Watch Your Mouth
Last year, I took Mr. T to Louisiana for the first time. Now his grandfather was born an hour from where I was in southern Louisiana, but his immediate family hasn’t gone back. This allows me the perfect opportunity to do all the touristy things you miss even when you lived somewhere for 18 years. We missed out on going to Alligator Bayou on his first trip but this year decided to make it a priority.

This was my favorite day of the trip. We started at Georges’ Southside for Shrimp poboys, then booked it down to Prairieville, 20 minutes from my mom’s.

I can be a jaded traveler, but this Alligator Bayou Tour was SO MUCH FUN. I wondered why we’d never been. The owners explained how they were doing this new work while also giving tours, of reclaiming and working on restoring wetlands. I learned a lot about the effect of nutria on wetland destruction — these are the vegetarian, invasive rodents brought from South America that have destroyed much that I’d incorrectly believed was solely the oil industry.

I learned why I knew so little once they reminded that during the 1990s the swamp in the current form wasn’t there — there was basically a drought, at least by this area’s standards. More recently, you could still see the water lines from recent hurricanes and tropical storms. The ’00s have not been easy on my home state.

As part of the tour, they showed off the alligators in one area, let tourists feed them (!!), then the group of ~30 boarded the boat to cruise down the bayou for more landscape. The owners talked about the history, region, and wildlife — and were so funny throughout that I hardly noticed the time passing. Perfect three hour tour with surprise nutria and baby gators on board.

For the Hard to Satisfy Gourmet Palate
Surprisingly, or not so, I took no pictures this day. Cross-country on Christmas Eve was grueling. We arrived in New Orleans at dinnertime and met up with my mother and brother at Galatoire’s Bistro in Baton Rouge.

For Christmas, my mother, brother, and Mr. T & I went to my childhood best friend’s home. She also happens to be my oldest friend — she borrowed my christening dress when I was six months old. We spent the day with her extended family, eating and talking and eating some more. It was great.

Since I have no pictures, I’ll post one from the next day, which will be backposted soon.

SeaTac, 6 AM Xmas Eve
After a week of worrying whether we’d even make it to the airport, we did. We got there via Yellow Cab instead of our usual car service since the region’s got serious transportation mayhem. This was the scene shortly before we boarded, Christmas Eve, before dawn.

The sun!
Oh, look! It didn’t snow today! I finally got productive this afternoon, but we’re still housebound. Goodness gracious, that snow leaves a mess.

We tried going to Sushi Tokyo on Roosevelt for dinner but walked down there to discover they were closed. Second night in a row dining plans were thwarted — last night, India Bistro on 65th closed as we arrived. I’d called ahead, but there was a mix-up and the cook needed to make it all the way back to Kent. Totally understandable, just wish we’d known before heading there. We’d gone more to get out of the house than anything else but were pacified with their fantastic spicy chicken korma (awesome!) takeout.

Nordic Greenlake - Seattle
I heard a rumor that Greenlake became a ski resort, so I went out to check out the Nordic Center shortly before sunset. The lake is starting to freeze!

There were plenty of skiers:
Nordic Greenlake Center
Late Afternoon Stroll
Nordic Greenlake

It's only just begun
All day, we’ve been in wait for the next huge storm. After Thursday’s brouhaha, the next was due Saturday, late-night. We left our neighborhood midday for the first time since round 1…we went north to Costco and that jaunt was pretty much enough for me. I think everyone else in Seattle had the same idea — housebound for 2 days, with one day to shop before the next blizzard rolled into the area. It was a complete madhouse.

I took this just after the snow started calmly around 4 PM, about 8 hours earlier than the weatherman estimated. The idea of being cooped up the entire evening nearly did me in, so we took Metro to Northgate to meet up with C&I and motomotoyama. Hours later, it’s been dumping since and reminds me of that Family Ties Blizzard episode where the snow’s blowing sideways, nearly white-out conditions.

Gah! Kids!
I walked over to and along Greenlake to stave off the Cabin Fever this afternoon. The ducks were still out in full force.

Maybe I wanted it to snow, but I wanted that yesterday on day 1 of my vacation, not today. Snow was supposed to arrive Wednesday morning but came 24 hours late. When I woke up, it was dumping. (It would not stop snowing until after the sun set.) I had two appointments today. One was canceled but the other happened all the way over in Ballard.

I figured out the bus situation & went way early which ended up taking exactly enough time. I hoped to make my afternoon by going to Than Bros. Unfortunately, the service was no bueno, the beef was virtually nonexistent, yet I had a bad reaction later…I made it home mid-afternoon. Then I thought, “Oh! I’ll take pictures! That’ll be fun!” But it was cold and at 3:30 the sun was saying goodnight already.

I made an excellent dinner though. My own version of Dayment’s Feta Pasta, except we replaced the spinach with rotisserie chicken and added Mama Lil’s goathorn peppers, which we first discovered in Portland at Apizza Scholls. That stuff is truly made of angels.

Mr. T’s colleagues met at Dad Watson’s tonight for a pre-Xmas gathering. I joined in after tons of errands on my first day off (of 20 days off). On our way out, I grabbed this shot of a jolly Fremont Troll in his Christmas Hat.

The porch
Alternatively titled: Why I Haven’t Been Running in Days

I almost went running, but got really really really cold in the 30 seconds I stepped outside to snap this. The kitchen window thermometer reads 20 degrees (F).

Editorial note: I’m finally all caught up on publishing drafts and paused entries of the last 2 weeks. Yay!

Off Menu at Kisaku
This afternoon, I braved icy conditions for Maggi‘s cookie swap. Maggi’s rugelach and ginger molasses are pictured here. I brought Chocolate Featherweight Cookies with Walnuts — a recipe from Orangette. The cookies were fab, but the sugar overload left me craving sushi. That switch for sushi was flipped back on recently, by the Hawaii trip, by Kris and Traca’s dinner party, and a friend’s recent Six Days of Sushi in Seattle. (ETA: Actually, it’s now Seven Days of Sushi!)

Mr. T & I invited out his coworker and wife to our nearby Kisaku. I hadn’t been in years and we sat at the bar. We ordered our usuals, then went for one chef’s specialty of spicy chutoro, avocado, radish sprout and crab with a tempura crunch.

I’m tempted to start heavier research on Seattle’s sushi options…maybe in the New Year.

at the Skates of Wrath
We went ring shopping midday and returned to Seattle for a Snappy Dragon dinner with Anne and Brian. They currently live in Greece and are visiting through Monday. A & B, and half of our party of 15, headed to Kona Kitchen for postprandial karaoke. I should’ve taken pictures, but alas, I was busy talking and talking and talking some more.

It started snowing on our way there! We arrived too early, so I phoned a friend (motomotoyama, ha!). She kindly retrieved the karaoke MC from home (yes, she knows him) and brought him so we wouldn’t have to head onto another venue (and so he wouldn’t have to take a bus). She saved the day! I even brought out Britney for the occasion. It’d been years. Our group dominated the lineup as snow kept many home, but feedback indicates a winning night — there will be an encore someday. 🙂

In doing her kind deed for the day, motomotoyama was delayed for Derby Prom 2008: The Skates of Wrath. As karaoke wound down, we headed into the blizzard to catch the final hours at the Irish Emigrant.

I can’t wait to visit Anne and Brian in Athens.

Damn Seagulls
Today, my group had its annual White Elephant. Last year, I won a thumbs-up statue from sprizee’s Dude. This year, I grabbed a gift referencing Festivus, opened the gift and within 2 seconds realized where I’d seen it. After the shortened 4th of July excursion to the Olympic Peninsula, our friend Beth (and former coworker) gave sprizee’s Dude a Damn Seagulls cap. I was happy to pass on a Cigarette-Dispensing Donkey. Good times.

In researching the earlier statue, I found this re-enactment of last year’s statue.

Figs and Delice in a DARK room
Traca threw another dinner party. We gathered at Kris’s place in Leschi with its amazing view of Lake Washington. Soon, Kris will be hitting the reset switch with a spontaneous road-trip of undetermined length. Traca and Kris wanted one final dinner party before she leaves her current home for good.

The Menu, driven partially by Kris’s past as a trained sushi chef:
japanese eggplant with ponzu & tempura bits
pecan salmon steaks, ohitashi (blanched spinach towers)
pork tenderloin medallions with mandarin ginger reduction
burnt asparagus with lemon & kosher salt
tiger eye (tuna & tobiko lightly fried)
stuffed figs dipped in chocolate served with cheese & fruit

Much to my dismay, the lighting was not hospitable for point-and-shoot cameras. There were some fancier photographers there so I figured I’d just direct those for further pictures elsewhere. Plus, it allowed me to better stay focused on the food and socializing. Traca’s coverage is here. And over at Wright Eat’s blog, they’ve covered it, too.

J's Bday Dinner
Today was a big deadline day. Fortunately it went well and we were done early enough that I could attend Jonas’s birthday dinner. J turned 9 today so the whole gang went to Luisa’s in Ballard to celebrate.

Motomotoyama taught Jonas (her nephew) her characteristic fish-face photo pose. I’d say he’s mastering his own rendition quite well.

Another Neighbor
What I learned today: the post office will deliver holiday stamps direct to your home. I learned this after visiting the post office (batch 1 prepped!) but I’m hoping this knowledge’ll be handy for others in this hectic season. 🙂

This is on my way back home from the Wedgwood USPS.

One house in our neighborhood regularly decorates — this is a scene in their yard. Also, not pictured here: bowling balls in planters, snowpeople families, and an angelic chorus.

star near westlake\
This afternoon, we discussed Shopgirl, by Steve Martin. Loved the book, hated the movie.

Tonight, I went with Carey to a private shopping evening at downtown Nordstrom. I stopped her on the way back to her place near Pike Place Market, to get my snap of the day. Great night, excellent conversation with Carey, her brother from Dallas and his wife (newly married!).

I want a Giant Lightswitch
Tonight, I met up with motomotoyama, C&I, and Jonas to see a community band play a tree-lighting in northeast Seattle. (A friend of ours plays the flute.) Afterward, Mr. T joined us at Luisa’s in Ballard for impromptu carnita night. We then proceeded to C&I’s to wind down and catch up.

Check out that GIANT lightswitch.

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