This year, the Stake’s super activity was rafting on the Deschutes River, followed by a hike on Mount Saint Helens. This was my last Youth Activity before my mission. We drove to Maupin in Eastern Oregon late Wednesday night, after stopping at Carl’s Jr. in possibly Longview. Obviously we made use of the playplace.
We arrived in Maupin and stayed at a campground. The next morning we did the rafting part of the trip.
With a house full of family, none of whom had visited Seattle in several years (or ever, in the case of the youngest two cousins), we made the most of the time we had — and the summer sunshine — and took them on a forced march whirlwind tour.
A Caspar Babypants concert was scheduled in Magnuson Park on the evening they arrived in town, so that was our first stop.
It’s been a while since any Jane Austen-related entertainment has come our way, so we were excited to see that Wing-It Productions was producing Austen Translation, an improvised 90 minute play inspired by the characters and stories of Jane Austen. The play is unscripted and begins with a few suggestions from the audience before the story begins, so every performance is different. The actors also switch around characters so the entire cast gets the chance to play lead and supporting roles.
From the official press release:
Austen Translation tells the story of a bright young heroine’s journey to navigate the designs of her family and the delicacy of her heart. Each performance, the trained improvisational actors will give prominence to the name of one lucky audience volunteer before gathering other suggestions to create a new cast of suitors, sisters, and spinsters for every performance. Some volunteers from the audience will even have the chance to sit down on stage for tea with the more respectable members of society to give their take on the gossip of who’s engaged and who’s not.
Guess who was the lucky audience volunteer? I was chosen to name the heroine’s family. Hopefully my paternal grandmother, an English teacher, appreciated the homage!
As can be gathered from the blog post title, the Brazilian martial art form, capoeira, was another audience contribution. Our intrepid heroine was in search of a worthy sparring opponent when a group of eligible bachelors (including a ninja) moved in to the manor next door. How excessively diverting!
The actors played so well off each other and with such lively timing that it was hard to believe the scenes and characters were improvised. The banter between the characters was clever, funny, and fresh. Jane Austen herself would have been quite at home in our audience. Austen fans who “dearly love a laugh” along with Elizabeth Bennet will thoroughly enjoy the nonstop wit and subtle innuendoes that aptly honor the spirit of the author.
Returning to our performance, would our heroine’s overly sensible sister succumb to the deadly “feather lung” contracted during the village Wings and Wheels festival? Could a gentleman in possession of an effeminate sneeze ever hope to find a wife? You had to be there to find out the answers, but don’t miss out on the next story! (It was such a fun evening, I may have to return.) Austen Translation runs through February 8 and will be featured at the Seattle Festival of Improv Theater in mid-February.
This year’s Christmas season was much simpler than usual. Between a second holiday season where the Gimlet is still searching for work and my new Relief Society duties, Team Gimlet had neither the resources nor the time to send cards, bake cookies, or shop for gifts. I’ve always heard about families who opt for a service-only holiday season and while finding it admirable, it was a surprise to find ourselves having exactly that experience this year. It was a joyful and humbling experience to have the opportunity to bring cheer and happiness to others, especially when our own circumstances are similarly reduced this year.
Thing One performed in his school orchestra’s annual Hollyberry concert, where the chamber orchestra played Beethoven’s Sinfonia No. 7 in D – Allegro.
The Sunday evening before Christmas, we welcomed Santa into our home for an early plate of Hå’s cookies and a short visit, as he has done every December since Thing One was born.
Thing Two has grown progressively more excited about Santa’s visit over the years, but he still keeps a respectful distance when Santa is actually in the house. Note that this year he is using the armchair and his big brother as a buffer.
Santa requested a little holiday violin music, and it is safe to say that Thing Two was much more nervous about playing one tune for Santa than he is when playing a set for a full room.
Christmas Eve was the usual family party with plenty of delicious food and lively conversation; we didn’t return home until midnight.
Originally we expected that Christmas Day would be unscheduled and quiet, but the Sunday before Christmas, we learned that the LDS missionaries assigned to our congregation didn’t have anywhere to go for Christmas. This looks like a job for the Relief Society President! And how do you throw together a Christmas dinner on short notice? Hå offered to sponsor our favorite (and ridiculously easy) holiday meal: Dungeness crab. One of the missionaries was from Alaska and his Utah companion had learned to love seafood, so they were as excited about the delicacy as we were.
We joined the crowds at the grocery store on Christmas Eve morning to throw together the rest of the menu before the shops closed and we had to begin the drive south to our own party. Hå also contributed some Christmas crackers to the festivities, which were a new experience for the missionaries. Their favorite part of the evening, however, was the time they spent Skyping their families, as Christmas is one of the two times per year that the missionaries are allowed to talk with family. One missionary chose the desktop and the other used the laptop, so they didn’t have to take turns and both could enjoy long holiday conversations. Next Christmas we will be Skyping or FaceTiming with Elder Thing One from wherever he ends up serving his mission, and we hope his Christmas host family takes good care of him.
Our New Year’s Eve also ended up being more fun than expected! Hå decided she would like to see the zoo’s WildLights Winter Festival and invited us to join her. The night was cold, but it wasn’t raining, which is enough incentive to get outdoors for a good walk. The light displays were pretty and we’re looking forward to doing the WildLights walk again next year.
After dinner at a nearby burger place, we drove Thing Two to a New Year’s Eve party where he and his teacher would play together to start the dance. This was Thing Two’s first experience playing for dancing, but his teacher encouraged him to keep his eyes on her and not be distracted by all the activity and noise around him (in Scandinavian folk dancing, the musicians stand in the center of the hall and the dancers move in a circle around them). He played three tunes with his teacher and managed to keep up, although he was a little tired by the end of the set. Then he got to watch his teacher play for two more dances, including one tune he is currently learning.
Thing Two enjoyed a cookie after his performance, and he and his entourage (formerly known as Thing Two’s parents, but we can see that entourage is in our future, so we’re trying to get used to it) visited with the party guests. After the hosts set the glögg aflame and poured a few fiery ladles into the pot for dramatic effect (Thing Two was asked, “Isn’t this better than Harry Potter’s Goblet of Fire?”), it was time to drive a sleepy Thing Two home and tuck him into bed just before the beginning of the new year.
It’s been a while since we’ve managed to take a photo of the entire family, and here we are, all bundled up at the zoo on a frosty New Year’s Eve. When did Thing One get so tall? For that matter, isn’t Thing Two about the size Thing One was when the blog began?
In the spirit of moving onward and upward, best wishes to you and your families for a happy and abundant 2013!
This year I thought I’d try my luck by submitting Hardanger projects to two different fairs. First was the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe. It’s much smaller than the Puyallup Fair but since we were driving to Camp Pigott every week, it was practically on the way. And as it turned out, it was a very good idea:
My centerpiece won the following awards:
Award of Excellence (green and white rosette, given at judges’ discretion; Open Class Needle Arts)
Best of Division (purple rosette; Hardanger division)
Class Winner (purple and white rosette; Hardanger colorwork class)
Sweepstakes (green and red rosette; Open Class Needle Arts)
Pretty neat! The Gimlet and the Things could only handle so much forced admiration (for all the judging details and more close up photos of the embroidery, read my craft blog post), so they went in search of a scone wagon.
A few weeks ago, Thing Two was invited to attend a day camp being organized by some friends. Advertised as “amazingly fun summer camp,” it sounded like the perfect beginning to the summer.
The camp more than lived up to its name! On the first day, the boys tie-dyed shirts and decorated sticks. As in times of old, the boys were asked to leave their weapons on the threshold before entering the house, so every day we walked past an orderly row of brightly colored sticks in the carport.
Nature day was rainy, but that didn’t prevent these Seattle boys from going on a hike in the nearby woods, followed by dissecting owl pellets. Thing Two was not sure that “taking apart owl poop” was going to be an enjoyable way to spend his time, but he was pleasantly surprised and intrigued by all the tiny bones, and proudly showed off the skull he found in his pellet.
On music day, the two camp leaders, both musicians, brought several different drums, guitars, and other instruments for the boys to try out. The group also toured our local fire station (fortunately the weather had improved for their walk) and finished the day by making chocolate chip cookie dough.
The final day was sunny and warm for water day, which included a slip-and-slide race and a water fight. When it was time to pick up the campers, they were enjoying their cookies and showing off their new shirts.
Not only was it an amazingly fun summer day camp, Thing Two pronounced it a “crazy fun” summer day camp and hopes there will be one next year! He loved playing outside with the other boys (rain or shine), and enjoyed all the activities. Bravo to Drew and Liam for organizing and running such a great week!
A new shirt, a big stick, and a face covered in cookies he made himself: summer doesn’t get much better than this.
After last year’s spring never came, these occasional sunny days are irresistible. Happily, they are becoming more and more frequent, so we may enjoy a real spring this year. In all the years we’ve lived in Seattle and spent time on the University of Washington campus, we’ve never deliberately made the trip to see the Quad’s famous cherry blossoms … until today.
It was a glorious day to be out in the Quad. Incredibly crowded and busy, with plenty of people-watching to do. Lots of engagement shots, family pictures and just picturesque scenery meant there was a lot of camera gear to check out as well. While watching the world go by, part of the world looked especially familiar: friends from our church ward several years ago had made a day trip to the city and just happened to walk past us! We keep in touch on Facebook, but it was so fun to see them again.
After taking pictures of the cherry blossoms, we decided to wander through Red Square to Rainier Vista to see if Drumheller Fountain was on. The fountain wasn’t on, but we found something better: a supercar show was taking place in Red Square. Team Gimlet are huge Top Gear fans, so this was a real treat to see so many of the cars which have been featured on the show.
The Gimlet and Thing One quickly headed off to look at their favorites (the Aston Martins, the Lamborghinis and the Ferraris) while Your Humble Narrator and Thing Two stopped to geek out over examine the Ariel Atom.
And then the Atom’s owner asked Thing Two if he’d like to sit in it!
Thing Two is less like The Stig and more of a Captain Slow, but he was pretty pleased to be in the driver’s seat, checking out the instrument panel.
He doesn’t realize that his entire automotive experience has now peaked at age six. Sorry, Thing Two, it’s not going to get better than this.
Sunshine, sakura, serendipity and supercars all combined to create a wonderful Saturday afternoon.
For a number of years, I have been either a table host or a vice chair for the annual Bellevue Friends of Scouting event. Until two years ago it was a breakfast and sponsored by the Seattle Seahawks. Last year the event became a luncheon and was sponsored by the Seattle Mariners. I took Thing One and a couple of other scouts from the troop I was Scoutmaster for to the event. They had a good time and were well received.
This year, I ended up volunteering to bring scouts to add some “ambiance” to the event. The thought was that by having an ambassador scout at each table, the guests would give more. It also seemed like a good idea to use my troops scouts rather than Bellevue scouts because Seattle Public Schools had a day off between semesters set for the same day as the luncheon. Unfortunately, two weeks before the event, the school district set that Friday as a makeup snow day. However, the event still needed its ambiance!
Getting the scouts to the event resembled assembling for a camp out, except the boys were supposed to be in full uniform; and we had to be on time!
On the way to the luncheon I instructed the boys on the proper use of eating utensils. (“Use the silverware. This is not summer camp!” — I try to speak at the level they need to hear.)
The boys enjoyed the lunch and particularly enjoyed meeting Mariners players Mike Carp, Michael Saunders & Jesus Montero along with Field Manager Eric Wedge.
As an old fogey I was amazed to think how close in age the players were to the scouts. My how our perspective changes over our lifetime!
I think my vague goal of impressing on the boys the value and importance of the connections they can make through scouting worked. They also got to see the support the business community in the greater Seattle area provides to help the program work for them. It was a fun and meaningful luncheon.
Is it really the end of the year already? To paraphrase another blogger, 2011 has been a year never to be forgotten and we hope never repeated.
Since we last posted in mid-October, the Gimlet and his employer parted ways just before Halloween, and the Things’ great-grandmother (whose 90th birthday was celebrated in grand fashion) passed away Thanksgiving Day, exactly six months to the day after Bopa died. With so much sorrow and uncertainty occurring in a short space of time it’s been challenging to think positively and move forward, and we’re so grateful for the support of family, friends and our church community during this difficult year. We’ve especially taken to heart some advice given to the Gimlet to focus on the abundance in our lives: not just the good things we currently enjoy, but the great potential for future success:
We’ve had a genuinely happy holiday season, with plenty of delicious food, lively conversation, and continuation of the traditions from years past as we remember our loved ones who are no longer with us. We agree it has been the sort of season they would have wanted us to have. While we dropped the ball on blogging, our newest family blogger, Hå, has been busily recording all of the past months’ events in great detail. (That is why she is the unofficial family historian!) Just remember: it’s not shamelessly harvesting all of her hard-written content if we call it outsourcing. Visit her blog and read all about our November and December there:
A day trip to Lynden, WA would not be complete without watusi cattle, caramel apple pie from the Dutch bakery, and a sedated angry cat in the back seat of the car. Well, we could do just fine without the cat next time.
To provide our readers with a little original content, here are a few photos from a Christmas shopping visit to the Pike Place Market.
We had fresh Dungeness crab for Christmas Eve, but we buy ours at a neighborhood fish market much closer to home.
Seattle-native uncles will find it heartwarming to learn that Thing One discovered one of their favorite Market haunts (and a must-stop for any geek tourist): Golden Age Collectibles. Meanwhile, Thing Two keeps an eye out for more Daleks.
Several adventures are already in store for the coming year and will be revealed in good time … until then, best wishes to you and your families for an abundant 2012!
All of us, and Thing Two especially, had a lot of fun playing with his cousins while they were here. They live on the other side of the country, so we don’t get to see them very often.
Visits to the many neighborhood parks were always an easy way to have fun. In this park, the kids were able to tour a community garden and explore a walking path as well as play on the playground.
The children almost enjoyed the play areas at the zoo more than the animals. Zoomazium, with its treehouse and mountain, were a big hit. In the exhibits, we were able to see the mother ocelot teaching her new baby how to catch and eat prey; fed birds at the Willawong Station, and the penguins, bears, and otters provided a lot of entertainment as well.
They returned to the zoo a couple of times during their stay, but we were only able to join them once.
The group photo is blurry, but that’s as close as we could get to taking a picture of five excited kids (six, including the baby in the stroller).
Speaking of group photos: Smile, you’re at a funeral!
To be sure, a family gathering of this size is unrepeatable, so we all accepted the necessity of commemorating the event with a picture, but probably only the children were excited about having their picture taken. As for the memorial service, we all agreed that Bopa would have approved of and enjoyed the blend of happy and poignant memories which were shared, as well as the lovely performance of Bach’s Prelude to Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major.
Our family gatherings also involve plenty of food, and preferably fresh, local seafood. For Sunday dinner, the Gimlet grilled Copper River sockeye salmon to perfection, and Uncle Q baked three pies. Our final family meal together was a Dungeness crab feed. Upon inspecting the “bone bowl” for missed tidbits, Uncle Q claimed to be rendered speechless by the amount of leftover crab he discovered. For all his claims that words failed him, he seemed to have plenty to say on the matter. (And he did recover about a plateful; not too shabby.) Here he lectures on the proper extraction technique:
Another blurry photo, because high dudgeon moves nearly as quickly as excited children.
Monday morning the GrandGimlets packed up and returned home; Tuesday morning Uncle Q, Auntie Lou, and all the cousins did the same. It’s been a mostly fun, always busy week. On one hand, it feels good to put away all the folding chairs, extra dishes, bedding and towels and take a break from preparing large-scale dinners (and cleaning up after them!) — at times these past several days have felt like Bilbo Baggins’ unexpected party from The Hobbit, as we marveled at how many people we could seat and feed in our little house. But it’s sad to recognize that all the work has ended because our family is no longer with us.
A steady stream of out-of-town family members arrived throughout the week to attend Bopa’s memorial service last Thursday, and several are staying through the weekend. Saturday we took Grandma and Grandpa Gimlet to Ebey’s Landing National Historial Reserve on Whidbey Island. Grandma Gimlet had never ridden on a ferry before, so we had to remedy that. Then, as we drove across the island, we were surprised to see about ten bald eagles circling, then landing, in a field.
The day began a little overcast, but by the time we arrived at the beach, the sun was out, and warm enough to temper the ocean breeze.
Thing One has a reputation for being a polar bear, but even Thing Two didn’t need to wear a jacket as he ran up and down the shoreline, throwing rocks in the water.
The GrandGimlets also found plenty of interesting rocks and a nearly complete crab shell.
The last time we went to Ebey’s Landing, Thing Two was very fearful of the waves, but today he wasn’t scared and was able to relax and have fun.
Has it really been almost two years ago since our last visit? Next time we won’t stay away so long.