I live! Truly, I live. There are no excuses for me being away from the blog except for ALL of the excuses. Things are off the rails here, or at least more so than usual, which is saying a lot because we are not known for calm and measured living.
It is impossible to catch up on all the events of the past few months. There were many happenings -- some very good and some very, very bad -- but after all those things we are still here, still well, still living our best-ish lives as we stagger and stumble into 2018 hoping for good things.
When it comes to blog catch ups, they are usually impossibly long, fairly boring, and involve many pictures but not much insight. This time shall be no different, and will play out like a "recent holiday greatest hits" kind of compilation. Sorry for being unoriginal, let's just do this.
It's probably best to start with Christmas, as it is freshest in my memory so I won't have to make up as many fanciful details. Seattle had a white Christmas this year. Snow on the ground, especially at Christmas, is rare in these parts; we woke up and ran in circles outside, laughing like giddy school children (two of us are actual school children but I hope the simile is not weaker for that fact).
Natani, the dog born in a desert, is a snow fanatic and ran through the yard like a snowplow, mouth open and skimming the ground in parallel lines back and forth to put ALL of the snow into her mouth. Her lawn mowing-type precision surprised me because she is a hot mess when it comes to most other things. She accidentally overturns her food bowl then stares at it confused and whimpering, she tries to jump off the couch and lands on her face, she whines while trying to find her ball under the couch, not realizing the ball is sitting several feet behind her. When it comes to snow, however, attention to detail is important to her.
She also likes to chill in the front window with her paw up on the sill and her ball resting nearby for emotional comfort --
Before Christmas, we took the Winnebago up to Vancouver, B.C. for a couple days. We made the kids try virtual reality games and they both got terribly motion sick. The googly eyes applied to the VR masks made it worth it. For Alex and me, anyway --
We then plopped down at a nearby brewery and told the kids we were going to be there for hours to watch the Seahawks game. Oh, the utter betrayal on their faces when they learned they'd been taken football prisoners. Coco immediately asked to play games on my phone, and not in a nice way --
This is the choosing of our Christmas tree. Alex said, as the tree began to slowly slip from Coco's grip, "Lucien, help her, quick, extend your arm!" and Lucien, because he is The Loosh, extended his arm in the exact perpendicular direction from where it needed to be to catch the tree.
I caught the moment on camera,
as Lucien cracked himself up with his non-helpfulness
and the tree fell to the ground.
As Alex hooked the bungee cord to the trunk of our tree in the living room and secured it to the window sill, I said, "Alex, I appreciate your efforts in trying to keep our tree upright but... it's a bungee cord, man." Alex agreed it wasn't the best option but said it was the only thing he could find; we are apparently fresh out of rope and string and other taughter, less stretchy things. I sat in that room with many cups of coffee in the following days and pictured the tree falling over then bouncing up and down at the length of the bungee while squealing, "Whee, I feel so alive!"
Christmas Eve was celebrated at our friends' house with delicious things like ham with cherry sauce and smoked sea bass. The kids played in the snow across the street in an empty parking lot. When you live in the middle of the city, empty parking lots are the substitute for large yards. This particular lot is gated after hours so cars are not a hazard. It's where most of the kids learned to ride bikes, and where scooter races have been known to occur fairly regularly.
We brought a nice bottle of Calvados to share on Christmas Eve (I miss you, France) so suffice it to say, terrible Calvados-inspired dancing to '90s hip-hop happened --
We went to the Nutcracker, where Coco did some impressive dabbing during intermission --
After Christmas Day present opening mania, we climbed into the Winnie B again and ferried to a nearby island, where my sister and sister-in-law live on 12 acres complete with a stable full of horses and an A-frame ski lodge-type house. It's bucolic stuff. We parked the Winnebago on their property and in an attempt to find a level spot, did irreparable damage to a large section of their grass.
We like spending time in the Winnie B, especially in winter. There is something incomparably cozy about waking up in the Winnebago, preferably in a camping spot near the water or nestled amongst a ton of trees, and enjoying a cup of coffee while looking out the window. We dream of scrapping everything and heading off in the Winnie B for years, carrying along only bottled water, a ton of RV-friendly toilet paper, and a dream.
After Christmas we Winnebagoed over to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. It has likely become evident by now that the theme to our holiday break was "I gotta have more Winnebago."
This was our favorite trip in a long time. We camped both at old Fort Worden outside Port Townsend, and the following night in downtown Port Townsend next to the water. Fort Worden is where An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed. It is picturesque with its white barracks and stately old officers' homes surrounding rolling fields of green.
The abandoned, rusted, creaky bunkers at Fort Worden, however, are creepy as hell. I think I impressed my nervous children with my willingness to plunge into empty drippy spaces and straight down pitch dark stairways.
Coco said, "no."
machine gunnery something
Lucien's photobomb game is on point
(If it sounds familiar, Fort Worden is where Alex and I stayed in the haunted tiny castle and then locked our keys in the RV a couple years ago.)
After Port Townsend, we ferried to Victoria, B.C. Alex was living in Victoria when we met over 20 years ago, and a couple of his dear friends are still there. The female half of the couple made our wedding invitations by hand all those many years ago. The tiny daughter they brought to our wedding is now in college. What the hell is that all about.
High tea at The Butchart Gardens.
We may not be high tea people.
We were louder than most, and broke two glasses.
Family selfie in front of the 10 lords-a-leapin' from the 12 Days of Christmas display.
We are not sure why the lords were frogs.
and a daughter doing something odd
and a daughter doing something odd
I don't really remember what happened there, partially due to the passage of time and partially due to the fact my "Vampire's Kiss" cocktail mix was a little stronger this year. I know we had a lot of fun. I know it was the largest turnout in the six years I've thrown the party and was full of very enthusiastic adults with reliable babysitters at home. The adults in our lives look forward to this event every year like kids do Christmas. Some refuse to leave at the end, clinging to the posts on our front stoop and wailing something about "no, please, the children are there...." It makes for a very late night.
I skipped the tarot card/crystal ball guy this year and instead hired a numerologist to do numerology readings in the TV room. He told me I don't suffer no fools, which I'd love to believe about myself but the truth is I suffer fools all the time.
My costume this year was Frida, of course --
Everyone told me it was a very good costume but I still lost to the guy who came dressed as Edward Scissorhands. He's a surgeon by trade so I felt his costume was a bit on the nose, but must admit (grumble grumble) he won by a longshot.
He may not be invited back next year.
What the hell, let's do more holiday. My mom and dad and brother were here for Thanksgiving. I do not dread spending holidays with my family; I look forward to it. They are a fun group of people and we are all on the same page politically speaking. When I hear of other's Thanksgivings, I realize I am very lucky. While my family was doing a jigsaw puzzle and watching Best in Show, one of my oldest friends was defending the #metoo movement to her Uncle Bert. I hope she had a nice bottle of wine at her fingertips. Or two. Or three.
My parents, brother and I rented a home on the island where Raba and Zee live for the long Thanksgiving weekend. We believe the house was haunted because Natani refused to walk down the back hallway. She would stop several feet away from it, hair raised on the back of her neck, and growl a very low growl as she backed away slowly. To our non-dog eyes, there was nothing there but an empty hallway. So that made for some restful nights.
Raba and Zee's A-frame ski lodge-type bucolic setting home.
They are doing living right.
One more holiday! Just one more! A friend organized a family soccer game New Years Day. It was adults versus kids and several soccer balls were used at the same time "to increase the chances of someone scoring." It was absolute mayhem. Then a football got busted out and tossed into the mix and I just don't even know what was happening out there.
Hot mess soccer
Some kids didn't fare so well.
The adults were competitive, and came to play.
And nearly all the adults wore puffer jackets.
We are very Seattle in this picture.
It's been a good couple months, blog friends, but not all has been good. I am not yet ready to talk about the parts that aren't good but trust it, as fun as life has been in recent days, nobody escapes the grind without some pain, heartache, fear, and intense anxiety. Or maybe it's just me? I hope it's not just me. That would be lonely.
I'm going to end this with a couple recent Lucien (and one Lucien friend) quotes because these pre-teen boys are always good for a laugh during hard, weird times.
Me: Lucien! I am so excited. I am taking you to my favorite musical this summer!
Him: Which musical?
Me: Les Miserables.
Him: My name is Rob? That sounds like a terrible musical.
Lucien, eating a hot dog: This tastes amazing.
Lucien's friend: Mom, can I have a hot dog, too?
Friend's mom: No
Lucien's friend: OH come on, Mom!
Lucien: Oh, I'm sorry. Did I wake your inner hot dog?
Teacher at school: The human body is about 65% water.
Lucien's friend: So we're basically cucumbers with anxiety?
(We say this one around the house a lot now, bit of a family motto)
Well that was a long and rambling and pretty damn terrible summary of recent holiday happenings. At least you know I'm still alive, and still in love with a Winnebago.
Here's to 2018.
Your loyal though fairly absentee fellow cucumber with anxiety,