? I'm this close to setting up some sort of "Snack Cam" to catch the culprit. Maybe I can school them in the use of the new fangled invention called the garbage can.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Takin' My Baby to the Poor House

The former Multnomah County Poor Farm (House) to be exact. Constructed to house the poor in 1911 and used for that purpose until the 60's when it was turned into a nursing home. Now it is McMenamin's Edgefield Hotel and it is the Greatest. Place. Ever. This was my birthday present to Kevin.

The Edgefield is this big beautiful building that is surrounded by about 30 acres of vineyards and gardens and open space. They have kept the character of the building and fully embraced its past. This was hands down the most charming hotel I have ever been in. So much character and warmth in this old building. All the old buildings have been turned into restaurants, a spa, a distillery, winery, brewery and lots of little pubs all around the property. Former incinerator? Great place to shove a tiny little bar where you can throw peanut shells on the floor. Former morgue? Home for the pottery studio. Former power station? Pub with movie theater and meeting rooms. As with all McMenamin's properties this one had their distinctive artistic touches everywhere. Most notably was on the exposed pipes throughout the building.

There are creative touches like this everywhere. It would take years to spot them all.

We had the most relaxing weekend I have probably ever had. Lounging around doing nothing, getting a couples massage, soaking in the heated outdoor salt-water soaking pool, eating tasty food, getting ridiculous amounts of sleep, more soaking in pool, wine tasting, beer drinking, more food, more sleep, etc. etc. If you ever get the chance. . . go here! I have heard good things about the other McMenamin's hotels too and we can't wait to try them all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

History, Crustaceans and Family

This is the quick and dirty version of the East Coast trip Kevin and I made at the end of October. The main purpose of the trip was to meet the family and attend the annual family pumpkin carving. By meet the family I mean ALL the family. I got to meet everybody on both sides with the exception of one uncle and a cousin. I also got to meet all the friends. By the end of the trip my head was spinning. In addition to the family fun we also squeezed in quite a bit of sight seeing along the way.

The first day was spent walking around DC. We clocked it at 14 miles of walking (Kevin wore his Garmin). So many amazing things to see. We didn't even begin to scratch the surface. We saw all the monuments and famous buildings, went to the National Archives and saw the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights (so damn cool!), walked up the steps of the Supreme Court to the front door (didn't know you could just do that) and saw many, many armed guards on top of the White House.

The Lincoln Monument was truly impressive and standing at the top of the stairs on the very spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech and getting this view of the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument actually choked me up a little. Stunning.

Great words of wisdom from FDR at the FDR Memorial which was my second favorite memorial in DC. These guys are statues of men waiting in a soup line during the Great Depression at the FDR Memorial.Kevin and George Mason both deep in thought. George contemplating freedom, Kevin contemplating lunch.The Korean War Memorial. The White House. Soon with new and improved occupants!On the Baltimore day we went to Fort McHenry and got to walk around the fort and walk on THE ramparts mentioned in the national anthem. I admit to being clueless as to what a rampart was before this trip. Now I know. Here is a picture from the top of one!A bomb that did not burst in air that night.

On our one afternoon in downtown Baltimore I made sure we got to bring out my inner baseball dork and go to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Being October and Baltimore, there weren't any games going on. Much like the Mariners, it will be many years before the O's see October baseball. However, it was still a beautiful park and I can't wait to come back and see a game there. Useless factoid: Babe Ruth was a Baltimoran. They have a statue of him outside the park.
We also got to spend the day at Gettysburg! For you history folks this is the view from Little Round Top looking out at Devil's Den. Civil War cannon.Civil War cannon on top of Devil's Den.I am completely envious of the history that they have on the East Coast. We have the stunning natural beauty in the west (but enough about me) but they are surrounded by important American history. His friends live right near Gettysburg and frequently eat at a house that was built in 1776, served as a hospital during the battle and was also a stop on the Underground Railroad. I get to eat at a pizza place in Ballard that might have been a brothel once. They win.

The one thing Kevin insisted I must have before leaving Baltimore was steamed blue crabs. I have been hearing how fantastic these little buggers are for two years so I had to give it a whirl. Baltimorans are crustacean obsessed people. Crabs and crab related items are everywhere. Dig the hat?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


My brain has packed away the textbooks, shut itself down and is ready to commence winter break. Problem is I still have five nights of classes, three tests and a project to complete. Can someone please sync my brain to my school schedule?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Kevin!

Happy 39th birthday (+two days) Kevin! You are now officially almost 40.
We celebrated the birthday this weekend with Pacific Northwest Ballet's "New Works" program on Friday night. OK, that was already part of his subscription and not officially birthday related but it was still a good start to the weekend.
Saturday was sleeping in, meeting his friends at Red Hook Brewery for beer, wine tasting at Chateau St. Michelle, back to Red Hook for more beer and food, and finishing the evening with a concert for KBCS at Town Hall.
There was also this tasty and glorious cake.

Not to toot my own horn too much but this thing was the best German chocolate cake I have ever had. Mmmmmmm! Kevin enjoyed it too.
The birthday festivities continue next weekend with a three-day weekend at McMenamin's Edgefield.
Here's to a great year sweetie!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Reasonable Facsimile of Harmony

This qualifies as cuddling for my cats. I am so proud of them. Oliver was even AWARE that Jackie was that close. Of course the minute I sat down on the other end of the couch he got up, biffed her on the head, chased her off the couch and then came over to sit next to me. It was touching while it lasted though.

The Sun Shone A Little Brighter Wednesday Morning

There is so much to say after the election Tuesday night and I know it has all been said better in a thousand columns and other blogs. However there is so much I am feeling right now that I still feel the need to say a few things myself. I cried Tuesday night when I heard Obama won. Tears of relief that our country might finally be making a turn down a better path. Tears for the hope and new promise we have been offered. Tears that my country was able to put aside its racism and elect the first African-American President. Tears for the frustration and anger I felt over the past eight years of bungled and embarrassing "leadership".

I don't think I will ever forget the feelings of anger and bewilderment of the 2004 election. Who were these people who elected this man again? Where was MY country? How dare the right wing keep telling me that me, my friends, my family weren't moral or didn't have "family values" strictly because we vote Democrat. Don't question my patriotism because I question the direction my country is headed. I was tired of our points of view being marginalized and now, with this victory, I feel like we have been heard. An America I was convinced during the caucuses would never elect an African-American has proven me very, very wrong. I have never been happier to have been wrong than I am now. I know Obama's election isn't a panacea for this country. He won't fix all of our problems and the mess he inherits will probably take generations to clean up. But for the first time in my life I feel the cynicism of politics being pushed aside a little and feelings of actual hope entering my withered jaded little heart.

One of the greatest qualities Mr. Obama has is the ability to inspire. This is a man who is doing this not just because of ego but because he truly believes he is a public servant and can make this country and this world a better place. I felt that throughout the campaign and particularly on election night. He can inspire us all to be better people and to bring about change in ourselves and our communities. The leader has been but in place but the words of another leader keep echoing in my head and I wonder now . . . what can I do for my country?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Election Day!

I am feeling cocky (and have to go to school tomorrow night) so I made my Victory Donkey cookies a day early. Yes, I am aware that they kind of resemble Victory Rabbits or Victory Aliens but trust me...they are donkeys.

For my friends far and near that won't get to partake of the sweet taste of victory cookie, please enjoy a virtual taste. Please ... I have nine dozen of these things.
On a sour note, my budding career as cookie decorator took a hit when I realized that I had inadvertently made a herd of
Ku Klux Donkeys. TOTALLY not my intention.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hawaii Part Two: Big Island

We flew from Maui back to Kona which has the coolest airport I have ever been in. You can stand and turn in a circle and see the entire domestic section of the airport. The airport is also almost entirely open air. The waiting areas at the gates are under thatched looking roofs and open to the beautiful Hawaii warmth. We also got to deplane old-school: portable stairs to the tarmac! I have always wanted to do that. No lei grettings at the gate (dang!) but Kevin did arrange for someone to meet us inside the airport in Maui with leis when we first arrived.

First day in Kona we went to a luau. Fun times, fabulous tasty pig unearthed from the ground where it had been cooking all day, good show but I don't need to go to another one. The Tahitian fire dancing was impressive though.

Post luau Hawaiian overkill.

Kona is filled with these darling little guys.

Geckos everywhere! They were all over our B&B that we stayed at. This little guy was at a craft booth we found. One of the ladies there feeds them every day by opening little single serving size peaches and the geckos come down and drink the peach juice. We took a long walk all around Kona including a few beaches with a few more sea turtles. That night we went to Kona Brewery for delicious food, great service from an English guy who knows his beer and many, many tasty beers for Kevin. Although, as he will point out, he never even had a whole beer. These were merely samples. Lots and lots of samples.
He was relieved to finally be able to find good beer because the islands are mostly filled with Budweiser, MGD, and Corona type beers which he hates.

The next day we were off to the eastern side of the island to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. On the way we stopped at Mountain Thunder coffee company where I got to taste fresh off the farm Kona coffee.Wow. Huge difference. I always have to doctor my coffee up with milk and sugar but this was so smooth and not bitter that I drank it black. True Kona is definitely worth more money. However, maybe not what they charge for it.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was one of the more phenomenal things I have ever seen. The volcano, Kilauea, has been erupting since the 80's which is the longest continuous eruption ever recorded. In March of this year the volcano began a large steam eruption from its crater that is still going on today.

The rangers say that in this new crater the magma is only about 300 feet from the surface. At night you can see the glow from the steam vent. Watching the steam continuously curl and swirl and rise from the crater is mesmerizing. Kevin and I could have pulled up chairs and sat and watched it for hours. This is one of the best views from any restaurant I have ever been in. You get to eat your breakfast and look out on a volcanic eruption. How freaking cool is that?! You can also stay here at the Volcano House and some of the rooms have crater views. We opted for more frugal accommodations and were in darling little tiny national park cabins instead. View not so good, price so much better.
We took a hike through the Kilauea Iki crater. One of the best hikes for a "wow" factor I have ever done. Kilauea Iki is a crater on Kilauea that erupted back in 1959. It filled its crater with 400 feet of lava. The crater is now half its original height. It took 36 years for it to harden and you can still see steam rising from cracks in the crater floor because there is still hot rock below from this eruption 50 years ago! Thrilling to be able to walk across something like this.The view from Kileaua Iki crater rim with the current steam eruption from Kileaua in the background.
At night we drove out to the ocean where the current lava flow was entering. They keep you about 3/4 of a mile back from the flow but we got to see the steam cloud from where it was entering the ocean and the glow from the lava. As the night wore on and it got darker we were able to see globs of lava shoot up into this cloud every so often. We sat there on a previous lava flow from the early 90's through intermittent heavy rain showers for about two hours to watch this. Phenomenal. Awe inspiring. We were seeing new land being created.

Next day was back to the Kona coast for more snorkeling and seeing some ancient Hawaiian historical sites like this Place of Refuge (I am not even going to try to type the Hawaiian name).

If Hawaiians who were in danger of being killed could make it to this place alive they were absolved of whatever sins they had committed and were allowed to live. Sins could be something as simple as looking at the chief or walking in the chiefs footsteps. Pretty strict society.

So there is our Hawaii trip in a (big) nutshell. We are definitely going to go back some day and see and do the things we didn't get to on this trip. Aloha!