O, Christmas Tree

As is our tradition, Hubby and I used part of our Thanksgiving weekend to start decorating for Christmas.  Since he’s deep in rehearsals for The Nutcracker, it’s important to get the ball rolling right after Thanksgiving – otherwise, we tend to find ourselves at the end of December without a tree (and sometimes without gifts for anyone).  We started the afternoon with a trip to Bluebeard Coffee for a couple of La Pistola (spicy) hot cocoas before heading to Green Acres Christmas Tree Farm in Edgewood, WA.  The Hubby even consented to listen to one the radio stations in town that plays Christmas music on their regular (non-HD) airwaves.  Since he’s not big on holiday music, that was a big concession for him!
We meandered through the farm, each of us pointing out trees that we thought would be good to bring home.  He turned down my first choice:

BehemouthAND he wouldn’t agree to my second choice – something about our living room not being large enough and not having tall enough ceilings…

How about this one, honey?

When wWho says you can't put a tree in your trunk?e agreed on a 7-foot tree with a side that would work against the wall, I was sure that we should have brought the Hubby’s car, with its kayak racks (the ones we’d secured our tree to last year).  The Hubby was certain that it would fit in the trunk.  And he was right, although I was doubtful when I saw the tree lying on the ground next to the car.  I should never doubt his tetris skills.

Loaded & Ready to RollOnce we’d unloaded the tree, it was time to decorate, right? I learned from holiday movies (okay, and from my parents) that it’s important to check your lights BEFORE putting them on the tree.  It’s good that I learned that lesson ahead of time, because my 19-year-old lights have given up the ghost.  One string of lights didn’t come on when I plugged it in – it only lit up at all after I messed with the fancy late-90s dimmer controls that determined how quickly they flashed.  Even then, less than a third of the bulbs lit up – not enough from my point of view.  The second string of lights did mostly light up, but both are showing some corrosion on the wires, and maybe nearly two decades is enough for the lights to last.

If we’d been super productive today and had headed to the tree farm in the morning, we may have still been able to decorate today.  But we were NOT super productive, and I think we only got to the tree farm an hour before closing.  Also keep in mind: this delay happened after we’d already spent an hour or more troubleshooting Amazon Video to try to figure out why our playback is so choppy when streaming my favorite Christmas movie of all time, Die Hard.  I finally lost patience with the technology and opted to watch on my iPhone.

So the Hubby made a run to the store, returned with all-new lights, and we were able to get that much done tonight.  It’s time to take the small victory of having a lit tree in our living room and call it good for now.  Maybe we’ll enjoy a nice, slow week of decorating for Christmas and stay in a festive spirit the whole way.

Stay tuned for photos once the decorations are done!

Black Friday #OptOutside

I was excited for my friend, Lala, when I heard REI’s announcement that they would be closed on Black Friday, but didn’t necessarily think it would affect my life too much.  After all, my normal Friday-after-Thanksgiving plans involve sleeping in and eating leftovers.  When Lala invited me to come “hiking or something” with her, I wasn’t sure trekking through cold, November, Pacific Northwest woods was my idea of a fabulous time.  However, when she updated the invitation to kayaking, that sounded a little better to me.

Conditions were absolutely my favorite.  It was cold out and sunny, with no wind.  I love to paddle when it’s chilly – some long underwear in addition to my normal kayaking gear is usually enough, and I layer a hoodie and scarf in case I need them.  The water was glassy-calm with a bit of steam rising as the sun came over the hill to hit gentle waves.  I soaked up the gorgeous scenery and kept reflecting on how much prettier it was than the inside of any store.

We launched from the Steilacoom boat launch and saw a harbor seal as we headed past the ferries.  I was on the lookout for additional seals when  I thought I saw waterfowl diving in the distance – in pairs.  ‘Hey, wait a minute,‘ I thought to myself, ‘I know what dives in pairs – harbor porpoises!‘  I quickly turned to the Hubby to point them out, only to realize he was pointing at another group, a little further north.  For a time, he and I sat and watched masses of porpoises surfacing between Steilacoom and Fox Island. I couldn’t help thinking how much better it was to be around a crowd of porpoises than a crowd of crazed shoppers.

We kept going (although I continued to crane my neck to see more of the porpoise show), and headed under the railroad trestle into Chambers Creek.  The Hubby saw a seal in the inlet with us, but the truly impressive view was the “Where’s Waldo” of herons as we paddled past the madronas and evergreens.  At one point, I spotted 8 and Lala counted 12 herons roosted in the trees.  Although their squawking is surprisingly raucous, it’s fun to see them lift in flight with their long, graceful wings and necks bent into a tight “s”. After a short time, peering into the branches to try to determine how many birds I could spot, it was time to turn around.


I snapped this shot of the Hubby heading back under the bridge (and had fun editing it at rei.com, as you can see above).  On our way back to the boat launch, I spent more time staring at porpoises – there were more there than I’d ever seen in a group before, and they stayed active almost the entire time we were paddling.  It was good that we headed in when we did, as this was my first time in a kayak since my accident, and these are definitely some of the same muscles the physical therapists are working.

The Hubby had a demo scheduled, and I headed to a local park to read in the sunshine while they explored what the NC17 Quest and NC19 Expedition can do.   I had a great view whenever I wanted to look up from my book, and I could even see some of the demonstration from my vantage point.  That’s the Hubby & his demonstrator in the second picture – those little black smudges in the water.

Reading in the park #OptOutsideNCKayaks Demo

I can’t imagine a more perfect way to spend Black Friday.  We haven’t gotten the house decorated for Christmas yet, but I have the deep satisfaction of spending time in nature, with friends, using my body.  That feeling is hard to beat.