Joe Abbott's Weblog

Letters home to mom

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    • Coda
      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 →
    • December 31, 2011
      Father Time is riding out his last few minutes of being the temporal keeper for 2011; he sits in an easy chair with a calendar showing “Dec 31” behind him and a grandfather clock pointing to the time of 11:53. … Continue reading →
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      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

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.

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

The many faces of Joe and Suz

Posted by joeabbott on February 18, 2017

A week or so back Suzy and I attended our niece’s wedding in the outskirts of Vancouver; a very fine affair, attended by a now-common photo-guy and his booth. We availed ourselves to the fun and have this to show for it:

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Yup, Christine and Cody married, and Suzy and I had a little fun. It was a very fine event made all the better by the excellent company we shared the evening with.

Thanks for dropping in.

Posted in Travel | 1 Comment »

And we’re back!

Posted by joeabbott on February 6, 2017

WP_20170206_06_39_49_ProThis morning at about 6:30AM we lost power for about 10 hours; it was grueling.

With heavy snow forecast for the Seattle area overnight and an inch already accumulated, I’d planned on working from home. As my next day would be mostly meetings (we’re in the middle of quarterly planning), I could attend online and still be an active participant; not ideal but for a once-in-five-years storm I’d be OK.

At 5:15AM my alarm went off and I noted that it had prodigiously snowed that night, with about 8” standing on flat surfaces; wonderful to look at and I was happy I had other arrangements for the day. So, I returned to bed and around 6:30AM I heard a noise, looked at Suzy (who was awake) and asked if she heard her computers *bonk*. “Yup … and with the green flash in the sky, I’m thinking we’re without power,” was her response. And she was dead right.

WP_20170206_08_01_08_ProBeing without power is typically not a big deal, as we’re near the airport and facilities in that area seem to get a priority on being fixed, but as we’d find out, we were on the other side of the hill from the airport and outside the golden zone of immediate attention from Puget Sound Energy. And so, for the next 10 hours we did without, only seeing the “to be investigated” listed on our phones when we queried the myPSE app about our service. But, we weren’t sure when our power would be back. And so our day started.

Without power, I wasn’t able to get on the internet so I needed an option for that; which would be the library just up the way; easily walkable, but they didn’t open until 10AM. So, I tried what I could from my phone and then waited.

Suzy and I cared for our hens, shook heavy snow from the branches of our trees (many younger ones will likely suffer an odd tilt but none looked lost), and enjoyed a morning of reading. She had a cold breakfast and I opted to get out my camping stove and enjoyed some hot-water-grits. Not great but I’ve had worse … or none!

At 10AM I headed to the library, wanting to give them a little time to open and get setup. The heavy snow made slow going but I was there in short order … the trip made a little more easy because I was able to walk down the middle of the street. At the library I was met by closed doors and apparently no power to that building, either. Sigh.

Back home I trudged, connected to those through phone-mail, and I planned for the day off.

WP_20170206_07_52_26_Pro 1A little more reading, a bit of napping, and I offered to drive us out for lunch. It felt a bit disingenuous to take a day off for snow and then drive to lunch, but it was a late lunch and the roads had improved; what I feared the most was nighttime temps and icy roads. So we headed out … first to get gas for my trip into work tomorrow, and then to Qdoba for chips and a burrito. The roads were mostly fine: in some cases just two tracks for your tires and everywhere heavy accumulations on the sides, but I did manage to get stuck at the bottom of my driveway!

Yup, couldn’t get up. I wasn’t truly stuck as I could back down but I had to get my shovel out and shovel the whole thing off. Ugh … my back forgets those Minnesota winter days when we had to do this. While our driveway lent itself well to clearing, the snow was abusively heavy and where I’d pulled out, the snow was compacted to ice and needed a lot of work.

After that was done, I got into the house, now about 57°F and was pretty chilled. So, under a blanket for a dozy bit of time on my (sore) back with a cat. And, around 4:30PM or so, Suzy was walking by and *pop*, the power came back on! No circuits tripped, no flashes of lights going out, just a hum of the furnace and digital clocks flashing.

And with that, we were back in business. There was a bit of futzing with the internet and the question of “what to do for dinner”, but mostly it was me heading upstairs to check in on work and Suzy enjoying her time with the cats. While I had been dozing, she had been more industrious upstairs doing a bit of tidying up and sorting books. It’s not a “fun” job, but we have amassed quite a few good books and sometimes it’s fun to look through them. This time, they were just a clutter and she was trying to put some order to the mess.

And now I’m here. That’s about it for our “snow day” and while the hassles were minor and we weren’t gone long, it’s good to be back!

Posted in General stuff | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Weekend activities

Posted by joeabbott on February 5, 2017

WP_20170123_17_31_35_Pro 1My weekday activities are pretty routine: work, dinner, some gaming, and bedtime. I’m still getting over the fact that, to feel my best, I need to head to bed before 10PM … as “10PM” usually translates to falling to sleep about 45 minutes later … so there’s not a whole lot of time on weekdays when I get home. Monday and Friday are “free days”, days I can do whatever I want with the 3-4 hours before I need to start getting ready for bed; Tuesday and Thursday we head to the YMCA for a workout, one day with cardio, the other (a new fave) doing yoga; and on Wednesday we are spending time talking about the new house plans. I could share volumes on what we’re learning about in the house discussion but today I’ll look at what I’m doing the other two days of the week: Saturday and Sunday.

Those are also “free days” as we have few commitments asking time of us now. We have a few days on the calendar for special activities: gatherings with friends, work parties at some charity, and things like that. But mostly, it’s the Suzy and Joe Show. And the best way to say what we do is share a few pics!

Woodworking

Typically I have some project or other going but, right now, Seattle is continuing with a bit of a cold snap and it’s making it hard to get into the garage. A week ago I tried doing a project in the evenings but something happened again that I hate: because I’m rushing I made an error and cut a piece wrong. in this case, I cut four pieces wrong and it bugs me a lot. I stewed a bit wondering what I’d do and I won’t recut some lumber and I won’t change the design … I’ll fix it. Meaning, splice (glue) some of the existing wood together and use that. It’ll look fine once I’m done but it’s taught me that trying to rush (for me) is a no-win deal. I’ll just wait for it to get warm.

The picture to the right is from this project. I typically make all of my designs using the same thickness of wood; usually 3/4”. In some cases you need that sorta thickness, in other cases it’s just because I’m inexperienced and use a single type of wood for all the parts. In this case, I have a bunch of 1/2” thick pieces (that will be fine) but I’m making a bottom section twice that thick to give a “heavier” look to the base. I think it’ll look good … we’ll see!

Wedding

WP_20170128_17_44_51_ProWhile not a typical weekend activity, it’s a little something Suzy and I got to enjoy last weekend: a niece on Suzy’s side of the family was getting married and she choose to do it in Canada! Brush off the passport, get that suit out, and enjoy a road trip!

Suzy and I headed out early, got a nice breakfast in at a place in Lynden, WA by the name of Dutch Mother Family Restaurant. Suzy got a pannekoeken that was too large for the plate (but with crepe-like thickness) and I got a pancake; we both got eggs. And, while it was too much food, we wouldn’t have chickens to help us with the leftovers, so we gobbled it down and had to save the bakery treats we got for the next day’s ride home. We then headed to MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op … Canada’s REI) and Lee Valley (a woodworking and gardening place … talk about perfect for Suzy and me!). We made a few purchases but then headed to the hotel to change.

The wedding was very fine and we enjoyed a night of socializing. But, the long day of travel and loud music got to me and we had to say our goodnights before the final dance. But, we have a few snaps … and, apologies in advance: Suzy has the better camera and better eye for photography!

 

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A walk in the woods

While destination hiking is always fine, Suzy and I enjoy just getting out and seeing new places: yesterday we were curious to visit Squak Mountain State Park. We’d seen signs directing us to this State Park on our drives and stopped in too late to truly walk the park but we did make ourselves known, familiarized ourselves a bit, and will be ready to better visit in weeks to come. It didn’t help that the rain was pouring (by Seattle standards) and we were making our trip with umbrellas … not the best hiking gear.

And yet, we have some snaps.

Out of the parking lot is a nature trail, and while it’s been years since I’ve learned anything new from these signs, I always welcome a stroll to see what (and how) they’re educating people. Suzy enjoys the signage and seeing how they make these things so durable in all types of weather!

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Coda

And that’s it. We’ll do a bit of shopping for our weekly groceries, maybe eat out, and will stop when we see something interesting, but otherwise we just are bobbing through the days, happy to be together and seeing and doing new things.

Thanks for coming along with us today!

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Time with Suz

Posted by joeabbott on January 22, 2017

I posted a few pics and a note about our trek from last weekend, up Little Si, but I wanted to share a couple pictures that came from Suzy’s camera (phone).

This is probably the first hike I’ve gone on wearing jeans but the 2 miles one-way didn’t speak to needing more. Still, odd to see me in street clothes on a mountain! While all of these pictures are posed, it’s not uncommon to see us smiling and enjoying our time outdoors and together. While we hike at different levels, we always look forward to getting out and sharing time together.

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Thanks for taking a peek in on my little corner of the world.

Posted in Hiking | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

A return to Horseshoe Basin

Posted by joeabbott on January 22, 2017

A few months back I wrote up a little post on my trip to Horseshoe Basin with my old Test Lab chums … these are old Boeing co-workers who I’ve been hiking with for the past 25 years out and around Washington, mostly in the Cascades. But, aside from our outing, we only see each other two other times during the year: once a few weeks prior to the outing when we meet up to discuss our plan, and again, a few months after the hike when we meet up to swap pictures. In these days of Dropbox and any other of the various digital file-sharing options, we don’t really need to get together for picture-swaps, but we still hand each other photos (on CD … we’ll soon need to change that to USB drives or something) and enjoy an evening reminiscing the event and socializing with our chums and their spouses.

But, here are a few of the better pictures I got from Ron and Tim of our journey through the northern parts of Washington state.

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It’s a joy to look over these pictures and recall those days of warm sun, cold nights, and good friendship on a trail. They were more than good days; they were some of the best of my life. Thanks for dropping in.

Posted in Hiking | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Joe and Suz a-strollin’ went

Posted by joeabbott on January 21, 2017

WP_20170116_14_25_05_ProWP_20170116_14_26_21_ProAfter enjoying a few weekends snowshoeing, Suzy convinced me to stay out of the snow and take a shorter hike closer to home. We took advantage of the free parking and my day off, complements Martin Luther King Day, and while we mused on the Baptist minister and his civil rights movement messages, we got in a bit of strolling up Little Si, a modest bump near Seattle that rises about 1200’ in a couple miles and offers fine views of North Bend and the surrounding area.

We ended up parking in the overflow lot and, while not necessarily frigid, it was cold enough that we were happy for our down jackets. Or, better said, my down jackets. I have a “puffy” that is especially warm and Suzy asked if she could wear it. At this point in my hiking career, I’m just happy anything is being used any time, so I was glad she didn’t mind looking a bit like the Michelin Man.

My memory of the trail was dead wrong, as I told Suz that it was “mostly flat at the start and then goes up at the end”. Well, it certainly goes up at the end and there is a flat section in the middle, but coming up out of the parking lot is near punishing, and before we crested out we were both happy to have a small lookout we could enjoy as a way of giving our legs a break.

As we ended up parking in the overflow lot, it was no surprise to see lots of folks out on the trail. While trail etiquette suffers a bit from those unaccustomed to hiking, it was a gentle crowd and folks readily exchanged hellos as we sauntered up, enjoying the scenery and not burning out our feet.

Just prior to the top, we pulled out onto a rocky outcrop and I snapped a pic of Little Si’s bigger brother, Mt. Si … immediately to the north. On that ledge we stood transfixed as a warm breeze blew over us. Not a “not cold” breeze, but very much a warm one … it smelled of spring and mountains and was near-intoxicating. A very lovely break.

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And then on to the summit!

At the top we spent a few minutes resting and snacking on something and enjoying some water, we took a few snaps … one of a prayer bell and another of the USGS summit marker … and then headed down. Before getting home we celebrated our summit at the North Bend Bar and Grill and then home for the remainder of MLK Jr. Day.

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Hoping you all had the day off and, if not, wishes that it was a very fine day nonetheless. Thanks for dropping by.

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Let it snow

Posted by joeabbott on January 21, 2017

Seattle is just getting out of a cold snap that started with snow and then settled into days of mid-20s in the evenings to mid-30s during the day. Much more moderate than a lot of the country, but pretty chilly by our standards. We don’t usually have snow and seldom have cold, so this was unique. But, we enjoyed this view for a few days:

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Posted in General stuff | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Things I miss

Posted by joeabbott on January 21, 2017

The holidays are a great time to be around our house … it’s filled with light; inside and out. From my home office I have a nice view of our backyard and, while it’s a gentler scene in summer’s blush  (Suzanne does a good job of giving us “four season’s of interest”) in any season, it’s hard to beat evenings between Thanksgiving and New Year. Here’s what I get to enjoy:

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And this isn’t all of the lights. We have a few more deer in the lawn (between our house and the “blue tree”), another lighted deer on the deck, and another deer or two off to the right. It’s very nice.

But now it’s late January and I’m left with dormant plants, shrubs and trees awaiting next month before they start their push into spring. Maybe having a picture here on my blog will give me something to enjoy as I anticipate next year.

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Heck yeah–I did it!

Posted by joeabbott on January 21, 2017

imageIf you follow here (or just bumped into this post) and aren’t into video games, this post may not be for you.

I completed Dark Souls 3 last night and, as an adult man in my mid-50s, still found myself doing a happy dance around the room. The game released last April and I played it for about ten days before putting it down until late October when I picked it up again for a week before holding off until late in November … and, for whatever reason since then, it has been a near-daily obsession to get on and progress a bit against my goal of completing the game. I’ve played the equivalent of 12 days, 8 hours, and 2 minutes … and I can feel the pull to get back in.

Along the way an interesting change happened; and maybe this was the change late in November that caused me to obsess over the game: I started co-oping a lot more. I recall mentioning to Suzy that I was going to “get online and see if anyone needed help” a couple times; and, for a guy who previously didn’t care if he was on the Internet or not while gaming, this was a big change.

I still hate being invaded, as that really breaks the flow of the game for me, but I found myself putting down “my sign”, waiting to be summoned, and perusing the Dark Souls chat boards to see if anyone was asking or offering help. My friend list has expanded and, because I was making a completionist run, found myself with lots of extra valuable gear I could give to other people. One day a fellow posted on the public board that someone didn’t make good on a trade and cheated him. He was warning us against the other player but I contacted the poster, asked what he lost, and then met up with him to give him the set of armor he was shorted … I had an extra and didn’t need it. And, without being asked, he then gave me a couple valuable weapons that were fully upgraded and I ended up using one of them in my final boss fight! It’s a fun community and the people in it really helped me along the way.

But, this post is mostly a bragging piece to say, “I did it”. Yup, lots of other folks have done it but I did it.

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I’m not sure what’s next. Yes, as I noted above, I feel the pull of the game saying, “come on back in and enjoy some jolly cooperation!”, but I think I’m mostly done. There are a few folks who have helped me along the way who indicated they’d be calling, so I’ll get on for that, and I still have the DLC to complete at my current level … but I’ve already played it through twice. So, there may not be all that much left for me. We’ll see.

I have a list of games as long as my arm to get in (or get back to), try, and enjoy, but I also know, along with my 100% completion on Dark Souls 3, I have a 100% completion in the original Dark Souls … but, in the middle chapter, Dark Souls 2, I only have 80 of the 1000 Gamerscore … so that may be my next objective. Again, we’ll see.

Dark Souls has been a glorious interest and obsession. I’ve always loved the lore, the gameplay, and the world the creators have made, and now I’m finding new things to love in the community around the game. Today I believe I’ll just bask in the glory of accomplishment and stay off video games. I have a few errands to run and a shop that’s over-cold, not just from the January weather, but the lack of my attention. So, while I’m driving or puttering around today, I’m sure I’ll be in a good mood as I continue my mental happy dance and repeat the words: I did it.

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