Times and Travels: Orca Watching

The waters of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) are home to many kinds of sea mammals. Some of the most exciting ones to encounter are the pods of whales that roam around the islands of Puget Sound and the Canadian boundary waters. On our recent trip to San Juan Island we were hosted on a small excursion boat with a crew of one, Captain Jim. Many thanks to Ryan’s parents for setting up this unusual outing, and for ordering perfect weather for carrying it out.

Our excursion started the west side of San Juan Island, the small harbor of Mitchell Bay. The whale watching boats are independently owned and operated by men who know the islands and surrounding waters well. We were six in number and a pretty good fit for the captain’s boat. We set out from the harbor with no idea of where to look for whales – a problem which was solved by communicating with numerous other boats on the water. The closest pod of orcas that had been spotted was about an hour north, close to the Canadian border so off we went.

20170826_132552.jpg
I loved the tiny cabins at this resort. Have to go back and stay longer!
20170826_132918.jpg
Captain Jim getting us on his boat.
20170826_133655.jpg
Captain Jim’s boat is equipped with GPS, depth finders, binoculars, and a bathroom!

The sun was out, the temperature was moderate, the water was relatively quiet. All this was not the usual. We went north and west to the Strait of Georgia. You really need to look on the map sometime in order to know how crazy the international boundary is in that part of North America. It zigs and zags through the islands and is connected to some little known history of the Pig War. I had never heard of this war but most of the islanders can tell the story and it is rather colorful.  By the time we located the orcas we were in the Strait of Georgia within sight of Vancouver, in Canadian waters.

20170826_143922.jpg
Another whale watching boat and the ferry on the nearly glassy smooth Strait of Georgia

The Strait is a very large area and often has ocean size swells, but as I said, it was almost glassy still. We had Dramamine with us but didn’t need it at all. There were three or four other boats watching the pods with us as we followed them along. The orcas are not whales but are the largest mammals in the dolphin family. They travel in social groups, as large as 40 members, that get numbered and are recognizable by individual dorsal fin characteristics. They are often called killer whales because they are skilled hunters and feed on other marine mammals. They cooperate in the hunt, acting a bit like a pack of wolves.

DSC_6343DSC_6349

DSC_6370
Exhale!

If I remember right, we were watching pod 34 and possibly pod 37, which were both resident pods. They stay close year round, whereas other pods travel through as transients.  A number of dorsal fins would appear as the orcas came up to breathe, and we would hear the rush of air as they exhaled. They would dive again and reappear farther ahead.  We kept hoping they would find something to feed on and actually breach completely out of the water, but that didn’t happen. Boats are restricted from getting closer than 200 yards from orcas and are not to block their path or be closer than 400 yards ahead of them but we still got good views. Captain Jim had binoculars for everyone which helped.

DSC_6382
We used binoculars.
DSC_6388
And evidently not just for the whales.

 

After an hour or so of watching, we headed back through the islands, often slowing to photograph the awesome views. Mt. Baker is the volcano visible in many of the photos. What a perfect day it was to be out on the water in the PNW!

20170826_133649.jpg
Esther and Ryan enjoying the sun and the water
DSC_6448
Gorgeous scenery like this the whole time.
20170827_141753.jpg
Majestic Mt. Baker in the distance

Times and Travels: San Juan Farmer’s Market

I love seeing evidence of people being productive in basic ways, and nothing is more basic than providing food. That is why I enjoy farmers, coming to market to sell to the end user.

20170827_135036
Coming off the ferry at Friday Harbor

San Juan Island is one of many islands in the Puget Sound area of Washington. Ferries are as common as buses around Puget Sound. We took the ferry from Anna Cortes to the small port of Friday Harbor – it happened to be on a Friday too, but that had nothing to do with the name.  We arrived late in the day so it wasn’t until Saturday morning that we returned to Friday Harbor for the San Juan Farmer’s Market.

20170826_105248

Living on an island prompts many people to value independence. They like to produce their needs locally so they don’t have the extra cost of importing from the mainland. The many small farms on the island grow crops, raise animals and bring products to the market in hopes of selling them. I think they enjoy the sense of community as much as anything else. The vendors get to talk with their customers, face to face, explain their wares and answer questions. Shoppers get to see and learn about many interesting products and processes. We were looking for breakfast.

In and around the community center building is where the market is held. It didn’t take us long to find the inside table of baked goods, manned by a couple of local ladies. They were selling all kinds of pastries, quiches, brownies… it all looked like breakfast to us. I bought a pastry and a generous slice of something made with egg, cheese, potato, veggies and pasta. I’m glad we got there when we did because their table was sold out by the time I came back hoping for a brownie. Oh well.

20170826_105808
Music, island style.
20170826_111101
Island produce – good stuff.
20170826_111024
Fresh seafood, cooked on the spot – a popular place.

There were vendors selling crafts as well as food. A potter, some water color artists, some jewelry makers, all gave us shoppers something to look at and consider. There was a trio of musicians providing festive tunes – way better than “elevator music”. Around the perimeter were tables and chairs for eating and visiting. The sun was shining, children were playing, laughter and conversation abounded. Makes you want to go there, doesn’t it? Maybe you should find a farmer’s market near you and check it out this week!

20170826_112708
Yes, they got the last brownie (but they shared).

Times and Travels: Vashon Island Get-Away

FB_IMG_1503794367581
On the way to Vashon on the ferry. Mt. Rainier faintly in the distance.

I come from a place where you hardly ever call anything an island. People tend to laugh if you call it anything but a “key”. Here in the PNW there are lots of islands around and in Puget Sound. People will laugh if you call the place we went to this morning Vashon Key.  It’s an island.

We rode the early ferry from West Seattle to the dock at the east side of Vashon.  The ferries are part of the transportation system and very well maintained and operated. Cars, buses and semi-tractor/trailers were lined up on deck for our 20 minute trip across the Sound.  It’s Friday, so there isn’t a crowd like there probably will be on the weekend.

This was the morning that Ryan Bruel was scheduled to receive the keys to his new property. But first things first – breakfast at Cafe Luna in the town of Vashon.  The signs on the way warn travelers that this is a rural area, although I’m not sure what danger that poses. The small town has a library, numerous businesses, a grocery, some artist shops, a school – pretty much what is needed is what is found there. I imagine there has to be some degree of self-sufficient mindset for a person to live comfortably on an island.

At Café Luna we ordered breakfast burritos, fresh quiche, hot from the oven and our latte’s. Esther walked around the corner to her favorite bakery for a Bob’s Burger.  The food and the atmosphere were good introductions to the island.

20170825_100650

Ryan’s cabin is midway between Vashon and the ferry dock, so we back tracked and pulled into the drive marked by the mailbox with the red butterfly. The roughly 3 acre property was owned by an elderly man until it got to be a project he could not keep up with. It is mostly forest, except for the drive and the clearing where the cabin, garage, and small studio sit.  I’m sure the buildings were built back when there were few codes to follow, and there have been additions and remodels since then, none of professional quality. This is to say that there are quaint surprises in many rooms of the main cabin.

20170825_101237
Kitchen – all
20170825_101207-1
Vintage decoupage knife block coordinate with vintage wall paper

The realtor and some helpers were there taking away some of the old appliances, and removing layers of old carpet. There were newspapers between the layers dating from the early 1990’s.  It will be a cabin suitable for camping and will provide years and years of interesting renovation projects for Ryan and Esther.

20170825_101349
Small loft areas adorn both ends of the main cabin, accessible only by ladder. Curious little spaces (with questionable usefulness since bathroom vents into this one…)
20170825_104812
Ryan and Esther, in the last moments of their comparatively restful life before property renovations

Codes now will prevent them from building new structures on the property but they can fool around quite liberally with what is already there. The separate studio is a sturdy one room log cabin and even though it has only one chair in it at present, it stirs my imagination in all kinds of interesting ways.

20170825_100723
the log cabin studio – how could you not be inspired to write here?
20170825_100755
complete with minimalist decor…
20170825_103329
One of many ancient guardians of the property

The forest around the clearing has numerous giant, old growth trees.  There is also a protected wetland and a green algae pond. The predominant ground cover is blackberry bushes. The clearing has been recently cleaned of growth but I can envision how fast it will come back and become wild again.  For people who have been living in the city, working at tech jobs in stressful environments, the Vashon Island get away is going to be an adventure of a whole different sort. That’s what they’ve been wanting.

20170825_103055
The lovely mystery pond – nobody knows what’s in there.

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things L

Lighthouses

20170413_203545-1
Can you imagine finding this in a thrift shop?

I don’t remember when I first began to like lighthouses but I’m going to blame St. Vincent DePaul and the oil painting I picked up for almost nothing in his thrift shop. It exemplifies the drama of stormy seas and skies, and the comfort and safety afforded by the warning of the watchful lighthouse. That’s what they’re for and symbolically I take them to stand for protection and warning in other situations as well.

Lots of people are lighthouse fans and after finding this painting I began to notice lighthouse paraphernalia everywhere I went. I haven’t gone crazy with this collection but I have gotten a few gifts that are special. They include my lighthouse in crystal from St. Augustine, lighthouse bookends, notepads, mini prints and calendars.

There is a lighthouse in Seattle near my daughter’s home that I know better than the others because I have been in it and spent time reading its history. I was able to go up to the actual light room and view Puget Sound and West Seattle. On a visit to Pikes Place Market the next day I was going through the watercolor paintings of a local artist and found this one of Alki Point and had to have it.

20170413_203731-1
Watercolor rendition of Alki Point lighthouse. I have been there.

There are a lot of stories written about lighthouses and I think it’s because they are unusual places built around dangerous waters and were often inhabited by strange people. Most lighthouses today are no longer tended by people but are automated, but the stories live on. One of the better ones I’ve read lately is “Lighthousekeeping” by Jeanette Winterson. The characters in this book are everything I would want as far as intrigue and mystery and the writing is often quotable in its beauty.

Many things in the modern world have influenced our way of navigating dangerous waters, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But I think we still need lighthouses.

Lighthousekeeping

 

Have you been in a lighthouse? Have you read a good lighthouse book?

Ordinary Times and Travels: What we eat in Seattle, post 9

wp-image-1417125349jpg.jpg
After the hammer…

“This is the first time in my 35 years that I have heard that peanuts are not nuts.” he said.

Esther’s friend made dinner for us tonight and we were standing around in the kitchen talking about “the diet project”, the AIP.  He had been interested enough to read up about it and had chosen a couple recipes from our cookbook to make, giving us the night off.  He did a bang up job and we appreciated it, a lot!

We have been following the AutoImmune Protocol for almost two weeks now, and although I think it is going fairly well, we are starting to have serious cravings for things on the “no” list, things we used to love to eat, things high on fun, satiety and comfort, but low (possibly devoid of…) nutrients.  It’s a little early to know if we feel healthier, but how could we be otherwise? That’s what I’m asking myself.

For certain, more food has come through the door of this house in the last two weeks than in similar time periods. We seem to be shopping all the time. Yet, it’s a struggle to figure out what to eat when mealtimes come around. Sometimes what we have is not the mental picture of a meal that we have been used to, so it doesn’t seem like a meal.  Thankfully, mental pictures can be changed – in fact, that is what it’s all about when you decide to take on a new way of eating. Can we stick with it until we’ve had time to change our ideas of satisfying eating? Good question.

wp-image-1668838786jpg.jpg
Yum?

wp-image-185200954jpg.jpg

 

Breakfast is a difficult meal because traditionally, it’s all about grains, dairy and eggs of some sort, none of which are on our diet. We have avocado, sweet potato, turkey bacon. We need to work on our smoothie repertoire a little more.

wp-image-853214634jpg.jpg
The lovely, nontraditional breakfast

We knew we were going to have to use more coconut in various ways so Esther ordered two young coconuts in our Amazon Fresh order.  I googled instructions on how to get into them because, frankly, looking at them doesn’t give a clue. The steps seemed simple, just hack away the outer white layer until you see a light colored “spot” where you can press your knife and make a hole. I made quite a mess doing all that cutting and got to a rock-hard layer where no more cutting was possible. But, someone forgot to put a “spot” on my coconut and I had to drill a hole with the tip of my knife.  So I had a hole, but nothing was coming out of it – until I made a second hole for air to come in. See, when you learn stuff like that in Physics class they don’t tell you that you’ll need it when you encounter coconuts.

There was at least 10 ounces of coconut water inside this coconut so Esther and I both had a good drink. However, there had to be more to eat than just the water. I knew it would take more than tiny holes to get the insides out so I took it out on the sidewalk and smashed a big hole with a  hammer. The inside of a young coconut is soft, shiny, semi-translucent and white (pretty really). I like it. Esther… not so much.

wp-image-69662967jpg.jpg
Esther’s fake bacon substitute.

Esther has discovered which meats she is able to tolerate most easily, and I have to hand it to her. For a vegetarian, she is doing great. She has had some kind of meat protein almost twice every day. As a vegetarian, she would eat burgers made of soy or black beans, and she would eat fake bacon, also a soy product. As an AIP girl she is bothered least by fake soyburgers (read real beef burgers) and fake soy bacon (real meat bacon) because they look similar to what she has grown accustomed to eating. See, it’s all in your mind.  She eats tuna. I don’t know what it is about chicken though. For her, it begins with the smell and only gets worse with the sight and taste. I’m afraid I will be eating the roast chicken all by myself. Getting to like chicken will take some work.

wp-image-66574250jpg.jpg

I love meat and have no problem with cooking it, but I wish it were less messy. What to do with all the fat and how to get it off the dishes and counters is a battle.  I’ve made three batches of bone broth but so far, no one has gotten into drinking it straight.  It is kind of piling up in the fridge.  I froze some of it in our ice cube trays, causing a near unhappy moment when Esther went to get ice cubes.

What else hasn’t worked… yes, the coconut Greek yogurt. I’m not sure you can make yogurt out of anything other than real milk, but there was a recipe, so Esther tried it. The black probiotic culture she added to it looked strange but we were able to think of it as specks of vanilla bean (also not on the diet). After culturing overnight in a warm place it was still coconut cream liquid. But it tastes great poured over bananas or the apple/cranberry compote we made. Fake yogurt, this also will take some work.

I don’t mean to say that we haven’t discovered some really good, simple recipes that I am happy to add to my regular cooking line up. I wrote about the Nomato Sauce in a previous post. Tonight we had a cauliflower dish that easily takes the place of fried rice, and some steak flavored with coconut aminos that was so flavorful.  One good thing we have both noticed is that we do not feel distressed after eating, no uncomfortable fullness, and of course, we are not gaining weight.  I am happy to see Esther able to tolerate meals without pain, and she is eating more good, nutritious food than I have ever noticed before.

Ordinary Times and Travels: Airstream, post 8

55cff94bb30547ca95d2e380800185a9
At the dealership – sight love.

Both my daughters are risk takers and dream followers, not every day in every way, but when it matters. It mattered recently that new life be given to an old dream, which is how youngest daughter, Esther, became owner of a 1972 Airstream. To be clear, it’s 27 feet of aluminum, pull behind, live in trailer with softly rounded corners for streamline movement. You all know what I’m talking about.

e0848585140f48bcabf5aa5dc1ff78ac

Where do we get notions like this? How do these dreams come about? We don’t always know, but when they’ve been around in our thoughts for years it becomes exciting to move on them, finally. Esther found Sylvia Path (subsequently named) at a dealership. They wanted to try out all the systems and appliances before she took possession, and part of her contract was ongoing help, coaching, should she need it. The dealer agreed to deliver her purchase to her when everything was checked out. She sent the cushions and mattress to an upholsterer – the first of several planned upgrades.

Having an Airstream in your backyard is kind of a trendy thing in many parts of the country (usually where it is warm enough to winter over in one).  Many people don’t travel with them. They use them for an extra room, or rent the space for extra income. Many people just like to restore a beautiful piece of equipment for the joy of doing it. Esther wants to do all of these, but first, the challenge of where to put it and the actual move.

wp-1483126994646.jpg
Yeah, this is where it has to go and there are some big rocks here…

Esther assured me she had talked with the dealership about her plan to park the Airstream in her driveway.  They had assured her it was possible in a “no problem” kind of way that guys often rely on. I wasn’t so sure, but I’m only an interested observer.  There were a couple of delivery dates that got rescheduled and with each one, we began to get more anxious about the steep hills, narrow streets and small final destination.  An ornamental tree had been cut to clear the way.  In her mind’s eye, the Airstream was neatly parked against her fence with the door and canopy opening out on the cement drive, herself sitting inside writing her first memoir, a best seller.

wp-1483127016482.jpg
You’re kidding, right?

On the Monday after Christmas, we finally saw Sylvia coming down the street behind a pick-up truck and ran out to greet her. But as we found out, the men delivering her had either not understood, or not believed Esther’s description. Turns out, they can’t really put it anywhere you want it, only where they can drive it with the truck. Backing in was the only option. Here is how it went –  on the second try. (click link for 3 minute YouTube video)

The mind’s eye is the perfect place for a re-do. What you thought would happen can get changed to what actually happened with a minimum of cost and energy. The rest of the delivery process went smoothly as the trailer was leveled, electricity was connected, and the propane heater demonstration successfully concluded.

wp-1483130462708.jpg
Obviously, there is no door on this side.

My first contribution to Sylvia was to remove the lavender bush we were trampling to get to the door, and place some stepping stones to keep us out of the mud.  Esther is going to save pictures of the inside for the before/after shoots, because there is work to be done. It may be a while before the completion, but the dream has begun, and that’s what counts.

 

wp-1483135949998.jpg
To be continued (but do not hold your breath).

Ordinary Times and Travels: Alki Drive, post 7

Come along. Charlie (the dog) and I are going for a walk.

wpid-20150821_200051.jpg
A summer shot along the sea wall from Alki Beach.

West Seattle is a peninsula of sorts with a variety of geographical features. In previous visits I’ve posted about the Alki lighthouse, the stairways leading up the steep bluffs, the old growth forest in the interior, and some of the sights along the default exercise walk, Alki Drive. Today, Charlie and I went on that walk just to see what it looked like in winter.  It has been so cold, wet and windy that we were glad to have time outside on a calmer, warmer day.

On Alki Drive one can traverse the western side of West Seattle from the lighthouse and Alki Beach all the way up to the northern point where there is a good view of downtown Seattle across the water. It’s hard to describe in words so you really have to look at a map. Puget Sound has many islands, inlets, peninsulas and bays and is a long body of water. There are some beaches but often the shoreline is rocky and steep. My daughter’s house is only a few blocks from one of the few beach areas so that is where my walk usually starts.

There is the water, a sandy beach which gives way gradually to a cement sea wall, then a wide grass and shrub strip, then the sidewalk for walkers, another strip of shrubbery, the wide paved area for bikers, skaters and long board riders, then the street, the sidewalk again, a row (sometimes two) of dwellings and finally a steep, unbuildable cliff covered with trees and vines. Every once in a while there is enough of an outcropping that someone feels safe attaching houses to it, but the roads to them are narrow, switch-backed and have very inventive parking areas.

wp-1482972407405.jpg
The bluff is not very high here. Another row of houses hanging on up top.

Although it is cold here, it doesn’t freeze hard enough to kill many of the plants and shrubs. There is green grass, many of the trees still have leaves and the houses and condos along Alki Drive looked much like they do in the spring and summer. I passed the monkey tail tree, araucaria araucana, one of the oddest conifers I have ever seen.

This is the thought game I play while I walk past all the small summer houses, the old ones. Many of them are run down, poorly maintained, and some are uninhabited (condemned most likely), in spite of the high priced land they are sitting on. I look at them and plan what I would do first if I lived there. Give me a sledge hammer, some paint, a shovel. They beg me to pull the weeds, pick up trash and simply make them look like someone loves them. I know if they are not fixed up they will soon find themselves replaced with high rise condos.  Some are fixed up and are very cute – showing that it can be done.

wp-1482972316362.jpg
Draw a circle around the one that is not like the others.

The goal today is to walk to the so-called “flower house”. Nestled between two high rises, a small house and adjoining building have become locally famous for being festooned with flowers throughout the summer, extremely festooned. The flower house is right on the sidewalk and the owner has seating for tourists to have their pictures taken surrounded by flowers. I’ve posted photos of my daughter and I in those very seats last year. This winter the décor is more sparse but still lovely.

wp-1482986694513.jpgwp-1482972348142.jpg

 

On the way back, the house that wins my vote for Christmas prettiness is this one. I choose it mostly because of the blue lights which are my favorites.

wp-1482972278648.jpg

I walk a little further and see another one of my colorful favorites, the Blue Moon Burger joint. They have some crazy good sweet potato fries there.

wp-1482986934049.jpg
One of many eateries lined up along Alki Drive in the beach area.

And then we head inland a couple blocks and are back to Esther’s house, “Ocean’s Arms”, immediately below the path leading into Schmitz Park.  To end, I am showing you a picture of the Star of Bethlehem tree, which you saw in the dark a few nights ago.  This is how it looks in the day, along the walk going up into Schmitz Park. Both pictures are from my bedroom window. We think they must leave the star up there all year, although Esther has not thought to look.

 

Thanks for coming along on my walk down Alki Drive.

Ordinary Times and Travels: St. Marks Cathedral

wp-1482788847758.jpg
We traveled to Capital Hill to St. Marks and experienced this.

This was exactly as described, “quiet night and perfect end”. Esther and I entered the cathedral almost half an hour before the appointed time, but it was already nearly full. We went up to the front and put our blankets on the floor, using the short wall as our back rest. Esther said this was prime seating. In spite of the crowd, the sanctuary was quiet and dark, except for the candles lighting each row and the altar area. We saw the singers assembling.

wp-1482788677105.jpg

The music was old, historic, mysterious, haunting at times, joyful at times, sacred in quality. There are very few opportunities to appreciate the beauty of the chant, of harmonies in a building so acoustically perfect. Part of the experience is being surrounded by others who are also curious, amazed, calmed and blessed by the words and songs.

wp-1482788650795.jpg
pipe organ, back of church

Much of the music was acapella. Occasionally handbells joined the singing. And at the end of the half hour, the pipe organ began to enrich the empty places with tangible layers of sound.

With the departure of the chorus most people filed out quietly, but the organ continued to play. The complexity of the sound demanded that we get a closer look, and there did seem to be people in the organ loft. We found the stair and joined a small group watching the organist. This virtuoso was a young man in plaid flannel, whose fingers flew over the four levels of keys, and whose feet were all but running over the foot pedals. At the finish he stood and bowed slightly, seeming almost embarrassed to be watched.

wp-1482788281586.jpg
not what I was expecting, talent in flannel

I now love the word compline, for its meaning and for the memory of this experience. St. Marks Episcopal Cathedral, Capital Hill, Seattle, WA. You will not be disappointed.

wp-1482788620420.jpg
front of sanctuary

The Strangeness of Being Cold

There is more to feeling cold than just the physical sensation.

I know it’s largely physical, dependent upon location. I rarely feel cold in Florida. This morning we stood outside watching the Airstream being backed into place. It was only about an hour total, but I’ve not been warm since.

There is the mental side of it. I’ve been reading a lot lately, stories of young people feeling that their lives could just as well be ended, because of their physical misery. There are so many of those stories. And there is also my daughter’s story with heavy doses of despair and anxiety. And my other daughter’s story of overwhelming demands, confusion and loneliness. And there is being in Seattle. All these are part of feeling cold, I think.

wp-1482788166367.jpgI read until my eyes were heavy and there was no need to keep them open so I went to lie down. I am in a house which I am sure is heated adequately, yet I am cold, dressed in two layers on my legs, two layers and a jacket on top. A wool blanket is over me as I wait for it to trap the heat and make me feel warm, but it doesn’t happen. Even the bed and blankets I’m lying on give the lingering sensation of cool, like an unwanted draft. It’s not painful or intolerable. It’s nagging.

Every surface around me is waiting to grab some of my energy, especially the floor. I feel it through my socks, my shoes. The chairs feel cold, and oh, the leather car seat is the worst. When I back up to the heater on the wall, it heats one small portion of me but makes all the other portions more aware of their chill. It’s hard to even think about undressing at night. I touch my face with icy fingers and feel the effect of it all the way down to my feet.

It is not the actual temperature either. Outside, everything is the color of cold. Cold looks smoky blue, five shades of foggy grey, and the darkness of being wet. I want to move, to work up some heat, to exercise (not like the shirtless runner I saw yesterday, but a little sweat would be nice).

I am hoping this is a temporary phenomenon. I am cold, just sayin’…

Ordinary Times and Travels: PNW Christmas, post 6

The last couple of days have been quiet, marked by only a few happenings, and one big non-happening.

Sylvia, the Airstream, did not come on Saturday as scheduled. The dealer decided he had something more important to do on Christmas Eve day. Imagine that. We are still hoping for some day next week, before I have to leave. I want to be here to welcome the new addition. Esther has named it Sylvia Plath after one of her favorite poets (Aaack! I’ve been edited. It’s Sylvia Path, because it’s wittier.). She is having fun thinking about upholstery fabric for the cushions and other upgrades she wants to make inside. Did you know that refurbishing older Airstreams is a trend these days? It goes along with the tiny house movement, and glamping. Like other trendy movements, you can find books and blogs and videos about how to do it.

What did arrive on Saturday was our Amazon Fresh order. A little before 8 the large green truck came down our street and stopped several houses away. I was up, dressed, waiting for it so I came out to flag down the driver. Esther does not have her house numbers up since her paint job this summer and I figured he might have trouble. He brought the two coolers and two paper grocery bags to the door. I asked him if he liked his job with Amazon and he didn’t actually say yes or no, but he didn’t complain, and he did smile. He said he would have to wait a few minutes to leave because our delivery wasn’t scheduled until 8 and they track him with GPS.

Unloading the groceries in the house, I marveled at how carefully they were packaged. Delicate fruits were wrapped and bagged separately. The coolers with the vegetables were packed with ice, and the one with the ground meat had dry ice. Everything was in good condition, and there were instructions on recycling all the packaging. Someone did all this work for us (more carefully than I ever would have) and it was delivered to our door in less than a day at a price that was not noticeably more than if we had gone to the store ourselves. How can they do this? I don’t know.

I did a lot of cooking that day, trying out a couple Paleo recipes. I liked them both and Esther like one of them – the one without meat, of course.  It’s called “Nomato Sauce” because it has no tomatoes, but is used like tomato sauce. Tomatoes are one of the eliminated foods, that commonly cause inflammation (nightshade family – even sounds deadly, right?) It’s a beautiful colored sauce because it is made with beets and carrots. This combination even tastes a bit like tomatoes and that really surprised me.

Last night we made a fire in the fireplace and watched National Lampoon: Family Christmas (I  know, I know…). It was a different kind of Christmas Eve than I normally have, but it was good. Good to be with a daughter, in safety, in pleasant surroundings. I always have mixed feelings about Christmas celebration, not because the birth of Jesus wasn’t a thing worthy of celebration, but because we’ve made it to be so not about that. We’ve combined so many other traditions and stories that it’s a holiday for everyone, even if they don’t know anything about Christ. Why don’t we just have a winter holiday with pretty lights and presents and celebrate Jesus’ birthday some other time, like in the fall when it probably really happened?

Christmas Day was also quiet, except for the early morning call from the husband that the septic system was backed up again. Really?! On Christmas Day?! He got to work and the crisis was short lived, but I have to thank him for sharing it with me.

wp-1482723437950.jpg
Youngest daughter, Esther, photo bombing…

We took an evening walk, bundled up in every way possible. I had to gawk at the male runner who passed us with shorts and no shirt on in 35 degree weather. Seattle has its own brand of craziness. Later tonight, we plan to visit a church where a men’s chorus regularly gives performances. This is also reported to be a bit different from the norm, in that people bring blankets to wrap themselves in and hot drinks to sip while taking in the concert, inside the church. I am glad that life is interesting. I am happy to be in Seattle. I am happy. Hope you are too, Merry Christmas.

wp-1482723406040.jpg
Puget Sound. I love these soft, sad colors.