Holiday Letter 2016

Michael in DenverThis year was punctuated by more travel, both work and personal trips. It began with another trip to Scotland and England, when I visited Marc and Erin, Colin and Anthony, and whiskey distilleries in Islay and Oban. On an annual work trip to San Diego, instead of taking a side trip to Tucson to visit my mother and John, they came out to meet me in San Diego, which was a nice change of pace for a parental visit. In the summer I returned to Denver for my Emily and Barry's wedding, and saw a few scenes from my past that are now distant memories. Another trip to Europe allowed a hasty visit to Colin and Anthony a few weeks before their marriage conversion, then work and tourism in Lisbon with Marc. I took an overdue trip to Exeter NH to visit my aunt and grandparents, and finally a short work trip to New York City.

Between these trips I kept up the hobbies and learning process of processing my own food. Tony upgraded his goals from a community-supported agriculture box to an allotment garden, which provided space to grow some stuff I've been wanting to do. He had to drag me out to do a share of the work though as I proved characteristically lazy with the gardening, but I was pretty enthusiastic about making use of the produce (though my energy ran out on the chard surfeit). Beyond the various jams and pickles, I increased my range and skills in lactoferments such as many kinds of pickles, kimchi, and hot sauce. Alcohol fermention has also expanded as a hobby, and in addition to more quantities of wine I've tried my hand at rhubarb wine, cyser, and ice cider.

Nicely baked breadSourdough bread baking has also been a focus. While I continue to struggle with not having a proper oven for hearth bread baking, I am getting much better at getting doughs to rise well and take their desired shape. Although Andrea has become a customer, I bake more bread than I can use, so my diet has too much carbohydrate. It was also a worse year for keeping up with running, so the two together had a noticeable effect on the waistline. Chocolate got less attention this year, in part because my melter that keeps it at a constant temperature is broken so it's more time consuming to use the double boiler method, but I still like a good production round of my own recipes once in a while.

Manji happy I'm home My cat Manji is doing well. His weight is down from a couple years ago, making him visibly healthier and more mobile. He would say that he's constantly on the edge of hunger, but he would say that no matter how well I fed him, he just loves to eat. I'm sad to leave him at home alone when I travel and he's always glad when I'm home.

As many know, I've abandoned social networking this year. I've found the monetization of the platforms means they constantly prod me to do what they want, not what I want. Most posts don't interest me enough to stay tuned in, and I found I had to aggressively turn off push emails. Consequently, I don't often know what people are sharing, and am no longer sharing my own updates. I'm trying to use this web site more as a way of keeping people up to date, though I know few people routinely look at it. At least for myself it's a useful way to organize my thoughts, and make them available whenever people do happen to check in. I did add a RSS feed so if you're interested in following more actively and have a tool to use that you can.

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