Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year

Just wanted to take a moment and wish all of you that read the blog a very Happy New Year. I will be sleeping through the big event because I will be working tomorrow. Have a great evening and please, please be careful so I can chat with all of you in 2012.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve and Forgotten Children

It starts early in the morning as we rise and prepare for a day of helping Santa deliver toys, food and blankets to folks who have much less than us.

Zach and I headed out to the Sunbreak Cafe in Auburn for breakfast leaving the house just before 6 am. We had a great meal and then headed down to the North Pole. This year it was a large warehouse in Renton, Washington. We were one of the first folks to arrive for the long day of the most enjoyable work you'll do all year.

There are lots of packages, boxes of food and other items staged to be loaded into small box trucks by volunteers. You could call it controlled chaos.

Once all the trucks are loaded we are given a short speech, orientation and we hit the road with our route in hand. We drove around 110 miles from Renton to Woodinville, Kenmore, Beacon Hill, Burien and SeaTac. All areas in and around the Puget Sound region. We are using rental type vans to carry the presents and Santa and his helpers ride in the comfort of Microsoft donated Connection Vans complete with driver and GPS. All I had to do was jump in the rental van with Zach and follow the green and white van.

Our head translator and Santa at work.

Our Head Elf at work.

Our crew at work

The must have self shot of Zach and I

We had fun even though it got dicey once or twice. While our neighborhood visits are intended for a specific family, certain types of complexes can cause issues for us as people see us and realize that Santa it with us. Many young children will show up while we are waiting for Santa to return to the van. Luckily the organization has thought of this and provides us with extra toys to give out as well as some treats. We make an effort to meet those children and give some token even though they are not the primary reason we are there. If you stay out too long, you end up with hordes of kids so we have to be pretty quick.

A good time was had by all and it certainly gives you an appreciation for all the family, friends and things that you have and makes you less willing to wish for meaningless stuff. We all had smiles on our faces as we returned but wonder what will become of the families we visited.

I hope each and everyone of you are having a Joyous Holiday season and unlike so many politically correct folks....I will wish you a very Merry Christmas and may God Bless you in your travels this coming year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

One More Day

One more day until the weekend. Luckily, this year, I get Christmas Eve off. Very difficult to do when you are in the retail business.

I will be picking up my grandson tonight. Tomorrow we will get up early and have breakfast at a Kent diner and then head to the North Pole (Renton, Washington). We will be helping Santa Claus deliver toys and food to Forgotten Children somewhere in the Puget Sound area. It is the first year that Zach is old enough to go out on truck. Usually we work in the warehouse loading trucks. Not this year. We are on the road driving a truck and delivering the goodies with Santa Claus. I'll post a blow by blow description with pictures Christmas morning.

Hope everyone is enjoying the season.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Home and Grandson's Birthday

We made it home safe and sound from our short trip to Portland. We are both still suffering slightly from the effects of the cold I brought into the house. So, as we expected, our plans did change on Saturday evening.

Our daughter, grand daughter and family friend went over to babysit baby James so our son and his wife could attend her company Christmas party. Mia spent a quiet night at home making cookies, doing puzzles and resting. Zach and I went to the Seattle Thunderbirds game last night. To say the least, it was a real disappointment. Going into the third period with a three point lead, the Tri-City team scores five unanswered goals in the third period, four in the first six minutes, to win the game. Tough to watch but not too unusual for a Seattle based team. After the game we came back to the condo so grams and I could give him his birthday present.

Remember I said we couldn't leave Powell's book store without buying something. Well that something was for Zach. A little background. Zach has been obsessed with any and all things related to the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens since he was a very young child. In fact, at 10 he could likely tell you more about the eruption and the incurring aftermath than some geologists. He has had an unabiding interest in all things geological since being a young boy. When we go on hikes, he studies the landscape, examines the rocks and gives us a short report of what he sees.

His dream is to become a Volcanologist. These are the folks that study ever thing related to volcanic eruptions. He is doing well in school and seems to want to make his dream come true. He has kept this same dream for several years and I see no loss of passion for his dream now that he is 16.

So, while searching through the stacks of books at Powell's we came across a book you don't see every day. In fact, I had never seen it before. 844 pages of charts, illustrations, pictures, formulas, chemical tables, timeline and effects of the May 18, 1980 event written by the U.S. Geological Survey. It was and amazing find and Mia and I immediately saw the benefit of getting it for Zach. If he truly wants his dream then why not give him something that will show him exactly what is required to reach his dream. So here it is.

We were expecting some excitement but we caught him flatfooted and speechless as he held the 8 pound book in his hand. I suspect he sat up very late to read last night.

We are looking forward to helping Forgotten Children on Christmas Eve and spending time with family and friends over the holidays.

Hope you are well and have a great holiday season.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Away From Home Again

We are waking up in overcast Portland, Oregon after spending an evening at one of our favorite places to stay, The Governor Hotel near downtown. We have been impressed with the service in this historic landmark hotel from a previous visit.

We are in Portland because I came down yesterday to attend a manufacturer meeting and take a tour of our brand new parts warehouse that will supply us with parts for one of the brands we sell. The facility is huge, eight football fields under one roof serving 130 dealers with 20 warehouse employees. It is a very efficient operation.

We spent the afternoon walking around downtown and went to Powell's Bookstore. A huge, block square, book store that you could spend days in. They have it all. Great place and as usual we didn't leave without buying something.

Last night we went to dinner at Jake's which is in the corner of the lobby of the hotel. We had a very nice meal and excellent service from the staff. We had not eaten in this establishment before but were very impressed. I would save it for a special occasion. It isn't real expensive but it can add up with all the add ons. I have spent more for a meal and been less satisfied.

This morning we are going to have our morning meal at Kenny and Zukes just a short walk from the hotel. Do you like pastrami? These guys are open at 7:00 o'clock AM during the week to serve up some yummy meals. Their pastrami is cured 7 days, smoked 10 hours, steamed for 3 hours & hand-sliced just for you. With advertising like that, how can you pass up an opportunity to enjoy. We first found them on a previous trip to Portland and wanted to purchase some of their wonderful pastrami to go but had lunch and never made it back. This time we will be taking some to go.

The weekend is shaping up. We had hoped to help our son and babysit our latest grandchild but it appears that with both of us suffering from head colds and baby James only wanting his two front teeth for Christmas, our Saturday evening plans may have changed. My older grandson wants to go to a hockey game, so maybe I'll hook up with him and what the Thunderbirds. Sunday might be baking time depending on how we feel. Butterhorns, refrigerator cookies....yummmm

From the blogs I have been reading it appears that everyone is doing fairly well and looking forward to the holidays with family and friends. Except for a persistent cough and runny noise we are doing the same.

Be good.

I stole all the pictures above from other websites...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Had High Hopes

I had high hopes that I might actually slip through this years cold and flu season unscathed. Doesn't look like that is going to happen. Thursday afternoon I started to feel something strange in my throat and sinuses and wham, Friday I was hit full on with a nice head cold. I came home last night and went to bed early hoping to get some much need rest but alas it wasn't to be. I woke up at 10:30 pm and my throat was on fire and felt like it was closing. I got up and came downstairs and spent the remainder of the night wishing my throat would stop hurting. It felt like it was closed slightly and swollen. It was a long night with a lot of chills and very little of the needed sleep. This morning, while I don't feel good, at least my throat seems to be better. Now it is a head/upper chest cold and I feel a little off center. The good is the weekend and I don't have to do much.

I couldn't drag myself up and out to look at the lunar eclipse so I'll have to wait until 2014 to see the next one.

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What Weekend

My first weekend off in some time and it seems like it is ending too fast. Wow the time flew by.

We drove to Gold Bar yesterday. When we left Federal Way it was 33 degrees outside. By the time we got to Gold Bar it was 31 degrees. We pulled into the lot and immediately noticed that the park had cut down two alder trees at the start of the drive. Believe me when I say we are in no way upset over the missing trees. Not only do they dump a lot of leaves on the lot they are dangerous and a threat to fall over. Not surprising to find we now seem to have more light on the lot.

We got out of the truck and walked over to the trailer. The trailer was wet just like the last time we were up to check it. The only difference, this time the wet was a sheet of ice on the trailer and not water. The water had frozen on the trailer including the roof. So cleaning the pine needles would have been impossible and I wash't real big on putting the cover over all that ice. So, we left the trailer the way we found it and went out to lunch. We pretty much wasted yesterday afternoon.

We went to the store this morning and started to put up our Christmas decorations and the tree. Now that we are done with all that we are sitting down and enjoying some quiet time before bed and back to work.

Christmas is coming and my grandson and I will be helping with Forgotten Children on Christmas Eve. More about that later.

Hope you are all doing well and warmer than us. It is getting cold again tonight.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Week End Off

Wow....I actually get the weekend off. It has been two months since I last said that. I am so looking forward to the time I'll spend with my lovely wife and my grandson as we attempt (barring rain) to go to Gold Bar, clean the needles off trailer and install that nice new cover we bought for the old trailer two years ago and never used. It should be an adventure.

As I drove home tonight, Mt Rainier was out in all her glory. Beautiful sunlight falling over her snow covered peaks. It always happens when I don't have my camera with me. It was fantastic and overwhelming to see.

In a previous post I said I thought Christmas music before Thanksgiving was a bit much. Well Thanksgiving is gone, inventory is done and it is time to enjoy family and friends. Now I want to hear Christmas music, classics, country, folk, and every other kind you can find. Leroy the Red Neck Reindeer....heard it on the way home...along with Santa Claus Is Comin' (In A Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train) by the Tractors and Alabama singing Angels Among Us....I really enjoy Christmas. Hope everyone is looking forward to the rest of the season.

Have a great weekend.