Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let the Merry Bells Keep Ringing!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had the merriest of Christmases and all other holidays occurring since my last post.

I think to say that we survived the holidays is a bit dramatic. But I was starting to feel like I'd been through something wild by mid-December. Things were just fine up through Thanksgiving. We had a lovely holiday at the Castanedas, with loads of good food, good company and fun. And then after Thanksgiving....well, everything ramped up a notch or two. Have you ever noticed that it feels like this when Thanksgiving is later, rather than earlier?

Everything started off innocuously enough. Lorelei was working hard in school, and has discovered that she likes to make sushi at home (minus the raw fish; she's more of a California roll type of kid).

Lorelei also attended a birthday party that was at a roller-rink. I was ready to just drop her off and come back and get her, and the next thing I knew....

Yep, I rollerskated for the first time in, oh, what, 30 years? It was a blast! It's just like riding a bike! I'm pleased to report that I only fell down once. Lorelei had a great time too. We might need to make this a family outing sometime.....

And then, everything went to hell in a hand basket.

Perhaps the biggest contributor to my crazed, deer-in-the-headlights experience in the first two weeks of December was my job. I don't like to get too specific about my job for obvious reasons, but for the love of all that is holy, I think I was being punished or hazed in December. I had back-to-back hearings, including one that took me to eastern Washington for an exhausting day of travel and oral argument. I returned to a deposition in which I was accused by another attorney of testifying (instead of my client), committing bad faith, and lying. I believe that day I almost quit. I've never been accused of such conduct before, most likely because I DON'T DO IT. Chalk it up to a bad day at the office. Well, it was Friday the 13th, I guess.

Getting back to that trip to eastern Washington, that was pretty neat. One of the most stressful days I've had, but it was a great experience. The day started with an early morning flight from Seattle to Spokane. I love flying over the mountains, and the view was stunning:

Those are the Cascades that we flew over. The plane was a commuter. I love those small planes, but props always make me feel like I'm getting ready to fly the Memphis Belle on her last mission to Bremen.

Once landed in Spokane, I picked up the rental car and headed up to Colville, WA. Colville is a sleepy little mountain town in the foothills. It was a gorgeous drive up there.

They just had a dusting of snow in Colville, but it was about 5 degrees. Barring the scenery, it reminded me of the Midwest winters. I didn't get to enjoy the scenery too much, though, because the sun set at 3:56 pm on that day in Colville. Yep, gets dark a little early there. But the town was all decked out for the holidays with lots of lights and decorations. The downtown boasts a general store with a complete line of huckleberry foods; jams, pancake mixes, etc., and also a specialty jerky and sausage store. And yes, they have special classes on how to make jerky and sausage on the weekend. They also know how to make a decent cup of coffee, for which I was very grateful, as I had to drive back to Spokane to make the last flight out to Seattle that evening.

We'll go back to eastern Washington and spend some time there. It's gorgeous country, and we'll make certain to spend some time with cousins Jim ad Trish in Spokane!

My December travels also took me to Port Orchard in Kitsap County for a hearing. This is a little closer to home, just across the western Sound. I took the ferry back home that day and it was a lovely view.

It is pretty over there.

Somewhere around mid-December, things started to level off a bit and the season started to feel fun. We managed to get ourselves in the Christmas spirit.

Lorelei also had a belt test in Tae Kwon Do. She has advanced to high green. She has also started sparring classes. She can now officially kick our butts.

We had a lovely Christmas Eve with our friends coming over for games, gifts and snacks, and then a Christmas day that involved not getting out of our pajamas all day.

I guess Ivan (the cat) had a good Christmas, too. He made a new friend, it seems.

I took off the days between Christmas and New Year's, which was desperately needed. One of the days we all trekked over to Ballard, one of the neighborhood's in Seattle. For those of you who have been here, Ballard is where the Locks are, as well as the Nordic Museum. It's one of my favorite parts of town. The pictures below are of the fog burning off as we drove on the viaduct through downtown. The fog is like a living, breathing animal here.

While in Ballard, we shopped around and I discovered what is now my second favorite place in Seattle: a local kitchen store. They had my two favorite lines of kitchenware next to each other on the shelf!

I loved that place! I need to go back with a purse full of money. I could have easily spent Lorelei's first year of college in there. We also went to a board game store that is attached to a pub, so you can actually play the games and get a meal/coffee/drink. Very, very fun. The rest of our break has been just being lazy and quiet. We have enjoyed it immensely.

As much fun as we've had in the latter part of December, I admit I'm not sorry to see the end of 2013. It's been a tough year in many aspects. We see big changes ahead in 2014, but with a little luck and love, they should all be good changes! 

Love and a blessed New Year to all!