Tag Archives: family

My Grandfather, the…

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When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with my cousins and grandparents on my dad’s side.   My cousins and I would go on trips in my grandparents 5th wheel (a 1980’s Hitchhiker II) to Ocean Shores and other places where we’d go fishing or clamming, and generally run around.   Some mornings my grandfather would wake us kids up by threatening to kiss us while his face was covered with shaving cream.  Then us kids would squeeze the little tubes (apparently it’s called the “crystalline style“) out of the razor clams–giggling as we did it because we thought that little thing was part of the clams naughty bits–and then grandma would cook up the clams.

Many weekends growing up my grandpa, dad, my Cousin Mark, and I would go trout fishing at Spada Lake or another small lake, or take my grandpa’s 19ft boat out on Puget Sound for some Salmon fishing which almost always turned in to dogfish fishing.  One time we were trout fishing and I hooked a nice little rainbow trout and grandpa jokingly said “that’s too small, let it go” and I did, not realizing he was joking.  I caught zero additional fish that day but somehow it was still funny.   At the end of the day the driveshaft U-bolt broke as we pulled the 12ft Duroboat out of the water.  Grandpa spent the next hour or so removing the drive shaft entirely and we drove the F-250 home in 4-wheel drive (now front-wheel-drive).   I remember the driveshaft U-bolts being a consistent theme.   Inside that F-250 there were hundreds of tools stashed in various places.  If it came to it, I believe that he could have rebuilt the entire truck using just the tools he had inside.

When us grandkids were a little older, my grandpa bought a go-kart.  He also somehow had a Caterpillar D9 on his 5-acre property in Woodinville.    He spent weeks grading a go-kart track that went all around the back yard and front yard.  And us kids spent years driving that thing, full throttle (there was no other reasonable way to drive it) on that track.   I have a ½” burn scar on my finger from accidentally touching the exhaust while pushing the go-kart to get it going for my cousin one time.

For a while he had a pet donkey…  Might have been a mule, I can’t remember for sure.  All I remember is that his name was Griesel Diesel Number 9.   I can’t begin to tell you where that name came from.

Sometime around 1999-2000 (I can’t remember these dates as well as I’d like) my grandpa (among others) was helping me move from one apartment to another in Kirkland.  He used to drive trucks, delivering cabinets for Western Cabinet, so he was used to carrying things, though his back was being slowly and permanently damaged from it.  I was single at the time and every time he saw a young woman walking by he’d call out to them asking them if they were single and letting them know his grandson was moving in.   He had a mug that he’d brought with him filled with coffee.  He asked me if it was okay to add some of my vodka to his coffee.   I was confused because I didn’t think I had any vodka but said sure.   An hour or so later he’d drank most of the coffee and he told me that the vodka had a funny taste.  I wracked my brain trying to remember what vodka I had and then I asked him where he found it.  “Under your kitchen sink”.   Ahah!!  “That’s not vodka grandpa, that’s vinegar my mom gave me”.  He’d been drinking coffee with added vinegar in it for an hour.  He then explained to me that he used to drink vinegar as a kid…and he proceeded to finish the coffee over the next hour, vinegar and all.

After developing dementia over the course of a few years my grandmother fell down some stairs and eventually passed away at Harborview on July 25th, 2014.  My grandfather was clearly upset and clung to Sophie (his little dog) determined to stay in his house in Twisp, WA till the end.  My biological dad, my grandfathers son, died suddenly in his home 6 months later in January, 2015.   For the last two years, my grandpa has been living alone (with a few regular visitors) in his home while his spine and short-term memory continued to deteriorate.  Conversations were hard due to his memory but he was always happy and generally healthy.

On December 19th, he fell in his bedroom and shattered his L4 vertebrae.  Doctors at the hospital explained there was nothing they could do because his spine was so deteriorated from osteoporosis that there was no structure to attach anything to.  He was left bedridden but he was happier than ever because he wasn’t alone, he had doctors and nurses around all the time.  I flew to Spokane mere hours after I found out and was both surprised and relieved to see his demeanor.  Even joking with the nurses who were “playing with his ding-a-ling” (adjusting his catheter).  They moved him to a nursing facility on the 28th and got settled in.  Unfortunately, he was experiencing pain every time they had to shift his body and it seems they couldn’t get the pain meds right.  Yesterday he was found non-responsive and taken to the emergency room.  He passed away last night.

He was 89.  Stubborn, Funny, Hard-working, Resourceful, Smart, Caring, and Strong–possibly one of the greatest humans I’ve ever known.  Likely making jokes with Saint Peter about how The Gates aren’t pearly enough to keep, whilst relaxing in an easy chair with my grandmother and my dad.

Left to Right – Me, My Wife Devon, My Dad, Grandmother, Grandfather, my Mother, and my Step-Dad Tim

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Dinners by Dad – An Engineer dad learning to make healthy and delicious dinners

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So my wife and I both work full time and we have two small children.  As you might imagine, life is pretty busy.  For the last couple years my wife has gotten more and more into cooking and preparation, even to the point of forming a “Freezer Cooking” Meetup for women to create make-ahead meals.  As a result I’ve been lucky in some ways that I’ve not had to spend much time in the kitchen for the past couple years.  Anyway, my second daughter was born 4 months ago and just after Thanksgiving my wife started back at work.  Work, home, and kids were already enough and then she decided to expand her law practice into California which requires several months of studying and prep for the California Bar.  Clearly something had to give so we made an agreement that it would be up to me to make sure there was dinner on Mondays and Wednesdays.  We picked these days more or less arbitrarily, it simply made sense to have it on a schedule of some kind since we both rely heavily on our calendars for work and home management.

Having been a bachelor for quite a few years before getting married, I am not the biggest chef.  When I cook, you can generally expect top ramen or if you are lucky, a pot of pasta and a jar of Classico sauce (which, by the way, is one of the best tasting and healthiest pre-made sauces around).  For several years, I actually ate dinner at a dive bar every night.  Accordingly, expectations for my meals are not high.


The rules were simple for my dinner nights, actually only one real rule:  The meal must include some sort of veggie or salad to help make the meal somewhat healthy.  On the first night of my dinner reign, I stopped by my local Safeway and picked up a filet of Alaskan Salmon, combined it with some potatoes we had and pulled out some leftover apple salad that my wife had made for a party.  During the last few weeks of 2012 and into 2013, I’ve been experimenting with different meals and yes, I’ve been perfecting my spaghetti sauce, something I’ll post about later.

As inspiration and influence, earlier last year we spent two weeks on an amazing vacation in Italy and one of our takeaways was that the food we eat at home is too processed.  The quality of every meal in Italy was extraordinary, in part because the ingredients are all fresh and local at every restaurant.  Ever since that trip we’ve been making an extra effort to cook from fresh ingredients whenever possible.  We’ve started getting fresh produce delivered from a CSA and the neat thing about it is that it forces you to be creative with your meals, in order to use whatever fruits and veggies that you happen to get that week from the CSA.fresh-veggies

I’ve got to be honest, the veggie-with-every-meal requirement is actually much harder than I thought.  It’s easy to throw together a simple side salad but you can’t have the same old side salad every night so I have to find alternative ways to get veggies into the meal.  I’m not super creative when it comes to cooking but I’ve been getting better at this.

So now that I’ve set the stage, stay tuned as I write about my continuing journey from take-out techie to an engineer of extraordinary edibles!

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