The Ames (and by that I mean Mikey Lanz)

Oh boy, what a fun time we had tonight. Melinda and I just got back from seeing our former neighbor and PSCS graduate Michael (Mikey) Lanz’s band play in Seattle. Way back, years ago, when Mikey was a PSCS student, he took up the drums. He played in bands throughout high school, a couple of them developing quite a following. We were always pleased to see him play. There is just something about watching Mikey behind a drum kit that warms my heart.

Anyway, Mikey got married 3 years ago and now lives in Bellingham. We hadn’t seen him in ages, long before leaving for France. But when we saw that his band was coming to Seattle, Melinda and I made a date. We knew we were going to see him. And we were not disappointed. The band is great, really, and Mikey, well, Mikey is Mikey!

Learn more about the band and even consider supporting them by downloading their EP at their website.

Also of great fun tonight was seeing a number of former PSCS students at the show. To Dylan, Dan, Adam, Joe & Ty, it was great to see you! Joe, per usual, wins the dedication award. He came all the way from his home in Las Vegas to see the show!

Vegetarians, Please Ignore

That’s me with my dinner plate at last night’s birthday dinner for Ella. You may recall that we went to 611 Supreme, a French restaurant. Ella wanted crêpes (well, she wanted the savory version, what we learned is called a galette, for dinner, and a sweet version, a crêpe, for her dessert or “birthday cake”). Imagine my delight when scanning the menu for what I wanted to order I found … drum roll please

Confit de canard!! That’s right, my favorite French meal, Duck Confit!

I have not had it since we left France so there was no doubt this is what I would be ordering. For $15 I got a piece of duck confit, some roasted potatoes (roasted in duck grease, mind you) and a couple of seasoned grapefruit sections. I was in absolute heaven. Ella, despite her filling meal, twice asked me for bites of my confit de canard.

It was her birthday, what was I to do? So, yes, I gave her a couple of bites, mumbling something about it being her birthday.

It was delicious, enough for me to want to go back. Every day.

15 Years Old

Yes, 15 years ago today Ella was born. At dinner tonight she wanted Melinda and me to recount to her the story of her birth. It involves contemplating a 10:30am trip to Starbucks, working on some PSCS projects that Melinda and I wanted done in advance of having a newborn in the picture, Chloe being at preschool, and then, once the labor pains Melinda was having seemed legit, paging our friends Julie & Margaret who would be at the birth.

The early afternoon involved Melinda walking down the hall at Northwest Hospital before retreating to a jacuzzi where she spent quite a bit of time until Ella’s birth seemed imminent. Right about 3:30pm, Ella was born, 5 hours after that aborted trip to Starbucks. Chloe arrived to meet her new sister a couple of hours later. In the interim, Melinda cut the umbilical cord and gave Ella her first bath. She may also have performed a few surgeries and remodeled the hospital’s foyer. I think that about covers it. Some of it is fuzzy all these years later.

Today’s photo comes from tonight’s dinner, a French affair at 611 Supreme in Seattle. The items on the menu were all in French, leading us to want to order in French (no go with the American server who was kind enough to take this picture). Ella had what was referred to in France as a galette but called a crêpe here. Melinda had a salade niçoise.

You’ll just have to wait until tomorrow to hear what I had.

A Year Ago

A year ago tonight, Melinda and I went out for a drink with Brenda and Greg. Tonight, we went out for a drink with our good friends in Seattle, Julie & Mike. In fact, we had a great time tonight, first by having dinner and a beer at the Brave Horse Tavern in what is called the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle (an area in which Paul Allen owns a lot of the property and where has its headquarters). After dinner we went to the Sambar in Ballard for a nightcap. Interestingly, a topic of conversation was the French First Lady, Carla Bruni, so much so that we made listening to her music a feature of the drive home.

But I titled this post “A Year Ago” and intend to highlight this day from last year. You see, that drink with Brenda and Greg took place in Paris, where we had all rendez-voused, along with Dwight & Michele, for the week preceding Christmas. On top of the wonder of being together in Paris, on the night of 17 December 2010 it began to snow (see accompanying photo of Melinda and Brenda). Wow, what a night.

As is often the case (but not tonight), a year ago I posted to the blog BEFORE heading out, so my post did not reference the snow nor the late night drink outing.

Appreciating the Sunrise

We had a couple of very beautiful sunrises this week. I took this picture two or three days ago as the sun was casting some beautiful colors from the southeast. If you’re interested in knowing, this is a view we have from an upstairs window. That’s our neighbor’s house, and just to the right of it (and behind it) is Ravenna Park. And, yes, it was a chilly morning as you can see from the frost on the roof.

At PSCS we begin each day with a school-wide meeting called “Check-in” (fancy name, eh?). It’s usually no more than 15 minutes long and often quite less, and it’s facilitated by one of the students. Each meeting ends with time for what we call “appreciations,” a few minutes for people to focus on things they feel good about. On the morning I took this picture, several people, including a couple of students, appreciated that day’s sunrise.

If only my picture could do it justice…

Holiday Lights (For Christine)

So yesterday I wrote a post for Laurent. Today I’m writing one for Christine. I’m not saying why today. I trust Christine knows.

First, let me just say that not far from our house is an entire street of people that goes all out with decorating their houses for the holiday season. They even have a nickname for their street, Candy Cane Lane. How cute is that? People travel from all over the area to drive through the street in order to gawk at the holiday lights. Learn more here.

But my vote for best holiday house decorating goes to the house in today’s photo. Tastefully understated, doesn’t this martini glass holiday light motif get you feeling all festive? I mean, there are no over-the-top reindeer on the roof, no gaudy blinking lights, no electric Santas pulling presents from a sack. What gets you thinking more about Christmas than a good martini?

Shoot, drink enough martinis and you just might see reindeer on the roof, blinking lights, and a Santa, electric or otherwise, pulling presents from a sack! Candy Cane Lane, you bet!

An American Fire Hydrant

Laurent, this post is for you.

On my Sunday morning running route I pass by an intersection with this fire hydrant near the corner. Each time I run past it I smile, as it reminds me of one of my great France stories. Finally, I grabbed a camera a couple of days ago and went out to take a picture of it, knowing I’d post it here.

Why this interest in fire hydrants and why would this one make me think of France?

Well, early on during our year in France, back on 27 July 2010 in Pornichet, I blogged about how sexy I thought the French fire hydrants were. This created quite a joke among Laurent, Frédérique and some of their friends. So later, in September, when there was an entire exhibit of French fire hydrants in Nantes I had to write a post about it.

What might happen if this American fire hydrant met a French fire hydrant?

Snowflakes 2011

A year ago tomorrow I wrote about the annual flurry of activity that takes place when Chloe and Ella start making paper snowflakes for decorating our house.

Say, did you get that one – “flurry” of activity??

Yesterday I mentioned this, too. So today I present a photo of the front of our house taken from just outside. Specifically, I’m suggesting you note the doors. (BTW, here in the United States, we refer to these as “French doors.” In France, we referred to ALL of our doors as “French doors.”) On the doors are snowflakes, Ella’s work this year.

In terms of real snowflakes, the kind that are cold and wet and cause drivers all kinds of headaches and the city of Seattle to come to a grinding halt, we haven’t seen any of them this year. Me, I’m hoping for some. For now, I’m settling for these very nice looking paper variety, none of which are identical.

Our Holiday Living Room, 2011

Ella took this picture about an hour ago, soon after she finished decorating our Christmas tree. The photo is among several we took, prompted by an email request from Chloe to send her photos of the tree. Knowing how much Chloe always enjoys the decorating of the house, I can imagine she feels she’s missing out a bit up at Quest.

That being said, Ella also took on Chloe’s traditional role of making snowflakes and decorating the windows. Look for a photo in the next day or two to represent that part of our family’s holiday traditions. Speaking of Chloe and paper snowflakes, when she was home for Thanksgiving she showed us photos of those she made to decorate her dorm room.

As I write, Melinda and Ella are enjoying the living room, chatting quietly in front of the fire. More moments of what the holidays are all about.

SYC Christmas Brunch

Yesterday, Dwight & Michele picked up Ella and together they met Greg & Perrin at the Seattle Yacht Club for brunch. Now this wasn’t just any ordinary brunch, this was the annual Christmas brunch. When Chloe and Ella were younger, Melinda and I would attend, too. It became one of my favorite events of the holiday season. Today’s picture of Michele with Ella and Perrin comes from yesterday’s event.

Of the many things I enjoyed about the SYC Christmas brunch, getting dressed up and having a sit down meal with dozens of other families with young kids ranks near the top. Okay, I admit it, I always looked forward to the bacon, too. Lots of it. Ask Dwight. But on top of there being bacon, each year Santa Claus pays a visit and delivers presents to all of the kids. Among my cherished memories of this event include Ella getting scared over seeing Santa, and the year Chloe, excited to be opening her gift, got a set of holiday dishes. Her reaction, “I got … dishes?” was priceless and he remains one of Michele’s and my favorite stories to remind each other.

I’m pleased Ella was invited along and I hear Perrin loved having her cousin be present. Fun times, just what the holidays are all about.