Thanksgiving Blessings

We are thankful for our home.  It may be tiny and very basic, but it is warm, dry and cozy. We are blessed. I’m thankful for our car. It may be a smaller, very basic model, but it is reliable and safe. We are blessed. I’m thankful for our health. We have been through some major issues through the years, but we continue to be able to do the things we love with no restrictions. We are blessed. I’m thankful for this season of our lives, when we can rest from the challenges of daily occupation. We may not have the resources to buy a vacation home, or travel the world to places we’d love to see, but each day is a new and wonderful adventure. We are blessed. I’m thankful for my wife. We share so much in common; we both love to cook together and try new recipes, we love to travel and explore together, we love to walk and hike together, we love to tease and laugh often together and we love to worship and pray together. We are blessed. I’m thankful for our friends and family. There are many differences that could drive a wedge in our relationships, but we focus on what unites us, and we love spending time with you. We are blessed. We are thankful for our faith. We know how often we fall short of the mark as we strive to be a follower after Christ, but our hearts desire is to show His Love, Grace and Compassion to all, and we are in return so very blessed.

Our hope and prayer for you today is that you have an abundance of joy and thanksgiving as you look around and see the blessings that fill your life. And if you are facing challenges that steal your joy, reach out. People love and care deeply for you. May you be richly blessed.

Wanna grab a cup of coffee?

I grew up in a divided household. My mom drank coffee. She’d put on the percolator coffee pot in the morning, and drink from it all day. I remember how fun it was to watch when the water would get hot enough to begin dashing itself against the clear glass top of the coffee pot lid, and how it would begin to turn that dark black/brown color. 

My dad, on the other hand, equated coffee with alcohol; both were tools of the devil, and to be avoided. He was, however, a consummate gentleman. I remember on one of our infrequent times we spent together that we had gone to a minor league baseball game at Portland’s stadium, along with a nearby neighbor and his son (a friend of mine). His dad had gotten up, and when he returned, brought two cups of coffee – one for him, and one for my dad. I watched with interest to see what he would do, knowing his intense dislike of coffee. He drank it. 

Me, I didn’t like either one of them. I drank milk. Lots of it. Sometimes directly from the bottle, and later, from the carton. Working as a painter’s helper one summer when I was a teenager, in addition to a sandwich, fruit, and other items, I’d drink an entire quart of milk with lunch. Maybe that’s why I’m a bit lactose-intolerant now. 

Sometime around 1980, I found myself having to work in Seattle, about an hour and a half from our home. A local drug-store chain – Pay’n’Save (later bought out by RiteAid), and was experimenting with having optical shops in their drug stores; they hired me to manage their location on 4th and Pike in downtown Seattle. I had Sunday and Monday off. And then the director of optical decided it would be a great idea to have mandatory sales training for all of the opticians … at 7:00AM on Mondays. The classes were actually good, and I learned a lot. But at the first class I realized staying awake while driving home was going to be an issue. They had coffee there. I forced myself to drink a cup before I left. Every Monday. For six weeks. I had become a coffee drinker.

The next thing I really remember about coffee is when they “invented” latte’s. I was back up in Bellingham, and during a slow time in the mornings I’d run down and get myself a latte. So good! Until about an hour later when I’d be doubled over in pain. That’s when I discovered my lactose intolerance issue. 

This was about the same time gourmet coffee started to become a thing for the masses. I enjoyed trying coffee made from beans from around the world. I got a series of coffee grinders, and enjoyed coffee in a way I never had before. So rich, delicious, and varied in flavor. I definitely preferred the dark, robust flavors like French Roast. Unfortunately, this was also about the time it became apparent that I had to stop drinking coffee by around noon if I didn’t want my eyes to pop open at 2:00AM and then be wide awake for a couple of hours.

The other big issue around coffee would come around every summer when I’d get out for backpacking trips. I’d always want my pack to be as light as possible, but I also wanted a great cup of coffee to start my day. Initially I would pack a plastic cone, filters and coffee. Taste-wise, it was awesome But the cone was unwieldy to pack, and, being conscientious even back then, I committed to packing out all of my waste, wet coffee grounds in soggy filters and all. So I found a micro espresso maker that would work on my tiny backpacking stove. That was fun, and I loved the enameled tin little espresso cup. But it was a hassle to make the four cups each morning, two for me and two for my hiking buddy. And now the grounds were loose, not in a filter.

Scouring the hiking gear catalogs, I found a French Press coffee maker for backpacking. The coffee was superb, and it made more coffee much more easily, but it was a major hassle to clean up after each use, and again, contain the grounds. 

From there I tried chocolate covered coffee beans. No muss, no fuss, no waste, plus CHOCOLATE! What’s not to love?  Well, the pieces of coffee beans stuck in my teeth, and no hot coffee in the morning. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but in desperation, I actually tried instant coffee. Yucky, yucky, yucky. But then, a new innovation – VIA from the coffee company everyone loves to hate, Starbucks. Super lightweight, no muss, really easy to brew as much or as little as needed, and even remarkably coffee-like! Even in decaf for my wife! Even available in quantity from Costco! And because I can’t always remember why I went to Costco, I now have enough to probably last the rest of my life.  I no longer backpack due to the “back” part of “packing,” but Via now goes with us on all of our overnight trips and adventures, just in case. And it comes in handy! 

For some reason I was relating this to my friend David from Texas, and he told me about ADIRchef (note: I don’t have any sponsors for my blog yet, so this mention is gratis). I looked it up, and immediately ordered one, with an extra travel cup. What a great find! My wife can have her cup of decaf, then I can have my cup of “real” coffee. We take this on every trip. Yeah, if it’s in our carry-on we get some funny looks from TSE inspectors, but that hasn’t deterred us yet. We generally just dislike hotel coffee (with rare exceptions), and really like our good stuff. 

At home we remain consistent in our idiosyncrasies by having two coffee makers on our counter. Terri uses the ADAIRchef on a daily basis with her home-ground organic decaf while I use a Keurig. I would have stopped using it when my awareness of plastic waste became a significant issue in my life, but then I discovered the San Francisco  brand that has French Roast coffee in 100% compostable pods. No muss, no fuss, and as much or as little coffee as I want on any day. So now I sit back, sip on a cup of coffee, and start my day. How about you? Wanna grab a cup of coffee with me?

I Need a Day Off from Being Retired!

It was all fun and games when I retired on June 1st. Lots of great hikes and unstructured days off to do this and that … ahh!

Then Terri finally retired as of September 1st. I had been planning for this for some time; in fact, I planned and planned and planned to make the most of our late summer and early fall. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a planner (I think it runs in the family). Yeah, I already have next years road trip all planned out and booked – all 4,000 miles and four National Parks. I may, however, over-planned September, October and early November.

Lake Chelan Sunset

We started off September with several days at our condo in Lake Chelan, exploring, dining and wine tasting, can’t wait to go back! We got to spend time with the Ryan grand-kids, and with the Three Amigos, introducing Rick and Lucy to Woodinville, and ended up with a four day sibling reunion at the Oregon Coast, book-ended by stays in Seaside and Long Beach. There were three whole days with no plans. October started with us still at the beach, ending up traveling to Kelowna to celebrate Aunt Barb Gregory’s 80th birthday, and once again with three whole days with no plans.

Lake Okanogan at Kelowna

I thought once we got to November, things would slow down a bit. Yeah, maybe at the end of the month. We had great weather, fabulous family, and incredible food for four days in Kelowna, right on Lake Okanogan. Then back to Seattle to watch the grand-kids, and heading to Vancouver, BC soon for a Bruce Cockburn concert! Oh yeah, and hiking, walking, doing side gigs, , attending live music events, etc etc etc.

I’m not complaining – we’ve had a ton of fun, and have done so many great activities.

Ironically, before Terri retired, she was quite concerned that we might end up just sitting around, bored to death, and staring at each other. So we sat down and brainstormed a list of activities we’d both enjoy. I had previously made a list for myself of things I’d like to do – learning how to build a website, becoming more familiar with my new camera and image processing software, finding great photo opportunities, going to a gym to enhance my exercise, doing some landscaping on our yard, and hiking as much as possible. It was great to be able to cross one thing off that list.

Just yesterday Terri commented that maybe we’d filled our calendar a bit TOO full since she retired, so I asked her “Which activities should we have given up?” A moment of silence … “None of them.” Exactly. We may be crazy busy, but we are enjoying every moment of this blessed life. We hope you are too