Christmas 2011

Hello All,

As this is my first holiday letter, I’m a little unsure where to begin.  I’ve had some models to follow in the style department, but it’s always interesting and difficult to start anything afresh.  I have a full pot of dandelion tea waiting for me, which will likely be empty by the time I finished, so let us begin.

Erin and I moved to Durham, NC in September 2010, which makes it over a year we’ve lived here now.  While searching for a full-time job, we kept the bills paid by working as researchers/writers for AllTrips, an online travel site.  Erin also returned to work as a server while searching for the right position to settle in.

I landed at a startup company called ReverbNation after a few months of hard searching, which does online marketing and promotion for musicians.  I work in what I would call Infrastructure, but which is apparently being called “Dev/Ops” (Development/Operations) these days.  Notice, that doesn’t actually leave me with a title, just a department.  So I work in the Dev/Ops department, but I am nothing that you can put on a business card.  When pressed, I apply the title of Web Developer to myself, though this is mostly ornamental.

Erin passed her first level Sommelier in June, which lead her to a job with Empire Distributors, where she is an On-Premise Sales Representative.  That’s four capital letters in her title, which actually makes me slightly jealous.  She works with restaurants and other vendors to set wine menus and pairings, provide training and education to restaurant staff, and running tastings throughout the week.

My first few months of work consisted of the same 80 hour work weeks as she is working now, which provides excellent opportunities for knowledge and experience sharing.  She was concerned about drowning in her work, but then I relayed the age-proven nugget of wisdom passed along to me, “you don’t need your whole head above water, you just need enough to breathe.” She has found little comfort in this, I believe.

Her job has provided us some interesting opportunities, one of which was the opportunity to go to a spectacular charity dinner, for which the company had generously donated the wine.  As we live in the south now, we’re finding it’s a different culture that has it’s own quirks, one of which is a challenging aspect of formality.  Our fashion doesn’t quite translate well, as it was honed and perfected through years of budget backpacking.  But we put forth our best effort, not without a few wardrobe changes.

After valeting our ‘99 minivan, we found our table and were off to the side of the stage, but uncomfortably close.  A man in his 50’s came up to have a seat and introduced himself.  I barely heard his name, asked him to repeat it, and the proceeded to mangle it terribly, I’m sure.  He said it in a way that made me think I was supposed to know who he was.  I didn’t, and I’m pretty sure he figured that out.

The event starts and, had I been more observant, I likely wouldn’t have been so surprised when the man was called to the stage as the main speaker.  It was Thomas Sayre, the sculptor whose work was the inspiration for the night.  I had no clue.  Erin didn’t either, but she was much smoother about it.  Though we were at the right table according to the placecard, we were clearly at the wrong table, but who was I to argue with smoke infused truffles, hibiscus-marinated venison and a dessert called Serendipity?

On another front, we’re continuing our travel ways by exploring an entire new area of the country for us.  North Carolina has proven to have some fun camping and hiking trails nearby, which has a been escape from the city.  After spending so many nights in a tent, it feels oddly nostalgic to hop in our old faithful tent for a couple of nights.

Lisa and my new brother-in-law have recently moved just a few hours away to Abingdon, tucked in far western Virginia.  I took a quick trip out there to visit them and explore their new city, and have been introducing them to the east coast style of camping, which is not quite the same as what they were accustomed to in Idaho.  We enjoy drive-up camping with flat campsites, fire-rings and hot showers out here.  That’s roughing it, NC-style.

Thanksgiving was a blast, when my 91-year-old grandmother made it down to explore Durham.  It was a great excuse to finally pull out all our formal glasses, stemware, plates and everything.  For of our wedding gifts, it was the first time they had been used, after sitting in storage for 3 years.  We cooked up too much food and enjoyed every minute of it.

Our Christmas this year will be celebrated in Japan with the Mosier side of the family.  We will miss the Hinkens during our trip, but plan on distracting ourselves with sushi, sake, and skiing.

Hope all’s well, and have a great holiday.

Cheers,

Todd