“Let’s Catch Up A Bit”

Good morning! I hope that wherever you are this fine Sunday, my unexpected message finds you well! I know it’s unexpected because I’ve been neglecting the blog longer than usual this fall. Normally, Cross Country season causes me to detach for a bit, but this year, my second year as head coach, the season really didn’t end when it used to. We’ve started going to Nike Cross Heartland, and of course we have a team banquet, a school banquet, exit interviews for every runner, inventories, evaluations, handbook updates, and soon we’ll be in track conditioning. Things have been really busy, as I am sure they are for you as well. At any rate, I have a moment this morning before the kids are up, and I wanted to take some time to reach out, say hi on behalf of the family, and maybe catch you up on our lives a little bit. So, without further adieu, here goes:

After things settled slightly this fall, Sonja helped me chaperone a trip we take each year with a colleague’s classes and my own on a human rights focused trip to NYC. It was great having Sonja along to see more of what I do while I’m away. Here are just a few highlights:

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Almost immediately after landing we went to Chinatown. This image is from the Mahayana Buddhist Temple. I learned a lot there, including what Buddha’s various hand gestures mean. In this one, Buddha is teaching. I liked that.

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The ferry to Ellis Island and the south Manhattan skyline. I paid that gull to photobomb this shot.

The 9/11 Memorial and the Freedom Tower. I can’t go without crying, and I was grateful to have Sonja and so many bright students there to share ideas and feelings with.

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One of our favorite Broadway musicals — so cool to take young people to this! It’s based on the story of the forty airplanes that landed in Newfoundland on September 11, 2001, and how the Canadians took in thousands of people from around the world and cared for them.

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The United Nations. Every time I go back here, I learn something new.

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An iconic reminder that we are not a nation of xenophobes (I told a couple of my students of Mexican heritage that one day I’ll build something similar to this on the Texas side of the Rio Grande). It was amazing to help Sonja look for her ancestors at Ellis Island.

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After New York, where we walked more than 41 miles in four days, we got back and discovered that the weather report for Thanksgiving weekend was not what we might have hoped, and after talking to my dad on the phone Wednesday morning, concluded we’d not load our two and four-year-old into a car and then drive into a blizzard. Sonja then got right to work cooking a Thanksgiving dinner and, well, it was phenomenal!

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My contribution to the meal was pairing Reustle Pinot Noir, which is a new favorite of mine out of the Umpqua Valley in Oregon. They made 21 barrels of it (around 500 cases) in 2017. It’s awesome and it went great with the totally amazing Turkey Sonja made.

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From there, the break has been, honestly, far more relaxing than usual. Our typical routine is that I get done working Wednesday and we drive all day. Thanksgiving we relax. Friday we drive into town, then Saturday we drive all day again. It’s been pretty amazing just sitting around watching Disney Plus and football with the kids for days on end, and as much as I enjoy going to the ranch over Thanksgiving, we may have to rethink that in the future. I’ve been productive and I feel relaxed right now. It’s a great way to feel.

Part of the break has been spent cooking, of course, and having neighbors over. Below is a steak I rubbed in some truffle salt that Sonja and I picked up at a Christmas market in New York, and my most recent attempt at radishes, which went well. The stuffed mushrooms were provided by our neighbors who swung by after I saw them hanging lights in their yard and invited them in.  Of course, the Tamber Bey Cab Sauv could only enhance our meal — one of my favorite Napa Cabs!

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The other thing we’ve done a great deal of over break, sometimes inviting neighbors and friends, other times just by ourselves, is playing games. Favorites right now include The Office Trivia (seen above), Settlers of Catan, Tenzi, and Cards Against Humanity.

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One night, Sonja and I played Catan and sipped at one of Tom Meadowcroft’s wines for an entire evening. His Sauv Blanc is phenomenal and, while I usually stick to reds when it’s cold outside, this complex take on a classic Cali varietal has me seriously reconsidering that policy.

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The other thing we’ve done is what we typically cram in all on Sunday, and that’s decorating for Christmas. The kids are getting old enough to help, although they can’t reach most of the branches as you can see.

Last night, Nana and Grandpa Glen gave the kids an ornament each, which is a tradition in Sonja’s family. When we got home, the kids were eager to put them on the tree, so after Sonja cleaned up the mess Mollie made in the living room for the second consecutive night, they got to do that.

There’s more, of course, but the clock is reminding me that the kids will be up soon. Titus and I have gotten really into reading Harry Potter this year — we’re on the Chamber of Secrets right now, and Zooey is really into Frozen.  Sonja has done an amazing job with the house and decorations, as usual, and I think I’ll make waffles for the kids this morning. So, in short, things are good. I’m sorry for the long break, but I’ll try to do better in the future. And also, most importantly, how are you? Reach out and fill us in sometime. We’d love to hear from you!

One last thing: I got back on Twitter. Yeah, I know, I know better, but I couldn’t help myself. Anyway, follow me at @CoachGudgel — I’m delightful. And if you’re going to be around on December 21, we’re having our holiday party that night. Come by anytime after 6pm. We’d love to have you! Have a safe, happy, family-filled holiday season, and know that you are loved, by the Gudgel’s and by many, many others.

Warmly,

Mark

 

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