2019 It was a (mostly) Very Good Year

2019   It was a (mostly) Very Good Year

As 2019 ends, and 2020 approaches, I have to say that it was a pretty fine year for our little family (Me, Hubby, and Kitty).  There were no disasters, no serious illnesses, only a few bumps in the road.  Our Country has been wracked and torn by the disgusting DemocRATS impeaching President Trump, but he has not let it stop him from governing well in the meantime.

Month by Month…

January

Not much going on in January.  Early in the month, we went to the Seattle Athletic Club, where Hubby plays squash, to watch exhibition matches with some professional players. Some of it was good fun, as world-renowned players played doubles on the big, glass court.  They were intentionally tripping over each other, missing shots, and getting in some good laughs.

Doubles

Singles…

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If you have never watched a real professional squash match, I urge you to go over to your favorite video site and search on pro squash.  They are very exciting and fast-paced.

February:

February was a busy month for us.  Early in the month, we got some snow up in our home of Everett, Washington (not that common an occurrence), and our backyard looked like a winter wonderland for awhile.  Our local birds were happy to take advantage of our seed and suet feeders.  Here’s one of our Varied Thrushes.

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Later in the month, we went down to Southern California for a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar, which has already been documented here on Calling-all-RushBabes.  It was a wonderful trip, and we were thrilled to be able to meet some well-known Conservatives.  We also confirmed that we will be endowing a Hillsdale scholarship.  From this year on, all of our donations will be credited to our scholarship (for a music student).  We are pleased as punch to be able to do this.

My Age started to affect things this year, as in October I turned 70-1/2, which means I have to start taking Required Minimum Distributions from my Traditional IRA account. My account is with Vanguard, and they do make it very simple to set them up.  I had decided a while ago to dedicate that money to Hillsdale donations, and I did that in May and November this year.  Of course, the College was happy to receive the donations, and they will fund our endowed scholarship.

March:

March was a pretty uneventful month, with no big trips or happenings.  We did drive up to the Skagit Valley to see the scenery.  It was too early for the tulips, but the daffodils were already blooming. It’s only about an hour drive from our house, so we make the trip often.

Mar-Daffodils

April:

April, on the other hand, was full of interesting happenings.  For a few months, we had been noticing that our water bills had been increasing, and we didn’t know why.  Well, we finally called a plumber, and they discovered that we had a broken water pipe in our front yard that was making a lake near the side of our house!  So, on a rainy day, they came out, dug up the yard, and discovered the broken pipe.

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See the bend in the pipe (vertical)?  Here is what the yard looked like:

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However, when he was through, the plumber replaced the dirt and sod, and the yard looked almost untouched.  We were grateful.

I turned 70 years old this year!  I don’t feel that old, and I’m still working more than full-time and liking it.  And, as a 70th birthday present to myself, I purchased my very first smartphone, an iPhone 10R.  I am liking it a lot, especially the camera.  It takes wonderful video, and it’s now my primary video recorder.

April is the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, and we went back up there to see the flowers.

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May:

In May, I took my solo trip to the Olympic Peninsula, also already documented here.  It was a great time to get away and unwind from all the stress at work. [I just looked at my final paycheck for the year, and I worked 383 hours of overtime in 2019!]  I got some excellent photos, and enjoyed the relaxation.

June:

In June, as usual we went to Leavenworth for the Accordion Celebration.  Leavenworth never changes much, and the music was fun, and the kids cute, as usual.  We love the drive there, too.

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July:

In July, we again took a day trip up the North Cascades Highway, to the Diablo Overlook.  That is always a fun drive, and we still marvel at the blue-green water in the glacial-fed lake.

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At the end of the month, for the finale of the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, I got to play with the Festival musicians at the Outdoor Concert.  It was a thrill to play with Amy Schwartz Moretti in the Second Violin section, playing the Elgar Serenade for Strings.

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August:

In August, we went to a party at my cousin’s house, to celebrate the birthday of his son’s daughter.  We had not seen the son in many years, and had never met his wife.  It was a nice party, attended by my sister, my nephew, and my great-niece too.  Later, we took another fun trip down to Tumwater Falls Park in Olympia.  That park never loses its fascination for us, and I understand why that was one of Hubby’s favorite places before we knew each other.

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September:

September was another busy month for me.  We took a trip to the Puyallup Fair, which I already documented here with numerous pictures.  Even at our advanced age, we love going to the fair!

Later, I had a very pleasant dinner with my sister, and our cousin from Portland.  When I thought about it, I had not seen her for over twenty years!  It was wonderful to get caught up on what we had all been doing for such a long time.  I sure hope it won’t be another 20 years until we see each other again.

At the end of the month, I went, with my violin, to the 30th Anniversary celebration for Music Center of the Northwest.  I was on the original Board of that community music school in Seattle, and it was fun to catch up with all the former board members, and hear about what had been going on at the center.  They also scheduled a reunion of Hildman Strings, the string orchestra whose leader was the driving force behind Music Center.  We played together again, and didn’t do too badly for a pickup group!

October:

October was a momentous month for us.  For the first week, we flew back to Michigan for the 175th Anniversary celebration at Hillsdale College (see my post).  They dedicated the new Christ Chapel, and we got to hear Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speak at the dedication ceremony.

We also celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary in October, with a nice dinner at the Metropolitan Grill in Seattle.  I just had to take a picture of a page in the menu, describing the various varieties of Wagyu beef they serve there.  Having seen a picture of a slab of Wagyu, I certainly would not be interested in eating any, since it looks like it’s at least 50% fat!

Oct-Meat with your fat?

Just look at those prices!

November:

In November, we celebrated our first Thanksgiving since our marriage, alone.  I have been basically drummed out of the family, based on the content here on my blog that my sister objects to.  So we went to a nice dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Bellevue, and didn’t have to worry about saying anything that would offend anyone.

And we made our excursion to Snoqualmie Falls, that I have already documented here.

December:

I made a momentous decision in December, after I received a letter from my long-term-care insurance carrier.  The letter informed me that, if I did nothing, my insurance premium would be increasing in January by 40%, and would go up by an additional 150% in the next five years.  Well, that was the last straw.  I decided that this would be throwing good money after bad, so I basically canceled my policy.  The money that I have already paid in premiums (over $30,000) would still be there for me to draw on if necessary, but I will be paying no additional premiums.  I made the decision to take the money I would have paid in premiums, and invest that money in my own account, to earn dividends until needed.

Hubby and I had a very much Christmas dinner at home.  I made a boneless rib roast, and he made garlic mashed potatoes.  We had a nice salad, and apple pie for dessert.  I even got out the good china and Grandma’s silver plate.  Here’s our table:

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The day after Christmas, we did the University Unitarian Church full-length sing-along, play-along Messiah.  I played first violin, and Hubby sang.  It was wonderful, as always.  This year was the fiftieth year the church has been doing this, so the conductor appeared as the Composer!  Cute, but she said the getup was really hot!

Karen-Handel

The remodeled sanctuary was beautiful, and we got nice padded chairs!  The choir sang very well, and we in the orchestra were proud to be playing for them. It was a great ending to a good year. Oh, one more thing…  This is a Unitarian Church, which is as far Left as you can possibly be and still be a religion.  Here is a sign outside the rest room.

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We are both in aerospace, and get the time between Christmas and New Years off.  This year, we saw three movies in our weeks off.  We saw the new Star Wars movie, Richard Jewell, and Ford Vs. Ferrari.  That’s more movies than we normally see in six months!  And we enjoyed them all.

Also this year, we followed the case of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which was grounded for much of the year, after two fatal crashes in Asia and Africa.  This incident brought opprobrium to Hubby’s employer, and my company’s biggest customer, and we winced every time new bad news was received.  This issue will carry into the new year of 2020, and promises to be uncomfortable for everyone.

Now, as the old year winds down, I would like to express gratitude for all the good things that have come our way this year.  I earned a very nice salary, was able to put away a rather large sum in my retirement accounts, and benefited from a rising stock market all year.  Hubby and I have been healthy, except for my cancer scare (also documented here) in the fall.  We are incredibly fortunate not to have had any major problems this year, and we thank God for our lives, and our friends, and our colleagues.   We are big supporters of our President Donald Trump, and wish him and his family a good new year.  I would also like to thank all of my loyal followers and commenters, here on my blog.

Onward to 2020!  Happy New Year to all!

Natural Beauty at the Asian Grocery Store

This past weekend, Hubby and I made a trip to the local Asian Grocery Store.  Uwajimaya has two big stores in the Seattle area, the flagship store in the International District of Seattle, and a new branch in Bellevue where we went.  This family-owned store has been in business since 1928, and stocks a bewildering variety of goods, from packaged noodles, produce, and meats, to every imaginable kind of Asian spice, sweets, and sauces.  A trip there is to walk into a wonderland of colors, smells, and sights.  I again discovered the utility of that smartphone in my pocket.  If I see something interesting, I can just whip out my phone and take a picture.

I am always fascinated by the variety of totally unknown (to me) fruits and vegetables to be found there.  Here are some pictures I took with my new phone.  The camera is awesome!

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Did you know there was a vegetable called “Buddha’s Hand”?  Neither did I, but it is aptly named.

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Have any of you seen the Anime series “Daikon Brothers”?  Named after those Daikon Radishes you see on the left!

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No, you don’t necessarily have to range far and wide to see beauty, just head on over to your local Asian grocery.

A Belated Christmas Greeting to the Trump Family

President Donald Trump and his First Lady, Melania, published a video Christmas greeting to the nation. See below.

Just look at that still-shot.  They do not look very happy, do they?  Perhaps that might have something to do with the way they have been treated for the past four years by the despicable (so-called) democrat party and the Media.  The entire Trump family has had their names dragged through the mud, been slandered and libeled regularly, and been slimed in all manner of media, ranging from the fish wrap New York Times and Washington Post, to the sleaze-filled Daily Kos, Salon, and Puffington Host (hat tip to James Taranto).

President Trump’s campaign was spied-upon, his campaign aides surveilled by the FBI, his cabinet members hounded out of restaurants, and his supporters injured on the streets. And he has been impeached in the House of Representatives, for the simple reason that they Hate Him.  His term in office has been the most productive, beneficial, and economically excellent in many decades.  The country is manifestly better-off today than at any time since the Obama Recession.  Today’s unemployment rate is the lowest in 50 years, and today more minorities are employed than ever before.  The average American pays less in taxes, has a better job with benefits, and is subject to fewer onerous Federal regulations than he has seen in recent memory.

But President Trump has continued to fight against all the stones that have been thrown at him, and has come out of it even stronger.  He has fought off the Never-Trumpers of his own party, and has remained upbeat and optimistic about the future of the United States of America.  Unlike most of his enemies in the Left Party and the Media, President Trump cares deeply about this country, and wants to keep it strong in the face of the many external foes that wish us ill.

So, a Very Merry Christmas to our President and his family.  Keep the Faith, Sir, we are with you!

Have a Very Harry Christmas!

Have a Very Harry Christmas!

It occurred to me recently that my Christmas posts have been very heavily Peanuts.  I love A Charlie Brown Christmas, but I also love Harry Potter.  I was enchanted by my first taste of Harry and his Wizarding World, when I saw the first movie in 2001, and have been an avid fan ever since.  I joined Pottermore when it came out, and worked my way through all the books in the video-game-like part of the site (which was shut down when the kid users made hash of it).  I have remained a member of what is now Wizarding World, gotten sorted into my Hogwarts House (Slytherin), and Ilvermorny House (Horned Serpent), gotten my wand (pine wood with unicorn-hair), and Patronus (a stoat, a relative of the weasel).

One of my favorite parts of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the time of Harry’s first Christmas at Hogwarts.  Since he had no real family to go home to over the holiday, he stayed at school, along with the Weasley kids and a few others.  One of my very favorite lines in all the books was Harry’s comment when he awoke Christmas morning to find a small pile of presents at the foot of his bed.  Since he really hadn’t been expecting anything at all, and this is what happened:

On Christmas Eve, Harry went to bed looking forward to the next day for the food and the fun, but not expecting any presents at all.  When he woke early next morning, however, the first thing he saw was a small pile of packages at the foot of his bed.

“Happy Christmas,” said Ron sleepily as Harry scrambled out of bed and pulled on his dressing-gown.  ‘You, too’, said Harry. Will you look at this? I’ve got some presents!”  

“What did you expect, turnips?” said Ron, turning to his own pile, which was a lot bigger than Harry’s.

One of his presents was his own wizard chess set (from a cracker at Christmas dinner), and he and Ron would play together.

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Harry also received his father’s invisibility cloak, which he just had to try out in the corridor after hours. While under the Cloak, he discovered the room where the Mirror of Erised was stored, and spent hours in front of it, viewing the family he never had.

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He spent some time alone in the Great Hall, thinking about his family, and what he had missed.  And remembering that Hogwarts was his new family.

In Harry’s Fourth Year, he encounters some of the most harrowing problems he has yet had to face, starting with being chosen by the Goblet of Fire to be Hogwarts’s second champion in the TriWizard Tournament.  But he rises to the occasion.  And then, he is presented with a new challenge-asking a girl to the Yule Ball. It doesn’t go as well as he might have hoped, but the Great Hall was certainly beautiful with all its winter decorations.

Yule Ball

In Harry’s Fifth Year, he is plagued with visions, indicating that Voldemort is inhabiting his mind when his defenses are down. He does, however, make good use of those visions, and hurries to the Ministry of Magic to save Arthur Weasley from Voldemort’s snake, Nagini.  Christmas is spent with the Weasley family, celebrating Mr. Weasley’s recovery.

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In Harry’s Sixth Year, the social side of being a wizard shows itself again, when Harry is invited to bring a friend to Professor Slughorn’s Christmas party.  It was almost comic, reading about Hermione’s attempts to lose her date, Cormac McLaggen.  But the food items were tasty, and Harry watched as party-crasher Draco Malfoy was taken down a peg or two when Slughorn did not fall all over him with praise about his relatives.

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The first book, and the first movie, remain my favorites.  The kids were so well-cast, and they all did all of the movies, so you could literally watch them all grow up.  Jo Rowling did indeed create a fully-formed Universe, alongside the one we all live in.  I don’t know about you, but I sometimes think about how interesting it would be to be a Witch or Wizard in today’s world.

I hope you all have a Very Harry Christmas!

Did you know that President Trump has the power to destroy the Planet?

Did you know that President Trump has the power to destroy the Planet?

Well, he must have, since David Remnick of The New Yorker has GIVEN him that power.  In an editorial, Mr. Remnick says the the impeachment by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is all about THE FUTURE OF THE PLANET.  Unbeknownst to himself, Remnick has single-handedly handed President Trump power over the entire planet.  Somehow, I don’t think that’s what he meant.

Christmas Music, and celebrating Independence

Christmas Music, and celebrating Independence

Less than a year ago, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was granted Independence from the main body of Russian Orthodoxy. There is now an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, with its own hierarchy, free of the Russian yoke.

Even though I am a Jew, I love Christmas music, and one of my  main favorites has a new meaning, in the light of the above news. (actually, my maternal grandfather was born in Odessa, now a part of independent Ukraine, so I do have a connection).  Each year, I try to pick up a new Christmas CD, and a few years ago I found this disk of Kiev Christmas Liturgy.  I love the sound of the male voices, singing in Russian.  Sublime, and I hope you like it too.