I feel compelled to just fill in a few dates.... this 'diary' of sorts has been a welcome reference source since it began.....most often when I compare garden efforts from year to year. But the last entry was putting the garden to rest, and a few things have happened....nothing big, but I want to remember them in their own way. Seems putting the yard to rest WAS a big job, 'cause the next thing from Oct 15 was just after my birthday Oct 24.... That was seeing Paula Poundstone at the Aladdin Theater. What a fabulous night, seems Portland folk are "ripe" to make an improvised performance for....MOST of the evening WAS improvised and memorable. I turned 68 years old this week, and am not happy about it so much.....THIS helped me settle in. Cousin Bruce WAS visiting with us this week, went to Poundstone with us, BUT, more importantly came because the Portland International Beard Competition came to town and he got our tickets....The entire competition went on all afternoon into night hours, so we only showed up for about 3 of those.... what a pageant. 300+ men with every kind of beard imaginable wandering Keller Auditorium was a kind of wonder in itself.....Some of these so tightly groomed, they seemed starched.....some free form..... it was a truly "first" experience of this kind. We all LOVED it and afterwards, talked about it all for a couple MORE hours. Thanks, Bruce! Bruce's visit then let us more right into prepping for a little Seattle Long weekend.....as the Wisconsin Hoppe clan let us know they were going to be IN Seattle and invited us to join. We all stayed at the downtown Hilton, had a lucky break with exec dining rights for breakfasts on the 29th floor...and that's where our 4 days all started..... Mom Bev, Beth & Jeff and us..... I have been deemed worthy to call myself Bev's brother....I'm lucky to be in a group that could say that. We had continuous fun the whole time, some wonderful shopping at Pike Market, hiking, Seattle Port Boat Tours, Chihuli's museum, the Bubble Gum Wall: and on and on. We spent a long evening simply in the Hilton Bar/Restaurant space celebrating Bev's birthday...... **WE DID miss having Thomas & Brenda with us, the real reason we ever even met this family.....they were stuck working back in Minneapolis in the COLD arctic blast of winter hitting. We came home to learn my cousin Stan Huffaker had moved into a hospice space and passed away Dec 6. Stan and Mary have been frequent visitors at our house the last 3 years since, in a late stage cancer onset, OHSU here in Portland gave blessing to giving him a bone marrow transplant, the donor being his sister Gayle. This meant he would need to visit doctors here every 1 to 3 months.....depending on how things went.....and they went up and down for about 2 years, then a slow decline began. Not good for he and Mary, who for a long time here has been the 24 hour a day single support nurse for Stan.... He was well liked in Couer d'Alene, ID. where they lived, and we felt we needed to go be part of the memorial weekend planned. It was a long drive with temps near 32 and winds blowing..... but the experience was wonderfully warm, and the "wake" Mary's friends helped prepare afterwards was completely memorable. Stan would have been proud it was in his honor. I was lucky to meet so many people Mary had talked about....... I DID miss getting to see a few of my own cousins, but in this last 3 years, our lives were so wrapped with Mary & Stan, seems it was where we belonged. SO. It's December 8. We have had NO moment to even warm UP to a possible feeling about Christmas or the dozens of things one must do to get ready........Can we bring ourselves back around and feel all Santa Clausy, get a tree, and have some Christmas Cheer? Ask me in a week......I already miss the leaves of fall....how could be in WINTER already?