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A couple of weekends in December

Posted by joeabbott on December 7, 2014

Work is keeping me busy but I do look forward to the weekends! My usual routine of getting our holiday deer setup was disrupted the last couple weekends by the snow and cold, but it looks like today I’ll get a shot and not even have to worry about getting wet! The forecast is on my side!

IMG_1014But, I have been keeping busy!

Last weekend a family friend of my Uncle Joe’s was in town to visit her son; actually, she was here over Thanksgiving but had extended that stay through the following week. It was our great fortune that we got to spend a little time with them!

Her son works as an airline steward/flight attendant for a organization that has military ties. I’m not completely sure of the details of the airline but he had some fantastic stories, including one involving him being the head attendant on a “con air” flight! Nothing happened but to be at 30,000’ on a plane packed with convicts … well, it stirs the imagination! His job, however, kept us from meeting more than once and we look forward to other chances to meet up in the future.

His mom, Rojean, was able to spend an entire day with Suzy and I the next weekend (which would be last weekend) before she left. We had been interested in hiking a mountain and we had just the ticket. Unfortunately, nature intervened and we still had enough ice and snow around that taking someone in sneakers up this trail would have been pretty stupid. We might have gotten lucky, but I tend to be most lucky when I prepare accordingly. And so we took her too a garden instead!

IMG_1016Suzy and I have spent a lot of time at the Rhododendron garden in Federal Way. It’s a masterpiece of gardening but I like it mostly because it’s very large and you can enjoy a nice long walk among beautiful landscaping without forming queues like you would in a smaller venue. And, when you choose a day that’s just about freezing and there’s snow and ice about, well, you risk seeing no one at all!

We spent a couple of leisurely hours strolling the park, stopping to chat, and looking at the various plants abundant in the garden. While December isn’t really a rhododendron gardens “glory season”, it’s still lushly green and busy with texture. After our stroll, we came home and partook of a pastime I very much enjoy: we put together a jigsaw.

Rojean is cut of a similar cloth and she was game. We spent another few hours working out borders, distinct color patches, and then the tricky “bluish piece with a hooky little thing on the end”. Lots of time for stories and getting to know one another and we finished a fine folk art picture of skating at the Rockefeller Center in NYC. The jigsaw was a gift from my mother and putting it together is part of our annual holiday tradition.

But puzzle makin’ is hungry work so we headed out to dinner shortly thereafter and whiled away another couple hours in a booth chatting about all manner of things we hadn’t covered earlier, things that begged further explanation, and things that just merited a short repeat. There were few silences and none were awkward; it was a very fine day for us. As we dropped Rojean off at her hotel, I noted that I had picked her up there some 11 hours earlier that day! I hope there’s a time in the future when she’ll be back and we can do it again.

WP_20141206_004Which brings me to this weekend: in addition to the plan of putting up our holiday deer, packed in a couple of family play dates!

WP_20141206_008The first event was Friday evening. Just as Suzy had dropped me off at the bus at 6AM that morning, she picked me up again at 4PM and we headed north. We were quite early for a 6PM recital start, but the extra time would give us a chance to enjoy a relaxing dinner together, unwinding from a work week, and transition into family time.

The restaurant I had picked from a quick internet search didn’t suit our mood: it had very little dine-in room and sitting on a stool at a bar overlooking the parking lot didn’t seem like it’d work for the “transition meal” I was looking for. We headed into downtown Everett, WA looking for a simple Mexican restaurant but found nothing but fast food after fast food joint. None seemed perfect but I did see a Long John Silvers chicken and fish restaurant; as I hadn’t eaten at one of these places since a childhood road trip to CO, I was game. The fact that they offered KFC meals from the same place gave Suzy an option she was willing to go for.

After a brief, and somewhat regrettable meal (I’m past looking forward to deep fried dinners), we walked to a nearby QFC to get a few treats for later, and then headed to the Christmas pageant performance that my niece Sydney (8th grade) and nephew Sam (5th grade) were putting on for their school. Both were in the musical parts (Syd played flute, Sam was on the sax) but Sydney also had a part in the play section.

It was enjoyable entertainment but, when the curtains closed and we were told to “collect our children”, Suzy and I looked at our watches, factored in the 50 minute drive home, and said our farewells to James and Kris … mingling with our niece and nephew would wait for Christmas Eve, when we’d see them next.

WP_20141206_002We also wanted a good night’s rest, as Saturday was our 5k Ugly Sweater Run!

Now, I jokingly tell people that 5ks are not my thing … I’m built for speed! Anyone looking at me would know that’s a lie … I’m built for playing video games. But, I was game to join in the run with Suzy, her sister Denise, Denise’s husband Jim, and Suzy’s friend Amy. Oh, and then the thousands of other runners!

It’s a popular event tied together with the theme of wearing an ugly Christmas sweater. Suzy was kind to me and found more of a “Santa suit” than ugly sweater and it was enjoyable to be in that. As I walked about, or jogged along, a number of people would say, “hey, there’s Santa!” It took me a few times of hearing this before I got into the spirit and responded with a hearty “Ho ho ho!”, but it made for a bit more enjoyment.

We got to the event early, mingled about the few booths and inflatable decorations, and then wandered to the starting line. We were in the second wave to go and none of us had a competitive spirit: it was a fun run and we were focusing on the fun.

I started off with Jim, just a bit ahead of the others, and we jockeyed for a little room. We chatted and moved along when I suddenly found myself alone! I was surrounded by people but none of them were familiar and I kept plodding along, wondering if someone I knew would join me. They didn’t and so I kept pushing myself along, not stopping for fear of inertia, and managed to find the end line in roughly 30 minutes. No awards for me but it was a nice accomplishment, less for the overall time and more to have just completed it without stopping.


After getting a little water and a breather, I photographed Jim and Denise crossing some 7 minutes after I completed and then Suzy and Amy about 2 minutes after that. Everyone was in high spirits and enjoyed the event tremendously. We took a brief stop to the beer garden for an unwinder (I was the designated driver for our crew), enjoyed a long walk back to the car, and then we drove home.

Home was delicious with a nice, long shower and then a 40 minute rest on the bed … complete with Trimble joining me … but then we were off for our reward: a steak dinner at the Outback and the movie Interstellar. By the time the movie let out, we were all in and it was past 9PM. Bed was calling!

So today, with just putting the deer in the lawn and running extension cords, I’m looking forward to staying in and starting the slow easing into a relaxing holiday.

I hope you have enjoyed a busy, happy start to the holiday season as I have! May your family gatherings be merry, your accomplishments bright, and you have someone( s) to spend it with!


One Response to “A couple of weekends in December”

  1. momma said

    It’s so satisfying to hear about people spending time in fun ways together. Thanks, Joe. Momma

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