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End of year activities

Posted by joeabbott on January 1, 2013

Here on the first day of the New Year (that’s 2013 for those without a calendar), I thought about writing an “end of year wrap up”. That, however, felt a bit too much like a “best of 2012” sort of post but what I really wanted to do was to summarize a few of the things Suzy and I did in the long silence between 11/11/12 and now. You see, 11/11 was the last article until 12/8 … and, between that time and the EOY, I posted only eight other times.

While eight is a goodly number, I posted twice times on video games (LEGO Lord of the Rings, Rango), once on breakfast at Denny’s (a “tweet” for most folks), a post on my Surface (still loving the heck out of this one), three posts on holiday decorations, and one on The Herbfarm. Of those, I’m only counting the Herbfarm post as catching folks up on our doings … the rest are too trivial to count. Well, maybe all that decorating was a piece of work but I still feel like there’s a bunch to write about.

Follow along and let’s see where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing these past few weeks.


Of course it was my birthday, a day of special magnificence: my last year in the 40s!! Yup, 49 and still enjoying life very much, thank you. And, while I wrote about the Herbfarm, a very special gift from Suzy, my family remembered the day as well. I received many cards and well-wishes, gifts and phone calls or email. It was a fine day. Here are a few items that made for an enjoyable occasion.

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In the first picture I’m holding a small, metal Erector Micro Kit sent to me by my mother. It’s a small bi-plane that I enjoyed assembling … and completed it without my reading glasses!

The next picture is our mantle; wonderful cards and well-wishes were sent to me by many. I will note that a goodly number were from Suzy, who wanted me to have a card for each day of the Week of Joe! And, this year was special: each card came with a Lord of the Rings LEGO figuring! A little fun each day.

The *BOOM!* card was from my brother, Jay, and his family. I just loved it … almost (but not quite) as good as having him in the room to give me a fist-bump in person. Great card!

The last picture is one of the cards Suzy got me and the accompanying LEGO figurine; this one was Frodo. All of the cards she got me this year were animated, most played a song: many cheezy, some were not really my cup of tea (Shania Twain, anyone?), one gave a series of hot dog jokes/humorous sayings (“Wiener! Wiener! Wiener! I just like saying ‘wiener’”), and the one shown here actually had a small light that went on when you opened the card. All very clever and made for a fun week.


I had a bit of time off around my birthday, Thanksgiving, and the end of year and so, when I have a bit of time on my hands, I very much enjoy putting together a jigsaw. And so, I pulled out one from the closet that my nephew David sent to me a while back. The gift he sent contained four different puzzles and, as of now, I’ve put three of them together. They’re a bit tough and I was taking my chances with Trasper about, but I managed to complete another.


And, I have to admit, my sister Laurel helped me to complete this. Thanks, David (& Laurel)!

Time with cats

It’s true …I like just having time with the cats. Trimble has become a bit of a different cat since Trasper came by: he’s much more solitary, prone to complain at minor disturbances, and needs a lot more reassurance. But, we give him the attention he needs and hope that time does its thing and help him accept that he’s not in a single cat-household. But, Trasper is getting a lot of attention; he’s new, he’s a kitten, and he’s very social. In short, he’s having a ball and so are we.

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There’s a theme here: Trasper climbs on everything. We’ll have our hands full next summer when we actually have birds in the bird houses and he finds the trees closer to the fence, but we’ll keep an eye out and hope this is a phase he’ll outgrow. And, while he’s plenty active during the day, he’s a cat who knows how to milk the most out of a cat nap.

Clam Lights

Every year Suzy and I include a trip to Coulon Park (that’s the “Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park”) in Renton to see the Clam Lights: a holiday lighting display sponsored mainly by Ivar’s Chowder House. I say “mainly” because, in addition to the Ivar’s restaurant in the Park, there’s a Kidd Valley Hamburger & Shakes restaurant there, too … and, in addition to a dancing clam light display, there’s also a lighted burger. Hard to beat a lighted burger!

This year we stopped in to Ivar’s for our dinner; we’re always happy to patronize the business that’s putting on the display. However, they were so busy, we ended up getting a meal from Kidd Valley instead. It was a nice, easy evening out and we saw some great lighting displays.

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And, just because I can … here’s a quickie video of running clams!

Running clams from the 2012 Clam Light display

Time with Suzy

Under-mentioned but always appreciated, my time with Suzy continues to be a highlight of any time off. We don’t have many pictures of “us”, because we’re involved in the doing of “us”! Here’s some “us time” that we tried but came up a bit short; perhaps we’ll try again next year and hope the cats cooperate more.

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These pictures here are the reasons we’ve hired pet photographers to help us capture good pictures of the cats! Fortunately for us, we were smiling both at the beginning and at the end!

Stapelman gathering

Suzy’s comes from the Stapelman clan and, living in the same neck of the woods as her siblings, we spend most of the holidays with them. A friendly group that has adopted me as “family” and make for pleasant gatherings. Here’s a few shots from our latest get-together.


We spent Christmas Eve day at Suzy’s sister’s house. They had wonderful decorations, lots to eat, and plenty of space for all to spread out and enjoy conversations with whoever happened to be within earshot.

The first two pictures are the typical holiday photos: each family stands in front of the tree for their annual snap. In the first picture, I was having trouble figuring out who to focus on but Suzy took a radiant shot. The second picture is Jettie and Richard … the patriarchal clan leader and his new wife.

In the third snap I’m balancing a holiday cat bed on my head while I read a card that came with it. Steve and Julie always remember our cats; very sweet of them.

The last picture is of all the grandchildren with Jettie and Richard. From left to right they are: Barrett, Rebecca, Sam, Sydney (back), Mitchell (front), Christine, Alyssa, Heather (back), and David (front). Nine kids … looks like a lot but as Richard had six children, it’s not that many.

Zoo Lights

A little something we did last night, New Year’s Eve. Getting there seemed like a bigger challenge than it was: we made it in good time but we took a mis-turn at one point, were traveling what appeared to be residential streets, turned down roads without any street lights … in all, lots of reasons to wonder if our GPS was working correctly! Then, as we turned into the Zoo parking area, we were suddenly surrounded by hundreds of cars and pedestrians! People were everywhere! I’m confident they took a different route to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

But, we got out, had a great parking spot, and after grabbing a quick bite in the on-site café (anyone else have misgivings about ordering meat products while at a zoo?), we headed out to see the displays and had a fantastic time. Great way to end the year and holiday season.

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It’s impossible to pick the best shots: most of the displays were fabulous and, to be honest, without a tripod most of our pictures were middlin’ at best. They had a lot of plywood cutouts that had bulbs stuck in around the edges to make animal shapes: like the aardvark, pig, and chick below.

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They had had so much light it burned out the camera’s ability to take a good shot: like the tree and giant octopi; in person the colors were deep and saturated, here they look washed out:


And they had different displays in motion: here’s one of an eagle snatching a salmon and one of the park as I spun about. Great stuff!

2012 Point Defiance Zoo Lights


2012 Point Defiance Zoo Lights (spin)


And that’s what has been going on! There’s been minor house stuff, I probably worked a few days (but also had a lot off), and some gaming, but I mostly enjoyed time with Suzy and small things here and around.

Thanks for stopping in and I wish you all the best in the New Year!


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