Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End of a Decade

Is the Blue Moon tonight a good sign? I hope so, not that we'll see it here in rainy Seattle. I have heard disparaging terms applied to this decade that is coming to an end: the aughties, the naughties, the BIG ZERO. There are many reasons for me to cast aspersions on this last ten years, but they are mostly political and economic. Personally, I need to take perspective, and then WOW! Not too bad! I ended my career with a strong finish. Tom and I both retired. We have had wonderful experiences through world travel. Our daughter married and our two grandchildren were born. Our son is living successfully independently. We do hope the new year brings him full employment. We are well and content, but with new learning and adventures ahead of us. So I'll drink a cup of kindness yet for all those days gone by. HAPPY NEW YEAR

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December 23 and 24

Wednesday morning, after checking out the doll house, we got going on cookie baking. We started with the gingerbread cookies.
Jake arrived in time for the sugar cookies with sprinkles.
In the afternoon, during kids nap time, the big kids added icing features to the gingerbread animals. We had dinner out and then went to Zoo Lights in Tacoma.
Christmas Eve the kids played in the morning while Corey and Jill shopped and Tom and I cooked. Then about 2:00 we headed to Gig Harbor for Christmas Eve with Tom's sister Jan.
We had fresh crab and steak for dinner. Yum. And then the twins cleaned up the kitchen.
There were plenty of cookies and Tom's famous hazel nut torte for dessert. Irene liked the chocolate leaves.
Auntie Jan loves the precious time she has with her grand niece and nephew.
Back at our house, we put out magic reindeer food.
One final pop up book with Grandpa before it was time for bed.
Christmas Day was a whirl of activity, with Isaac and I the first ones up to peek under the tree. The 42 pound box that Jill and Corey shipped to Seattle is now being shipped back to Fort Morgan weighing 60 pounds!
Jill and the kids left very early Tuesday morning, and Tom and I have been slowly getting back to normal. We haven't undecorated yet, but the house is cleaned and laundry done. The leftovers supplied several meals but now they're gone, and today I made a run to the grocery store. Left over cookies have been stashed in the freezer.
- My back problem gave me a lot of trouble and caused me some sleepless nights, so I'm back to doing my exercises and getting some recliner time in hopes of alleviating the discomfort. This evening we'll sit and watch the first installment of Planet Earth on our new Blu-Ray player. Tomorrow I'll unpack my new toy, and that will be another posting.
We're moving on, headed for a new year and a new decade.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Doll House

Irene was quite angry with me when she finally discovered her playhouse, the play dough cooking domain that she claims as hers when she visits in summer, was now in winter a shed full of garden furniture and stuff. She grabbed the wheel barrow as if to remove it, saying we had to get this stuff out of here right now! I talked her down, with some difficulty, and moved on to show her Grandpa's green house. Irene has not been here in winter before. But we had a new indoor attraction. That helped. Tom's mother Bernice was a skilled fiber artist. She and Bud retired to Whidbey Island and she became very active in a weaving guild. One Christmas we gave her a doll house kit. She and Bud put it together and she began furnishing it. We all gave her gifts of little furniture, but Bernice put her skills to use and wove or sewed carpets, coverlets and upholstery fabric. She even crocheted a Christmas tree and wreaths for the windows. She had a friend make some stained glass windows, too. Every time we visited we would first check out what was new in the doll house. When she passed away, Jill inherited her grandmothers creation. After Jill left home, we wrapped it up and stored it in a closet. This Christmas we brought it out for the next generation to enjoy. And that's how we started their first day of Christmas with us.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Mother's Birthday Party

Daughter Jill likes to tackle fancy cake projects. She comes up with elaborate creations for her kids' birthdays. For the Big Birthday Bash and Holiday Family Gathering, we were assigned to bring dessert, which meant we were in charge of my mother's birthday cake. Jill's big idea was to make a gingerbread house cake. I said "Why not the cabin?" And from there the wheels started turning and the engineering began. Then I turned to over to Tom and Jill, and took a nap. I did help a bit with the finishing touches.
The final result: sand, creek, and log bulkhead, the little red cabin decorated for Christmas, even fish in the surf. For a view of the real thing see my side bar.
When we arrived at my brother's house, Jill presented her creation to her Grandmother. "It's the cabin!", she said. Even with her poor eyesight, she knew her cabin. The crowd gathered until we were up to 38 hungry family folks. Brother-in-law Arnie helped carve the roast beast.
Tables were arranged for many in the heated garage. This was the kids table, the center of fun and games and even a little eating.
Mom is now 88, and here Jill has "borrowed" first cousin-once removed Jennifer's baby, three month old Dawson, for a little chat with his great-great grandmother.
The ladies supervised the gift opening.
It was a fun and busy and noisy day, with all of that talking and laughing and hugging and eating. Wow!
Brother Hank and his new bride Cindy were very brave in hosting this crew. Big thanks to them.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winding Down

Life here has been a whirlwind since last Tuesday evening, when we met our Colorado family at the airport. That evening the kids had to check out everything in the house, all the decorations and Christmassy stuff. The next day was cookie baking, dinner out, and Zoo Lights in Tacoma. Suddenly it was Christmas eve. We had cooking to do in the morning, in preparation for Christmas dinner the next day, while the kids played. Then we collected ourselves and headed to Gig Harbor to have Christmas Eve at Aunt Jan's house. Steak and crab were on the menu. Back home, after we got the kids to bed, Santa Claus found all of the gifts that had been hidden away and stuffed them under and around the tree. Christmas day schedule was tight, with Jan's partner arriving at the airport and 1:00, and Jill's husband Corey due at the airport by 4:15 to fly home to go back to work. But we managed. Breakfast at 8:00, turkey on by 9:00, gift opening until 12:00, snacks and dinner prep, dinner at 2:00. Airport arrivals and departures were on schedule, and then we just collapsed and/or played with our toys. Saturday Jill and Tom made an elaborate birthday cake for my mother. I declared it was my day to play with the grandkids and nap when they did. Jill went out with a friend for the evening and the kids and we had leftovers. Today we traveled to Chehalis for a large family gathering at my brother's house to celebrate my mother's 88th birthday. There were 38 of us there spanning five generations and ages 88 to three months. Tomorrow we're taking the kids on a "field trip" on the light rail in the morning to exchange some team shirts. The we'll be spending time preparing boxes of gifts to be shipped back to Colorado. Jill and the kids leave early Tuesday morning. At some point I'll post a few pics of some of the events I just mentioned. But for now, here's our family photo taken Christmas Day. We're dressed in our new Sounders and Seahawks finery, a truly green family. And now it's time for bed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Garden d'Lights

The Bellevue Botanical Gardens lights up each year, recreating flower borders and plants both realistic and fanciful. And each year it gets better.
We joined the crowds out on Solstice evening basking in the glow of thousands of lights.
The vineyard
and the corn patch.
A fuchsia basket and a fan.
The laburnum walk
Gunnera by the "pond"
The pond, usually a patch of lawn.
The long border, in three parts.
Wisteria Lane
In the tropics - watch out for the alligator!
The parrot is watching.
So is the monkey.
The atrium in the visitor center was turned into an aquarium.
It was wonderful!
And now the day has come. This evening at about 8:00 we'll be at the airport to meet Jill and Corey and Isaac and Irene. Let the wild rumpus begin!
Merry Christmas!