#240 (no snow fun for us)

Since I was rudely awakened out of a deep sleep yesterday morning, I changed my alarm to NOT sound at it’s normal weekday morning time. I woke a few minutes after 7 AM, made a fresh pot of coffee, and sat down to enjoy a few minutes of quietness and solitude before S and her flock of children arose out of their slumber. 

Prepare meals for the day…

I was working on preparing our slow cooked dinner when I heard S coming down the stairs. She kissed me good morning, poured herself a cup of freshly brewed coffee, and sat in one of the barstools opposite the countertop stove but was facing me.

The menu for the evening meal was a pork butt roast seasoned my way with bay leaves stuffed with garlic and a salt and pepper rub. My plan was to cook it slowly in a crockpot with carrots and parsnips for the entire day so that it would be ready by the time we returned from our second day of having fun in the snow. 

I had just started cutting slits in the roast to accommodate the garlic wrapped with fresh bay leaves, which she thought was a great idea and something she’d never had done or thought to do before. As she continued to sit and watch (and commen), I started doing my salt and pepper rub. 

“Don’t you rub the pork with oil before yo put the salt and pepper on it?” she asked. 

I replied, “I guess it can be fine that way, but I typically pat dry my meat as I want the dry ingredients to stick to the meat itself. I do add oil to a turkey though to give it that golden brown color.”

She responded with a facial gesture that said, “I don’t know if I’d do it that way.”

I reassured her it would be fine. 

The last ingredient which is something I’ve always used whenever I make roast (beef or pork) is worcestershire sauce. 

Well of course S questioned, “wouldn’t that be too vinegary?” followed by a facial expression that said, “I think you made a mistake there.”

I proudly announced, “I guess I’ll just have to convince you. Have you had many of my meals that hadn’t tasted better than you expected?”

She responded, “yes you have surprised me but this one I’m not sure.” and grimaced again. 

I put the roast in the barely big enough crockpot and repositioned the roast several times before the lid set closed. I added a few thicker sliced carrots and parsnips and the wedges of half an onion. I turned the setting to low and began working on our breakfast. S continued to sit and watch. 

I had the routine down as bacon was in the oven baking at 400 degrees, which she later questioned why I didn’t broil it as that is how she would do it. 

Is it me or shouldn’t you refrain from commenting if you’re not helping with breakfast. I said, “I didn’t want to overcook the bacon as I’m also making the country style potatoes as well as eggs.” 

She continued to spew advice from the seat opposite the cooking area. I ignored her comments and changed the subject to talk about today’s ski trip. 

She was off the subject of breakfast and rattled off the weather conditions which I admit I only listened to the last few words and repeated them back to her showing I was somewhat listening to her rambling. I was concentrated on making breakfast and doing a good job of multitasking trying not to ruin the three breakfast items. 

By this time she moved into the kitchen and started making fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice to accompany breakfast. I guess that’s one thing S contributed to breakfast. 

As I was almost finished cooking breakfast, I politely interrupted her juice squeezing and asked her to get the kids up and ready for breakfast. She disappeared momentarily to waken her kids, which instead of yesterday’s big brother alarm system of loud door banging, I heard the somewhat gentle calling of each her children’s names as she entered their sleeping quarters. 

Her daughter emerged and began plating her normal breakfast of bacon and hash browns. I’ve learned her daughter is not fond of eggs or fruit. You would think she would be obese but in reality she is extremely fit and wears a size 4. I bought her some Nike stadium pants as part of her Christmas gifts in extra small size. 

After calling on her boys, S returned to the kitchen, finished her juicing project, and began plating her breakfast. I asked, “Are the boys up?”

She said, “I told them breakfast was ready. They snooze they lose.”

Hold the phone…

More conversations were occurring in my head and questioning the actions of S with her children. Now her daughter has well adjusted and moves quickly to action when it comes to food or when it requires them to be out and about. I know this meal must be special as I’ve rediscovered that her mom doesn’t cook breakfast. 

What’s shocking to me is that she fed herself first before ensuring her kids were awake and would have a hot meal before we traipsed up to the mountain for a full day of skiing. 

Again a very different parenting style. 

The cooking of breakfast was done. All had disappeared to get ready for the slopes while I rinsed the breakfast dishes and loaded them into the dishwasher; washed, dried, and put away the pots and pans used; and wiped down the dining table, the kitchen counter, the stove top and the rest of the kitchen to its pre-meal state. 

Then I got myself dressed for the mountain trip. 

Renting equipment…

The second day of our snow trip was underway around 11am with everyone fed and loaded in my truck. The first order of business was to rent a snowboard for her daughter, and to exchange the ski package her youngest rented yesterday for a snowboard package as he wanted to try out snowboarding today. 

The salesperson at the rental place advised us to call the ski resorts before renting as folks have been returning with unused equipment because traffic was taking excess of 3 hours just to the first of many resorts on the mountain. Basically the weather conditions were much improved from last night that everyone in Portland, OR decided to go to the mountains. The salesperson informed that from 7 AM until about the time we arrived, their tiny store front was filled with folks and lines were out the door. 

I took his advice and called the resort we had planned to be at today. I tried several times and could not get through to the resort. So we decided to save the lift tickets for a different day when traffic caused by hoards of people trying to get to the ski resorts were lessened. Instead we took the advice of the salesman to go in a local hike. 

Back to the rental house…

We returned to the rental house and everyone sheared off their skiing and snowboarding clothing and changed into their normal clothes. 

We talked about staying at the rental house for the day and playing games and just hanging out. I thought to myself, “this would be interesting as I’ve never seen all four of them interact as a single family unit without some snide remark or a sharp tongue lashing.”

The first game…

As everyone settled in, they decided to play a card game called “Phase 10”, which was very similar to a card game I played in Texas called “pit”. It’s a little different in that you always start off with 10 cards in your hand. There are ten phases or challenges that each person had to achieve. The first person to complete all ten phases wins. 

The interaction between the four wasn’t bad. I played between the two boys and received discards from the younger boy which meant I discarded to the oldest sibling. The daughter played between her mother and her twin brother. 

Other than the intermittent cursing from the younger son, there were no dysfunctional moments of yelling or arguing among each other. The oldest son won. 

Draw me a picture…

The next game we played was pictionary where  you draw the object described on a card that matches the color block that your game piece landed on. So if your game piece were on a yellow square, you would draw the object described on the card highlighted in yellow. 

I discovered her younger son was a great sketcher. I think I just thought of a great birthday gift for him – his sketch pad with sketch pencils. 

Yours truly won this game. 

Break from game playing…

We took a break from games and S and her younger son went for a hike around the neighborhood. They later informed they followed the Zigzag River up river. It was scenic with trees but nothing else than the river lined with trees. 

Her oldest child retreated to his chosen bedroom to finish homework while her daughter and I hung out watching a movie. During one of my falls yesterday, I bruised my left knee and was a little stiff. Otherwise I would have gone hiking with S and her younger son. 

I didn’t learn more about her daughter than I already knew as she had hung out with S and me on several occasions. This is the child I’ve gone clothes shopping with, as well as eaten out in restaurants with her and her mother. She’s also the child that loves driving my vehicles every opportunity she gets. 

Dinner was served…

I could smell the pot roast as it’s been slow cooking for seven plus hours. I checked and found the roast to be tender. I started on preparing the remaining carrots and parsnips when S returned from her and her son’s hiking trip. The house was quiet (other than the movie playing in the background) up until S and her younger son returned. I’m seeing a pattern emerge. 

I had sliced the remaining root vegetables in a diagonal cut, tossed them in a bit of oil, sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Since this was the last dinner, I wanted to use up all the non-breakfast ingredients so I added the remainder of the partially used onion to this mix. There was also a lime that would be thrown away so I added the zest of the lime to this vegetable concoction. 

S was watching all this time and I guess couldn’t refrain from commenting, “The zest of lime, huh? That’s going to be a different taste.”

“Yep it should liven up the dullness of the root vegetables, but we’ll see.” I said as I put them in the oven and moved on to the mashed red potatoes. 

About 20 minutes later, the root vegetables were cooked as I like them (still a little crispy), the mashed potatoes were smooth and creamy, and the roast was removed from the crockpot and laid out on a platter. The meat pulled away from the bone perfectly.
I guess everyone liked it as there were only a third of the roast remaining, all the mashed potatoes gone, and a couple pieces of the lime zested root vegetables remained, which I ate while I was clearing the dinner dishes. 

Chef and dishwasher…

I noticed after dinner, everyone cleared the dining room and retreated to the places. The boys were in the back room playing a game of billiards, S grabbed a book and was reading in one of the reclining chairs, and the daughter watched TV and texted on her phone. 

As for me, I rinsed our dinner plates and put them in the dishwasher. The only one I didn’t do was the daughter’s as she did that when she was done eating. But the others, including S piled their dirty dinner dishes in the sink as they typically had done in their house. Now I see why there is always an accumulation of dishes in their sink at home. No one bothered to help. 

“Huh,” I thought to myself. “I’m the cook, dishwasher, and mister money bags this trip! Wow!” 

I continued in silence and cleared and wiped off the dinner table, reloaded the dishwasher with the dirtied dishes, washed and dried the crockpot, started the dishwasher, and wiped down the stove and cooking surface of the stove. 

I settled down on the sofa with the daughter to watch TV. This trip has exposed and confirmed a lot of information about S and her family. 

The last game…

We played one last game called nerts. Basically  the setup is similar to a game of solitaire where each player has a stack of 13 cards (called nerts). Instead of having four aces to buil from, you can build off of anyone’s stack of aces. You win by discarding all your nerts. 

Who knew that years of playing solitaire would propel me victorious. The kids and S weren’t happy and I got called a few colorful metaphors throughout the game. I guess that’s just how this family were raised. 

I later mentioned to S that it was fun watching and learning about her family as this was the first time that all her kids were together since we’ve been dating. After searching the corners of her mind, S concluded and agreed that this was the first time in years that they were all together. 

Maybe there would be more of these moments in their lives…

#boardgames #cardgames #familybonding #life

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#239 (skiing Ski Bowl)

6:15 AM and the alarm was blaring to force me awake and out of bed. Didn’t the alarm know that I was on vacation. I tapped the STOP button on my iPhone and turned off the annoying buzzing and laid my head back on the bed, closed my eyes, and tried to return to a deep REM cycle. 

Failure occurred as my body was conditioned to remain awake after seven hours of sleep. So try as I might, I couldn’t reach that sleep state. S and her kids were still sound asleep and since I couldn’t sleep any longer, I got up and made a big pot of coffee, poured me a cup and enjoyed the quietness of the moment alone. 

The solitude was broken…

My watch showed 7:45 AM and I heard S rustling around upstairs followed shortly thereafter with footsteps coming down the stairs. 

“Good morning honey,” she said as she kissed me good morning while I was still seated in one of the reclining chairs (and in the reclined position). I returned the reciprocal morning greeting. She walked to the kitchen counter where the carafe of coffee holding the hot morning brew was, prepared her a cup of Joe, and sat next to me in an adjacent rocking recliner that I repositioned to look out onto the Zigzag River, which flowed about 100 feet from the back deck of the rental house. 

It was a brief quiet time where we just sat watching the river flowing and sipping our coffee before her oldest child emerged out of the back room and began banging on the door his brother had chosen for his bedroom. 

“Bang! Bang! Bang!” Then silence. Then another three loud wraps on the same door. Still nothing.

“Mom! Can you get him up? We’re supposed to be at the ski rental place in an hour!” Her oldest said in a half requesting and half demanding tone. 

S responded, “we still have to make breakfast before we go.” To which the oldest abruptly went back into the room he slept in. 

Time out…

Growing up this behavior was never tolerated in my parents house. Even when my mom and dad divorced, it was still not a behavior we showed our elders or any of our family members. Don’t get me wrong, I and my siblings may have performed normal sibling infighting stuff but it was never done in disrespect. Even today, we are civil with each other. We were never rude to our parents – well maybe it occurred once in each of our lifetimes – but I assured you, we had our attitudes adjusted swiftly by either and/or  both our parents when we had. We just didn’t treat our parents, or anyone, with disrespect.  

I couldn’t believe S allowed this behavior as I’m sure this has been the norm since her children were little. Based on the tone and the execution of the statement indicated that this wasn’t the first siting of this behavior. Mind you this was the same son who got caught by the police while he was driving under the influence of marijuana a week ago. 

Coffee break over…

I took another sip of my coffee and made my way into the kitchen to begin breakfast. S followed me and asked where she could help. I asked her to cook the hash browns while I started the bacon and eggs. She said, “okay but I’m not good at cooking breakfast.”

I forgot S doesn’t cook breakfast and it showed as she struggled with the hash browns. I kept encouraging her that she was doing great as I continued with bacon and then the eggs. Now although she doesn’t cook breakfast she proceeds to instruct me on how I should drain some of the bacon grease before I cook the eggs. 

Those who don’t know, teach…

Hmmm. So the pan I used for cooking the bacon is a bit warped and the bacon fat accumulated on the edges and not in the middle of the pan. Clearly anyone who wasn’t blind could see this. Now I’m guessing either she just loves to tell folks how to do things even though she claims she doesn’t know how things are supposed to be, or she just likes to be bossy and micromanage everything. 

I responded, “no worries, I got this,” as I pushed some of the bacon fat back towards the center of the pan and let gravity work its magic and let the fat naturally retreat back to other fat molecules congregated along the pan’s edges. 

I cracked her eggs in the center and ensured the bacon fat collected on the edges were not soaking into her eggs. After a few minutes, I flipped them over (she likes her egggs like mine…over medium where the yolks were runny but the whites were solid). A few minutes later, I flipped her eggs into an awaiting plate. 

“Those look perfect,” she says shockingly. She later stated that she thought it’ll be too greasy but they’re just right. 

“Well of course! I’ve been cooking eggs for over 40 years.” I didn’t say this to her but I really wanted to. Instead, I nodded and smiled. 

Her hash browns were just okay. Truly it wasn’t her best item and also true to her word, she doesn’t cook breakfast items well.  

We finished eating and started our way to our first day of skiing. 

What? No money…

Now they say, the first day of any trip, you will encounter everything that would go wrong, does go wrong. Our experience wasn’t out of the norm. 

Before we left the house, S discovered she had left her wallet at home which meant she had no ID, no credit cards, and no cash on her person. Our arrangement was that I secured the house, which I did several months in advance and the food for our stay. In turn, she would be responsible for the ski lifts and any ski or snowboarding equipment needed. So now that she has no means to pay for equipment rentals and other things, I am fiscally responsible for the entire trip. 

Like our prior arrangements where she owed me money, I’m not expecting to get any of what I am now going to lay out on this trip back as she’ll find ways to pay for stuff we do that she would then use to chip away at the balance of what she owes me. I paid for two 2-day ski packages for me and her youngest, a new helmet for me, and two new goggles for S and her oldest son. 

I don’t have my jacket…

We left the rental equipment and drove up to our ski location (Ski Bowl West). It took a little longer to get there as weather conditions were changing and requiring folks to either chain up their tires or have traction tires. I had all weather tires on my truck so we were good, and switched over to four wheel drive for better handling. 

About 45 minutes later, we made it to our ski destination with no problems. Everyone piled out of my truck and started getting their ski clothing and equipment ready when her oldest discovered his jacket was not in the truck. It turned out, his jacket was still in the closet back in the rental house. 

He wanted to just use his brother’s outer shell. S was contemplating the idea and I stepped in and said, “No, he’ll freeze and would be miserable. We’ll all go back to get his  jacket.” I’m not letting that bad parenting decision happen under my watch especially when safety and/or health could be compromised. 

By the time we were back at the rental house, it was almost 2 PM and everyone was hungry and ready for lunch. On the way back, we stopped off at a Subway and ate our lunch before continuing up the mountain to our day of skiing and snowboarding. 

My bindings are broken…

Another hour later, and everyone were now in their clothing, with their gear, and headed towards the ski office to get our lift tickets. Fortunately, S purchased the lift tickets online a few days prior which saved my pocketbook from being deducted a large amount of funds. 

We were all set with our lift tickets attached on each of our jackets. Her boys took off and were headed onto the slopes while S, her daughter, and I were getting ready to head for the green area of the course. 

As we were clipping into our gear (S and I were skiing and her daughter snowboarding),her  daughter discovered one of her bindings were missing a strap and she couldn’t clip into her snowboard. What do you do? 

Minutes later, we were in line at the onsite snowboarding rental counter awaiting our turn to rent snowboarding equipment. I looked down at the counter and mentally noted the rates: “snowboard deposit – $300”. Great more cash out of my bank account. 

About an hour later, the three of us were on the green course of the slopes. 

I lost my wallet…

After the second trip down the mountain, we took a break to enjoy some hot cocoa and of course fries for her daughter. That’s her favorite food and I swear she would bleed French fries. 

We were seated just for a few minutes when her boys found and joined us. Her oldest sadly announced to his mother but loud enough for everyone at the table to hear, “I lost my wallet!”

S and her daughter gasped. S asked, “where did you have it?” To which he showed us by placing his hands in the muff located at the front of his hoodie. Of course the smart thing to do was to put your wallet into one of the zipped pockets of his jacket. I checked my pockets to be sure I didn’t make the same mistake. The truck keys were in my jacket pocket but weren’t zipped. I immediately zipped that pocket. 

“Whew!” I whispered to myself. “That could be really bad if I had lost those keys.” I did have several spills today as well as having to jump off the chair on the top of the mountain, and also being pushed to the ground by the chairlift on my second time up the mountain. So I had several opportunities of losing those keys, which fortunately did not happen. 

His sister asked, “Did you loose all the money dad gave you for Christmas?”  

He replied by shaking his head but his face showed he might have had some of that newly received cash in his now ‘lost somewhere on the mountain and never to be found’ wallet. 

Luckily no other mishaps occurred the rest of that night. The kids took another ride up the mountain and then decided to head back to the rental house for dinner and a soak in the hot tub. 

#skiing #snowboarding #mounthood #oregon #life

#237 (Christmas in Bellevue)

About five years ago, I was consulting with one of the big cellular service providers and lived in a city west of Seattle named Bellevue. Actually I lived on the outskirts of Bellevue in a suburb called Factoria. 

My son went to school in the Seattle area and now has recently moved to downtown Bellevue in one of the high rise living complex. Since I don’t see him often, I decided that I would spend Christmas with him this year. 

But what about your gf S? 

I will spend time with her and her kids on a skiing trip the day after Christmas. During our ten months of dating, it was just the two of us in an overnight trip. On this upcoming trip, we will have her children together with us for several days. I’ve observed their interactions in their normal settings. So this will be new…

Tiny spaces…

My son’s lives in the heart of downtown Bellevue and is walking distance to almost anything he needs. The housing complex is guarded by a concierge and access to all the building areas is controlled by card readers. I even had to sign in just to park my car in one of their visitor parking spots. 

His new place is small (about 400 sf), but big enough for a single guy. It has a small kitchen that holds a full size stove and frig where the freezer section is on top and the refrigerator section is on the bottom. It’s not the side by side model like I have, which I hate by the way, as it’s too small to hold anything, especially for holding the food for my home parties. 

He has a combined living / bedroom / office that’s probably 12′ x 12′. The only storage he has other than the kitchen cabinets is a shelving unit enclosed and hidden behind a set of accordion sliding doors. 

His combined bedroom / living / office area is decorated with a full size bed (bedroom), about 3′ away are two stand alone chairs (his living room), and about 3′ away from his living room is a small desk and chair that serves as his office. 

Believe it or not, he still has room to add a few key, strategic furniture pieces to accommodate more storage options as well as a collapsible dining table. Overall, his apartment is quaint and efficient for a single Generation Y male. 

Unlike his father, my son’s place lacked the holiday cheer and was void of any Christmas decorations, not even a small tree. It’s not that he doesn’t celebrate Christmas, he just doesn’t have the room to store the decorations that go with this holiday, or any holiday decorations. In a small place, you have to think – just the essentials. 

Too small for me…
I’m not sure I could downsize to this small of a space. I think I’m just used to having a few bedrooms and enough space to have separated areas and not all being confined to a small living space. 

Maybe I could (if I was forced to – like a prison cell ) but if I don’t have to…why? 

I’m actually looking for a property with a few acres so I could build a house and do some gardening. I’m not looking for something too big but big enough (about 3 acres) to sustain my food needs, and enough space to not feel claustrophobic, and a place with plenty of space between my house and my neighbor’s house and not like the housing communities they build today where the houses are so close to each other that one person could literally reach over and touch their neighbor’s house while they were still inside their own house. 

Maybe that would become a reality one day, but for now it’s suburban living in a cookie cutter designed community, or in my son’s case, a high rise city community. 

City scape…

Looking out his window, the Expedia building could be seen, and like most growing cities, construction. There’s another building going up next to his building but on the other sid of the street. There are actually four high rise communities within a two block square. 

He’s located within two blocks from the Bellevue mall that houses plenty of shopping options. He is also within a couple of blocks for various grocery stores – one of which happened to be an Asian market, which is where we shopped for ingredients to make our traditional Filipino Christmas Eve dinner. He has several restaurants he can walk to as well including a sushi bar that is across the street. 

Nearly everything he needs is within a four block radius. 

Christmas Eve dinner…

We only made two dishes of our traditional Filipino Christmas Eve meal because it was just the two of us. But the two dishes are our two favorites: 

Lumpia 

Pork adobo

What’s after dinner that’s part of our tradition is to watch a classic Christmas movie. We chose the first diehard. Nothing could be better!

#christmaseve #filipinofood #lumpia #porkadobo #bellevuewa #highrise #life #singleasianmale

#231 (let it snow)

Ten years ago I moved from south Texas where the weather was consistent with 80% or greater humidity most days of the year. Rainfall statistically were the same as it is in the Pacific Northwest, but instead of the drizzle, rain drops from the heavens in buckets. Literally! Stepping out in the southern Texas rain would soak you in seconds. 

Winter in south Texas only had a few weeks of the cold with an occasional hard freeze. I lived there for 34 years and there were maybe three hard freezes. At least that’s what I remember. 

PAC NW…my second home…

I love the weather here in the Pacific Northwest where four actual seasons could be experienced. The humidity happens for a brief two to three week period before it returns to the typical nice, comfortable, warm summer days and cool summer nights. During the fall season, the crispness in the air could be felt. I love it!

It doesn’t snow here…

However, when I first moved here, I was told snowfall were seldom. I have to tell you…they’re liars…it has snowed every year for the past ten years I’ve lived here. 

I’m not complaining as I love driving in the snow, playing and walking in the snow, and just being active in it. Last year I learned how to ski and before the end of this year, I’ll be back on Mount Hood skiing again. I cannot wait!

As early as this past Thanksgiving Day, the nearby mountains, and both the ocean and central cascades had been receiving plenty of snow, which is fantastic for feeding our sreams and rivers as the snow melts in the upcoming spring and summer months. 

On the valley floor…

We are currently still in the fall or autumn season and a few weeks away from when winter officially starts. However, La Niña has kicked in strong this year and provided a wintry wonderland twice in the last week with a potential third snowy day coming this next weekend. 

We normally don’t get snow that sticks to the valley floor this early in December. The surrounding hills with elevations higher than 500′ may receive a dusting of white powder but seldom on anything below the 500′ elevation ceiling. 

Early snow…

For the first snow storm that took place a week ago, I spent most of the time indoors working on actual work stuff. This second round, I’ll try to take some advantage snd actually get out into the elements and enjoy the snow and the coldness it brings with it. 

Of course, since Portlandians don’t know how to drive in snow, I’ll take extreme precautions to avoid the idiotic, inexperienced, and overly cautious drivers along the way to my fun. 

#letitsnow #winterwonderland #pdxoregon #life #singleasianmale

#225 (a snow day)

5:30AM an unexpected phone call startled me awake. I didn’t recognize the number so I let the caller go to voicemail. I maneuvered to my text messages and noticed I had one new message. It’s from one of those messages you receive from an alert system (like an amber alert). This one was from work. 

It stated: 

Due to the inclement weather in the Beaverton area, the WHQ Campus will be closed on Thursday, December 8th. Please share this information with your team.

I immediately looked out my window and saw nothing different than what it would look like any other morning at 5:30 this time of year. It was dark except the glow of the street light located a few houses down the street. 

Not wanting to turn on the television, I opened the weather app on my iPhone and scanned today’s forecast. According to the app, snow would be falling beginning 10AM and would continue until 7PM. 

“I’ve got a snow day!! Whoop whoop!” I rejoiced out loud. Imagine that. A 51 year old man excited to have a snow day. I was giddy that I didn’t have to work today and I didn’t have to use one of my vacation days. 

I checked my voicemail and it was the secondary alert from work communicating the same “we’re closed” message. 

Yeah! Let it snow!!

#snowday #letitsnow #singleasianmale

#223 (first snow of the season)

6:30am and my alarm clock sounded and the first thought in my head was, “why is my alarm sounding this early on a Sunday?” Well it turned out it was a Monday. Shortly after the alarm sound my secondary wake up device turned on and the weatherman was going through his spiel of the weather. 

Snow today? What?…

“The radar is showing snow but it’s actually only raining,” he was rambling as I jolted up and walked to the window. The clouds overhead did look like it would snow anytime. I returned to watch the rest of his weather report. “The high for today will be in the high 30s. It’ll be too warm for snow. It’ll just rain…” he was reporting when I left to make my espresso. 

I grabbed some fruit while my espresso was brewing. As I looked out my kitchen window, there was a rain and snow mix falling and hitting the window pane. I guess the weatherman was slightly wrong again or at least slightly off in their predictions of just rain. 

Driving in the snow mix…

I left for work about an hour later and I could feel the coldness in the air. Normally I don’t feel it as my car is typically in the garage. But since I’ve moved out of my storage unit and the contents are in my garage, my car is parked outside in the front of my house. Which means my car is just as cold inside as it is outside. My other vehicle (my pickup truck) remains outside at all times as my garage is too shallow and not wide enough to hold both of my vehicles in my garage. 

The rain and snow mix was not falling when I left the house but it did start again as I reached the halfway point between my house and work. It didn’t stick to the roads which was a good thing. Otherwise my commute would be treacherous. 

Snow is falling…

The weather continued to get worse as the day progressed. I was in my first meeting (about 9:30am) and the rain mix changed to big fluffy flakes. 

It was great to see the first snowfall of the season…

#singleasianmale #firstsnow #snowday

#221 (the live tree)

Last week, S asked if I wanted to tag along this past Saturday with her and her family to get their Christmas trees. I had never been to a Christmas tree farm where you actually go traipsing out and around the various tree options. In past years when I have bought a “live” tree, I’ve purchased them from a tree lot. 

In Houston, many years ago, there were tree farms from the Pacific Northwest with their noble and Douglas firs. The prices were outrageous but like many others I would purchase these expensive items just to have that fresh, natural pine scent during the holidays. 

Well now that I live in the Pacific Northwest (ten years and counting), Christmas trees are affordable (around $40) when compared to $75 and higher when I lived in Houston. 

Tension rises…

Lately, I find it hard to actually relax when I’m in a family adventure with S. The reason is there are conversations quickly turn into heated quarrels. It’s almost immediate and comes without warning. Saturday wasn’t any different. S was fighting with her daughter then with her mother. 

“Should I say something?” I was thinking of pulling out the Obama phrase “just settle down “. I decided to just remain silent and do other things that took me away from the situation. So I popped open my iPhone and texted my sister – we always have a polite conversation – even via text. 

The tree picking…

We finally arrived at the farm where S have been buying her trees (for the last few years anyway). Since this was all new to me, part of the things I was doing in the car ride to the farm was research the farm’s operations. 

The farm allows you to bring your own saws or they have a service included in the cost of the tree where they cut and haul your tree from the field to the tree prepping area. They also shake the tree to remove the dead needles and then bail it all for free. You can’t beat that deal  for $40. 

Well of course, there was another argument with her father for not bringing his saws for the tree. This time I intervened and said, “they have a free service of cutting and bailing your tree. So we don’t need our own saws.”

My sister would have responded with “Oh! Well that’s even better!” And would have a smile on her face. 

But of course that wasn’t what S uttered. She bitterly responded, “but we always bring our saws!”  I gave up and walked towards a field of trees. 

The tree was found…

S followed me a ways until she lost sight of her youngest son, who was supposed to pick out their Christmas tree. About thirty minutes of walking and looking at trees (by myself), I heard S call my name. 

I looked up and she was motioning me to come  her direction. As I approached, I asked her. “Did your son find the tree?”  

“Yes and he picked a great looking tree.” She said smiling and pointing to the ATV pulling a small trailer with several trees piled into the trailer bed. 

Tree prepping…

We walked up the small hill back to the tree prepping area. She grabbed my hand and said excitedly. “I’m glad you joined us in getting our trees!”  I thanked her for involving me in their tradition of hunting Christmas trees in a tree farm. 

We watched as their trees were prepped. First was the shaking of the tree to remove the loose and or dead needles. Then the workers threaded the trees through a bailer where the machine created a mesh from twine and wrapped the tree. It was like making a Christmas tree sausage. Not really, but sort of the same process. 
I think the next time I buy a “live” tree, I’ll buy one from a farm. 

#singleasianmale #christmastree #treefarm

#220 (Christmas decorations)

Last year was my first Christmas in my new to me house. And since I moved in during October, and most of my stuff were in storage, I didn’t bother getting the Christmas decorations out. Consequently, I only decorated one tree. Also during my separation period and finally the divorce from my recent ex, I didn’t feel like decorating much. That’s been about four years now since I’ve really gone all out and decorated my home. 

This year, there’s a different feeling in the air. I feel more alive. So now that I have just moved all my items into my garage and no longer in a storage unit, and I have all my Christmas decorations here, and the crazy emotional years of my separation and divorce are behind me, I think I’m ready to get back to doing Christmas my way. 

How much decorations do I need…

I took inventory and I have a total of seven trees. They vary in sizes from 3′ to 7′. Now I’m not sure I have enough ornaments since I lost some of that to my ex. But that’s just another excuse to buy more. 

You may be asking, “Why do you have so many trees?”  Well Christmas is my favorite holiday and winter is my favorite season. I love the cold and the snow. I can do without the Pacific Northwest drizzly rain though. 

This year, one of my seven trees were already up the day after thanksgiving. I set up that one in my upstairs loft area where I usually relax after a long day at work. The other 7′ tree will go into the upstairs guest bedroom. That one has the fiber optic filament. Such a cool looking tree. 

Two of the 3′ trees would be setup in each of the two full bathrooms. One of the 4′ trees would be near the dining table and the other would be in my master bedroom. Maybe the last of the 3′ trees would go in the office. 

One more tree…

Of course, I’ll buy a live tree and fresh garland for my fireplace mantle in the main living room. You have to have the fresh scent of a noble fir and the cedar garland or it’s just not Christmas. And besides, the cost of a local, fresh tree in Oregon is less expensive than one in Houston, TX where I grew up. So I will buy a fresh, living tree. 

My plan is to have my house fully decorated by the middle of December. This will give me time to enjoy them before they go in hiding for another 11 months. 

Have fun decorating your home this holiday season. Feel free to post and share pictures of your decorated trees. 

#singleasianmale #christmastrees #christmasdecorations 

#201 (fall color drive)

Last Saturday, S and I took advantage of one of the rare occasions of a sunny but cool fall day in the Pacific Northwest. Typically is overcast and misting. 

Now we should have eaten the frog and worked on her home projects, but decided to play hooky and go for a drive and enjoy the fall colors. 

After eating breakfast, we meandered towards Heiser Farms, which was in Dayton, Oregon. The venue was primarily for families with younger children and not catered to the older generation like S and me. We stayed long enough to walk the grounds, buy some decorative gourds, and sip some bad beer, which we poured out after a few sips. 

We meandered more along several back country roads before we headed back to her house to work on her much needed house cleansing – going through piles of stuff in her bedroom and getting rid of the things she no longer needs or can wear. 

Like a lot of folks, S has a hard time of purging, especially clothes and old shoes. I on the other hand change out my attire every couple of seasons – out with the old is my motto. 

#singleasianmale #life #purging #fallcolors #countrydrive

#177 (hunting for wood: part 2)

The tree trunk I just bought was just the tip of this man’s incredible inventory. Jackie spotted a couple of boards that grabbed her attention and started her negotiations. It was great seeing someone like me working to get a good deal. Actually it’s not hard work as this guy’s prices were incredibly low that I would feel guilty trying to get even a lower price. In fact this is the first time that I’m not haggling. 

Jackie doesn’t move as fast on the deal as I do and we continued to dig deeper into his inventory and walked through a gated fence to his backyard, which were also sectioned into different areas depending on the wood. He had great material for shelving. 

My mind wasn’t seeing what I needed in other areas in my house but instead focused on a block or a beam for my dining room chandelier. He had something close but not one that I had to have. 

As Jackie and I maneuvered back to the front of his house, I saw the birds eye alder again but from a different angle. It was magnificent specimen of an awesome tree. I’ve not seen a birds eye alder before today as I’m from the South and accustomed to seeing bunches of quarter sawn oak, pine, and mahogany. An occasional walnut or poplar might be spotted and in rare and lucky instances, a furniture piece made of birds eye maple might be seen, but never a birds eye alder. 

As I was pointing and grabbing for the birds eye alder, I asked, “how much for this piece?” He thought for a second and responded, “$10.00.”  I stuck my hand out to shake on the deal as my jaw dropped open. “I’ll take it!” I said. 

I could believe it, I just bought a plank of birds eye alder measuring approximately 5′ tall and about 24″ wide for $10.00. My total came to $110.00. 

Soon after Jackie secured her two pieces and we paid the man, we loaded up and headed back to our area of the state, which was about an hour away. Jackie and I were both stoked with our finds. We vowed we would return in a couple of weeks after he replenished his inventory…

#singleasianmale #menslife #liveedgewood #chandelier #diy #birdseye #alder