Friday, December 26, 2014

Of Snowman Surgery

Boxing Day is possibly my favorite part of Christmas. I like the low-key, low-stress way of it. We spent the day quietly, eating muffins and tangerines from my sister, finishing off a joint re-reading of The Hobbit, walking to the post office and grocery store, admiring some neighborhood Christmas lights en route, tidying away a few things, and generally not being fussed. The sort of day I require after performing an emergency lobotomy on a snowman cake on Christmas Day.

The patient before surgery. He seemed optimistic. 

Surgery; half of the patient's head had to be removed.

Alas; the effects of the versed did not last and the patient was not happy.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Season: Part II

A few belated Christmas photos as of the last night before the oh-so-desperately-awaited Solstice. We have, happily, finished our Christmas-related outings, not including Christmas day, of course. Last night was the Seattle Choral Company's presentation of "On Christmas Night," a somewhat eclectic collection of songs organized around a theme of Dark (first half) and Light (second half). Scott felt that a lot of the songs were similar in tone, causing them to blur into each other. Possibly a stressful week and an extra bit of margarita at dinner (at the always excellent Oaxaca, this time the one on Capitol Hill) just made me particularly tired but, one way or another, I had trouble staying awake in a way that hasn't been an issue previously. I actually liked the focus on light/dark; this year, more than most, I've been aware of the need for holiday lights and the like in the darkness. But not enough to reconcile me to this year's choral program.

 Today we devoted the morning to taking Gradka to the vet ("ideal" was the word the vet used to describe her apparent physical condition, much to my conditional relief: I'm waiting for the blood and urine test results to completely let go of my Gradka-related anxiety). This afternoon was mostly given over to wrapping Christmas gifts. I'm giving people in my family pretty much the same (very desirable and useful!) gifts this year which made the wrapping a little on the repetitious side but at least I had a variety of wrapping papers to choose from--and the tree is a little more photogenic than it was a few days ago, what with having gifts beneath it now.

Of the tree I can only point out that the wall behind it is green, not yellow; adjust your colors accordingly.

The most exciting Christmas-related news is that this year's box of cookies has arrived and been opened at the Thornton house, meaning I can now post a photo of the box as it looked before it was entrusted to UPS. One might note that the frosting is smudged on the iced cookies. Quality was maybe not Job 1 in Madame Gradka's Cookie Factory this year.

2014 edition of the Thornton cookie box

Not included in the box was this cookie that I sort of feel embodies the Christmas season:

Though, in truth, an aviation (or two) while watching It's A Wonderful Life almost turns that frown upside down, even if it didn't restore the lost leg.

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's beginning to smell/sound/feel a lot like Christmas

The "feel" portion, unfortunately, is that I am exhausted and just want to sleep all the time, a tendency rather exacerbated by the couple of hours at Benaroya Saturday night;  "Sleeping Beauty" was somewhat aptly named as I found myself all but dozing during it. The sartorial high point of the evening was beyond question Joshua Roman's remarkable houndstooth suit. (I was not the only one remarking upon it during intermission and now I'm just so pleased to have found out that it's a Mr Turk design.) We were underwhelmed by the new piece by Mason Bates that Mr Roman was debuting but this line in the program notes has been getting a lot of mileage around the house:
The young American composer Mason Bates is at home in two musical worlds: contemporary “classical” composition and the popular music of our time, especially the rhythmic variety known as “techno."
 Those kids and their "techno" mu-sic. Etc. In truth, I'd like to hear the piece again to see if it improves upon a second hearing.

Cookies: check!
Mongolian hordes and armies of light and darkness (aka peanut blossom cookies, pillowcase cookies, and windowseat cookies. Hmmm; even the "real" names for these cookies are a bit unlikely, now that I look at them).
Tree purchased and decorated: check / photos TK.

Christmas ships seen: check.
It was a gorgeous evening on Alki and yet another reason to so love living in West Seattle. The Christmas ship and its followers were quite lovely out on the water. The singing, not so much.

Children's choir heard: check.
The Endolyne Children's Choir, on the other hand, was charming and delightful.

I have yet to get serious about shopping and wrapping gifts but I'm sure I'll get to that. Eventually.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Vancouver Trip

November was my month of travel and, fun though it may have been (and it was!), I am glad that I'm staying put in December. Oh, I may be thinking about a day trip or two to look for snow geese and the like but, I'm not planning to sleep anywhere but my own beloved bed any time soon.

This last weekend's trip to Vancouver was planned back in August when I gave tickets for Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe Christmas show to Scott for his birthday. There is no Seattle show this year so a trip to Vancouver (where we stayed at the quite pleasant Buchan Hotel) was required.

View from the window at the Buchan

The train trip north included an unscheduled hour or so at the Bellingham station while they checked a reported blockage on the tracks to the north. Happily, it turned out to be a false alarm, and--even more happily--I opted to step off the train to wait at the station while they pulled the whole train back up the track to avoid blocking an intersection. I suppose I could have spent that hour in the Parlor Car drinking fancy cocktails, but it was much nicer to get some cold fresh air and have a look at the birds to be seen in the immediate vicinity of the station. Especially when those birds included this handsome little creature:

Hermit thrush by the water by Bellingham Station

There were quite a number of birds to be seen from the train before and after the unscheduled stop as well. Birding from the train means snapping a lot of photos and hoping to be able to identify the results later. 

This group includes a number of pintails.

We arrived in Vancouver only an hour or so behind schedule. We checked in, had a cup of tea, did some shopping, and then went to Vij's for dinner. I'm sorry to say the food was less spectacular than on our first visit but it was still a lovely first evening in the city.

As it happened, it was Grey Cup Weekend which meant, among other things I'm sure, that there was a parade through downtown on Saturday. We missed some of it but arrived along the parade route in time to watch a number of marching bands, admire a couple of floats, and be baffled by the ways of foreign lands. I was disappointed not to get a nerf football but I did take some snaps.

I have no idea what this means but it's my new motto.

After the parade, we had tea and coffee at Finch's Tea House  (which could not be less like its website suggests) and then bought a number of books at MacLeod's Books. After depositing our purchases at the hotel we continued along to Stanley Park where we managed to spend an hour or more circling Lost Lagoon after which we were too cold to remain outside much longer. The Lagoon was quite rewarding, however

Stanley Park could be named Spotted Towhee Park. I've never seen so many. I was cursing my inability to get a decent photo of them when this little fellow threw up his wings in despair and obligingly posed for me. Repeatedly.

Alas, there is no sound or video of this amazing mute swan which powered through the water, pushing a great quantity of water along before it. Imagine "Swan Lake" performed by leaden-footed five-year-olds.

After an excellent dinner at Adesso Bistro  (the front door of which was conveniently located about a dozen feet from the front door of our hotel), we scurried along to the Stuart McLean show which was, as always, quite lovely though yet again I was not the oldest nor the youngest person present and thus did not win any prizes.

The return trip, via Amtrak Bus, was fine. There are a lot of bald eagles along the I-5 corridor.

Book Report: Ironweed is a violent little tale.