A rebuilding year

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I’m not much of a sports enthusiast, but I’ve always liked the phrase “rebuilding year.” I’ve heard it invoked when a team gets a new coach or a bunch of players graduate or what-have-you and I just really like the idea of it. I’m in the middle of a job search – a process that, for me, requires a lot of reflection as I examine what I want to be doing and how to present my skills, etc. and I’ve decided that 2016 is going to be a rebuilding year for me. I’m cutting myself some slack and just working on making small sustainable steps to change the things that I want to improve in my life. It’s hard work, but feels like I’m on the right path.

Otherwise, life here is pretty great. We spend a lot of time with these goofballs:

DogParkAntics
AustinGoofballWally

We also added a few members to the “extended pack”. Erik & Nerissa adopted this handsome fellow:

Finn

His name is Finn and while they’re still getting used to having a young, exuberant dog after only having an older dog, I think they are enjoying him. Austin is certainly a big fan:

NewDogPackWe also dog-sat for Todd’s boss’ dog Natasha, a.k.a. Austin’s boss. (T’s office is dog friendly, so Austin goes in a couple of times a week.) It’s pretty crazy watching this tiny thing lay the smackdown on two big dogs. She’s fearless and apparently indestructible:

NatashaBoys

She also spent a lot of time stealing bones and hoarding them on the couch

NatashaAustinAustinNatashaSleeping

We’ve also been enjoying our new surroundings. In February, I took a PTO day and tagged along on one of T’s trips down to Santa Cruz. Yes, you read that right – FEBRUARY:

SCbeach

I’m a sucker for a cool lighthouse:

SClighthouse

There were also these cool things shaped like giant jacks along the jetty. I’d love to know what they were originally:

SCpilingsSCpilings2There have been some lovely hikes:

Hike1HikeCaveHikeScenery

And some urban excursions around Lake Merritt (which reminds me a lot of our old neighborhood in Seattle):

LakeMerritt

And, of course, lots of culinary adventures. Such as a fancy ice cream place that makes your ice cream to order with some crazy nitrous-using mixer:

SmittenMachineSmitten1Smitten2

Brunch research (It’s important to know what your options are!)

Brunch

And one of my personal highlights was finding this guy while wine-tasting. Meet Clarence, the wine-barfing unicorn. He’s pretty much my favorite thing ever:
Clarence

So, that’s my update. We leave for Hawaii in a little over a week, so get excited for a super obnoxious play-by-play of our awesome vacation! 🙂

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Best Christmas ever

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As tiring as the mega-family Christmas weekends can be, they are great because not only does it feel like Christmas is a week long, but we get the big family celebration and the nice quiet one at home. We had fun social engagements, including having friends over for pittaha on Christmas eve. The boy threw down his usual amount of ridiculousness:

PittahaMontage  Plus, I got some great loot. New slippers from Susan:

NewSlippersWally scored a new mini replacement for his favorite stuffed pig that he finally managed to put a hole in, after four years of trusty service:

WallyMiniPigBut Erik and Nerissa definitely won Christmas this year. First, they had a pair of presents with a note for T to open one of them first, then me the other. T’s turned out to be an ice cream scoop and coupons for a couple of free pints. Mine was a lock for a pint of ice cream. So very rad.

IceCreamMedleyPlus these fantastic dishtowels:

DishtowelsBut the coup de grace was this t-shirt, which I think is pretty much the most hilarious thing ever (apologies to those offended by the c-word):

BestTshirtEverThey also got us a bunch of other thoughtful things, but these were the highlights.

T is pretty much having his best Christmas ever. Not only did he get that fantastic new bike <pats self on back> but our friends Bryan and Jenn asked him to babysit their Tesla. Pretty much T’s dream car. It’s very fancy:

Tesla2It’s got a huge screen that I’m pretty sure can do anything you want:

Tesla1

Even the door handles are fancy FFS:Tesla3

 

A fair to remember

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One of my favorite outings is the Oregon State Fair. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to make the trip down (I’m marking it on my calendar for next year, seriously!) So, we decided to check out the closer Washington State Fair down in Puyallup. I can’t say it’s as awesome as the Oregon one, but we still managed to have a good time. We started off with the animals, which are always my favorite part of the fair. Especially the horses:

SF_DraftHorsesI like walking through the barns, it’s like getting to visit a different world:

SF_HorseThere’s horse bling:

SF_HorseBlingAnd awesome nicknames:

SF_MrSexyWe popped into the arena to watch the draft horse team exhibit. They had a team of Shetland ponies in the line-up, which were definitely a highlight:

SF_PonyTeamMy one big complaint about the Washington vs. Oregon State fairs is that there weren’t as many events. In Oregon, they have all sorts of competitive events, so you get to see more of the horses out in the arena, as opposed to just in the stables. We moved on to the other animals, such as the 4-H dogs:

SF_Dog-4HI was surprised by how chill most of the dogs were with all of the people milling around. Lets just say that Wally wouldn’t excel in this environment…

SF_SleepyDogsAnd of course, we had to visit the piglets:

SF_PigsAnd were treated to another reminder that farm kids have a very different fair experience than the tourists.

SF_FairKidI liked the name they gave the midway:

SF_Sillyville

And this sign:

SF_DuhAnd no visit to the fair is complete without something deep fried. (Too bad it was from the unfortunately named Krusty Pup.) Cheers!

SF_CheersThe boy has been pretty strict with his diet lately, so I think he was pretty excited for a little splurge:

SF_TWe wisely passed on the opportunity to eat here:

SF_Yikes(My favorite part is the slogan on the side: “Eat like you live here” WTF?)

Another highlight of the fair experience are the random exhibits and giant vegetables. Here, Puyallup really brought their A-Game. They had the requisite giant pumpkins:

SF_GiantPumpkinAnd then some sort of “Creepy Mannequin” contest:

SF_CreepyGuy2This one should have gotten the blue ribbon:

SF_CreepyGuyImpressive dahlias:

SF_FlowersAnd a pig made of flowers, because why not?

SF_FlowerPigThen we wandered into Hobby Hall, where we could get our butts kicked at cribbage by old guys:

SF_CribbageTimeAn amazing replica of the Space Needle made out of minerals:

SF_SpaceNeedleAnd then a couple of rooms full of people’s weirdo collections. There’s something special about people who collect raccoons:

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Or moose:
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Or Alf?SF_Collection3

And of course, the clowns… (shudder)

SF_CloseUpAfter all of that crazy, we needed a snack. So we picked one of the many scone lines to stand in. The “State Fair Scone” is a tradition that T introduced me to, and I must say, it’s a tasty one. The place we picked had genuine old ladies on the assembly line, so we knew we were in good hands:

SF_SconeMontageWe even got to see the machinery that cuts the dough into uniform balls. It was cool. We also enjoyed wandering into the Cowboy museum, complete with real cowboys!

SF_CowboyMontageThey were painting and signing autographs, it was quite something. Speaking of a piece of history, I couldn’t resist photographing this replica of a bygone era:

SF_OldTimeT and I debated which item they were least likely to have – aspirin or film.

There was some quality artwork at the fair, starting with this sign:

SF_AwesomeSign

The obligatory Pacific Northwest woodcarver:SF_Sasquatch

I couldn’t stand to spend much time in the “Infomercial Areas” but this sign did beg for a WTF picture:SF_Huh And, if the crowds were driving you nuts, here’s a place where you could catch a break. Plus free water and literature!SF_PopularOn the whole, we had a good time. Gotta love a cultural excursion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The adventure begins

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The last few days were a blur of packing and getting things ready. But finally, the big day arrived and we were off to Northern California. The flight down was uneventful. There was a pretty view of Mt. Rainier and a little “mini me” mountain behind it that I took a picture of from the plane window:

PlaneWindowWe got into Oakland later than scheduled, so we ended up having a late dinner with Erik & Nerissa at a yummy Mexican place. Afterward, we chatted over a nice glass of wine before heading off to bed.

The next morning, we slept in and had a leisurely morning. T bonded with Kali:

TKali

While Mojo watched their silliness. Such a good boy!

MojoI tested out the hammock while Erik & Nerissa were packing up. It’s pretty sweet:

HammockThen we hit the road to Guerneville. We had to stop for gas on the way, and while in the convenience store, I spotted these treasures:

ShaqDrinks(Apparently, Shaquille O’Neill has run out of money!) I thought about buying a couple for my bike hydration, but figured it probably wasn’t the best idea.

We stopped at a really cute little lunch place. We ate outside and Erik tormented the waitress by telling her that all four of us wanted the special we’d just been told they were out of. Her face looked absolutely devastated and then so relieved when she realized he was kidding. (Hope the saliva in his food was worth it… Hee hee!) After a very delicious lunch, we drove the last little bit to the rental house.

When you rent a place online, it’s always a bit of a question of what it will be like in person. Pictures are often inaccurate and it’s hard to capture the feel of a house with pictures. But this place was just as nice as we’d hoped. There was plenty of space to hang out in the living room and a big deck. There were a ton of stairs, one flight down to a hot tub and then another flight down to our own personal dock:

RiverDockThe view of the house from the dock:

HouseThere was a construction site next door and we liked that it looked like they built a little cartoon-style mouse hole in it:

Mousehole

I took care of a little race business and put my bike together and then went for a short run to loosen up the legs a little bit. Then the four of us headed down the road to Korbel for some champagne tasting.

KorbelShould you find yourself in the Russian River valley, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Korbel. They have a ton of different champagnes to taste, so it was fun to try some different types. (I tend to be of the champagne = yummy persuasion, so I’ve never even thought about if I liked a drier vs. sweeter champagne.) It was a great way to kick the trip off:

Cheers

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You were warned…

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I should probably refrain from writing blog posts during taper, but I have so many amusing pictures to share from the last couple of days. (They are amusing to me at least, so apologies if that’s just my crazy brain… ) On Friday morning as I was walking to the office, I was passed by this gentleman and his lovely dog:

RadDogI don’t know if it was a therapy dog or just his pet but I loved watching them. I couldn’t resist taking a surreptitious photo while we waited for the stoplight.

We’ve been having super gorgeous weather lately, so lunch had to be someplace outdoors. Luckily, Reed knew about this little gem:

LunchIt’s a bar/restaurant on the fifth floor of the Red Lion Hotel downtown. The view is obstructed by buildings, but it’s still really awesome out there. Shortly after this picture was taken those tables were all pushed together and inhabited by a huge group of nerds, so the vibe was a bit less fashionable…

After work, I opted to take the bus that gets me to my neighborhood sooner but requires a longer walk home. I passed this amusing bit of vandalism:

TrexSignAnd then walked home by way of Green Lake. There were a million people out enjoying the day, dogs swimming (including an adorable St. Bernard) and it just felt like the epitome of summer.

The next morning we had to get up at the crack of dawn to drive Wally down to Salem, where he’ll be staying while we’re away. We arrived at Susan’s house to be greeted by this post-it note:

PostItFor those who haven’t heard the endless stories, Susan usually has a list of chores for T to do when he visits. Usually they’re more on the order of changing the clock on the microwave and reminding her where gmail lives on her computer, but occasionally she comes up with something epic for him to do. Years ago, she offered to pay for our plane tickets from New York. We pulled into a driveway filled with two pallets of flag stone for a little patio project she had in mind.

But T is a good sport, so he got to work and managed to get the new dishwasher in and the old one outside for pick-up. We even managed to get out for a quick bike ride before we had to head home. The scenery was terrible, as usual:

FarmScenery

But the company was pretty great:
TSusanAnd now all that’s left is a million hours of packing and this little adventure will be off and running. Look forward to some good blog fodder, at the very least.

 

 

 

 

Seeing the sights

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We continued our Vegas experience by sleeping in late (not too surprising given how late we stayed up… ) and then hit a buffet for brunch. (Bellagio does a nice job of brunch, I highly recommend it.) Then we turned T and Erik loose to play some poker while Nerissa and I went to go take care of my packet pick-up at the expo. But first we took a little detour through their lobby and atrium to look at the holiday decorations:

IMG_3612The atrium had these cute polar bears:

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IMG_3602Then it was off to the Sands Convention center for the expo. This race is the biggest race I’ve ever done (by far!) and about four times the size of T’s marathon. I think you could fit the entire Portland Marathon expo in Brooks’ booth at this one. Speaking of which, they had the coolest booth I’ve ever seen. They really get their audience. Look at these mirrors for example:

IMG_3627And the changing rooms look like port-a-potties!

IMG_3626Then you turn the corner and see every vendor that has ever made anything even vaguely running related. It was insane! I did score myself some new compression sleeves and the knee-high compression version of the Injini socks I run in. Zappos had a giveaway where you got a little card initialed when you visited the various booths (the prize turned out to be a cloth shopping bag, which was a bit underwhelming, but what can you do.) We got pretty over-saturated and headed back to the hotel.

Because the expo was at the Venetian, we stopped to take a picture of their lovely lobby. They had an accordion player in the lobby for extra ambience:

IMG_3630One of the more baffling things about Vegas street culture is that all of these people dress like celebrities and cartoon characters and stand around to get their pictures taken for donations. Nerissa couldn’t resist the white trash Mickey & Minnie:

44931_10200169936596301_710432365_nAnd I couldn’t resist snapping a picture from the escalator of this Transformer chatting with some random dude:

IMG_3628The last bit of interesting sights before getting back to the room was this interesting art piece in the shopping center next to our hotel:

IMG_3616Those tubes have little cyclones, as do the colored circles on the floor. The best part was a woman training a seeing eye dog by having him stand on the floor ones. (It must be extra challenging to train helper dogs in Vegas!) The poor dog was completely freaked out by the “floor cyclones” but he was starting to get the hang of it. Nerissa was having fun photographing the tubes:

IMG_3620We had a little time to chill out at the room before the boys returned. It was nice to catch our breath after all of the sights of the day.

Black Friday – Port Townsend style

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Erin & David invited us along on an excursion to Port Townsend, which sounded a lot more fun than storming the local shopping mall. The ferry line was surprisingly light and we were there in no time. I hadn’t been to Port Townsend since 1990-something, but it was just as cute as I remembered it, with lots of little shops and restaurants.

IMG_3516We wandered through a few art galleries and “admired” some of the pieces:

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IMG_3517We had a lovely lunch and did a little more browsing local shops. Then we went to this super cute underground coffee place:

IMG_3512Once you went down the stairs, there was this cool hallway:

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IMG_3518The vibe was awesome and the coffee was pretty good. We had to hit the road so that we could get back to the city at a reasonable hour. Unfortunately, the ferry line was heavier for the return trip, so we had a bit of a wait. While we were waiting, there was a lot of rearrangement of the evening plans. In the end, we were able to tag along for the inaugural year of Zoo Lights.

Even with the pouring rain, it was a very lovely holiday activity:

IMG_3533There were some fun animated sequences with the lights:

IMG_3526And there were a few sections of the zoo open. We got to see the most adorable tree kangaroo actually moving around, which was cool:

IMG_3534I’d say the holidays have started off very festively. We’re lucky to have such wonderful friends to hang out with.