Merry Christmas!!

Shiny and Sparkly

On November 30 the movers came and packed and loaded all our belongings, and that evening we got on a plane and flew to Seattle, Washington. In the last 3 weeks we found a new apartment in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, moved in and started unpacking. We’ve barely had time to breathe let alone decorate for Christmas, but fortunately one of the radio towers in Queen Anne is decorated like a Christmas tree, so each night we fall asleep to the lights of a very tall and rather skinny tree sparkling in the sky outside our bedroom window.

This year the cards and presents that we’re sending are late, and all our decorations are in boxes waiting to be unpacked. We don’t even have a wreath on door. But we’re happy and healthy, and our family and friends are doing well, so I really can’t ask for much more.

In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss:

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling:
How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages boxes, or bags!

And he puzzled and puzzled, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Let It Snow!

Meltwater

Yesterday morning it snowed, the first snowfall of the year. The temperatures plunged below zero, and in one night some trees dropped all their leaves in a panicked attempt to keep up with the temperature change. It was amazing to see the blankets of green leaves covering the grass and snow and gathering in the street. My planned trip to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum took on a new twist, as I had to gear up for winter hiking, but I got some nice shots of fall of color with a bit of snow on it.

It was my first trip to the arboretum, so I didn’t really know what to expect. It was a lot of fun tromping though the trails, making first tracks on the first snow of the season, photographing flowers and trees with little snow caps and catching droplets of snowmelt in the sunlight. We saw little waterfalls, quick-moving streams and even quicker-moving wild turkeys (maybe the snow made them think it was November). We got a little lost, but it was nice to just explore without having to worry about direction. We went where the interesting photos were and it worked out just fine.

It seems wild to me that only a few weeks ago I was eating at Lucia’s outside patio in a tank and shorts. Yesterday’s snow had melted by lunchtime, but we got some light flurries today, and tomorrow we’re expected to get up to a few inches of accumulation, so it looks like winter is here. For me, I’ve got a log burning in the fireplace and a whole chicken roasting in the oven. Winter, bring it on.

Patagonia Down Sweater Vest

In the Down

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Down SWEATER vest?!?”, but yes, that’s what Patagonia calls it. This vest is designed with smaller channels for the down, allowing it to keep you warm without a lot of added bulk, so it fits more like a sweater. Not exactly like, but more like. It’s surprisingly warm yet flexible – I’ve found I can wear this vest over a wool baselayer and a light wool sweater and be comfortable walking the dog in 20 degree weather, but it doesn’t make me overheat when I wear it indoors either.

The exterior fabric of the vest, made from recycled polyester, is windproof and water-resistant. It holds in the feathers well and resists tearing – I learned this well on the first day I wore the vest when I clumsily caught some of the vest fabric in the zipper. If it had torn, I would have been covered under the Patagonia Ironclad Guarantee, which I also know from experience is the real deal. The vest has three pockets – two handwarmer pockets and one rather large interior pocket that the vest can fold into when I need to stash it in my bag. The zippers are solid and are the quality I’ve come to expect from Patagonia. I’m very happy with the fit also, not too snug and not too loose, and it follows the natural contours of my torso. All in all I think I’ve made a really good purchase, and I can tell already that it’s going to get a lot of use.

If you’re a guy, Patagonia makes this vest for you too :)

Copenhagenize.com: Winter Cycling Redux

Here in Minnesota there is a huge cycling population and many of these cyclists continue to ride during the winter months, using their bikes as their primary form of transportation. We have nothing on Copenhagen though, that’s some serious bike culture!

Mikael Colville-Andersen is a freelance filmmaker and photographer and has two fantastic sites on Copenhagen cycling culture: Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic. I’ve really enjoyed the great photography at Copenhagen Cycle Chic; Copenhagenize is a new find for me and I love it already. These sites make me want to go to ditch my car and ride my bike everywhere, even when the roads are covered in snow.

Color Rush

Soda Pop

The bright colors of these sodas were a great pick-me-up on a cloudy day. After a nice warm-up we’re heading into another cold spell here in Minnesota, so I can use all the bright colors I can get. I’m going to make a point of seeking out nice vivid, candy-like shots at least once a week for the rest of winter. It makes for a nice challenge and helps to keep my mood bright too.