Tuesday, December 25, 2007

squeaky toys

This is a little something I like to call

Christmas Carnage...


Monday, December 24, 2007

blades of glory

We had our annual holiday rendezvous with Sarah's family yesterday, which is always the quintessential Seattle Experience. We meet at the Seattle Center, which is a giant park and cultural mecca built for the 1962 Worlds Fair. It includes such icons as the Space Needle, Monorail station, and EMP, as well as the opera, ballet, theaters, museums, sports arenas...I could go on and on. But for one magical month every Christmas, it also features a semi-outdoor skating rink. Seattle doesn't come close to achieving the temperatures necessary to sustain an outdoor rink, making this one extra special.

We started the morning in the Center House enjoying assorted Starbuck beverages and baked goods, followed by a gift exchange. The coolest present had to be the ducks and honey bees their family gave us. We really appreciated that gift because it will keep giving in a meaningful way for a long time.

We also feasted our eyes on the extensive, tiny Victorian village that is set up each year. Rowan stood in line to be first when the conductor started allowing kids to help him operate the electric trains that wind through the village. He even scored a wooden train whistle from the conductor.

With those festivities concluded, we all headed for the rink where we paid a dour man in a little booth for entry and skate rentals. Each year, I'm reminded of when I was a kid and ALWAYS owned my own skates. Being raised in the east and midwest, I could always count on months of good skating. My favorite pond was in Fredonia, NY. There was an old shack next to it where you could warm up by a stone fireplace, and buy bad hot chocolate in a styrofoam cup for a quarter. It was the best bad hot chocolate ever. I always burnt my tongue.

From about 4th grade on, the day after Christmas usually meant hopping a Greyhound bus for the 8-13 hour trip to spend the rest of winter break with me dear ol' da in Ottawa, Canada. Upon arrival, there was always the initial visit to the skate-swap place to trade in our outgrown skates for "new" ones. It was essential to have skates there, as Ottawa boasts the longest skating canal in the world, winding for 8k through the city. Throughout the long winters, the canal is dotted with hot chocolate huts and chip shacks, and intricate ice sculptures that are judged in an annual contest.

And every winter, right up to yesterday, there's that ache I get in my ankles after I've been at it for awhile. But like all the years before, I ignore it and keep skating. One of the beauties of the outdoor rink is the way your feet eventually go numb. I find this to be a key endurance factor. I just plain love to skate. I can still do simple spins, but I'd need less of a crowd to attempt anything more adventurous. This short-timer rink was packed in no time, with a large number of the skaters being Rowan-sized or less and using little "walkers" to stay upright.

Larkin impressed everyone by boldly skating alone for the first time this year, and with enthusiasm to boot. She took a couple of spills, but just kept on going. In fact, she was the last one off the ice and could have gone longer. That was enough to thaw my frozen feet right there!

As tradition dictates, we finished off the rendezvous with an all-family spin on the old carousel outside the rink. I love that thing. Each horse has unique decorations that tell a story about its life before it was captured and rooted to a pole. Some are madly gnashing at their bits, some look like they're prancing happily. I saw one with tears in its eyes, and one armed for battle. The one must have known something about the other.

It's Christmas Eve now, and as I write, I think of the different family and friends near and far who may read this. I wish for each of you a moment of pure, childlike joy that allows you to access that feeling of unfettered freedom and limitless possibilities.

Merry Christmas to all! -k8-

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

hug-a-teacher day

He makes a real difference to a lot of young people on a daily basis.

My hero. -k8-

Saturday, December 15, 2007

snow dogg

Lest you think we're nothing but sunshine and granola over here, I have proof that we occasionally experience actual "weather."
Behold, Leo's first snow!

Tim took this one in our front yard, under my favorite birch tree. A very unusual Seattle scene. -k8-

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

thanks were given

This Thanksgiving we declined all offers (no matter how tempting), loaded backpacks, and hiked all over Discovery Park with the kids and dogs. We walked for hours, looking for shells and pretty stones, discovering gnome trails and hobbit holes. The day was cold and clear.

As the sun dipped over Puget Sound, we sat on a scenic overlook to enjoy a deluxe picnic, complete with turkey sandwiches and mashed potato chips.

For all of this, I am truly thankful. -k8-