Hello, Fall; Hello, Spiders.

23 09 2016

My first few years in Seattle, I didn’t pay attention to fall. Seattle doesn’t get the same over-the-top colors as the East coast, so it’s easy to overlook. But after living in Seattle and getting used to the rhythm of the Northwest climate, the transition time between weeks of unending sun and months of unending clouds feels especially glorious. Mornings are cool, afternoons are warm, the days are dry more often than not, the light seems particularly luscious, and it seems there are spiders everywhere. What’s not to love?

Spider season

One of several spiders I’ve seen around our house in the past few days. 

I’m serious. My rule about bugs is I like anything that doesn’t try to eat me or my food. Those criteria put mosquitos, ants, and flies near the top of my “do not like” list. Spiders, however, leave me alone and happily munch on the things that would otherwise be after the items in my kitchen. It’s more than the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend. With their long, elegant legs and intricate webs… spiders are beautiful. 

So like fall foliage and crisp air, the return of spiders is something to celebrate in the magnificent Northwest autumn.

Halfway through 2016

22 07 2016

We’re now more than halfway through 2016, and for the most part it’s been an awful year and I’ll be happy when it’s a distant memory. The year does have one thing going for it, though. Now that the kids are 8 and 10, we’re firmly in the golden era of parenting. It’s easy to get out and do something fun, like watch an ultimate frisbee game:

Sasquatch and Patrick

Or hike on a glacier:

Our Boys

And this year still has a lot of great family adventures to look forward to, culminating in a trip to London. (Which reminds me… time to start planning our trip to London.) 

So, 2016, you will not defeat me! I’ll make sure you end better than you started.

Day Two in Sydney

5 06 2016

I didn’t think it was possible, but the weather for my second day in Sydney was worse than my first day. On Saturday, there was either torrential rain or howling winds, but not both at the same time. But apparently Saturday was just the warm-up act for Sunday, where Mother Nature decided to unleash everything she had on this city.

When I heard that the weather forecast, I decided that I’d spend the morning at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which would keep me out of the weather. Sure, it was a fifteen minute walk, but I figured with my new waterproof shoes (purchased so I could walk during Saturday’s rain) and my waterproof hoodie, I could survive a fifteen minute walk.

Here’s what I didn’t count on.

First, waterproof shoes don’t help when you have to walk through standing water that goes over your ankles, like I had to here:

Second, I learned that my waterproof hoodie does not have waterproof zippers. I had a nice wet line along my shirt, and the things in my zip-pockets that I thought would stay dry (like my passport!) all got damp.

The rain was so intense that I stopped halfway through my walk to the art gallery to take shelter in St. Mary’s Cathedral and dry out a bit. I felt like a medieval traveller seeking sanctuary.

By the time I made it to the gallery, my fingertips were starting to wrinkle, like I’d spent too long in the bathtub. The inside of the gallery was not immune to the weather, either. Leaky ceilings forced the curators to remove several paintings from the wall to prevent damage. (The wall in the next picture is not supposed to be empty!) Now that I think about it, almost every building I was in on Sunday had buckets set up to catch leaks from the ceiling (St. Mary’s Cathedral, the Art Gallery of NSW, and the State Library).

All told, the Sydney airport got 6 inches of rain this weekend. Other parts of town got even more. I guess winter isn’t the best time to visit…

The Ring

27 05 2016

Seeing this ring on my finger is both the most vivid reminder that my dad is gone and how much I am like him. Strange how that works.

My dad wore this ring pretty much every day. He got it from his father, who “borrowed” it to wear at prom from his brother (or uncle? I can’t remember the details of the story). The ornate script inscription on the inside says “From Father 1920.”

When I see this ring on my finger it reminds me that my dad is gone. It also makes me think of how much I am like him and about the connections that spread across time and generations. Strange how that works.

Scenes from the past weekend

10 02 2016

He may be a goof, but he’s our goof:

Imp (I)

Imp (II)

Alex still greets every camera with a thumbs-up:

Duthie Thumbs Up

I’ve entered a life stage where I’m living for the weekend. The weekdays are a meaningless blur of routine, and then Saturday morning comes and our latest outdoor adventure begins.

Making his Stage Debut!

29 01 2016

I forgot to note the highlight of last week: Patrick made his stage debut in the school production of The Lion King.

Kids surprise you. Participating in the play was entirely Patrick’s initiative. Not only did he choose to be in the play, he knew which character he wanted to be: Ed, the silly hyena who doesn’t talk. Memorizing his “lines” couldn’t have been easier. He had three: Two “hee hee hee!”s and one “huh?” He apparently scowled better than the other hyenas. Early in rehearsal, the director complained that the other hyenas were too nice and told them to act more like Patrick.

If he grows up to be the next Rupert Grint, you can say you saw him here first!



Ed, Closeup

Be Careful What You Wish For, Winter 2016 Edition

22 01 2016

Last winter, we didn’t ski because there was almost no snow in the mountains. The nordic trails at Hyak never opened.

This winter, we missed half of the kids’ first cross-country ski lesson because there was too much snow. This was our view for two hours on Saturday morning:

Our View for Two Hours

Less than a mile in front of us, the DOT had closed I-90 while they cleared multiple stuck vehicles. It could have been worse, I suppose; yesterday, I-90 was closed for most of the day at the mountain pass because the avalanche danger was too high. Growing up in Virginia, I never thought I’d live in a place where “avalanche danger” would be a phrase you’d hear in traffic reports. Still, snow and bad traffic is still makes for a better Northwest winter than no-snow. If you can’t escape to the mountains, the lowland gray and drizzle is just too dreary after a while.

Skiing has finally clicked with the kids. We did three half-day downhill lessons at Stevens Pass this winter. By the end of the third day, Alex could confidently ski down all of the green runs and was starting on the blues. Patrick’s still on the bunny slope, and he’s good at turning right. With his stubbornness and daredevil attitude, I think he’ll be unstoppable shortly after he masters “left.” Both kids prefer their cross-country ski lessons, though. Cross-country has a lot less waiting around and a lot more lets-play-outside. 

I’m glad this year’s giving us more snow to play in. I just hope we avoid the “too much” snow problem for our remaining weekends!

The Boys at Hyak