The Nutcracker

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oh, I better explain The Nutcracker....

Years before we had our little boy Kenneth used to buy me season ballet tickets.  And so of course we have seen The Nutcracker performed by Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle many times.

And let me tell you the sets are magical.  All inspired by the art of  Maurice Sendak.  The pages of his book really comes to life!  The Christmas tree grows, it's amazing.

BUT the end.... OMG the end!

OK let me back up. When I was growing up my two sisters took dance classes at a cutesy little dance school.  "Miss Margene's" I think it was.  Anyway, every other year Miss Margene shared her scary Nutcracker nightmare with us.  Talk about the longest recital in history.  In order to make sure every class and child was showcased enough she added in all sorts of extra numbers and songs.  One year there was a sister dance and they both performed together as sugar plum fairies.  Cute.  Another year one of my sisters spent most of one number rolling back and forth across the stage as a wave. Yeah, you get the idea.  Nonetheless, the parents really did love it.  Mothers and Grandmothers anyway.

So back to PNB's Nutcracker.  The story finally wraps up at just the perfect time that you decide you need to get up and stretch your legs.  As you reach for the shoes you kicked off (I'm short, I can never reach the floor comfortable and often loose a shoe in church pews and theater seats)  just as you start to glance towards the exit here comes another number...

And one by one all these storybook characters that were never IN the story to begin with come out and get their special solo.  One after the other after the other.  Now that I think about this, I am pretty sure I am thinking about PNB's production of Sleeping Beauty, which is long, really long.  Well done, but long.  One year these two delightful grade school girls were sitting in front of us.  And they were pretty much finished with the ballet by intermission.  So when this finale of all finales started they just lost it.  Melting out of their seats, asking for food and drink as though they had been starved for a year.  Oh, it was so funny.  What's not funny is that you didn't have to be a gradeschool kid with zero attention span...  Any normal person would be wondering how long the nightmare would go on (except the performers own Mothers and Grandmothers of course).

It wasn't hard to get Kenneth to take me to the ballet. We already held season tickets to the Paramount so we could catch all the off Broadway shows that came to town.  And Kenneth LOVES music.  But those last few numbers always just pushed him just over that edge.

And so I laughed when I first heard Straight No Chaser's "Nutcracker" which he had included, unbeknownst to me, in our annual Christmas playlist.  And no, we don't see it as a lousy tradition.  Although, for some reason we have never taken Awsumb to the Nutcracker. We've talked about it, we just never make it happen. Next year for sure! 

So Kenneth, I'm leaning in closely and whispering softly, "I can't wait for you to take me next year!"

Royal Blue

Monday, December 16, 2013


The end of another year.
An eventful year.
A stressful year.
A painful year.
A mournful year.
Yet still a year
 filled with love,
hope and happiness.
No specific commentary on this year's selection.  But we are obviously missing a loved one.  And thinking about those close to us who will spend this holiday alone. Yet still thankful for all that we have and looking forward to celebrating with loved ones still with us, both near and far away.

Wishing you a

Royal Blue Christmas!

Kenneth, Wendy
 and Awsumb
You can listen to our 2013 Christmas Mix on Spotify

Click the music tab on the right side of this blog to see previous Christmas mixes.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

The name of the front of the jersey
 represents who you play for,
the name on the back of the jersey
 represents who raised you.
Do them both justice.
The Hardy Boys
Rag Tag Whiffle Bag Team

 Play Ball!

Good Tidings Of Great Joy

Sunday, December 1, 2013

 The Gospel According to St Luke, Chapter 2
 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus,
that all the world should be taxed.
 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem;
(because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife,
being great with child.
 And so it was, that, while they were there,
 the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,
and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

  10 And the angel said unto them,

Fear not: for, behold,

I bring you agood tidings

of great bjoy,

which shall be to all people.

 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
 12 And this shall be a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
 Awsumb and his Nativity age 1
Awsumb telling the Christmas Story
 in his own words age 3
When Awsumb was small he was so cute when he would play with his Little People Nativity and retell the Christmas Story.  He always got a big kick out of the part when the angel appears to the shepherds and how they were "so afraid!"  Excitedly he would continue the story and repeat the words of the angel, "Fear Not! behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."  And then he would finish by announcing the birth of the Savior.
And we can find joy in these good tidings of great joy because we have been given the biggest gift of all, the Savior.  Not only the greatest example, but his life, his life so that we might be saved.  Really, what comfort this sweet and simple message gives.  And I have watched this message be part of the comfort my husband and his family feels as they buried their father, husband, grandfather.  Because they understand that there is a plan.
I was trying to decide if I should get out Awsumb's Playmobil Nativity that has replaced his Little People Nativity from the toddler years.  I didn't know if he would still want to open the little boxes each day and play with all the little pieces.  But while making our Christmas card for the year I was thinking about him and how from such a little age he too could find excitement in the good tidings of great joy and see that the delights of the season were all about knowing that he has a Father who is in Heaven and who loves him enough to send his son.
May you all feel the comfort and peace that the news of these good tidings of great joy bring!

Merry Christmas!

I Am Becoming...

Awsumb Kenneth Hardy
age 12

 I am becoming...

This statement was above the school doors my son entered every day of elementary school.  This year he is in the 6th grade, at a new school with a lot of pressure and expectations upon him.  And he is becoming... quite the little man.  Some days I wish with all my heart he could stay little forever.  And others I marvel at who he is becoming.


Red Ranger Came Calling - Vashon Island Treed Bicycle

Saturday, November 30, 2013

from 2011...

Years ago a friend of mine who has an equal love for beautiful children's books brought this book to me.  Red Ranger Came Calling by Berkeley Breathed.  Yes that Berkeley Breathed best known for Bloom County, from the Sunday Comics.  Not only is the art stunning.  The story is such a wonderful tale about a little boy that no longer believes in Santa, if he ever did. Until he calls on well, Santa. Set in the depression about a little boy on Vashon Island. You may recognize the author Berkeley Breathed from the funny papers. The book is hysterical and if the performance by Book-IT theater in Seattle even better!  If this production is ever at a small theater near you - GO!
I simply love this story and am sort of giving away part of the ending...
When my father comes to town we love to go on little adventures.  Usually in between sales calls or meetings.  We often find a little antique store or some where interesting to explore. I love these visits with my father.  He comes to town on business several times of year and a day or two riding along with him in the car talking and laughing keeps me going to rest of the year when I miss him so!
And in November 2011 we found it!  We decided to take the $25 ferry ride to Vashon Island. We met Aunt Vi's at the Country Store and she even signed some books for us!  Then we found it!  The treed bicycle!  Near 20312 Vashon Hwy. SW, Vashon Island, WA  The bike tree is off of Vashon Highway (which runs between the Seattle and Tacoma ferry ports on either end of the island) on the northeast corner of the Vashon Highway and SW 204 St. intersection, about 50-60 ft (very rough guesstimate) into the woods on the north side of Sound Food Cafe.
There are so many stories about this hidden gem.  Sometimes this picture is forwarded around with a story about a young man that went off to war and never returned. The bike is very small, for a small child and this is certainly not true.  I found this tidbit online trying to find the true history of the treed bicycle.  Above is a picture that is often passed around on the internet.
The tree is believed to have belonged to Claire Hartvigsson (her married name, her husband also grew up on Vashon) by her twin brother, Bud. He was a real prankster. These families settled on Vashon in the early days of Washington and more than a few generations of Norwegians were born and raised there. Bud never would admit he had done it, but he chewed the end of his cigar and snickered when people tried to get him to admit it. Both of them are long gone now, but I know Claire's daughter and the family has always called it "Claire's bicycle."
Posted by Wendy Sutich on Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 09:54 PM
This spot has been vandalized many times.  The handle bars are often removed and mysteriously replaced.  Please be respectful of any current residents and both human and non in the area.  Keep this for another generation to find!

 Grandpa Awsumb and Awsumb 
Current condition 11-30-11 missing handlebars 
one of the pedals...
Point Robinson Lighthouse
The coolest beach ever with HUGE clam shells!
Mt Rainier as seen from Vashon Island


Don't Shoot Your Eye Out!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sometimes I write posts I never post... for one reason or another or because I need to sort through photos...  this is from 2010

Guest Post from Kenneth: 

You've probably all seen The Christmas Story.  You know the one where the little boy with big glasses wants a BB gun for Christmas and everyone tells him "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!"  This is one of the few "holiday" movies that we actually watch each year because it is really funny and doesn't overload you on saccharine "Christmas miracles"...  Well, I would never have guessed, but this year "The Christmas Story" came home.

Awsumb has a great uncle who makes sure that he doesn't miss out on all of the classic boy stuff.  For example, last year as he entered Cub Scouts, Uncle pulled me aside and asked if they could give him a pocketknife.  They did, and not a crummy keychain one, either.  And Awsumb really loves Cubs.  He wears his uniform with pride and quickly burns through the achievements to get his rank advancements.  He absolutely LOVED the Cub Scout day camp this year...  especially when they got to shoot the BB guns.  Wouldn't you know?  This year, Uncle pulls us aside and asks if he can give Awsumb a BB gun.

I love the Christmas Story because of the youthful, witty narration that captures the excitement of a big boy (just about Awsumb's age) who knows what he wants and is desperately trying to get it.  It would be easy to write him off as that spoiled kid (you probably have seen before) who throws a fit if he doesn't get what he wants, but you also get to see him in his humble, imperfect, but still functional home.  You get to see him persecuted at school and humiliated in the bunny pajamas from his auntie.  By the time the presents are opened and there was no BB gun, you really feel sorry for him.

A Christmas Story: The Book That Inspired the Hilarious Classic Film | [Jean Shepherd]
This year, I listened to the original book and liked it much better.  For example, in the book, little Ralphie puts just as much enthusiasm into getting a really great gift for his parents and brother -- something they will really like.  You know that toy zephyr that his brother falls asleep with in the movie?  That was the "perfect gift" that Ralphie found to give his brother.  It helped to solidify that this was a good boy who really wanted a BB gun, as opposed to the canonical spoiled brat.
So back to our Christmas...  Awsumb never asked for a BB gun...  he probably never considered it in the realm of possibility, I guess.  He did hint strongly about those crazy autmatic Nerf guns this year, but Mom drew the line at having "enough Nerf guns already".  So maybe he automatically extended that to cover BB guns as well...  when Awsumb got to meet Santa?  He asked for Santa to "surprise him".  Santa did...  but so did Uncle!

By request, we recreated the last scene of the movie.  We opened everything else first, cleaned up the paper, and exhaled.

"Well, Awsumb, did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?  What's that over there?"

And over on the side of the entertainment center was one more package.  It did not contain a strange lamp, but an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200 shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock!  (Okay, no compass in the stock, but it is an official Red Ryder air rifle, just like Ralphie's.)

And like Ralphie, Awsumb was thrilled.  Unlike Ralphie, Awsumb hasn't shot unattended -- and so far, at least -- he hasn't shot his eye out.

Forgive me Auntie!  Early Christmas morning... but I just love this photo of the three of you!

Oh, how I love these two guys!

Red Ryder BB Gun

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Not posted or distributed due to current news events of the season from 2012.  But I feel like enough time has passed I can now share...
 The Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle
"Guaranteed to shoot your eye out!"
Love, Your Mother, Your Teacher and Santa Claus

May your Christmas be full of warm memories!
Love, Kenneth, Wendy and Awsumb

The Letter

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dennis Awsumb, Duane Hardy,
Little Awsumb and Kenneth Hardy
October 2006 Awsumb's 5th Birthday
 Mariner's Dugout
Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington
When we first learned that Duane was sick my father was among the first to invite us to come stay at his home anytime at a moments notice so that we could visit and spend time with the Hardy family during what he knew would be a tough next so many months. 

During this time my father was very busy and traveling lot. He didn't want to intrude and didn't know what he could do.  And in the end Duane went pretty fast. 

Kenneth and I grew up just 2 streets apart and our families went way back and our fathers had always been friends.  Our little brothers played ball together.  Our fathers played church sports together.  They also served together in the church clerk's office.

So when we drove out for the funeral my father told me he really wanted to share some things with Shirley but didn't know if he could be composed enough to do it. My reply, "Say it in a Hallmark."  The next morning he left specially selected cards out for Kenneth and Shirley that included the letter below.

This past few weeks many people have been especially kind to us, sharing cards, flowers, plants or asking where they could send a donation or simply a hug and an "I'm sorry."  But this letter has touched us all the most and I will keep it as a treasure for my son to have to remember that his Grandfathers were friends and both loved him very much.  I hope Awsumb learns from both of our fathers about commitment, working hard and their sacrifice and service to our country.  This letter encompassed so much of what Duane meant to all of us and Kenneth's family even decided it needed to be read during his memorial service.

Kenneth and I are so blessed to have grown up with such outstanding fathers!

So with my father's permission, the letter:

Duane Taught Me Many Things

Duane taught me to be passionate about many things - whatever Duane was doing he gave it his full attention. If Duane was playing ball or doing finance work for the Church it was the only thing that mattered at the time.

Duane taught me to never give up.  If we were playing softball and were down by 10 runs Duane would say we are still in this and many times we would win the game.

Duane taught me to never wear glasses in the ocean.  Once when we were in California he lost his glasses in the ocean, from that day on I never wore my glasses in the ocean.

Duane taught me to be helpful to other people.  Many times he would figure out a way to help a neighbor in need either by doing the task himself or finding someone else that could help.

Duane taught me to always be the first one "there."  Duane always liked to be at the opening day of any event - like a Bees or Trappers game.  I enjoy to this day going to things on the opening day.

Duane taught me to never run up a score on another team. Once at a BYU football game BYU was way behind and the other team kept scoring.  Duane said, "LaVell Edwards would never do that."  So I try to never run up a score on anybody.

Duane taught me to see into the future.  When a ball diamond was being built behind the church Duane was always the first one to sign up to work on the field, whether to rake the rocks or lay the sod.  As we raked those rocks and laid the sod, Duane would say, "This will be a great ball field some day."

Duane taught me to always support my wife.  Duane and Shirley had many different interests from each other and supported each other in those interests.

Duane taught me to love my kids no matter what. Duane was always interested and proud of each of his children's interests and accomplishments.

Duane taught me to plan ahead - we spent time together in the ward clerk's office planning how to get Wendy and Kenneth to go out with each other - it was one of the best things we did as a team.  As a result we share a wonderful grandson.

Duane taught me many things - I will miss that guy.

-Dennis Awsumb

A funeral is not a day in a lifetime, but a lifetime in a day

Monday, November 4, 2013

I still haven't uploaded my own photos... more to follow later.
All three brothers spoke at their father's funeral.  The day was crisp with mostly blue skies.  Snow fell as we followed the casket out of the church.  Duane was buried in a cemetery just a street over from the Hardy family home.  I actually walked across this cemetery regularly as a child to get ice cream in the summers at the Winder Dairy on the other side.  How odd to go to this place where I skipped through in shorts on a hot summer day to bury someone we actually knew and loved.

Eric, Greg, Shirley, Kenneth
 Wendy, Awsumb and Kenneth, Shirley and Greg, Eric and Shilo and children

The view of the mountains from the cemetery

Shirley asked me to put together some things, photos etc. on a table for the viewing and services.  After sorting through Duane's office and given a lot of little treasures this is how we decided to share his life.  What he loved and lived for.
I came across the quote recently - a funeral is not a day in a lifetime, but a lifetime in a day.  So true.  And you can never really present everything about who a person is, but I think we did a good job representing family and faith, sacrifice and service, travel and love with his wife Shirley, sports and fun and grandchildren.