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Happy Holidays!

Harbor ChristmasI haven’t been able to post as much this month as I had wanted. And now Christmas is upon us before I was ready. How come when you are a kid, it takes forever for Christmas to arrive and now that I’m middle-aged (leaning toward advanced-aged) Christmas comes so fast?

I don’t have much to offer you but a photograph. The above photo was taken in Gig Harbor 5 or so years ago. Normally we do not have much snow here during the holidays, and this year is no exception. It is relatively warm out right now and rainy, of course. But when we do have snow, it is so beautiful.

Happy holidays to all the readers of my blog, both casual and dedicated. I wish you all the best this holiday season. Be sure to remember to take some time for yourself and do something fun. (Hopefully, I can follow my own advice!)


In Memory of Gene

Gene SuryanI’m taking a break from my series of posts on the Southwest to talk about a good man,Tanya’s father, Eugene Suryan, Gene passed away from last Monday after a valiant fight against pancreatic cancer. He will be missed and be fondly remembered by his bride of 55 years (and Tanya’s mother), Maxine, as well as his five children, seven grandchildren, and indeed, all who knew him.

Gene grew up in Anacortes, Washington, son of immigrants from Croatia. His father, Little Joe, like so many Croatian men who moved to Washington, was a fisherman. In his youth, Gene occasionally worked on his dad’s boat, and spent a summer working at a salmon cannery in Alaska, but he didn’t catch the fishing gene (sorry Gene, couldn’t resist the pun). He went to Washington State University majoring in business. After a stint in the Army, he became a banker.

He loved mechanical things, especially cars, and particularly American cars. Gene was also the biggest news junkie I ever knew. He subscribed to several weekly news magazine, and I think he wore out his TV remote buttons tuning between the local news stations and CNN.

I’m not much of a car guy – to me, a car is just basic transportation. But I do keep up on the news, though I must admit, when I knew Gene was coming over, I’d bone up on the latest news so we’d always had something to talk about. He loved to discuss the world’s problems and offer suggestions on how to fix them. But sometimes he was stumped, and I will always remember the quizzical look he’d get on his face, slightly grinning and cocking his head sideways when I’d ask him about some particular issue when he didn’t have a good answer. Then he would always say, “that’s a good question Joe!” and laugh.

Gene was also one of the happiest men I’ve ever known, and he was so enthusiastic about everything – be it a glass of wine, a good-looking car, or just coming to visit at our house. Through the years of having Tanya’s parents over, I don’t know how many of Gene’s crushing bear hugs I survived. He always had a smile and was truly happy to met anyone (though the bear hugs he saved for family). He adored our cat, Patch, and Patch likely to sit on his lap. Which is quite funny, because Patch typically only comes up to visitors who don’t like cats or are allergic to them (how Patch knows this, I don’t know, but he does).

As I went through my photo collection looking for a picture of Gene to use with this post, I sadly found I didn’t have very many pictures of him, and even fewer of just him without other people in the shot. Tanya has repeatedly told me to take more family photos, and I have been lazy and not done so, thinking there is always more time. In Gene’s case, I no longer have that time. So let this be a warning to you photographers out there – take those family photos while you can, you never know when the opportunity will no longer be there.

Goodbye Gene. I miss you.


Many Thanks

Wild turkeys

Turkeys in Capital Reef National Park – safe from Thanksgiving dinner

Today is the great American holiday Thanksgiving. Besides giving a day off from work to feast on vast quantities of food and watch football, it is a day for us that celebrate it to give thanks for the many blessings given us over the past year. Today, Tanya and I will have a quiet holiday by ourselves, declining the invitation to travel over the Cascade mountains to visit with my family in Spokane due to a lack of a good car for winter driving (our little SUV is having troubles and the other car needs new tires). This appears to be a good decision, since much snow is forecast for the mountain passes this coming weekend. Besides, without Carson here, who loved the turkey scraps that normally come with Thanksgiving, it seems good to have a quiet time at home.

But life goes on. We brought a small kitten, named Tuck, home a couple of days ago to help keep our older cat, Patch, company. Patch, who is feeling the loss of Carson seemingly as much as Tanya and I, as well as the loss of his sister earlier in the year, has been acting up (as some of our leather dining room chairs can attest to), we presume because of loneliness. We hope getting a kitten was a good idea; we shall see after a few days of slowly introducing the two cats to each other.

Celebrating by ourselves, without turkey-loving company, we have decided against the big, traditional turkey dinner. Tanya, a vegetarian, doesn’t eat turkey (although she has been known to sneak a taste of crisp turkey skin); so it seems a waste to cook a big bird for only the two cats and me. A year ago today, we celebrated Thanksgiving in Madrid with Brooks, having a great meal of paella. So we decided to try paella again for Thanksgiving. We went grocery shopping last night for the requisite fixings. Do you know how hard it is to find fresh clams at 10:00 pm the night before Thanksgiving?

Anyway, I did not intend this post to be a discussion of our Thanksgiving menu, but rather a listing of some of the many things I am thankful for. Here are a few of the things I am thankful for:

  • for you, the many readers of my blog – I’m not sure why you care about my words and photos, but I am grateful that someone does. Many thanks!
  • for Tanya – she is the love of my life, my best friend, and the most wonderful partner anyone could ever ask for.
  • for my son and daughter, Brooks and Janelle, who have grown up to be fine young adults. I’m thankful that they both have good jobs that support them, and that they live close (but not at home with Tanya and I).
  • for pets – I’m thankful for the many years good years of companionship that Carson and Sugar gave us, the continuing years of companionship that Patch is giving us, and (hopefully) the future years of companionship that Tuck will give us.
  • for my many friends and family members who care for me no matter what stupid things I do or how many “help-me” chores I ask them to assist with.
  • for my day job at Robinson Noble – a job I enjoy doing, a job that provides enough to pay the bills as well as support my photography habit (which would have a hard time of supporting itself)
  • for my health – I’m thankful that at being over 50 years old I can still do 30-mile backpacking trips (like I did earlier this year)
  • for living in a part of the country that still have plenty of wilderness and places to do 30-mile backpacking trips; for being close to deserts, mountains, and coastlines
  • for hoodoos and arches and red rocks in general
  • for rainforests, giant trees, and hanging moss
  • for photography – a passion that gives me so much joy
  • for my church, United Church in University Place, a group of people who truly care about everyone no matter their race, sexual orientation, or financial status
  • for the word “thanks” being in Thanksgiving, otherwise many Americans would forget what the holiday is really about
  • for warm beds and frosty mornings and, in particular, warm beds on frosty mornings
  • for decaffeinated coffee for me and caffeinated coffee for everyone else in the Seattle area
  • for good bottles of wine, India pale ales, and scotch and rye whiskeys (not necessarily in that order)
  • for baseball – one of the best games ever invented, and (reluctantly) for my home team, the Seattle Mariners; for spring training, where every team dreams of the World Series (even the Mariners)
  • for working indoor plumbing, particularly after having the big dig in our front yard last summer essential for keeping that plumbing working
  • for day trips and weekends away with Tanya
  • for snow on weekends, and clear streets on work days
  • for the sun rising every morning and the color it brings to the world
  • for the stars at night, particularly when we are out of the city and can see them
  • for my hometown of Tacoma, a city I swore when I was young that I would never live in; I’m so glad I was wrong
  • for travel, in the United States and beyond, in particular our trips to Spain, Greece, Belize, Scotland, New Orleans, and our many trips to the American Southwest
  • for a rib-eye steak on the barbecue (and halloumi for Tanya)
  • for text messaging – otherwise we’d rarely hear from Brooks and Janelle
  • for good music, in particular music by Neko Case, Neil Young, the Shins and the Decemberists
  • for zoom lenses, split-neutral density filters, cable releases, and quick-release plates
  • for rivers, lakes, and oceans
  • for good light, good subjects, and a good sense for composition
  • for eagles and hawks, deer and elk, wolves and bears, and wildlife of all kinds
  • and for the very many other blessings in my life.
Frosty morning

I’m thankful for frosty mornings

Hodoo

I’m thankful for hodoos

Caribbean Bikes

I’m thankful for my trip to Belize

Rise and Shine

I’m thankful for the sunrise every morning

Forest

I’m thankful for rainforests

Young buck

I’m thankful for wildlife of all kinds

Thank you for letting me share my photography with you. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


I miss my Cat

Sugar and Patch

Sugar (on left) and her brother Patch.

Readers of my blog know that Tanya and I have a dog, Carson. But I’m not sure I’ve mentioned we also have two cats. Well only one now because last Sunday we had to put our Sugar down.

Sugar was a very special cat. For one, she was an orange female, which I’m told are fairly rare. Our vet, in fact, said she’d never seen one before. Our other cat, Patch, is Sugar’s brother, and the two were totally different. Patch is very friendly; Sugar very shy. But once she got use to you, she could be very affectionate and loyal.When we first brought the two cats home as kittens, Sugar hid under the furniture for days, while Patch immediately started exploring the house (and begging for food). Patch has a loud, almost aggressive purr; Sugar’s purr was quiet and calming. Sugar was actually my daughter, Janelle’s cat. Janelle, who’s now 22 years old, no longer lives at home, and if she had tried to take Sugar, I doubt Tanya and I would have let her go.

Sugar was a great hunter, and when we lived in the wooded suburbs near Gig Harbor, she’d often bring home live critters of every sort (mice, birds, snakes, frogs, etc.) She loved to have her head scratched and would often hop up on the arm of my chair and rub her head under my hand until I scratched it. She also really liked to use her claws, digging in when she was happy. I don’t know how many sweaters of mine she ruined while I was petting her.

Sugar had been sick for a while, with no clear cause. But even while sick, she was still affectionate and active. Then last week she stopped eating and stopped roaming around the house and yard. The vet thinks it was probably liver cancer. She went downhill fast, but I like to think she had a good 13 years. We had a good 13 years with her.

This blog is my tribute to Sugar – one great cat. I will miss her.


Looking for a Few Good Readers

Space NeedleRegular readers of my blog know I’m preparing an ebook about Seattle photography.The book describes over 80 places in Seattle to take some great photos.

The book is now completely written and has been through one edit. All the photos are inserted (except one, which I still need to take, and hope to do so in the next week or so). And now I’m looking for a few good readers to give me feedback before putting it to press. If you want to be a “beta reader” and tell me what you think, please leave a comment or send me a separate email. I’ll pick several people to send a draft pdf copy of the book to, and those that give me feedback will get an acknowledgement in the book and a final production copy. Here’s what I ask:

1. give honest feedback – what you like, what you don’t like, how can the book can be improved

2. provide a quote (and give me permission to use it) that I can use in marketing the book

3. try to get it done by May 15th

4. and consider writing a review of the book on your own blog (I’d really appreciate it)

So if you are willing to help out, please let me know. I’ll email volunteers next week. Thank you for considering helping.


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