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      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
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Archive for the ‘Suzy’ Category

I had a meal …

Posted by joeabbott on November 18, 2018

WP_20181117_18_27_28_Pro… that was insanely good. The restaurant providing us this experience is Altura, located in Seattle on Capitol Hill, Suzy’s old stomping ground when she was going to college. Let me back up, set the stage, then talk about the dining.

Suzy had a milestone birthday this year: #50; and my mother recognized it by sending her a very nice gift certificate to Altura … a restaurant neither of us had heard of but whose name comes from the Italian word for achieving a great depth or height. My mom asked around for fine dining places in Seattle and she nailed this one.

Anyhow, we had a busy year and so we hadn’t made time to enjoy the dining at Altura until the “Week of Joe” … I felt a little guilty turning her birthday gift into something about me, but after last night, I have no reservations. While we hadn’t heard of Altura before, it’s been around a while, winning a Seattle’s Best Restaurant of the Year award from some source or another for many years running.

We had early dinner reservations and arrived a little early (traffic, for once, was in our favor). The place wasn’t yet jammed but plenty of seats were taken, as were most seats at the bar. This is one of those restaurants that has reserved seating allowing customers to watch their food being prepared … and Suzy made sure we had seats at the bar! And, as I found out, the chefs almost welcome questions, comments and interaction. This fact will destroy nearly every other dining experience I’ll ever have: talking to the chefs was great. I not only asked a question or two, but I guiltily talked to our chefs more than I did Suzanne. I’m a terrible dining partner but this was too good of an experience to pass up.

WP_20181117_18_22_36_ProA few examples of chats with the chef … and the guy we talked most to was literally the sous chef (#2 on the floor): is that duck hanging over the fire pit being roasted? (Answer: nope, just drying out the skin for a nice, crisp texture) Are those fruits hanging over the counters pared already? (Answer: yes, they’re persimmons and we peel and hang them for three weeks or so until they dry out and then make the best fig newton’s in the world from the dried fruit. They’re washed and massaged to get any air out daily.) I’ve never heard of a “finger lime” before … what’s that? (Answer: a fruit we use to give our palate cleanser a little punch.)

I could go on as the interactions were constant. I asked about their training, a tattoo I saw, the foods … I really had no inhibitions. And they congenially obliged and encouraged me, offering samples of the foods I asked about, sharing stories of their past, and generally making the places Suzy and I shared at the end of the bar the hottest seats in the restaurant!

Unfortunately, the thing I never asked about and don’t know are their names! This seems like a missed opportunity as I can’t recognize the exceptionally warm reception we received, but to you, our nameless food geniuses: thank you.

Before I share some pictures and descriptions, let me say that the words in the first column are coming straight from the menu and I am a terrible food photographer. I just point and snap. Apologies to all of you who would like it done better but I was there for the eating!

And. for those who want a better view of what we ate, just click on the picture and it should show you an enlarged photo in another browser window.

Stuzzichini

Apple, fennel, cardamom, verjus lamb prosciutto, calabrian chili frittelle albacore tuna, tonnato, beet sponge cake grass fed beef crudo, white truffle snow, crispy black trumpet mushroom mahogany clam, preserved chili brine, kinome leaf fermented potato, black butter, bottarga muggine savory cannoli, local sea urchin, parsley root, spruce smoked sturgeon zabaglione, coho roe, salsify sformato

WP_20181117_18_35_01_ProWP_20181117_17_25_08_ProMost of the words in this dish aren’t resolving in my word processor’s dictionary, but this was a sponge cake made of beet “stuff” and a bunch of tasty other stuff on it.

I hadn’t quite gotten into the swing of taking pictures of our meal just yet, as all I have to show is our empty serving “tray” (a small 4” square of travertine marble), but the picture to the right is a chef preparing the food for other diners.

Salt Spring Island Mussels

Prepared two ways with prosciutto, bergamot orange and Madrona bark

WP_20181117_17_48_27_ProWP_20181117_17_48_11_ProThis delicacy was brought to our seats with a small smoke-filled dome over the portion on the right side. The servers introduced the dish while removing the dome and wafting the smoke around us.

A+ for presentation … A++ for flavor!

Ezo Black Abalone

Sweet garlic, crispy kale, pig’s feet braised in apple juice

I failed at getting a picture of this dish … best kale EVER! Which may not be saying a lot, but it was pretty darned tasty.

They crisped the kale by deep frying it in a way that left zero grease on the kale, they topped it with some garlicky sauce or powder that was delish!

Darrell’s Bread

Cultured butter, myrtle leaves

WP_20181117_18_27_17_ProWP_20181117_18_27_10_ProIt’s hard to make bread sexy, so they turned to serving it on hot stones to keep it warm.

It impressed me!

Pheasant Agnolotti

Wild mushrooms, crispy sage

WP_20181117_18_27_21_ProHow this dish didn’t earn more words from the menu is surprising to me. Really quite fantastic.

It was a half-dozen ravioli pouches filled with pheasant, topped with a nice, rich mushroom sauce. It could have been the main course on its own!

Quince Granita

Sea Buckthorn, Marigold, finger lime

WP_20181117_18_40_28_ProA testament to how tasty this was but after each time this was plated for someone’s meal, the spoon used to dish it up was ALWAYS licked clean by the chefs! I was surprised when I saw this the first time, but chefs would regularly sample something right there in front of us. At one point a dish wasn’t ready or fit to be served and we saw the chef bring it back to some of the dishwashers in back. Nice!

This dish was a generous portion of minced, frozen quince … think “snow cone” … topped with a few other strange and delicious things.

Spring Rain Farm’s Rabbit

Four preparations, cabbage, sunchokes, black garlic

WP_20181117_19_05_54_ProThis was my main course. I ate every last bit. Every. Last. Bit.

Dry Aged Duck Breast

Early winter roots, spicy pickled cherries

WP_20181117_19_05_40_ProSuzy’s meal must have also been delightful as it was all gone by the time I got around from looking up from my meal.

Gorgonzola Dolce

Honeycrisp apples, black pepper, wildflower honey

WP_20181117_19_23_24_ProTalk about crazy: crisp apple sections filled with gorgonzola cheese. The apples were dried and the cheese had been made into a paste. Pretty good with the non-alcoholic pairings we had with each course.

Duck and Matsutake Brodo

Duck heart and matsutake grilled on pine branches quince poached in vin santo sicilian pistachios, dried persimmon

WP_20181117_19_32_59_ProThis came served as “tea”, or a post-main entrée palate cleanser but was pretty much broth. After I took my first sip and proclaimed it “hearty” or something like that, I saw the chefs grin; I think they knew I was expecting a green tea or something like that.

Bourbon Caramel Semifreddo

Caramel roasted banana, fuyu persimmon, toasted marshmallow

WP_20181117_19_50_21_ProMy description of this is a dollop of caramel beneath a banana-flavored brownie\blondie sort of thing; top that with a marshmallow gelato. Then sandwich it between a thin, brittle brownie and a thin slice of meringue and finish with a sprinkle of something.

OK, I’m not ready to write for a food blog, but I’d happily test out the kitchens for one! This was a winner!

Affogato

Mascarpone gelato, amaro montenegro aerated hot chocolate baba au rhum grappa soaked luxardo cherries

WP_20181117_20_02_14_ProWP_20181117_20_02_10_ProOK … it started with some gelato stuck in the little cup, topped with warmed (and aerated) hot chocolate. All the rest was just “stuff” … my word, this was tasty!

While the gift certificate from my mother was acknowledging Suzy’s birthday, we enjoyed during Week of Joe … so the birthday plate came to me! Same stuff on both plates, just a different presentation … I’m sure it made my portion taste better!

 

And, incredible as it may sound, we had other treats that weren’t on the menu! I can’t begin to tell you all of what they had in them but to the last one they were delicious! Let me see if I can do a little guessing!

Tasty Thing #1 WP_20181117_17_39_15_ProI have no clue what any of this was … and I’d even asked.

While the chef who had a station in front of us was a delight, he spoke softly and it was hard to hear everything he was saying. I’m sure he told me what this was but it was strange, softly spoken, and I can’t recall.

Some creamy paste stuff with some long, dried crunchy things. Four stars!

Tasty Thing #2 WP_20181117_17_31_16_ProThe base of this dish was fermented potatoes. Now I like potatoes but “fermented” sounds like the last way I’d want them served to me, yet this was a delight. More, please!
Tasty Thing #3 WP_20181117_17_27_27_ProThese were clams on the half-shell served with some spicy flavorings. Suzy isn’t a big seafood fan but she ate everything set before her … except her second clam, which I got. Not sure if it was the clam of the spiciness, but they were a nice burst of flavor!
Tasty Thing #4 WP_20181117_17_35_35_ProSpring rolls filled with some sort of creamy paste and finished with minced onions. Now onions are to me what seafood is to Suzy, but following her lead, I polished mine off and expanded my culinary experiences!

A few other pics

The night was a complete delight due to more than just the food. Here are a few samples of our evening at Altura:

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Coda

I have to thank my mother for this wonderful dining experience. It may be a bit hackneyed to say that, but that’s just what this was: wonderful food, smashing atmosphere, the attention of attentive chefs, and a wonderful dining partner, Suzy. Thanks, Mom!

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Posted in Me, Suzy, Travel | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Been a way a while

Posted by joeabbott on October 20, 2018

Over the past three weeks I’ve been keeping busy … day outings, taking care of the home fires, and of course work: but it’s time for a few quick posts.

clip_image001A month or two ago Suzanne and I visited our property in Granite Falls to inspect a small bit of work needed as part of the permitting process. While there we saw a sign someone had posted at our property: it was a bit of cardboard stapled to a couple of wooden stakes. While a manageable bit of signage at need, it wasn’t the presentation we were looking for at the site of our future home. And so a small project cropped up.

Given our busy days, Suzanne was encouraging me to just get her a bit of plywood so she could paint on the house numbers and get something posted. I had other ideas … that, as they do, took a bit longer to knock out.

I started by printing out some simple numbers as large as I could on a standard piece of paper. I then cut them out, glued them to some scrap lumber I had laying about, and then cut the numbers out on the bandsaw. After that, a bit of sanding finished up the numbers and I needed a frame to put them in.

I chose a bit of wafer board … probably not the best possible wood to use, but as it forms the sheeting for houses and even the underlayment in roofing, I figured it’d be OK. Two pieces about 15”x27” were selected. One piece would be the back, on which the numbers would be attached, and the other formed the frame. Rather than cut out four parts to create the frame, I used my track saw that can make plunge cuts … and I cut out the center of the second piece of wood, leaving a frame about 3” around!

This worked pretty well.

After that, Suzy helped by painting all the parts, making sure to give them lots of coats (pro tip: plan for extra paint if you’re painting wafer board!), and then I glued everything up. After that, a bit of clear shellac finished the presentation part of the sign.

For mounting I dug out some old butterfly clips used to secure two pieces of plywood when butted together. After a bit of bending and drilling, I was able to mount the clips to the back of the sign and then run a piece of rebar up through them. After that it was just a matter of pushing the rebar into the ground and posing for my picture!

sign2

Now we just need a house here!

Apologies for the long delays. I’m reminded of a diarist I read who said something like: the trouble with writing about your life is that you need to live a little to have something to write about. Your patience at my long disappearances is appreciated.

Thanks for dropping in.

Posted in General stuff, Me, Suzy | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The other Green River stuff

Posted by joeabbott on July 20, 2018

I made mention of a few things we saw besides bridges on our most recent biking trip down the Green River Trail … here they are, in no particular order.

BMX Track

A biking company in a business park adjacent to Briscoe Park installed a BMX biking track. I only have a mountain bike so I gave the trails a trial and just about killed myself. I wasn’t going fast but the severe and numerous rises\falls had me feeling out of control.

While having this sort of facility is great, the presentation leaves a lot to be desired. Rather than an enjoyable alternate use for the park, the initial appearance is one of neglect and the dumping of refuse: weeds festoon the perimeter, the track has no shoulder or separation from the land around it, and lack of supporting facilities (bike rack, bench, or shelter) all make this an odd “enhancement” to the Briscoe Park.

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Sculptures

Somewhere along the way I came across this biking sculpture (picture on the left) … I would have loved to dismount my bike and pose alongside them (it’s the sort of thing I do), but Suzy had put a little distance between us and I was hurrying to catch up!

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Further south, we came across a bench in the shape of a canoe (picture, right). Various photos on the side acknowledge the cultural debt we have in the Pacific Northwest to some of the First Nation tribes, but I wasn’t able to spend much time looking at them: again, I was lagging behind my biking partner! And, yes, it is a typical trend.

Pruning 101

Here’s a tip: if your tree or bush requires a bit of pruning, do not ask someone from a power line company to help you with that! Look at what they did to this poor tree we saw somewhere adjacent to the trail:

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Yup, yup … I’m not sure what choices they had but this beautiful, full tree has a quarter of its top removed, making it look super-odd. I was also surprised to see one of the wires still threading through the canopy, but someone told me this was a phone line … and the power company (who trimmed the upper branches) will not tend phone lines; and I guess the phone company doesn’t share the electrical power company’s concerns!

I’m assuming that cutting the tree down was out of the question, as there’s a memorial plaque at its base and a few picnic tables. I really can’t imagine anyone ever having a picnic here, it’s fairly out of the way, but it might make a nice, shady rest. And from the tables, you might not even notice the hack-job done to the tree.

Fore!

I mentioned Julene Bailie in my last post: she’s an author who has taken to watching a family of eagles living above the Green River near this stretch of the trail. Here she is, on the left, sheltering herself from the sun with a shirt she’s draped over her head. She has a camera with a powerful lens, a set of binoculars, and a few other items to offer her comfort on a long day of bird watching. She and I chatted a bit and I could have spent a lot longer with her: she knew the area, the eagles, and was happy to share what she had learned.

The shadows just behind her are cast by a 16’ fence separating the Trail from a golf course that abuts it. A bit further south you see the sign shown below, right, which warns bikers\hikers to “please use caution, errant golf balls may cross the trail.” I’m not sure how much caution I can muster but I’m sure hoping the golfers exercise some!

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Lovely views

Whether you are looking for river scenery or wildflowers the trail has plenty of both. While some stretches are more wonderful than others, the entirety of the trail seems to have something to offer to everyone.

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I think it’s an educational sculpture

Suzy and I came across this marker along the trail and I’m not 100% certain I know what to make of it.

The various horizontal markers around it denote a footage and and the words “Flood level”, leading us to believe water had, at one point, risen to the various levels … however, the distance between the bands is not consistent with the difference in the noted flood levels.

There are a number of dots on each pole and lines connecting them; some lines are solid, some are dotted. And some have either dates or words (e.g., “Completion of Howard A. Hanson Dam”) on them. I just can’t put together a consistent pattern to understand what logic they’re using.

Finally, there’s a big arrow superimposed over the four posts that requires you to stand back to see properly. Why it’s pointing north is a complete mystery to me.

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Coda

That was our trip. While the overall outing was well over 20 miles, it seemed I couldn’t go more than a mile or two without stopping to snap a picture of something; it’s just wonderfully busy with things to look at.

On our next trip I want to take a dedicated camera, as I imagine it’d be easier to grab and shoot, but I would likely risk wiping out or taking a spill into blackberry brambles … and that would not be welcome. So, if you’re up for a good workout, the trail is long; if you’re more interested in finding diversions, there’s plenty of that, too! Thanks to the cities of Tukwila and Kent for keeping this stretch of the Green River Trail in good condition!

Here’s hoping your trails are smooth and interesting!

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Bridges of the Green River Trail

Posted by joeabbott on July 18, 2018

imageOK, the title may prepare you for a comprehensive review but these are just a few of the bridges spanning the Green River that Suzy and I saw while on a recent biking excursion.

Last Sunday, before the heat of a 95°F day set in, we tossed our bikes into the back of my truck, drove down to a parking spot just off the Green River Trail, and headed south. Our destination was somewhere around “where we turned around last time”, but we’re always game to learn some new things so we went just a bit further.

We were on the east bank of the Green River on the way down, but crossed to the west on a pedestrian\cycling bridge just south of the Green River Natural Resources Area (the brown splotch on the map to the right). From there we continued south on Frager Road until that thoroughfare ended, at Foster Park at the extreme south … probably 15 miles from where we started.

Along the way I was taking pictures of anything that caught my attention: a tree that had been curiously pruned, wildflowers, sculptures, and even a bird watcher (Julene Bailie, an author of a number of books about a local family of eagles … see her photography work here). I also found myself snapping pics of a number of bridges.

Some of the bridges were cool, others attractive, and some just utilitarian; but all caught my eye. Unfortunately, I can’t remember and didn’t write down the names or locations of the bridges, so, for now, you’ll just get snaps of a few bridges, my guess at where it is, and maybe word or two of why they caught my eye.

First Bridge

While we navigate under South 180th St bridge before we get to this walking\biking trestle, I’m considering this one the First Bridge. Mainly because we actually used it to cross to the east side of Green River, but also because it’s attractive.

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Utilitarian Bridge

I think this is the South 200th Street bridge but I only caught a portion of the span … the rest is the same: concrete and straight lines.

Not a “bad” bridge, but nothing to set it apart or recommend it as a destination.

WP_20180715_09_53_50_Pro

Copper Dome Rounds Bridge

This bridge always catches my attention. When I first saw the copper-colored sphere decorations on it, I thought they were copper … upon closer inspection it’s just colored concrete, but it’s a neat feature and makes for an eye-catching motif. While it’s mostly just another big, concrete bridge, the exposed aggregate upper portion does lend a break from the otherwise smooth surfaces.

I’m guessing this bridge takes Veteran’s Drive over the Green River, but I am (again) guessing. It seems right but even with a map (both Bing and Google), I can’t tell exactly where this might be.

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Green Truss Trestle

We had just turned around and were coming back when we were directed beneath the West Meeker Street Bridge. This fella is a throwback to the past, with little more to see than industrial-green iron beams riveted together. While it’s a bit ugly, the large open areas attempt to make this trestle light and airy; I’ll let you decide if you think it succeeded.

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Bridge Under a Bridge!

This one has got to be my fave … not because it’s beautiful or well-kept (and maybe a bit of the opposite in both cases), but because it surprised me and gave me a smile. This was the Hwy 516 (also known as the South Kent Des Moines Road) Bridge over the Green River, and beneath the solid car overpass, a bridge for pedestrians and bikers is hung! There’s even a little nook with a bench for sitting down and watching the river.

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And you can file this under the “why can’t we ever have anything nice”, the seating area was rife with litter, graffiti, and grime … neither Suzanne nor I wanted to sit there. But, she gave me a nice smile as she posed for a pic mid-span!

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Coda

That’s it … it’s not all the bridges but a lot of them. Some were fun, some were nice to look at, and others just got you to the other side of the river. Thanks for touring along with me!

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Stick a pin in the map (local edition)

Posted by joeabbott on July 3, 2018

Suzanne and I plan on moving at some point in the next year or two, but we’ve enjoyed living in the south end of Seattle. While not the most desirous of zip codes, SeaTac has been our home and launching point for many adventures, both local and not so local. As we consider leaving a place that’s become comfortable, we decided to spend an afternoon looking for smaller gems in these parts.

Upon heading to bed the other night, we agreed to head to “a park” and I offered to find one. The next morning I offered her a map and, rather than just visit one park, we headed out to try a bunch!

image

Kent Memorial Park

This would have been our first stop, had we stopped, but Suzanne recalled this place as we neared it and it was comprised of a set of three baseball diamonds. Interesting for ballgames, less so for leisurely walks. And so we passed without stopping.

image

Kiabara Park

We continued on to Kiabara Park but had a hard time finding it; so hard we were actually at the park before we knew we were there. The Park lies along the west side of a railroad track, roughly a block long and half that in width. It contains a koi pond and some statuary, along with lots of trees, paths, and benches for those looking for a rest. As the Kent area has built up around it, the Park appears to be home to those with a bit more time and a bit less house than they’d probably like.

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We didn’t get out here, but parked alongside it and recollected a time a few years back when we’d walked this area and enjoyed a small, local fair that was going on. Suzanne tried to spot the bakery we’d visited, while I counted the cars on a passing train (65, including 2 engines). When the train passed and the crossing guards lifted, we headed east to our next objective.

Mill Creek Earthworks Park

While neither Suzanne or I had heard of this park before, it’s well-known enough to have its own Wikipedia page! We parked at the west end and started our walking tour, wondering if it was a bad omen that the QR code on one of the informational plaques resulted in a 404 … page not found. But, soon enough, in spite of a background of traffic noises, the spell a well-designed park can have was cast upon us. We walked past a few minor hills created for the sake of visual interest, noted the flood control vault created to weather a 10,000 year flood/storm, past the circular retention pond and through the split-mounds, and onto a pond where a mallard duck shook her tail feathers at us in anticipation of a crust of bread … that never came. She was interested enough, however, to follow us to the far side of the little pond where we rested on a bench and took in the views.

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From there we wandered farther east to the end of the paved trail and looked down the damp earth trail in its tumble of trees and vines. We didn’t have the shoes for a wet trek and the mosquitoes were already letting us know our short sleeved shirts were just what they were looking for. So, we walked back to look over the earthworks from atop a small building housing the restrooms, then over a bridge to inspect a now-defunct set of stairs leading up to the roadway above us, and then we spent a few minutes watching a man playing with a boomerang as he launched his toy into the circular retention pond. I tried to determine if, with my help he could retrieve his boomerang, but it would be a wet endeavor for someone and it didn’t appear that he had an interest in wading in. And so it was back to our car and on to the next park.

Morrill Meadows Park

We arrived at Morrill Meadows Park and were immediately deterred by an orange, plastic fenced blocking us from the park proper. A family had already setup for a picnic at the shelter but there was an unwelcome look to a place under construction. image

And so, we circled the lot, noted nothing on the west side that looked like trails, and continued on to our next venue. On inspection of a map (at higher resolution), there would have been a bit of trail-walking opportunities beyond the orange mesh barrier, but we passed this time.

Gary Grant Park / Arbor Heights Park 360

Noted as Gary Grant Park on our map, it was labeled Arbor Heights Park 360 on the signage at the actual location and Suzanne and I immediately recognized this location from when we drove past earlier in the week: it’s a skateboard park! Nope, we didn’t stop as we didn’t have our boards but we continued on to the nearby next location …

Clark Lake Park

Our final destination was a good one. We pulled in to see an animal control vehicle at the entrance but were relieved to see the driver was just stopping there for a bit of a break. A sign told us the dock at the lake was under reconstruction but we headed in using the “left hand rule”.

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As we didn’t have a map I chose to always take the left hand option or path, reasoning that if we got lost, we could turn around and take only right hand paths to return to our car. Suzy immediately recognized this as the strategy I use for finding my way through a dungeon maze in video games and proceeded to taunt me. It was all in good fun and our paths led us across fields, past disused barns, to the quiet end of the lake where more ducks approached us, and back until we finally found the out-of-commission dock. A young couple must not have read the sign … and didn’t find the barrier a deterrent … and were sitting on the dock; we took in the views from the end and then made our way down the west side paths.

Before getting too far, about where the paths turned south, we turned around and walked back to the cars; the day was getting on and dark clouds announced potential rain. Upon passing the lake on the way out, we heard a tremendous “whoosh” … sounding like an airplane was ditching into the lake! A quick peek noted it was only a large flock of ducks alighting into the water. We both smiled as we’d never heard so big a sound from some ducks.

Coda

And that was our day. While there are plenty more parks to discover and enjoy in the South End, we found a couple we’ll likely visit again when opportunity presents itself. It was a good afternoon of toodling lazily about.

Thanks for following along on our afternoon of strolling!

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It’s all in the context

Posted by joeabbott on April 27, 2018

When I hear Suzy utter a “Gah!” and we’re on the streets, I look for an exceptional interaction or individual somewhere in the crowds. When she gives that same “Gah!” at home, I reach for a newspaper or magazine to usher whatever bug, beetle, or critter outside that’s somehow made its way inside.

When I heard “Gah!” earlier today, I replied with, “I’ll go get a cart.” You see, we were at a place that was selling plants and I knew my miss had espied a must-have something or other. When I asked about her current find she proclaimed, “It’s on my list,” then added, “The undersides of its leaves are fuzzy.” Reading my expression she finished with, “That’s all,” all the while sympathizing with an individual who might need more to make a plant special than the fact that it has fuzzy undersides to its leaves.

As a side note, somewhat related, we expanded the plant storage we built a few weeks back. That’s all … thanks for dropping in.

Posted in Garden, Me, Suzy | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Speaking of books …

Posted by joeabbott on March 10, 2017

WP_20170305_14_45_21_ProFor about 10 years now, Suzy has been compiling our annual photographs into a “best of” printed volume. The books are 100-ish color pages of glorious us. Yup, we have all these images digitally; yup, we lived that life so there’s nothing new here; and, yup, it’s just a photo album … but I look forward to paging through these every time I find one on a coffee table or on the bookshelf.

I’m not sure what makes these books special; as I noted, we have the digital images. But, there’s something about the tactile quality you can get paging forward, dropping back, and seeing the various instances of our lives in a curated fashion. And it’s not the many thousands of pictures you might get clicking through something on a computer or flicking through them on your phone: they’re just the select, best-of moments that are special in so many ways.

Take for instance last year. Suzy chose a picture of me in the bed of my new-ish truck, arms wide, grinning madly at a tilted rhododendron we were about to plant in our new property. New truck, new property, a plant that a buddy gave me that will grace our new home for years … and that smile that says, “I’m enjoying life!” It’s hard to beat seeing that printed on the cover of a hardback book!

And so, sure, we lived that life so there’s nothing new or truly surprising that we’ll bump into in the pages, but she was a little late on the 2015 book and as we sat side-by-side paging through it when it arrived, we continued to say, “was it that long ago that happened?” or “I thought we had that <insert name of thing here> a lot longer than that!” It’s just fun to relive the very best moments of your life with a quick flip-flip-flip. Even those photos that won’t be meaningful to anyone else.

So, that’s it. If you keep scrapbooks, you’re probably ahead on this score but if you’re use to just cataloging your vacations and days by snapping digital pics and saving them on a hard drive somewhere, I strongly recommend spending some time making your own best-of.

Thanks for dropping in.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Suzy

Posted by joeabbott on March 5, 2017

imageMy wife does many things well but in one of her many exemplary qualities, she shares of herself; and as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, she handed me an envelope to get into the mail to her father in a distant town. Yup, good old USPS mail for a family member who lives farther away than is easy to share our day-to-day events with.

In addition to a newsy letter and some pics from recent gatherings and to-do events here in Seattle, she had created a St. Patrick’s Day greeting card for him. While the original art is based on the Farmville game, she spent the time making a quick recreation rather than just cut-and-paste from a web search. The clever design gave me a bit smile (perhaps you have to be a chicken owner), but I really liked that she continued to keep family in the loop and put time and effort into that connection.

So, for those of my family members who aren’t receiving a St. Patrick’s Day greeting in the mail, this post is for you!

Smile

Thanks for dropping by!

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There’s a lot going on in this part of town

Posted by joeabbott on March 5, 2017

Image may contain: tree and outdoorOK, maybe not so much going on but I’m feeling chatty. And, rather than try to ram it all into one post, I’ll drop a couple to make things a bit more digestible.

The first order of business is recognizing that I’m pretty tired and sore. Yesterday Suzanne and I spent 7-hours putting up fencing but, sadly, it wasn’t on our property. The good news is that it was for a charity so an organization in need benefited from our time and efforts; and that’s always nice.

Suzy volunteers at the Puget Sound Goat Rescue (PSGR) and I’m very supportive. Supportive to the point of thinking we have an obligation to contribute some of our time to a worthy cause; and, as it’s easier to think someone else should be volunteering their time, I make a point of committing some of my time when I’m able. So, when Suzy mentioned the PSGR was having a “fencing party” … and it didn’t have anything to do with swordplay … I signed up. Hearing that a fellow co-worker of mine had signed up helped!

Aaron and I worked together ages ago and as he’s one of the Nicest Guys in the World™ (and, really, he is), I was happy to drop in if only to catch up. So, at 7AM on our Saturday morning, Suzy and I drove across the valley to Aaron’s home and, along with his lovely wife Jane, they showed up their setup on 15-acres in Maple Valley. After a half hour of seeing their goat runs, deluxe chicken coop, barn and the beautiful outdoor setup of their home, we headed into the bramble-covered PSGR area we were going to fence … which, conveniently, was right next door!

If you’re a “Facebook person” you can read about the project here, but the post talks more about the many events of the day … and while I think I had a busy day, the Goat Rescue had it going on!

While we took a half hour break at noon for pizza, chips, fruit, and water, the rest of the time was doing heavy manual labor. Aaron and Jane were in charge of using his tractor to dig ~2’ deep holes, insert a 6×6 timber, and shore it up with crushed rock. Suzy and I would follow ensuring the posts were plumb and then laying in cross bracing. For all sections we’d lay in two horizontal members; one high and one low. For the corners we’d install a single diagonal beam; and for other sections that would be in the middle of the fencing, we’d put in two diagonal members.

The corners were the trickiest because the field failed to follow a strictly rectangular shape, leaving us making cuts that had several angles to them. A couple sections gave us problems trying to get the right fit but most of them went into place relatively nicely.

The Seattle weather held off until the end but we eventually took a few splashes of rain and by 4PM we were done. The fencing wasn’t completed but we were DONE. Lots of hours stumbling over roots, carrying heavy loads, and trying to figure out how to look competent doing something for the first time. Tiring though it was, we really enjoyed the experience.

I will note that while I was asking questions and learning how to install a fence (Aaron and Jane were old hands at this by now), Suzy was scouring the understory for decades-old barbwire and various other metal accoutrements that were used in a fence long-since neglected. It was rusty and vicious but a pair of thick gloves and some bolt-cutters took care of the problem

While I’m looking forward to today and my light-duty garage projects and some sitting about, I’m happy to have had a chance, to be physically able, and give back a bit to a world that’s if not better, at least tidier and with the prospects of a bigger pasture to roam in.

Thanks for dropping by.

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Love this pic, love this fam

Posted by joeabbott on August 13, 2016

A great snap from our recent gathering in North Carolina. This wasn’t all of us, but a goodly number. Those not present were missed; those who attended … well, we enjoyed our time with you.

Emerald Isle Family 2016

See you all again in three years or so!

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