I have been thoroughly enjoying Christmas vacation and a three-week break from work—a very full and satisfying three weeks. I share here some highlights (thanks to Joann for the photos) as my extended holiday winds down:
Prior to our departure from Olympia to go stay with family in SW Washington, Joann worked fervently to complete several of her crafted gifts for family and friends. During her periods of creation I did most of the cooking and cleaning, so I like to think, as I told some of the recipients, that I helped make their gifts, albeit indirectly. And Joann, bless her heart, laughed every time I turned this fact into a tired joke for said recipients.
A shot of Brad (friend) and I in Pioneer Square (Portland). Along with Joann and Heather (Brad’s wife) we ventured into the city for pizza and wandering, absorbing the Christmas atmosphere while meandering through the streets of downtown. A couple weeks after this, Brad and Bryan (friend) and I “rebooted” an old tradition started over a decade ago of heading to Cannon Beach on New Year’s Eve (for the day). We enjoyed a rain-free day of Frisbee, hiking, renowned pizza, and a coffee shop game of “Settlers of Catan” that drew the attention of many (puzzled) customers, including a reporter for the local paper interested in tourism to their town and intrigued by our tradition. And what a good tradition it is!
Joann got to see her best friend Sarah (top left), I enjoyed a nice nap (good picture, though kind of ruined by the baby…thanks for thwarting a perfectly good "sleeping picture," baby), and we attended perhaps the most structured (yet still fun) Christmas party I’ve ever been to, complete with a gingerbread house construction contest and an interpretative-dance-to-awful-Christmas-songs competition. My team didn’t win either of the competitions; but I did get to repackage a snowman “thing” for the white elephant gift exchange that I’d obtained at my work’s recent Christmas party a couple weeks back.
Joann and I enjoyed a two-day rain-free trip to Seaside just before Christmas. We stayed at a Victorian-style Bed and Breakfast Hotel (which no longer serves breakfast …so I guess we stayed at a Bed) only a block from the beach. The pictures show the end of the day and likely mid-day, with early afternoon “energizers” in our right hands. I enjoyed long jogs along the water, time spent reading through my textbook-like ethics book, plenty of seafood, and also some down time devoted to doing absolutely nothing productive, nothing directly tied to other pursuits, projects, or ambitions. Is that a significant feat for anyone else?
I hope I don’t regret condoning my wife’s posting of this photo on her facebook; I include it here because I’m just “going with it.” On the right is the view out my Grandma’s window on Christmas, where we enjoyed our traditional family Christmas dinner. We spent several days in Woodland, enjoying time with family, sleeping a lot, exchanging gifts, and introducing my Grandma to confounding movies (Inception) and more accessible ones (Wall-E). As for the doll; well, Christmas morning at my parents included the revelation of my childhood doll to my wife. Would she have still married me had she known? Hard to say. This doll, now dysfunctional likely due to rust, makes a sort of crying sound when you tip it too quickly or spank it. Her (his?) eyes also close when she/he is laying on her/his back. I swear, I also had Legos, baseball cards, and teenage mutant ninja turtles.
I met with several friends throughout the break, though failed to take pictures with them all. Though I did get a picture with the most ravishingly handsome of them, Dan, seen in this picture. Apologies to Trevor, Ian, Mark and Jake (other Portland dates) for my failure to capture the moment. I blame my wife. For not being there to take the picture.
A shot with Ron, Matt (Boyd), and Larry at Ron's for enchiladas and margaritas. I met Ron and Larry in September as fellow groomsmen in Matt Boyd’s wedding in LA. Fun to have a bit of a reunion. And to laugh...a lot.
Joann’s parents’ Christmas tree. We’re back in Olympia as I write this, though we haven’t yet truly celebrated Christmas with Joann’s side of the family. The plan was to do so on Jan 1, with her massive extended family ("massive" relative to mine, at least…I am after all an only child), but it was postponed until this coming weekend, due to widespread sickness among Joann’s siblings, nieces and nephews, parents and grandmother, and Joann herself. One of the few who emerged unscathed? Myself, which I told somebody recently was probably due to my steady diet of jogging and microbrews, neither of which I think any of the infected really partake. Though Joann’s mom also didn’t get sick, and she doesn’t jog or drink, so maybe my theory is inadequate.
And maybe more important than any events, people, or wisdom acquired over the past three weeks was this: I got new shoes. I can tell the difference; my feet don’t hurt like they used to.
Here's (actually raising my coffee mug) to 2012 and new goals and experiences. To the fulfillment of some hopes and the likely, necessary abandonment of others. To acquiring that elusive six-pack that always seems more realistically attainable at the outset of the year. Sculpted abs: a hope to be fulfilled? Or abandoned? My optimism runs wild and untamed at the beginning of a new year…