Finding the Perfect Christmas Tree.

Every year, I complain about finding the perfect tree. Every year, I go out and whine for hours about how cold it is and how dumb we are for being out there. This year was no different. We went out in stupidly cold temperatures and looked at hundreds of trees that all looked the same to me.screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-9-18-37-pmI stopped to take a couple of pictures. I was pretty happy when we weren’t actively hunting for a tree. It is rather beautiful. I hate to admit it.screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-9-19-33-pmThis is my favorite way to look at the trees. From the warmth of a car.

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We headed into Hope, Alaska, hoping (hahahahaha) for a warm meal or really just for something to be open. There was a kayak place that will microwave a sandwich for you. The cafe was closed.screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-9-20-20-pm

It was rather beautiful, but I hate to admit it.screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-9-20-37-pmWe found lots of snow. That is better than last year!

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Beautiful. It is all so damn beautiful.screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-9-21-04-pm

I am not sending you a Christmas card.

Merry Christmas. I thought about sending out a card, but decided this would be better. Easier on the environment, better for my bank account, and easier for you to reply. I remember when people would send a letter updating our family about what has happened with their family. These days, we all know what is going on as soon as it happens. FacebookTwitterInstagram, and personal websites have made sure of that. If you missed any of those, click on them and you can be updated.

Here is a short recap of the year if you aren’t as addicted to the world wide web as I am. Last winter, I got a gyotaku kit and began the Japanese art of “fish rubbing”.

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The problem is I usually let my fish go after catching them, so I don’t get to practice much. I did fish quite a bit despite the cold temperatures and there being some decent snow on the ground.

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When the snow fell heavily, we went cross country skiing. Amanda got us skis for Christmas last year and we used them quite a bit.

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In the spring, we built a couple of fun things. One is an aquaponic set up inside a pallet. We found a used pallet, lined it with plastic pipes and ran a pump up the inside. The fish below poops and provides nutrients for the plants on the wall. I built the light to save money and energy.

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We also built a chicken coop. It looked great and would have been amazing if our landlord had not sold the house. This forced us to move and leave this amazing coop. Unfortunately, it was destroyed before the house was sold.

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We had an amazing summer this year. Months of warm temperatures and sunshine in then Northwest is apparently rare. We went to our first Seattle Sounders soccer match.

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We caught dungeness and red rock crab.

Black tipped claws!

Black tipped claws!

We caught salmon and smoked them. In fact we will probably eat them during the holidays!

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The highlight of my summer was twofold. The first thing that happened is that I was accepted to nursing school. Yay! That was big news. For one last hurrah, we headed east. First Walla Walla, Washington for some wine, then onto Idaho for cutthroat trout fishing. We had some big hungry fish come play with us that left smiles on our faces for days. We hit hot springs and then moved on to Missoula, Montana.

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For Amanda’s birthday we headed west. We hot the Washington coast and we razor clam digging. It was an absolutely gorgeous evening and we even got some clams.

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After half a decade, I caught up with my cousin Hunter for a too short of a time. I feel like most of us cousins can stay in touch via Facebook, Instagram, etc. and it somehow brings us closer without seeing each other.

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Amanda is still working at Woodland Park Zoo and growing a successful dog running business.

Now, I am in nursing school and have very little time to do anything fun. I spend two days a week in school, two days a week at the VA hospital, and two days a week at work. Every other minutes seems to be spent studying. I am loving it though. It seems to be flying by and creeping along at the same time.

So from up here in Seattle, have a Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate. Thank you very much to everyone that helped make life possible this year.

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St. Nicholas day.

We “celebrated” St. Nicholas Day this year (December 6th). For those of you that only think (like I did) that St. Nick is another name for Santa, apparently he is another reason to get gifts. It has some similarities. You leave out your shoes by the door and St. Nicholas puts treats, candy, fruit or coal in my case in them. I guess that stockings or socks work as well.

Amanda cut material and made stockings. Four of them. One for each human, one for the dog, and even one for our fish. She really likes this holiday.

While reading about St. Nicholas Day, I also learned of Krampus.

He is the Yin to the Yang, the dark to the light, the evil to the good. According to the best source for facts on the internet:

Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish children during the Yule season who had misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards well-behaved ones with gifts. Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children in his sack and carry them away to his lair.

This was the best way to prepare myself for the best movie of the season.

Cutting down the holiday tree.


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After quasi celebrating Hanukkah we decided to cut down a tree, put lights on it, and call it a holiday tree. I am not religious. Kinda of like Thanksgiving, the actual day of Christmas doesn’t have a lot of significant meaning for me. I do enjoy the day off and if we don’t have any food in the house, you will find us at a Chinese restaurant with our chosen friends.

It was fun in the beginning.
Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 8.59.48 PMBut then Amanda had to find one in the middle of this forest.Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 9.00.05 PMWhat is a trail?Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 9.00.16 PMEventually, we got the perfect (for us) tree.Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 9.00.41 PMStrapped to the car and ready to go.Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 9.00.50 PMCut to size and set up.Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 9.00.56 PMLit.Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 9.01.08 PM

So whatever you celebrate, enjoy the holidays.

Christmas 2012

This was my kind of day. Despite the rumors of snow, sideways rain, and lots of wind, we rove up to Black Lake and had a banner day. It was a touch cold, but we survived. We loaded the canoe and headed East.Catch 'em on the fly.It was snowing on us, but we didn’t see anyone else and we caught lots of fish.Amanda fishWhen Lando couldn’t stop shivering, we headed in.IMG_2377Once we were home, we all celebrated.IMG_2382Lando thought it was well worth it.The dog!

Not really Christmas.

This year, I celebrated Christmas like a Jew. Without the presents. I lit a menorah for a couple of nights and had Indian food for dinner on Christmas. It was fun to learn about the traditions from someone with “Gold” in their last name. I think that all religions are crazy, but the traditions associated with them interest me. I love how one cultures takes idea from another. The story of Santa Claus is nearly identical to the story of Greek Basil of Caesarea (from Wikipedia):

In Greek tradition, his name was given to Father Christmas and he is supposed to visit children and give presents every January 1 (St Basil’s Day) — unlike other traditions where Saint Nicholas arrives either on December 6 Saint Nicholas Day or on Christmas Eve (December 24). It is traditional on St Basil’s Day to serve “Vasilopita”, a rich bread baked with a coin inside. It is customary on his feast day to visit the homes of friends and relatives, to sing New Year carols, and to set an extra place at the table for Saint Basil. In Greek tradition and according to historical records, St Basil, of Greek heritage, is the original “Father Christmas”, who being born into a wealthy family, gave away all his possessions to the poor and those in need, the underprivileged and children. A similar story exists for another Greek bishop, St. Nicholas of Myra. Over the centuries the two have been merged but the Western “Santa Claus” is St. Nicholas and the Eastern “Santa Claus” is St. Basil.

And all of this has something to do with Jesus’ birthday. Or the solstice. I prefer the Zeitgeist idea that it is the birth of the year. The birth of the sun, not the son. The crown of thorns on the sun look a lot like rays. 

So this Hanukkah, I lit the menorah and celebrated light. Light from the sun. Light in life. Light in feeling. Let’s make 2012 awesome.