Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012: One Week from the END

By now you have probably heard:  the world is supposed to END on December 21, 2012.  I don't think it's going to happen.  I mean, I would think Gretel would know.  Dogs can sense these things.  This is not a dog who senses the end is near:

That dog is getting ready for Christmas!  As are we all.  But before we get into all that, we have some catching up to do!  I promised in the last update some news of the Shraders.  First up was the Dawg Dash.  It was my first race in Seattle, a 10k through the University of Washington campus.  It was a gorgeous day and the campus is stunning.  It makes me want to go back to school (I know, I know).

It is really gorgeous.  I didn't even pull the really good pictures with Lake Washington and Mount Rainier.  These pictures above are more representative of what I remember running by during the race.  It was a really fun race.  I ran it with one of my coworkers, Devra.  She and her husband live pretty close to the University, but her parents are walking distance from it, so we parked there and walked over.  It was a great time.  Harry the Husky was out, high-fiving the runners, and the UW Alumni Band played at different spots during the run cheering people on.  I admit, I was pretty homesick for Brutus and TBDBITL by the end of it.

Just a few short days after the Dawg Dash, Halloween was upon us.  Lorelei dressed as Link from one of her favorite games, the Legend of Zelda.

She also had a Halloween Party with a few friends.  With the exception of one meltdown (Lorelei's), I think the girls had a good time:

You know who else had a good time?  Ivan.  He participated in the decorating:

There isn't much of an emphasis on trick or treating here in the city - most businesses have some sort of function for the kids.  Unless you are in a truly residential area, there really isn't much trick or treating.  So we took Lorelei to the All Recipes Halloween Party where Daddy and Uncle Eddie work.  It was a great time, and Lorelei got lots of treats.

One of my favorite Halloween kids was Maya.  Her hair has grown at an alarming rate!

No sooner had we recovered from Halloween and Thanksgiving was upon us.  But it was a lovely Thanksgiving.  This year we did something a bit different and went back to our favorite place, Pacific City, Oregon, and spent Thanksgiving at the brewery.  It was a lovely holiday.

It was a bit rainy on Thursday and Friday, but it was still amazing.  The surf was so wild and unruly.

The tide pools were very active with wildlife, too.  Below you'll see lots of anemones, starfish and a hermit crab or two.  We had a blast looking at them!

The truly amazing part of this trip to Pacific City was that we finally climbed to the top of the great dune that is off to the north of the beach.  What a beautiful view awaited us!

I cannot believe I took these pictures with my phone, of all things.  We decided to stay an extra day until Sunday, and we were so glad we did.  The sunset Saturday night was spectacular.

It was a great weekend.  The Castanedas joined us as well, and a lovely time was had by all.  So nice to get away.  While we have lots of other places to visit on our list, we seem to always be counting the days until we can go back to the Oregon coast.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it's getting darker and the rain is ever-present.  Every once in awhile, though, we have a lovely day that reminds us just how gorgeous Seattle is.

I took those pictures on my commute to work.  When it's nice here, the city is transformed.

It is, however, getting on winter, and that means we are going to have a bit more rain before the sun and the light return.  Because of that, some of the living beings in this house have determined that they must put on the winter weight for their, uh, hibernation.

We have managed to keep ourselves busy to let the time pass until spring.  Lorelei is taking Tae Kwon Do (I promise to have pictures of that soon), and Shawn is pursuing new avenues at work.  Of course, my job is busy, but it looks like December and January will be unusually so.  These are all good things, though.  And before you know it, it will be time for visits and travel again!

In the meantime, happy holidays to all, and be sure and hug your children on this of all days.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November 4, 2012: The Welcome Hibernation

With the onset of Fall, the clouds and rain have returned to the Pacific NW.  In the case of Seattle, the rain is quite welcome.  It was a record-breaking summer with no rain except trace amounts for 3 solid months.  The grass turned brown!  Typically October and November are the wettest months here.  Last year October was still pretty dry, and I don't remember November being too wet, but this year, we've had pouring, solid, drenching rain so far.  Other than walking the dog, I don't really mind it.  It feels right.

Seattle held out with its good weather for one last visitor in early October:  Mom!  The Emerald City stayed in a pattern of gorgeous weather while Mom was here, though it did start to get cooler.  We had great weather for exploring Pike Market, the Space Needle, and of course, Ballard with its Scandinavian culture.

Here's Mom at the Nordic Heritage Museum:

The day we went up in the Space Needle, the weather was so pretty. Here's a view of West Seattle:

Ostensibly, the reason for Mom's visit was a sad one.  In August, Mom's brother, Uncle Bobby, died rather suddenly.  Two weeks later, his wife, Aunt Marian, followed.  Two weeks after that, Mom's sister, Auntie Myrle, died.  As one of my cousins stated, I cannot explain the timing of these events, or why this happened, which leaves just my mom in her immediate family.

Uncle Bobby and Aunt Marian lived in Elko, NV.  Their sons, Rick and Jim, determined that they would wait until the end of September to have the funeral, which allowed Mom and I to make plans.  She would fly to Seattle, and we would make the 10-11 hour drive to Elko, picking up my cousin, Dennis (Myrle's son) in Oregon.  After a whirlwind trip to Minnesota for Aunt Myrle's funeral, Mom got on another plane and headed to the Pacific NW.

The trip was a great family adventure.  I had never spent such time with my cousins, Rick and Jim, nor had I had the opportunity to get to know Dennis.  Also, my Minnesota cousin and childhood bestie, Davey, flew out to Elko also.  It was bittersweet for sure.  I would not trade this time with everyone for anything.  Left to right, that's Dennis, Lorelei, Sue, and Davey.

Uncle Bobby and Aunt Marian chose a beautiful place to retire.  Their back yard looked out at the Ruby Ridge Mountains in Elko:

Rick flew his Cessna over those mountains while Jim dropped their parents' ashes over the ridge.  I can't think of a more fitting gesture.

Of course, we had a little breathing room at the Casino too.  I mean, it's Nevada, right?

I hope I see my cousins in a more happy time in the future.  Jim lives in Spokane with his wife, and Rick and Sue are in Billings.  Sue is from Oregon, though, and they are kicking around the idea of heading back to OR after retirement.  That would be excellent.  Davey and I will get together again, I know it.  Seeing him was like no time had passed.  It's just as it always was.  With Dennis in Oregon, I doubt much time will pass before we see him too.  We love Oregon, as you all know.

The drive to Elko took us mostly through Oregon.  Let me tell you, Oregon is the wild, wild west.  I don't know that I can adequately explain it to someone who has never experienced it.  I had no idea places like this existed in the United States.  There was a 3 or 4 hour stretch of driving where we were on a state route, and the gas stations were about 35 miles apart.  When we did stumble on a gas station, it consisted of one pump circa 1970, and a general store for gum that was so old it was petrified.  In between these little "burgs" were 1,000-acre cattle ranches.  All of this while driving through the mountainous terrain and high prairies.

As I was telling Leigh Ann last night, this driving was not the civilized mountain driving through the Appalachians on I-77.  No, this was a two-lane state route, no guard rails and hairpin turns.  We followed a  pretty large flatbed that was transporting a car across the country through these  mountains.  We all stopped at a rest area at the bottom of the mountain, and let me tell you, it was well needed.  Everyone needed to check their shorts after that drive.  Lorelei had thrown up a couple of times from carsickness, and she doesn't get carsick.  Holy God.

Here's the rest area, two holes in the ground and an empty hand sanitizer thing:

On the way back, we stopped in this teeny burg in the middle of the mountain madness (once you get up the mountain, you drive in a high prairie at about 6,000 feet for about, I don't know, an hour or so, and then back down the mountain, and repeat) to grab some lunch.  This is cattle ranch territory and as you can see, hunting territory.

This is the combination tavern, diner, general store and gas station:

Best cheeseburger I've ever had.

Everything is so remote and lost in time out there.  Dennis and I kept remarking on how we think we could live there.  As much as I'm a city girl, check out the outside of this place:

If you click on that bottom picture, you can see the road signs and figure out exactly where we were.

I cannot say enough about that trip.  The geography out here is so striking.  As Leigh Ann remarked, it's a sort of "in your face" beauty out here.  The Midwest's beauty is quieter.

On the way back to Seattle and after dropping Dennis off, Mom, Lorelei and I headed to the coast for a night so that we could show Mom our favorite place.  The weather was gorgeous, but chilly.  I just can't get over the surf and the scenery.  It takes my breath away every time.

Mom wrote our names in the sand on the beach!

After Cape Kiwanda, we headed to Cannon Beach for lunch and then home to Seattle.  It was a big trip with lots going on, but in true western fashion, everything was bold and beautiful.  I think I'll treasure this time always.

I'll get another update out shortly of all the news that's fit to print from Seattle and the Shraders, but for now, love to all!