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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Aug '13

Swanda Is In The House.

Well, it’s been a month since the car has been out of the shop so I can run it through the auto wash – they said I could hand wash it the first month – like that is going to happen.

And I had a free wash card. After five cheap ones they give you a free expensive one with all the colored foam.

Takes me back to the sixties (in reality the seventies and early eighties).

Was out running errands and didn’t get back to the house until a little after 4 – to find Swanda arrived early. Luckily on five minutes early.

Got the car uploaded – well mostly, some non-important stuff is still in the trunk. Got us cocktails and settled in with the PBS Financial News at 5, followed by the BBC News, then NBC National News and finally the local news at 6:30.

The local news is my cue to start working on dinner so we can eat at seven.

Burried under the asparagus are a couple of steaks – cooked them in the same pan since they take the same amount of time if you like your steaks medium-rare.

Another dining al fresco night.


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Jul '13

More Trailer Time

And Dinner With Swanda & Damon.

Down to getting the finishing touches put together, like tie-downs and the flipping lock bolts to hold the stakes into the bed:

Picked up a tarp at Home Depot today to cover the top. Now I need to find my grommet set or its back to Home Depot for an ugly blue tarp.

Traffic was hell for the boys coming to dinner. Try an hour and a half for what should have been a half hour run. On the positive side (for me), Damon bought my old living room server for $100, minus the $10 I owed Swanda. One more thing out of my life. The new one is super quite – such a nice change, and I’m guessing it uses much less energy as well.

A lovely meal al fresco (you know him) with cocktails and the new, followed by steaks on the grill with a lovely green salad and some cole slaw for Swanda and I. Damon doesn’t “do” cabbage.

I’d post a pic of the boys, but Swanda’s Fabulous Blog is under construction waiting for pictures to appear (for me to swipe). Check back as Swanda has promised to post pics Friday night or Saturday.


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And Dinner With Swanda & Damon.

May '13

Swanda’s New Digs.

The usual of working Sunday, and a decent (for a Sunday) take at the till thanks to a rush at 4:30.

The big news of the day is dinner at Swanda’s new digs up north. I don’t envy the “joys” of moving. It’s taken him a month to get everything put away – and the last big item is now in the back of my station wagon, the rollaway guest bed. Where I’m going to put that is another question, but it is always handy to have a spare bed.

Porkloins over roasted onions – he did the roasted root vegetables separately for the BF since neither of us are doing carbs.

Left early as compared to when I used to dine at the old place since it’s twice the distance (but much cheaper in rent) and I tend to not like to drive after having wine with dinner.

Looking forward to being off tomorrow… time to run all those errands.


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Mar '13


Dinner With Bliss.

Cocktails With Swanda.

Sunday at the shop wasn’t too bad, not as good as the last three Sundays, but respectable for a Sunday.

A big shout to Swanda – today’s “whale” who called in two orders (first was six assorted Sauvignon Blancs under $15, second was for two Proseccos, also under $15) over the course of the afternoon. It’s nice to have some people’s credit cards on file in the safe for these “emergency” white wine orders.

After work it was off to dinner with Bliss – grilled chicken, asparagus, salad, wine – after a martini, of course. I’d ask him to read scholarship applications but he’s an International Baccalaureate teacher a local high school – just what he needs: MORE papers to grade.

Left around 7:30pm so he could get back to grading those papers – a task that fills most evenings and weekends. After seeing his workload I have extreme sympathy for every high school English teacher.

Next stop the apartment – two weeks til Swanda moves. I see boxes awaiting filling, but with only 600sq/ft it won’t take long. He shared some interesting news which I’m not going to share – let’s just say, things are looking up.

Home by 9:30, in bed by midnight, for tomorrow I work at 10.


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Dinner With Bliss.

Cocktails With Swanda.

Mar '13

Drinks With Swanda, Dinner With Myself.

Spent most of the day trying to get the damn Excitation (my new job). Got it to work once, and then after a reboot, nada. At least I got the procedures manual printed and the calendar to consistently load into a browser.

Spent a couple of hours hanging out with Swanda having cocktails after I picked up my packages.

One of the things that arrived was a second shoe rack:

Lamb chops with spinach for my iron-rich dinner. Unfortunately the wine from the Sunday pasting had passed its prime. Luckily the moonshine hadn’t.


Mar '13

18 Hours In The Air for Dinner At Swandas.

Hong Kong to Seattle via Tokyo. That’s today. Up at 6:30am, checkout and check-in at the desk… which didn’t open for 15 minutes after I got there. The good news? My boarding pass now says Star Alliance Gold (on the way out it said Silver) which gets me into the Club Lounge.

Picked up some cheap Chinese cigarettes for the freezer at duty free – have to wait for booze until Tokyo where I won’t have a connecting flight.

As I’ve said, the Chinese are wild about buffets. I’ve never seen a lounge buffet with shumai (little dumplings), spring rolls, sausage, sushi, all those breakfast pastry type things, cereal, all which morphed into lunch items including hot dogs (odd choice), curry chicken, more sushi.

Lucked out on the flight to Tokyo – exit row with reclining seats with the middle seat empty after the window seat didn’t show up. Sweet.

The Club Lounge at Narita was huge and packed, and the food not nearly as good. Maybe I should have tried the ANA lounge.

The one thing the United lounge did have was a shower:

Nice to have a break, get out of painful socks – never again will I wear tight socks on long flights.

Watched one movie, washed down an Ambien with Chivas (out of a real bottle, not a mini), the joys of flying another nation’s carrier slept for four hours or so, woke up had another meal, watched another movie.

Global Entry made it easy to get back into the US, but Sparky the USDA dog got a scent off my bag so I was off to ag (agricultural) inspection – the guess by the officer was that it was the scent from the sandwiches I grabbed in Hong Kong that I disposed on the flight from Tokyo to Seattle. Hopefully this won’t affect my status.

Even with the delay out of Tokyo, we were almost on time getting back which is good since I’m meeting Alicia at baggage claim. She’s going to see her father in Idaho, and leaving in an hour or so, so it’s a quick visit.

Alicia leaves, I take a quick nap, and Patrick is knocking on the door – he’s in town for two nights for a green building conference… no rest for me. Well, yes, rest for both of us – he hadn’t slept last night (flew in from DC) and I could use a little more sleep for dinner at Swandas, well, dinner and package delivery.

Dinner, oddly enough was sushi from downstairs – how much sushi in two days….

And for our last picture… shadows on Swandas wall.

Long damn day.

[? ? ?]

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Jan '13

Shop, Swanda, Sunday.

What a slow day at the shop…. Luckily Friday and Saturday were good – I even opened back up after I’d closed for sell another couple of bottles.

Dinner at Swandas was a couple of pork loins over a bed of roasted root vegetables… yum. We had the leftover tasting wine that didn’t get much action at the shop today:

Click on the bottle for the full description of the wine. It went quite well with the meal.

Home at a reasonable time, only to find that my buddy Joe from Tucson isn’t finding a cheap enough seat to join me in the Bay Area on Saturday for a massive wine tasting.

Oh well.


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Dec '12

Dinner With Swanda.

Another day of stinking up the house. Only three cases left to go… before another five cases show up next week.

Here is the progress so far:

Swanda showed up a little after 5 for our standard news followed by dinner:

  • Salad
  • Steamed asparagus
  • Steak

All while the still was a running. And apparently running too long. Final proof was only 50 so means it will be used as mixer for diluting stronger runs.

Another late night – must stop that.


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Dec '12

Christmas Eve At The Shop.

Dinner At Swandas.

Well, we know one thing – it gets busy the morning of Christmas Eve at the shop, whereas the afternoon was dead. Next year I think we will try 11-5 (Sunday hours) rather than 12-7 (weekday hours).

It was so dead at the end that Jim left about 6:30 and I closed the shop before seven – hopefully no one was disappointed.

It was good to see Drew along with Chip and Linda – of course, they were there during the crush of people before Jim showed up after two. Next year, two people to open, one to close. We’ll see how next week does with New Year’s Eve sales, that might be a later crowd.

Shocked Rob, Jody and Swanda by showing up almost exactly at 7 – they’d just finished two games of “The Night Before Christmas” or some such thing. Nice to have a late dinner so I could miss that! No much of a group games person.

Huge meal of pork loins over roasted root vegetables, roasted Brussels sprouts, a shrimp/slaw cocktail, salad, and I’m sure I’m forgetting something. We were all stuffed and passed on dessert – like any of us needed it.

Home rather early – good to get off the road before the novices take over.

But that doesn’t mean it was early to bed.


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Dinner At Swandas.

Nov '12

Post T-Day Dinner With Swanda.

Before I get to dinner, finished up getting the MailChimp email list set up for the Winter Gathering – it’s a free service works get if you don’t have to send out tons of emails but still have a lot of members on your list. Got the call designed, send out, and only 23 bounces (2.9% according to the site). Now comes the fun part of going through the database and updating it, and sending snail-mail postcards to the bouncy people.

As for dinner, here is the before:

That would be a “Moose Loaf” according to Swanda. Half moose (thanks Alan in Juneau), half lamb, wrapped in bacon.

And the whole meal:

With a load of pencil-thin asparagus and a big salad. No carbs here except for the wine.

Good dinner, good to see Swanda, still didn’t get to bed early.



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Oct '12

Dumpster Diving At Swandas.

I almost thought today was going to be a bust at the shop… luckily the last hour was busy which made up for the other 5 hours.

After work it was off to dinner at Swandas – and the ritual dumpster diving (well, the recycling room on his floor). Today’s haul? A slightly used SwissTravel monster suitcase:

And 32 Coke® rewards points, along with the 30+ that Swanda had saved for me. The package that I was also picking up contained the fedora sitting on the handles of the suitcase… bought with Coke® Rewards Points.

I brought a split of Gruet bubbles from the shop, and the remains of the Tempranillo that we were sampling today at the shop – Swanda baked two massive pork loins over a bed of onions, carrots and potatoes – cole slaw on the side.

Home around 8 to work on packing for the next trip.

[212.5] Damn Vegas food.

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Jul '12

On The Road Again…

This Time With Swanda.

It was an alarm morning… need to be at Swanda’s place at 10am, or a little after 9 if I want to catch Air Force One taking off to the North right in front of Swanda’s picture window.

As it turns out… the President didn’t take off at 9:30, but he did snarl traffic getting to the apartment so that my 20 minute trip was closer to 35.

By 10am it was time to leave, president or no president. It turned out to be no president, but here he is waving goodbye. Thank you King 5 for the picture.

Off to Whistler-Creekside go we.

Stops in Mt. Vernon for gas and thrift shopping (was looking for wine glasses, found 45’s including a Jackie Gleason one), then Cloverdale for lunch (Boston Pizza – same place Rich and I stopped on one other trip, but need to find a new place in Cloverdale), last minute groceries and wine in Squamish.

By 5pm we were settled in with cocktails and admiring the view:

Steaks on the grill, asparagus in Alfredo, tomato, cheese, sweet onion salad. Damn fine – followed by a wonderful sunset:

It’s so hard to get sunset photos, but that one isn’t bad.


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This Time With Swanda.

Jul '12

Swanda For Not Dinner.

Today I actually made it to the dentist with so much time to spare that I started exploring Redmond – stopped at Safeway to see what non-perishables were on the shelves (sewing machine needles and iron-on patch material), then found a Trader Joe’s so I thought I’d see if they were carrying liquor yet (yes) and then to the AAA for Victoria, BC brochures for Swanda and I’s early August overnight. Looks like we are driving one way with Swanda, then I’ll either fly home ($150, and earns 250 Alaska miles) or take the clipper ($89 but I could use my 50% off coupon but better to save that for a round-trip), or via Alaska Airlines for $200 (earns 500 miles).

The plan was for Swanda to come to dinner and delivery some cheap California booze. Well, the later happened, the former stalled by a lack of hunger on Swanda’s part – probably from driving all day.

The delivery:

One down, four to go (though one is for Jimmy). Apparently he dropped $770 at the liquor store in Hilt, CA, just over the Oregon border.

So it was just me for dinner. Didn’t cook the steaks and broccoli that I’d planned, instead went with a moose steak salad (a.k.a. leftovers):

Not every day that you have leftover moose.


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Jun '12

Dinner With Swanda

And Global Freeloaders

Today’s errand is to pick up all the things that I bought yesterday at the UW Surplus Sale.

Thanks Swanda for the use of the car.

And reassembled (the printer that is):

And the rolley cart thing:

Still no idea of what I’m going to do with these things. That’s for another day to decide.

Today’s big excitement is dinner at Swanda’s with Wonderfool. But, of course, before dinner there was some rearranging to do first to take some of the “hospital” look out of the apartment and turn it back into social mode.

Steaks under the broiler was my cooking contribution, deviled eggs and cole slaw was Swanda’s contribution, and Wonderfool did the moving that I couldn’t having stressed myself earlier getting the printer out of Swanda’s van.

Got home around eight and my Global Freeloaders arrived about nine. Two 19-year-olds from Lansing, Michigan that flew to Fairbanks and are hitchhiking back to Michigan via San Francisco. Ambitious to say the least – especially the AlCan highway.


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And Global Freeloaders

Apr '12

Vodka Tasting Followed By Swanda Dinner.

Today’s major event is a Vodka and Grappa tasting with Ms. Jill out in Woodinville – another Groupon tasting coupon.

That would be Matthew, the master distiller and sole full-time employee of Soft Tail Distillery. For the “barrel tasting” it was actually a unlabeled (unless you count blue painter’s tape) of a Viognier Grappa. Damn tasting, and the grappa tasting glasses were pretty cute as well (note: not as cute as the distiller with his Scottish accent).

Had to run home before heading to Swandas for packages and dinner – seems I foolishly left my phone at home when I headed to the distillery.

Steaks and slaw for dinner tonight.

Tried to find the energy to clean up a little for my brother who arrives tomorrow, but alas, not.


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Apr '12

Dinner With Swanda.

Elkerton and I didn’t get the scanning done until after 1pm when it was time to break for the taco truck. Torta for him, three fish tacos for me.

For some reason (like looking for a pcmcia card) I decided to sort, organize, and bag all there various computer cables and small bits of hardware and move them to the garage. I got so wrapped up in the project that when I looked at my watch, it was 5 o’clock and I was late for Swanda’s and in danger of not being able to pick up my package at the office.

Got the apartment in time for the package, with Fluffernutter arriving shortly after to lower the bed by two inches per nurses’ orders – which amount to just flipping the concrete blocks that hold the supports on their sides. We did discover that the box spring was cracked in a couple of places, so that was spun so it faces the window side of the bed.

And as for that dinner:

  • Cole slaw
  • Asparagus with Alfredo sauce
  • Two pork loins (of which we ate a little over half of one, LOTS of leftovers)

No wine since that’s not back on his diet yet, and it has carbs. Funny that vodka doesn’t.

Home by nine to spend more time playing with my new Windows 8 machine – it really would benefit from a touch screen. And it’s a radical change from the current system.


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Feb '12

A Visit To Swanda.

Visited Swanda this afternoon. Because of what they think was a minor cold last week, I everyone needs to wear masks.

Don’t I look great with the surgical mask on? It doesn’t help my feeling comfortable in hospitals.

Delivered his mail. He was in better spirits than last Tuesday when I talked to him on the phone.

Grabbed a late afternoon Pulled Pork at Pecos Pit. Probably not good for my diet, but damn tasty. With that snack it pushed my dinner (veal scaloppini) back to 8pm.

No other real news.


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Feb '12

Good Thing I’ve Got Swanda’s Sleigh.

More work on the directory, a never ending project — all Libboo projects are on hold until I get the directory printing. Then off to work at the shop for the wine tasting, then over to Greg’s to pick up a printer that he is donating to the faeries for a tax-deduction and a bottle of scotch (partial, as we started hitting it when I got there). But before I show the printer, I have to show you the Patsy (Greg’s wife) picture — all whe needs is a diamond necklace or something. The simple (and elegant) black dress:

So, in the picture below we have several “printer” related bargains. The printer (top two thirds of the printer) from Greg (who bought it from me YEARS ago). The duplexer and extra paper tray from Floating Bridge Press via Wonderful (who bought it from my YEARS ago), and the pile of toner and drums courtesy of UW Surplus (University of Washington Surplus Store) at $5-$10 each.

The downside is that at the moment the printer is in my KITCHEN and will probably remain there until the directory is printed. Oh, and the downside of getting it down the stairs at Greg’s house and into the back of the SwandaSleigh. Greg was there (sick with a cold) to help me get it in, but at my house it was up to me (I brought the trolley from the garage).

Basically it took me all night to get it tuned up to get good copies in preparation for the directory printing.

That and a chunk of lamb was my evening.


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Dec '11

Swanda’s Elf In Action.

Some days you feel like a nut, some days you feel like an Elf. Hence:

Just a few packages to post (after wrapping them, adding cards, stuffing them, addressing them). At least it gives me the chance to get the postal crate back to the post office after having it languish in my garage. I think it’s actually from the Lopez Post Office.

Just waiting for the final addresses which should show up tomorrow.

Now if I could have remembered to grab the bag from his fridge of discount meat I scored downstairs — guess there is always tomorrow.

And now for a ridiculously huge steak dinner:

Only got through about half of it. Sort of dwarfs the salad.


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Dec '11

Long Full Day.

Dinner With Swanda.

Running around loading the car with miscellaneous stuff needed at the shop and my Jim. I even cut down a couple of shelves for him.

Sundays we are open 12-5, but today, we had a $20 (plus tax) Champagne Tasting of the upper end stuff.

For the tasting notes, check here: http://madronawinemerchants.com/blog/2011/11/29/grower-champagnes-2/

The plan was to open four bottles and compare, but that changed to warming up with a French, not Champagne, but bubbles, then the four, and just for good measure, taking a vote of everyone’s favorite and opening a second bottle. The winner was the least expensive of the Champagnes:

Josè Michel & Fils Brut Tradition — $40
Moussy, Cotes des Blancs
60% Pinot Meunier, 40% Chardonnay
The Brut is composed of reserve wines that are 5 or 6 years old. The wine has great toast on the nose, along with ripe but crisp lemon and some orange zest followed by a full bodied mouth feel and a long finish.

We had 18 people for the tasting if you included Jim, the rep from Triage, and myself. I think we have decided that having about 20 people in the shop at once is about our maximum.

After closing up, it was off to Swanda’s place with these two 187ml bottles of Prosecco. I’m thinking stocking stuffers.

Pork chops with a Moroccan spice rub and the rest of the coleslaw from last night before putting in 45-minutes or so of Executive Assistant duties.

On one of the runs to the recycling room, found a bunch of stuff in the recycle bins that either shouldn’t have been there OR was too good to leave there:

  • Full ream of 22# copy paper
  • Scuba dive/weight belt, with two of the five pound weights
  • Clip on lamp
  • Toolbox

Not that I’m usually a dumpster diver, but if I can’t find a diver that needs the belt, I’ll repurpose it into something for me. Just another odd Uncle Markie kind of day.


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Dinner With Swanda.