Happy New Year

My sister, brother-in-law, and niece left for Heathrow moments ago – ending a 10 day visit.  

It went well, aside from Dawnise being under the weather for much of it.  

We and they wandered around London – Dawnise managed to rally for a couple Christmas markets, a walk down Regent street, and a trip to Fortnum and Mason to see their famous Christmas windows. I even dragged them to Greenwitch to stand on the prime meridian.

We cooked (and ate) Christmas dinner, had Sunday Roast, had tea and home-made scones, ate a bunch of mince pies, panettone, stollen, and drank gluhwein.

When they weren’t touristing we hung out here, played games and watched some Christmas movies.  

They’ll arrive back in Seattle mid-day, in time to get home and keep their dogs calm during the evening festivities.  

Our plan for this evening is to stay home, maybe have a couple friends over, and – assuming we stay up late enough – hopefully get a glimpse of the fireworks display over the Thames from our balcony.

Whatever you have planned for New Years Eve, and Dawnise and I wish you a safe and joyous one, and hope your 2020 gets off to a fantastic start.

Hey (old guys)! Does this still work?

After a brief (ok, six years) hiatus, I’ve resurrected my blog. As was the case in the long-long ago when I first set it up, I can’t promise I’ll say anything even remotely noteworthy.

The primary catalyst was wanting a place to archive a series of updates I’ve been sending over the past several months about our experience moving to and living in London – which you can find categorized under “London Calling.”

I also have the old Movable Type database, containing all my ramblings between 2004 and 2013. I’m manually migrating selected entries forward, categorized as “Selected Back Issues.”

Finally, before quitting Facebook in 2018 I downloaded all my data. If and as I find things worth preserving, they’ll be categorized as “Facebook Reprints.”

Happy reading.

Crazy Schemes and Questionable Decisions

Last Friday, December 20th, marked half a year in the UK.  And the next day marked our 23 wedding anniversary.  We marked our anniversary on Friday evening with the always-excellent Beef Wellington for two in the dining room of the Goring hotel.  It was a brief moment of calm in an otherwise hectic December, and the evening before my sister, brother-in-law, and niece arrived for the holiday.

The balance of December has been chocked full of stuff.  We even managed to squeeze in Christmas Tea at the Ritz – something Dawnise has literally wanted to do for years.

To rewind a bit… Just after Alfred & Jodie left London for New Zealand, some friends from Luxembourg arrived in London.  We used their five year old daughter as a good reason to experience the particularly British Christmas tradition of Pantomime before they left for the continent and Dawnise and I headed to NY for a weekend.

weekend in NY?  Who’s crazy idea was that?

It all started ‘cause ‘Nise was going to end the year just shy of status next year, and we were talking about where we could go to get her the last couple thousand miles she needed.  I’d been saying for some years that Dawnise needed to visit NY around Christmas, but since we’ve been “over here” around the holidays for the past several years we hadn’t ever made it happen.  When to my surprise I found inexpensive tickets from London to JFK we overlooked – as in failed to even consider – the duration of the flights (aside: it’s nearly as long from London to NY as it is from London to Seattle – spherical distance is weird) and booked tickets and a hotel in midtown.

We arrived mid-day on Friday and spent the weekend walking around NY.  Christmas markets, Central Park, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center, shop windows on 5th Ave – and even managed to meet up with friends for lunch.  Our Sunday afternoon departure got us back to London early Monday, and I was only slightly later than normal arriving at work.

If that seems a bit mad, well, it was – and at some point during the weekend we started toasting to “crazy schemes and questionable decisions.”  Once said, it stuck, and we invoked it frequently while wandering the length and width of Manhattan in freezing cold (but dry) temperatures.
It was exhausting.

And really good fun.

Before we had cooked up the idea for the NY trip, we had planned a weekend Christmas market getaway to Belgium (Bruges and Ghent) with good friends.  When the French rail strike caused Eurostar to cancel our train two days before the trip, we manage to redirect to a weekend in Bath and Oxford.  Props to Airbnb for graciously handling the refund, and to the grumpy but efficient woman at the national rail counter who got us confusing group rates tickets from London to Bath to Oxford to London.  The Bath downtown was Christmas market-tastic, and we did our best to drink enough gluhwein to pretend we were on the contingent.  The Oxford market was smaller but it, and the city, were lovely – and we got incredibly lucky with the weather – a cold dry weekend.

The weather continued to cooperate, and Monday evening – far later than we would have normally – we had the experience of buying a Christmas tree and walking it home, over my shoulder, through central London.  The kilted fellow who sold it to us gave Dawnise a discount for taking a tree that had lost a bit of its crown in transit.  He likely thinks he got rid of an unwanted tree – Dawnise saw it as a way to get the charlie brown tree she wanted at a discount.

I love win-win situations.

That just about catches us up.  My sister, brother-in-law and niece arrived on Saturday, and we spent the first couple days wandering around the city.  Unfortunately the cold Dawnise had been trying to fight got the better of her, and much to her chagrin and frustration we skipped our traditional Christmas eve cocktails at the Ritz.  It was really only through the miracle of modern medicine (Dayquil) that Dawnise managed to help cook a proper Christmas lunch for 7.

Boxing day has been punctuated by bouts of heavy wind and rain, but that didn’t stop our guests from wandering out in the mid afternoon to see more sights.  I imagine when they return it’ll be time for a bit of tea and a reprise of Christmas dinner.  They head back to the states the morning of New Years eve – plans between now and then are sketchy, but I’m confident a good time will be had.

To everyone reading this – we hope your holidays are full of cheer and laughter, and we wish you the very best in the start of the new year.


Incalculably lucky

In August of 2005 I got an email that would turn out to change everything.

It was from a recruiter, who’d found my resume online, asking if I was interested in talking to a small game company.  Nine months later began what would turn out to be over a decade of working with a remarkable group of people.  But that’s a story some of you already know, and for those that don’t it’ll be a story for another time.

I don’t remember first meeting Alfred, but I do remember meeting his wife, Jodie and their newborn daughter when she was brought into the office for a first visit.  I had no idea in those early days that Dawnise and I would become so close to them.

Alfred and I found working together to be fun and effective – his optimism and willingness to “just try it” being a great counter-balance to my skepticism and desire to understand “the whole journey” before setting course.  I could tell you all the reasons it wouldn’t work, and Alfred would start doing it anyway.

We and our spouses found mutual interests outside work, and started spending evenings together for dinner and games.  Dawnise babysat their daughter while they were at hospital having their second, and again when they had their second son.  We started traditions – like the annual bacon party that started when Dawnise and Alfred mused over burgers made entirely of bacon, which lead to the purchase of a meat grinder, and to bacon burgers so good we tried for years to improve on them, or even reproduce the first years’ success.

When my sister moved to Seattle, we dragged her with us to meet them, and it wasn’t long before her then-boyfriend-then-fiance-now-husband got roped in as well.  Alfred likes to cook, and we love to eat – it was a perfect match.

When Dawnise and I moved to Luxembourg, we visited with them when we were back in Seattle.  And in the years after we moved back and downsized into an urban dwelling Alfred & Jodie hosted our annual ice cream social in their kid-friendly backyard in the Seattle suburbs.

They were undoubtedly our closest friends in Seattle over those 15 years.

It could just be me, but I’ve found making friends as an adult is tricky.  And making close friends… Well, tricky doesn’t even start to cover it.

When Dawnise and I were readying to move to London we figured we’d visit while we were here, and then we’d pick up where we left off when we were back in Seattle.  

Turns out we were half right.

As we were prepping for the move to London, Alfred and Jodie let us in on the secret that they’d decided to leave Seattle and move back to the other side of the world.  Having come to Seattle from Australia, they’d decided to move to New Zealand, and planned to leave Seattle before the end of the year.

So a month or so back the family packed up and left for a multi-week “farewell to America” tour. Dawnise joined them in Florida for a week at Disney World and came home just before the entire clan landed in the UK for a two week stay.

While they were in London we met up for dinner, hung out with the kids, and hosted them at our flat for American Thanksgiving.  (Side note: Dawnise absolutely nailed cooking for 10 people out of that shoe-box sized oven.). The next day we met for dinner at a pub near their Airbnb, went back to their place to chat, and say farewell.  The following day they were flying to Auckland via Hong Kong.

As we left, and Dawnise and I walked back to the tube, we tried to focus on being excited for them, on their new adventure, and ignore the feelings of loss tugging at us.

Make no mistake, we are excited for them.  And despite the utterly ridiculous time in transit, we’ll go visit once they’re settled.

But being excited doesn’t mean for a second we’re going to miss them any less.