Thursday, December 21, 2006

,,,and a Happy New Year

We began our Christmas Holidays by engaging in one of my daughter's favorite activities in Seattle -- visiting the Space Needle. She seems to enjoy the idea of going up to the top of the Needle moreso than taking in the panoramic views of Seattle. Regardless, we have a great time when we go. Even with high winds, rain and low visibility we managed to have a swell time.

Then my family took off to South Carolina for Christmas, and I was more than delighted to be with friends and family at this special time of year. Seeing my grandmother brought me great joy on Christmas Day, as did the delicious treats provided us by my Aunt Joice, a true patron of the culinary arts, to whom I gave a hand-made apron I bought at Seattle's famous Pike Place Market. (Auntie, I start my diet tomorrow!)

Aunt Cindy was there, as were uncles Roger and Ron, cousins Melissa, Heather and Daniel, and I was able to see my Aunt JoAnn and Uncle Gene as well.

After Christmas I had the opportunity to catch up with Tim, Todd, Crump and their wives, as well as with my good friends the Wilks. (Jane, between your baking and my aunt's, I will definitely be starting that diet!) Thanks to my friend Lori for gathering my friends together for a nice dinner, and for providing me the opportunity to reunite with my childhood friend Ralph.

Most of all, I am thankful for my wife and daughter, my parents, my sister and her husband, and their delightful daughter, Lindsay, with whom I had a terrific time!

Merry Christmas from the National Weather Service

It has been a difficult couple of weeks in the Pacific Northwest, what with wind storms, fallen trees and more than a million people without power. The photograph was taken in downtown Seattle across from my office building. You should have seen it before they cut the rest of the tree away!

And now people are stuck at the airport in Denver, possibly for another couple of days, after a blizzard there.

Who do we blame for this year's wicked weather? Some say the Bush administration. But I blame the National Weather Service. After all, they seem to know about these things before they happen. Coincidence?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Seattle Storm

The forecast was so dismal last Thursday that I called my travel agent from my office in Chicago and asked her to re-book me for a return flight to Seattle on Friday, instead of Thursday night. The National Weather Service was calling for severe winds with gusts of hurricane strength.

I returned on a bumpy flight to the Emerald City and landed after the storm system had moved on to find my home without power. My wife and daughter fared well, and with a gas fireplace and hot water heater, along with plenty of camping gear, we managed to survive quite well and had some fun along the way. My family was thrilled to find me cooking up coffee, eggs and hot dogs on the propane camp stove at sun-up on Saturday morning.

Thankfully, our electrical power has been restored, but there are still hundreds of thousands of people without any power or heat. Many have branches or whole trees -- uprooted majestic douglas firs and cedars -- through their windows and rooftops. Hundreds of people are living in shelters, and people are suffering. Our prayers go out to those who here who are still suffering hardships, and I am reminded that as difficult as things have been this past week in the Pacific Northwest, there are still many on the gulf coast who have yet to reclaim the lives they left behind after Katrina.