Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The 10th Web Based. . .

"Occasionally" Annual Salmon Beach Bulletin

So it looks like Santa has had the same kind of year that the rest of us have had!  I've been off from teaching since March 8th and am not at all happy about it; I actually shut down my lessons a week before the governor shut the store down!  I've been winding down my teaching schedule for the last 8 years or so, and I'm down to. . . well, I did have only 8 students, the last couple of years, and I enjoyed that, as with the Social Security checks, they covered my expenses; not getting rich, to say the least, but my tastes are simple.  Having said that, I can tell you that I miss the students, and the "family" that works at Ted Brown Music Co.! 

I can tell you that I am feeling extremely lucky this year; I know of only 1 friend who came down with Covid-19, and he told me that he thought that he was dying during the worst part of the ordeal.  I know of only 2 friends of mine that have relatives that have tested positive for the virus, but they aren't sick or exhibiting symptoms.  So I'm keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers, and my fingers crossed for all of the rest of you and your families!

If I can keep new music coming in, and my ol' 2002 Subaru Outback continues to serve me well, then Life is good!  I've had to dip into my savings, when I wanted to go somewhere to serve my photography muse in the last 6 years, but other than that, my expenses are minimal. If you remember, back in 65, when I got to Salmon Beach, I paid a whopping $800 for my house, thus, no mortgage to keep up with; God, I would not have been able to pursue my musical education if my old childhood friend, Bob Rector  hadn't found this place and imported me from Richland to go to UPS with him, and for that, I'll be forever indebted to him!

Luckily, for those of you who have been following me on Facebook, I have a wonderful view, and a big park just above me, where I can spend hours walking around, and between working on the house and garden deck, gathering fire wood, reading and developing my eye for photography, I don't have any trouble staying busy.  Boredom has not been a problem for me, but the frustration of having set up my Iceland trip almost 2 years ago and having it postponed 3 times now, has worn on me a bit!  

So, having said that, this last 9 months has provided much time for "navel gazing", and I have to admit that it's no better looking than it was before!  🤣  I have been spending anywhere from 1/2 hour to an hour, every morning, meditating and counting my blessings before I get up to start my day, constantly reminding myself that every day is a gift, and that's why they call it "the present"!  I have pretty much unplugged from the American media, and the angst that they engender in me with their constant focus on bad news and how horrible our nation is, and my Life actually does feel more peaceful and fulfilling.

I'd have to go looking to see how long ago it was that I decided to try and lift the spirits of my friends with the everyday beauty that surrounds us, and started posting an awful lot of photos on Facebook, and sending some of them out to my friends that aren't on Facebook, and as far as I can tell, I was fairly successful.  I still enjoy talking politics, but in the current social situation, I've pretty much refrained from doing so; the days of respecting another's right to their own opinion seems to be fading in the rear view, and I'm not sure where it's going.  What I do know, is that friends are one of the most important things in my Life, and I don't want to risk losing any of them because of a stupid conversation that is not going to serve any purpose; God bless the few friends that I actually feel secure in broaching the subject of politics without anyone getting angry or upset!

We have settled into the winter season, with a lot of gray skies and rain, but occasionally something like this happens, to remind me that, indeed, there is so much beauty in the world:

And since my ability to move around and shoot the landscapes that have been my main focus since I first picked up a camera, this year, my focus (no pun intended!) has shifted to what is known as "macro photography"; shooting so close to things that they become almost abstract art:

Yes, in the photo below, I'm quite aware that most of it is out of focus, but what I was looking for was the focus in the yellowish green about 1/3 of the frame, from the left, and 1/3 down from the top.  Oddly enough, while I was working on it, I didn't notice that the curve of the petal to the left and down just a little, was also in focus, which was not what I intended!  Ah well, live and learn!

And I've noticed that my life long appreciation for "curves" has made itself very evident in my photos!

After losing my dog, Angel, a couple of years ago, I had held off getting another one, in anticipation of the Iceland photoshoot, but having come to the conclusion that it is going to be at least another year out, I started a serious search for a young female dog or puppy, to boost "the band" at #72 from a trio to a quartet.  Boy, was I ever shocked; the price of saving the life of a Humane Society dog (which is where all my "grrrrls" have come from, except for ShortDog!) has skyrocketed from almost nothing to the price people used to pay for purebreds.  Seems as though it's because Covid has so many people staying at home, that the demand for canine companionship is higher than it's ever been.  It may be that there are just fewer animals out there because people have become more responsible in getting their animals "fixed".  Whatever,  I've been looking for almost 4 months now, and have spent endless hours on the net; hopefully, the persistence will pay off.

This is about the shortest Christmas "card" that I've ever turned out; I hope and pray that the upcoming year will see us able to move freely about, able to hug our loved ones again, and get on with our lives.  So, I'm wishing you all a "MERRY CHRISTMAS & A SAFE AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!"


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The 9th Web Based. . .

"Occasionally" Annual Salmon Beach Bulletin


Here we are, approaching my favorite time of year; decorations are starting to appear on peoples' homes and their kids are starting to get "wound up" for the coming holidays.  It's hard to be cynical and wrapped up in politics, when you witness the simple innocence and joy that fills their young lives!

As I reflect back on this last year, which has actually been a year in which I've lost 3 close, long-time friends and 2 animals, and I still feel blessed for having known these people, all for well over 25 years, during which time they enriched my Life, immeasurably.  Angel-doggie and Bella-cat both lived long, happy lives, in an environment which couldn't have been better for them, loved dearly, and neither one of them were plagued with a long slow decline, and who could ask for more than that?  We should all be so lucky!

I still haven't managed to make it to Iceland, which has been a big disappointment, but, as usual, I look for the "silver lining"and see that as a "goal to still be achieved", and am trying to line up some alternate trips for the coming year.  God knows, there is no lack of places that I'd like to visit with the camera.

I only took one photo expedition this year, with my bro-in-law and sis, over to Glacier National Park, last August.  I don't know about them, but I had a great time, although I have to admit to being a little taken aback at the cost of both food and lodging in the park!  

A few years ago, I had read that they were predicting that the glaciers would be completely gone by 2023, and they seem to have over estimated that by 4 years, because the only snow that we saw, were extremely small patches, in the highest altitudes.  Even so, the park is absolutely gorgeous; so much so, that I just booked a small cabin (more about that cabin, below), just at the east entrance to the park for late spring, so, hopefully, I will be able to do some hiking and get photos of the mountains with a lot of snow.  

I'm still relatively new to traveling, and tend to get a little wrapped around the axel as departure time approaches, and this time was no different.  I had made a list about a month ahead of time, noting all the stuff that I needed to take with.  My photography stuff was easy, as was the clothing and odds and ends, so things should fall right into place, as everything was done and packed, 3 days in advance.  No sweat, right?  Wrong!  

I headed out of here, up over Chinook Pass late on an overcast Friday morning, and although the sky was dark, the scenery was beautiful, and just as I crested the top, the skies cleared for about 3 minutes, just enough time for me to pull over and snag my camera:

Back on the road to Richland, where, at about 10 p.m., much to my horror, I discovered that somehow, I neglected to pack the prescription toothpaste & gel that I need to use on my teeth, because of the radiation and chemo treatments that I had back in '14!  

The next morning, before we left Richland, I hit the Walgreens Drug Store to try and con the pharmacist into selling it to me, but. . . No luck!  I even joked with him, asking, "Seriously, have you ever seen a guy in a trench coat standing on a corner asking if anyone wants to buy some toothpaste?"  He laughed, admitted it was pretty dumb, but still refused to sell it to me.  So I wound up calling the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and asking them to email a 'script for me; they said it would take a couple of hours, so the pharmacist said that he could forward it to one of their stores just the other side of Spokane, and it would be ready when we got there.  Away we go!

In Spokane, we stopped, and they had the gel for me, but. . . They had neglected to send a prescripton for the special toothpaste, so it was one of those "Screw it!" moments, and I just snagged the toothpaste with the highest percentage of fluoride, and we hit the rode again.

We spent that night in Missoula, Mt., and it was only about 4 hours from there to the Glacier Park Lodge, close to the east entrance to the park.  It's an incredibly beautiful old building:

However. . . "Rustic" barely begins to describe the rooms: no TV, no coffee (if you look closely at the lower left corner, you'll see a coffee bar, where a small cup of coffee sets you back $5!), a shower that, as "petite" as I am, I could barely get my arms up to wash what little hair is left on my head; a bed that, while not as bad as the one that was here at The Beach when I first got here in '64, you could almost sit on the edge, and then roll into the middle, doing a backflip!  Thank God they did have  a pretty fast wi-fi!  2 nights here and on, another 3 1/2 hours to St. Mary's Village, with a wonderful little cabin (Elaine and Charles had their own, so I was free to crank up my music and stay up as late as I wanted!) with all the amenities: large modern bathroom, large kitchen complete with everything needed to prepare a meal, big TV, super fast wi-fi, air conditioning. . . Man, I was in heaven, for the next 3 nights!

We went out for burgers that night, and it was at this point that Elaine informed us that she had an infected finger, and when she held it up to show us, man. . . I was shocked; it was swollen up to the size of my thumb and had started to turn black!  Being the sensitive, caring brother that I am, I said, "Oh, my God, Quig; put that thing away; I'm trying to eat!"  Needless to say, no doctors around, and none of us thought about the fact that all of the park rangers have a modicum of medical training; stupid!  It wasn't until about 2:00 a.m. that I realized that, and by then, Chuck had already lanced it with a sewing needle.

The next night, I wandered out the door at about 11:15 to look at the sky, and was amazed that I could actually see the Milky Way, so I snagged my camera and tripod, for what I thought would be a fast 15 minutes, which stretched out to about 3 hours!  This was my first serious attempt at astrophotography, so I had to learn a bit before I nailed it:

The next morning was an early one, as we decided to snag the free bus that took us to the visitors' center at the top of the "Going To The Sun Road".  I had misgivings about taking the bus, since you don't have the freedom to stop wherever you feel like it (although you can get off, and then catch the next one), but when we got to the top, I was grateful that we had, as there was a parade of about 30-40 cars, circling the parking lot, waiting for a place to park; I'll bet that there is at least 1 fistfight a day up there!

I was excited about getting to do some hiking, but my sister has a bad knee, and that option was a "no go", even though she made a couple of valiant tries.  There is a pretty nice trail that takes off from the center (elevation about 6200'), and we took off up the mountain, but she called it quits about an hour in.  Luckily, Elaine has never met a stranger, so she picked out a rock, sat down and started to talk to another lady, taking a break, while Chuck and I headed on up the hill.  Chuck got way ahead of me, 'cause I was taking my time shooting, and I passed him going back down, as I was still headed up.

This was view from about another hour up the hill, at the crest (I think!) of the path, and you can see how little snow is left!  There is a trail down to this lake, but it had been about 1 1/2 hours since leaving Elaine, and I was feeling kind of guilty about it, so after getting a few more shots, I turned around and ran most of the way back down to the center.  I guess that I should have been a musician, because Elaine and Chuck had only been waiting for about 15 minutes, and I walked straight into the departing air conditioned bus, that took us back down the mountain; talk about timing!

The next morning I got up to photograph the sunrise, and it was breath taking (15' from the door of the cabin!): 

15 minutes later, and 90• to the right of the view above, as the sun crested the horizon:

At about 11 a.m., we packed up the car and headed back up the Road To The Sun, to head back home, and once again, found a merry-go-round at the visitors' center, only much more crowded than the day before when we got there early, so we didn't even stop, but just headed toward the exit from the park on the west side.  I kept bugging Chuck to pull over so I could get some shots, and this one was right beside the road (I was on the edge of it, and cars were creeping by me!); it was called Staircase Falls, but I had to walk back up the hill, about 10 minutes from the car to get the shot:

I was a little disappointed in the west side of the park, as it's not much different than the Cascades, here in Washington, but we still had another surprise waiting for us.  We had booked a "suite" at Apgar Village, at the west end of the park, and we got in there at about 2 p.m.  We checked in, and got directions to a medical clinic, where a doctor checked Elaine's finger out, drained it some more, and prescribed some antibiotics for her.

We got back to the Village, which did have a beautiful view of the lake:

But when we loaded our stuff into the suite, we discovered that it consisted of a double bed in the front room, and separated by a wall (no door!), another double bed!  1 electrical outlet in each room, no TV, no wi-fi (get the idea that this is a major concern of mine? 🤣, no telephone, and no coffee, again!

We went out and took a short walk around the "village" and some flat, groomed trails, and realized that if we spent 3 nights here, we would just be wasting our time.  We talked it over, and decided to head back home the next morning, even if it meant losing the money for the next 2 nights, but when we said that we were having a "medical emergency", the guy running the place was nice enough to credit the money back to us!  We were very happy when we pulled out that morning, headed for home, 2 days early.

I don't know if you were aware that a few years ago, the starfish all along the west coast, from Mexico to Alaska, got hit by a "wasting disease", where their arms just rotted off.  The Beach, which used to literally crawl with them, hasn't had any for about 5 years, but one morning in September, I looked out the window at low tide, and was overjoyed to find that they have started to reestablish themselves, and look nice and healthy!

It's awfully nice to see something positive happening in a day when there are so many signs that our planet is in trouble!  

I've gotten into a new "habit" over this past year, when there is so much negativity and anger in our society, so to balance that, I spend about 1/2 hour every morning before getting out of bed, reflecting on how extremely lucky (or maybe, "blessed" is a better word!), my Life has been, and what I've realized is that you, my friends, have been a huge part of that!  I've looked at my Facebook friends, and realize that politically, they range from the extreme right to the extreme left, and whether or not I agree or disagree with your views, I respect your right to your own opinion, and I enjoy talking/arguing about them.  I have to tell you that I believe that things would be much better if society would adopt that attitude in seeking resolutions to our problems rather that taking differing opinions as a challenge to be . . . ummmm. . . "conquered" by anger or sheer volume.

So, that's it for now; hope you enjoyed the adventure, the photos, and maybe the small amount of philosophy!  Know that I keep you all close, in my heart, and wish you all a merry Christmas, and a safe and happy new year, and hope the coming one will be less stressful for us all.  When things get to the point where they feel unbearable, stop, and look around you at the beauty that surrounds us, and reach out to one of your friends to share some time with them and remind yourself of how lucky we are!  I leave you with one last photo, as a demonstration:

Love to all❣️

Monday, December 24, 2018

The 8th Web Based. . .

"Occasionally" Annual Salmon Beach Bulletin

Well, it's 30• outside, there's a fire in the wood stove and a cup of coffee sitting here beside me, so I decided to go ahead and see if I can't get this out to you guys before Christmas! 

Before anything else, I really need to apologize to all of my friends who are veterans; I usually send out a note on Veterans' Day, thanking you all for your service for our country, but this year, I missed it due to an incident that completely kicked my Life sideways; details below, but, "Thank you all!" and I'll try not to miss any more; your sacrifice is truly appreciated by this ol' dude!

This has been a year of changes for me; some good, some not so, but I have to admit to being happy to bring it to a close and see what the new one holds for all of us!  I had hoped to be able to finally see the realization of my dreams of a shoot in Iceland, but it's been put on hold.  My friend and photo-guru, James Brandon (  [check out his portfolio!]), who I've taken a couple of trips with, was unconscionable enough to score a full time job as a videographer for his church, with a full compliment of "bennies" for himself and his family, necessitating the cancelation of the trip.  I'm not giving up though, and hope to be able to maybe tempt him into an 8-10 day trip around the Ring Road, which circles the island; if all else fails, I may wind up heading out by myself, in the next year or 2, but I really have enjoyed the time that I've gotten to share with him. . .

As I've done in the past, I was going to work through the highlights of the year in chronological order, with photos, but as I was working on this yesterday, the afternoon talk jocks on the radio were fussing about people posting pictures that no one was interested in, so, if you're one of those folks, I'll run down the highlights of the year (of which there aren't too many!), and you can skip the photos, when you hit the first one!  If you're here for the photos,  just keep on reading. . .

Aside from the trip to Hawaii, in January, the first and probably most important thing is that I got another "Cancer Free Zone" designation from the oncologist in February; one more, in the summer of '19, and they say they're going to cut me loose!

In May, I took a major step in lifestyle that may add years to my Life; after 2 years of dithering about it, I finally sold the motorcycle.  Since it's a road bike, and that there is another 4 years of freeway construction left in Tacoma, I decided that there was no point in continuing to risk my Life by going out and playing in the traffic, where the drivers are more intent on what's changed since the last trip they made, than paying attention to other vehicles!  I have to admit that I have not suffered 1 day of "seller's remorse"; it was the right decision, that I should have made a couple of years ago. . .

On October 21st, I lost my Angel dog, after 15 years of wonderful, constant companionship, and the only good thing about it was that she was absolutely fine until the last 7 hours of her life.  It was a quick downhill decline, and bless her heart, even though she could barely walk, she managed to brace her butt against my right leg, and made it up the stairs under her own power.

For you guys who have immediate family, you cannot imagine how the death of an animal can have such a devastating effect on a single person, but I can tell you that it completely knocked my Life off kilter; I basically spent the next month burying myself in books; I probably read somewhere around 25 of them, and spent the remaining time watching TV.  I love the kitties, but they are not dogs, and it’s just a completely different relationship, so, even though I’m coming home to 3 little bundles of love, I truly miss the enjoyment of coming home to an animal that pretty much worships me, and isn’t the least bit shy about demonstrating it!  Cats?  Not so much, except for my “soul mate” cat, Kami, who would just haul ass, when I stuck my head out the door, and call for her; I’d see her running down the trail, full out, until she hit the deck where she knew I could see her, and then she’d put on the binders, and slowly stroll the rest of the way to the house.  I figured that she was just demon-strating that she was only coming home because she felt like it!  18 years of that nonsense until I lost her, and I still miss that cat. . .

I started this year with my first trip,  a week in Hawaii with James, and 4 other wonderful people.  One of the perks of going with James is that I've met some truly nice, and funny folks who are also very talented photographers, on both trips I've done with him.  

Unlike most things in my Life, I think that all the arrangements were completed a couple of months ahead of time!  I had signed on for the Trusted Travelers' Program, which lets you slide through the turnstiles at the airport, without taking off your shoes and belt, and unpacking your electronics (computer, cameras, iPad, etc.  Still, 36 hours prior to leaving, I was wound up tight, but sailed through everything and wound up on Kauai, with no hassles, the night before the workshop, which started on the 18th, but the wind was blowing hard and it was raining, and I was too tired to do anything except head straight for bed!  

James picked me up around noon the next day, and we headed for the house where we stayed.  The rest of James's "crew" was comprised of Barb, Julie, Ruth, and David Archer (jazz guitarist and photographer extraordinaire: ), and we all seemed to "gel", immediately, just like the guys in Banff, last year.  (If you want to  skip the commentary, if you click on the photo, it will "blow up", and you can just page through the photos; I promise I wont take offense!  🤫)  Here's the view from the front porch:

The woman who cooked (boy, is that an understatement!) was named Than (sp?) and she was absolutely a gourmet chef; I wound up trying to talk her into coming back to Salmon Beach, going so far as to propose to her!  🤣 James had talked about her before we got there, and she certainly lived up to the hype, feeding us incredible breakfasts, lunches and dinners that could have come from a 5 star restaurant, no matter how early we left, nor how late we got back.

The first morning we headed out to Hanalei Bay, and unlike Banff, where we were usually outside by 5 a.m., we got there about 7:15:

Try as we might, we couldn't spot Puff The Magic Dragon, but the peacefulness and quiet helped to assuage the disappointment!  

1 p.m. found us at Secret Beach, and, despite the fact that I've lived here at The Beach for the last 54 years, I've never seen the water such beautiful colors!

And looking in the opposite direction:

Sunset, that first night at Ke'e Beach was spectacular, and I'm not sure which of the "wave" photos below I like best, but they definitely filled out part of my wish list for photos!

The second morning found us at Moloa'a Bay, and I was fascinated by the "herd" of smooth rocks all kind of headed in the same direction; even the rocks at Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia, although smooth, were not polished like this:

And by sunset, we wound up at Spouting Horn:

If you look closely at the image below, someone decorated the right side of the stump with some pooka beads!

And as the sun went down, looking 180• from where I took the photo above:

I'm not sure, but I think that our 3rd day was probably the longest, and it was the only day that Than didn't greet us with a sumptuous breakfast (crepés, bacon, eggs, home made pastries, Hawaiian sausage, coffee. . . Hey James, I'm ready to go again!), because I think that this was the morning that we hit the road about 5:30, and sunrise was high, and far away from the water, at Koke'e State Park:

We had some time to kill before our sunset cruise, so we headed back toward the water, and James, ever the adventurer, took us far off the beaten track (nice that we had a 4-wheel drive van!), where I scored 2 obligatory shots:

I'm not sure where they hide those huge waves that we see photos of, but they weren't here, so we headed back into town for some lunch, and then got on a big catamaran sailboat, like the one below,  and headed out for some spectacularly rugged coastline.  Dinner was served on the boat, and was as wonderful as the scenery!

5 minutes from docking, at the end of the trip, "Quigley luck" struck, once again, and out on the deck, as I stood up to go put my stuff away, Poseidon decided that I needed to make a sacrifice, and before I had a chance to grab it, a gust of wind snatched my Tilley hat (given to me by my best friend, about 4 years ago), off my head and after one skip off the edge of the deck, delivered it into the depths.  Man, I was sooooo bummed! Since I've been "follicly challenged" most of my life, James took us off on a little side trip, and found a Tilley Hat store, where I replaced it, to protect me ol' bald beanie!

The 5th day found us winging our way over to The Big Island, where the weather and the scenery changed from pastoral to dramatic!  Where the rain on Kauai was pretty gentle when it put in an appearance, on Hilo it was hard and accompanied by pretty heavy winds.  That night we drove up to Halema'uma'u Crater (part of the Kilauea volcano) where we got to see the lava roiling in the crater; something that James had never seen, although this was his 4th or 5th trip.  I was amazed, when I loaded the photos onto the computer and saw this:

Perhaps the "evil face" was a sign of the destructive energy that Kilauea was about to unleash on the island, about a week after we departed?  In the next one, you can see the beauty of the sky and stars, showing up behind and above the vog. . .

The next morning, we greeted the day at Laupahoehoe Point, where the rocks were totally different than the smooth stones on Kauai:

and if I remember correctly, we got chased out of here by an incredible storm that blew in and drenched me (the last one back) before we could get our stuff picked up and get back to the car; it only lasted about 20 minutes or so, but we decided it was time for breakfast. . .

We drove up to the Mauna Kea summit (over 14,000') in the afternoon, hoping to get in some night time photography, and were treated to a beautiful sunset:

Notice the cars and people in the top one?  I almost got myself in trouble again, with my tendency to wander off by myself, getting lost in the viewfinder.  Now look at the one below:

Notice the lack of people and cars?  I looked up about 20 minutes after the 1st one, and there were no people and no cars, and just as I was scratching my head and wondering, "What the heck. . . ", a park ranger yelled at me to get back to the car, and get off the mountain.  So, it was me running back to the car and the group, who once again were wondering where I was. . .

On the morning of the next to last day, we took a couple of helicopters (doors off!) out for an hour and a half ride, and it was spectacular!  It still blows me away to contemplate a 4,000 foot waterfall, and there were a lot of them!

As we were returning to the heliport, we passed over a pod of humpback whales:

Lunch at the Four Seasons Resort afforded us a view of these bathing beauties:

And for our last night's sunset, we headed out to Wawaloli Beach Park, and Pele's Well:

For a closer look, we moved right up to the edge, keeping an eye out toward the ocean:

And then it was "feet wet time"  (same hole!):

The next morning, we packed up and headed for the airport, and after dropping off part of the crew for early flights, the remainders headed over to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, to blow away a couple of hours before the rest of us headed for home.  To say it was beautiful would be an understatement, and these were 3 of my favorite shots from there:

Oops!  And this is our fearless leader, James, keeping a subtle eye on us!

The flight home was as different from the flight to here as it could be!  On the first leg from Hilo to Honolulu, my Trusted Traveler status did not exempt me from being run through the regular routine, and although I was enrolled in the TTP,  I wasn't stupid enough to make a fuss, and I did ask why, and the perfectly reasonable explanation was that the option to pull you out of line was for a "random search" factor; fair play, I guess!

The 2nd leg, from Honolulu to San Francisco was a little. . . ummm. . . "exciting", I guess would be the right word.  About 15 minutes out of S.F., I was extracted from the book on my iPad by the smell of something electrical burning.  I looked around to find everybody squirming around trying to see what was going on, and the flight attendants walking quickly up and down the aisles, also trying to see what was happening.  I was seated right over the front of the wing, and looking through the window on the other side of the plane, I could see flame belching out the engine on the far side!  We came into San Francisco, "hot", no pun intended, and I swear the plane bounced about 10 feet back into the air, on first contact.  When we got stopped, a ways from the terminal, we were immediately surrounded by fire trucks and emergency vehicles:

The guy who took the selfie and the one above that, was about 6'4", and some kind of federal official (air marshal, maybe?), and he wasn't any happier than I was about the whole situation; although we were joking around about it, I think maybe it was a "whistling through the graveyard" thing.

And on the last leg back to Sea-Tac, there was an emergency situation with one of the elderly folk (yeah, yeah. . . I know: "Look who's talking!"), that caused quite a stir, and delayed our deplaning for about 15 minutes, which was no big deal.  Back at The Beach I received a "Welcome Home!" celebration from the "grrrrrrrls", and wound up sleeping with a "3-cat blanket", for the first time in years, and it took Angel about 3 hours to settle down.  No matter how wonderful the vacation, it's even better getting home!

In September, me, my sis and bro-in-law made a 10 day trip down the Oregon coast, and although we only had a total of, maybe, a couple of hours of nice light (unlike Hawaii, where the skies were constantly changing), the clouds hung out for most of the trip.  In Rockaway Beach, just after dinner, the cloud bank broke, and there was 15 minutes of nice light.  I had just come out of the bathroom, looked out the window and saw what was happening, and how small the break in the cloud cover was, so I grabbed the camera and took a couple of shots through the window screen, thinking the camera might not even see it if I focused out on the beach; WRONG!  So I literally ran out the door, down the stairs and out onto the beach and got some great shots.  After the clouds closed back in, I walked back up to the room, put the camera on the bed and looked down to discover that I had neglected, in my rush, to rebuckle my belt or redo my zipper.  Good thing I was the only one out there, or I might have had to call my retired Washington State Patrol brother-in-law to come bail me out of jail on charges of indecent exposure!

So, now you're caught up on what's been going on with me this year, good and bad; hope it hasn't been too boring, and that you enjoyed the photos.  I wish I could turn you all on to some new music, but the truth of the matter is that I'm not finding anything that really plucks my heartstrings, so I guess you're on your own!

My thanks to you all for being my friends, and adding an immeasurable amount of joy to my Life, even though I may only see you every once and awhile, and some of you I haven't seen for years; knowing that you are out there certainly gives me joy!  

I pray you spend the holidays surrounded by the warmth and love of your friends and family.