Sunday, December 27, 2015

End of Year Recap: Our Christmas Letter

Here we are in 2015, and Karen still wants a Christmas letter, even though everybody who could possibly care, already knows everything we’ve been up to this year. That’s especially true since I joined Facebook this fall. So, here’s a little missive, or more likely, to use a baseball metaphor, a swing and a missive, about our year.

Last New Year’s Eve, was my last day working for the Postal Service. I’ve settled right into retirement, but even after almost a year, I still feel like I’m getting away with something when I stay up late or sleep in. 

We spent a few weeks last winter traveling through the Southwest avoiding winter. As it happened, Alaska had one of the warmest winters ever, and it snowed in Las Vegas, but as I used to say to people when they first arrived in Alaska, “It’s not the cold, it’s the darkness that will make you kill yourself.”
Of course, it wasn’t all sleigh bells and sunshine. In March, we were in Tucson. The day before we were scheduled to leave, Karen's brother called to offer her a chance to talk to her mother. A few minutes later he called to say that she had died. It's comforting that practically the last thing she heard was Karen telling her she loved her. We changed our plans and our flights; instead of going home we went to Iowa for the funeral. At the visitation, Geraldine looked beautiful and at peace. Seeing her so, along with the dignified funeral provided some comfort.

Then, in August, a guy asked me,  "How's it going?" I told him "Fine, except it's a thousand degrees and I'm at a funeral." Karen's dad died, just after we arrived in Iowa. She got to say goodbye, and  attend the visitation and funeral.We didn't know how long we would need to be there when we booked our flight, so we ended up with time on our hands. Idle hands, of course, are the devil's playground, and we booked a play date at the sinfully delicious Iowa State Fair.

In November, Karen and I celebrated our fortieth anniversary. Our two daughters and my sister joined us in Seattle to celebrate that, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas, or as we have come to call it, Hotel Holiday.  Afterwards, Sarah and Leah gave us an amazing trip down the coast. We stayed in lovely resorts, inns, and even a paddlewheeler. We experienced clouds of butterflies at the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove while staying at the luxurious La Maison in Palm Springs and felt the fin de siècle sadness at the lost glory of the Space Age in Gila Bend.

Now, full circle, as I write this, we’re holed up in Tucson where we’re enjoying an extra five hours of daylight compared to Anchorage. That’s five hours extra every day! 
By the time it starts to be hot here, we plan on being back in Anchorage hiding from the desert summer. As for next year, well, who knows? There are plans afoot, hints and rumors, but nothing is certain. Of course, nothing is ever certain. So really, we’re right on track for whatever is going to happen next.

Friday, December 11, 2015

As Threatened: Facebook Comes To The Blog

This seemed to be harder than i thought, then it turned out it wasn't, but i'd already deleted a bunch of photos because i could't see them but they would have been there if i hadn't already panicked so if it seems like there should be photos and there aren't you'll know what happened.
This morning I celebrated 40 years of marriage by going to Fire Island Bakery and getting my wife cinnamon rolls. I've been eating kale and oat bran almost exclusively for months but on such a momentous day, how could I not join in and overeat? After eating a cinnamon roll (and also the loaf of bread I bought for us) and succumbing to glutton's remorse, I noticed that today is the day BEFORE our anniversary. Also, as you can see in this picture, I managed to finish shoveling snow just in time to make a place for fresh snow to land. Oh well, I guess I can just do it all over again tomorrow.

David Hart checked in to Amazon Books.

Just a little overwhelming

Local Business · Seattle, WA · 4.5
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Happy Thanksgiving

In trendy Bend to visit friends. Excited to see their town dump and Costco. Sad thing for our cool kid quotient; I really am excited.

Tonight we were treated to a delicious Beef Stroganoff prepared by Jesica Carleton. Rich grilled asparagus, we met Jesica's mother and washed clothes. Kind of a perfect evening.

David Hart updated his cover photo.

Last weekend I regretted my recent screed about Apple when it took me seven minutes of helpless flailing to figure out how to eject a DVD from a Windows machine. But today, we drove from Bend to Ashland with Siri guiding us. She took us as the crow flies, that is, with steep climbs followed by twisting plunging descents punctuated by piercing screeches. 
Had we any confidence in her directions, it would have faded when she had us turn onto the ominously named (this is true) Dead Indian Rd. I wish now I hadn't already told you the crows flying thing because Dead Indian Rd was where it all went downhill. For more than thirty miles. But now we're at The Palms in Ashland. It's a charming mid century apartment-style hotel. I don't think that the Ricardos ever stayed here on their trip across the country, but they totally could have if you get what I mean.

It seems that when Facebook asks how you're feeling, they only allow one answer. But I contain multitudes, plus a huge, delicious meal mostly courtesy of our daughters. The Madonna Inn is an elaborate complex dedicated to the proposition that their guests should be pampered. And we've accepted their proposition with no reservations except the ones our daughters made. I hope you appreciate how difficult this kind of wordplay is with the crushing weight of a gigantic meal pressing on my diaphragm.
When we were being seated, the maitre d' (I was trusting spellcheck to catch the spelling of maitre d', but apparently spellcheck wants to play with words, too, because it just offered "maitre don't") asked if we were celebrating anything. I told him it depended on whether they were going to make some sort of embarrassing scene. If not, then it was our anniversary. And someone from the hotel just showed up at our room with a bottle of sparkling wine and another dessert. Looks like it's going to be a long night.

Can it really be a SECRET if there's a sign?
I found the "secret" garden!

Here's one reason we've enjoyed this trip


We spent the day consorting with Monarch Butterflies. Given how regal they are, they mostly ignored us and went about their business above our heads. This photo isn't very impressive but everything that looks like a dead leaf is a living butterfly. There were 28,000 butterflies estimated to be in this protected grove, and virtually none just a few steps outside it for scientific reasons. The takeaway lesson from today is that if you live in the contiguous states, you should plant milkweed, the only thing that Monarchs can eat.

Then we watched the sunset at Avila Beach.

It started to rain in San Luis Obispo this morning so we decided it was time to leave. We almost checked in to see how the butterflies dealt with rain, but decided it probably involved getting wet. 
We left early enough to easily arrive in time for the Village Fest in Palm Springs according to the GPS, but it didn't account for the traffic. Even Waze, which I downloaded after we'd already been sitting still on the 210 forever was, all, "Oh no,you can't get there from here."
We stopped at a rest stop on the way; we rested, as it were, but we didn't relax.


12/10/15Of course, even Zeno's Tortoise, eventually decided to be in a different paradox and arrived at his destination, as did we. La Maison is fabulous. This is the view from right outside the door of our upgraded room. The bed is so high, though, that Karen needed a step stool and a cane to vault into it. The only thing that mars its perfection is the comparison to our last trip to Palm Springs when we could sit outside in the pool, and read USA Today's weather page, Anchorage, -38. Climate change is ruining everything.


So, I had Pork Belly Hash with Crispy Potatoes at Cheeky's It was so good, it made me feel sad for all the other meals I've eaten. 
Afterwards, we went to Tahquitz Canyon. While Karen watched a video about the Agua Calliente Indians, I hiked a trail back to a waterfall. Looking at me, the rangers suggested it might be too hard for me. When I got back I bragged to them that it seemed, moderate to me, not hard, but just now, I see their website rates it as easy. 
I took a picture at the end of the hike, looking back at Palm Springs. The weather is so extreme today the TV news called it a winter storm that might even include RAIN.


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Fox News: Just Like The News But All Lies

So, I've been stepping out with Facebook a lot recently and haven't had time for my real family over here on the blog. I'm thinking I might copy my FB posts over to here so you (my imaginary reader) can see what I've been up to, but here's a tidbit I'm posting here first.
I'm sure you know that it was only inadvertently that I caught a glimpse of Fox News. The commentator told a blatant lie and then said, so you see the President is just as reckless as Donald Trump. I'm reporting, you decide. You decide that Fox News is just awful, or we're through.