August 2020 Part II

Click here or on the sunrise above for more photos

Knowing school was starting completely online on September 1st, we decided we should try to be prepared. We got computers, headsets, mice, and little desks for both of the kids. We set up little workstations in our bedroom so they would have a dedicated place and it wouldn’t be the free-for-all that it was last year: Which device should I use? Where should I do school? Etc.

Chilkat saw a picture somewhere of someone with dyed hair and asked if she could do that, too. Chilkoot then of course wanted to do it as well. Chilkat ended up with part of her hair purple, and Chilkat got blue.

It’s a popular birthday month. KrisDi made a blueberry cheesecake for Les’s birthday, and we visited them in Bonney Lake. We did a make-up birthday at our place for B False Alarm, since we didn’t want to join their crowd for her actual celebration. Chilkat’s current best friend turned 10, and all she asked for for her birthday was dinner with Chilkat. We surprised her — her dad took her out to pick up take out for dinner, we arrived at their house while she was gone, and we all yelled surprise when she came in. She was delighted. She also picked up and tried to steal our daughter. Then of course they played, including in their new above-ground pool.

Since the kids both figured out how to ride bicycles, I wanted to bring all four bikes with us on our next camping trip. Since we pretty much fill up the truckbed, I needed a bike carrier of some sort. Paco didn’t have a hitch installed; I ordered a hitch and a 4-bike carrier on Amazon and installed them. The bike carrier was pretty simple. The hitch was a bit more involved. I needed new tools (I could have gotten away without a torque wrench, but it’s definitely better to torque a load bearing device to spec). Putting it together, when I figured out the carriage bolts went through the square-hole plates and out two layers of holes to be tightened down on the outside by a lock nut without a tool on the head side, I thought, “By God! Mechanical engineers are ingenious wizards!” When the carriage bolt started turning inside the plate without catching, and I had to devise solutions to somehow turn the nut while pulling on it, I began to think, “God motherfucking damn it, fucking mechanical engineers are too fucking clever for their own fucking good, and not half so fucking clever as they fucking think they are!” Eventually I got it all together, despite my lower back’s protests.

And so we went camping. This time it was at Deception Pass, which is a totally beautiful area. Maybe the most beautiful area I know.

It was just the four of us and KrisDi’s parents. We stopped at Bastion brewing on the way up for lunch. We didn’t use the sandwich irons at all this trip. Pizza, shish kebabs, marshmallow-centered-donuts, hefty cheeseburgers, lots of delicious beers. I laughed at myself when I realized I was fishing past Chocolate Cherry Duchesse and Rodenbach Grand Cru to find a Hamm’s in the cooler.

As usual, I woke up earlier than everyone else. I tried to take some sunrise pictures and got at least one I liked (see above). I think possibly my favorite new photography story is how I rewound sunrise so I could try it again: The sun was coming up over the horizon (a wooded hill fairly far to the east), and I started taking pictures. After the terminator passed me, I walked west a couple blocks down the beach until I was past the terminator again, and then turned east again for more pictures as the sun rose over the horizon a second time. I don’t remember if this was from sunrise #1 or #2.

Chilkoot experienced his first injurious bike wreck. We were taking a loop around the campground. Part of it was downhill. A van started pulling out of a camping spot, and he completely panicked. He was behind me, so I heard but did not see the crash. Based on the evidence, I think he locked up his back wheel, turned too sharply to the left, and flipped to the right. He ended up with bruises and scrapes on his right wrist, shoulder, and brow (and side of his helmet). He cried, we walked back to the campsite, and I am super proud to say we were back on the bike later that day. I was concerned it would be a “I had one bad experience therefore this is inescapably terrible” sort of deal.

We took various short rides, we went to a beach, we took various short hikes, the kids climbed on rocks and on trees, we saw squirrels and seals and deer, we tried to watch the sunset but it was too hazy to see anything, we had colorful fires, generally we had a good time. We stopped for seafood and ice cream on the way home (and got yelled at for eating in the grass at the restaurant, since apparently they’re not cleared by the state for that right now).

We finished up the front yard. We dug a trench along the boundary where we’ve had a lot of moles cross and buried some double-to-sextuple folded steel wire cloth. We finished weed-papering the area, and put down about a yard and a half of bark (~300 gallons). Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. Now I just hope the trees survive.

We went boating on Lake Tapps and actually got out of the boat for a while. Kids swam, we drank beer, KrisDi and I dove off the boat…it was pretty nice.

Other stuff…

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

August 2020 Part I

Click here or on the photo above for more pictures…

We went to a baby shower down in Gig Harbor for a friend of KrisDi’s. Fairly large number of people there, all outdoor, most people were pretty good about wearing masks. The kids got to play with a little dog.

We got to go up and visit Mom. The catalyst for the visit was dropping off Trent and transferring ownership, so our first activity was waiting in line at the DMV. Yay! Then we visited a sculpture park, picked up take-out Thai and brought it to the park by Lake Padden for a picnic. We stopped and shopped for beer (and drank a couple) at Elizabeth Station, then visited some weird “labyrinth” before going to dinner at Fat Pie pizza. It was a nice visit. Plus it was nice we could all fit in one car.

With Covid19 destroying the air travel industry, United offered early retirement to a bunch of employees to try to reduce their payroll. D took it, and officially retired. We had a little retirement party. KrisDi made her a cake.

Nick from Oregon was up here again, and it happened to be the week he was turning 30. I met him for dinner at his truck. I think that was the time I got food and beer at 20 Corners. I gave him a bottle bourbon for his birthday. KrisDi made him a bourbon cinnamon cake which was also delightful.

We continued our yard project. We cleaned up the area a little more, got and installed two new trees, one Japanese maple and one obscure mini magnolia variety. We built a little brick border along the edge of the grass. I ripped up yards of mole tunnel and set a trap. The next morning, a mole had tunneled along our new boundary and filled my trap with dirt. I set it up again. While I was talking to KrisDi, I heard the trap go off and saw it start wriggling — success! Except it clearly hadn’t killed the mole. So, and in retrospect this is fantastic, I took my hammer and started slamming it into the ground around the trap hoping I’d kill the little bastard without him getting away. No luck there, but the mole didn’t get away, so I ended up beating it to death with a brick. Take that, fucker!

We hadn’t done it in a long time, so we took a weekend to have some one-on-one time with each kid.

For Mommy Daughter Day, KrisDi took Chilkat to the zoo and Dairy Queen, picked up dinner from the Dough Zone, watched a bad movie on Disney Plus, but we can’t remember what movie it was.

For Daddy Son Day, Chilkoot and I picked up fried chicken from Ezell’s and rode our bikes to a nearby park for a picnic. We rode back home to play some games, then went out again to pick up burgers at Cloud 9 to try and have a trucknic and then play at the park, only to discover the parks were closed. After that, we went home for the rest of the night.

The next day, KrisDi went back to the zoo again with Chilkoot for Mommy Son Day. They picked up unfinished Resonate pizzas to make at home, and also had DQ again.

Chilkat wanted to stay home for Daddy Daughter Day, play games, and build a surprisingly complicated robot kit she had gotten as a gift sometime previously. Its name is Kiko.

Other stuff:

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

July 2020 Part II

Click here or on Chilkoot’s photo to see more pictures

Chilkoot turned seven. He wanted to have breakfast in bed (probably inspired by Mother’s and Father’s Day breakfasts in bed). Cinnamon roll (with sprinkles), chocolate chip pancake (with sprinkles), bacon (probably with some splashover sprinkles), and chocolate milk (probably without any sprinkles. He opened some of his presents from nuclear family, and was really excited about things normal septuagenarians would be excited about: A new memory foam pillow, an economy pack of his favorite brand of underwear, and salt (to be fair, it’s a collection of flavored salts in test tubes, so it’s pretty cool). He also enjoyed some geodes from Grandpa, which he enjoyed smashing with a hammer and inspecting the shiny insides.

KrisDi and I took the whole day off from work. Chilkoot wanted to go to the zoo. In current regulations, the zoo is open, you have to have an appointment ahead of time for an entry time slot, you have to wear a mask the whole time (unless you’re eating or whatever, which should be socially distanced). Most of the paths in the zoo have been converted to one way to reduce cross-traffic. For the most part it was fine, a few spots where the path is too narrow to allow passing and there was something interesting to see created traffic jams. One of the more interesting specific sights was when some lemurs took interest in a passing troop of ducklings. The lemurs remind me of some famous actor who looks evil or often plays evil characters, but I haven’t been able to place him yet.

We held Chilkoot’s birthday party at Uncle P Dubs’ new house, since he has a bigger yard and a spacious deck. Of course, that meant we had to pack everything we wanted to bring. KrisDi’s side of the family and the False Alarms came. Some social distancing was exercised. At least it was pretty much all outdoors. Chilkoot’s theme this year was frogs, and there were a lot of frog things. KrisDi’s cake was again amazing, and this weird fruit-sculpture was also one of my favorites. Mostly, I tried to stay out of the sun and drink beer. Oh, and something of a tradition, KrisDi removed a tooth from one of the False Alarm kids.

The next day, we went out and bought a car. We agreed years ago we’d try to replace our cars before they hit 100,000 miles, so it was time for Trent. KrisDi wanted to get an SUV with a third row of seats, and she had her eye on the 2020 Subaru Ascent, although she had a couple other cars she was considering. One of our main concerns was whether or not we could park it in the garage. We went down for a test drive of the Subaru, and our sales rep didn’t feel comfortable with us driving the car all the way to our home to find out (though it’s not that far). Of course, we didn’t want to buy it without looking at the other cars or knowing it fit in the garage, so we were leaving empty handed, which always displeases car dealerships (*eyeroll*). “What do we need to do for you to buy this car today?” “Well, we need to find out if it fits in our garage.” And so we had test drive number two. Would have been more effective just to let us do that in the first place?

It fit, but just barely. The other cars that KrisDi had researched were all longer (by the published stats) than this one. We drove away from the dealer again and talked about it, decided not to bother checking out the other cars since KrisDi liked this one and the others would have been even more cramped in the garage. We went back to buy it.

Which, of course, is also really annoying. I hate car buying. Amazon could destroy this industry. From our side: We have decided to buy this car. If we need to, we can buy it outright with cash. If you offer us 0% financing, we’ll take it, because why not? We want to get rid of the old car. If you offer us a good enough trade-in, we’ll take it, because why not? We have an online quote from another dealer about 30 miles away for a certain price ($5,000 or so less than MSRP). If you can match or beat that, we’ll take it. If you can’t, we’ll drive down there and buy that one. It’s pretty simple for us. The price they offer is the only factor that could cause us to walk away, aside from grossly pissing us off.

The dealer couldn’t understand this. She kept asking questions and acting like she was frustrated with us for not being up front. It was really annoying. They gave us a low offer for Trent, and we said no, and she kept pursuing it like she needed to find a number that would make us happy enough to buy the new car. We just wanted to move on to the next step. Eventually, we showed them the quote, they matched the price, they gave us 0% financing with no money down, and we went home with both new car and old car after spending most of a day on it. So stupid. Now we need to plan out and re-do our garage storage arrangements, which won’t be fun but will be nice when it’s done.

The Ascent is now named Juliet (which is a recycled name, sort of — it was one of our choices for Chilkoot if he had been a girl, or it was one of our choices for Chilkat — I can’t remember which).

We embarked upon a yardwork project. The big tree in the front yard outgrew its root structure and has been leaning toward the street and pulling roots out of the ground. The tree closest to our house isn’t a problem right now, but will get there. Here they are. We borrowed a chain saw from P Dubs and cut down both trees plus a bush that keeps growing up against the house. I spent a large portion of the day cutting them down into manageable chunks, and I learned that chainsaws take some muscle to operate. We packed leaves and twigs into our giant compost bin, and our two neighbors, and more, and we still had to go through three compost pickup days before we got rid of it all.

This left us with stumps sticking out of the ground, and lots of roots still in the ground. Our neighbor helped us by pulling them out with his pickup and a chain (little one, big one). More chopping into manageable pieces. We had a stack of reasonable firewood-sized chunks. I tried to burn a bunch of the roots, and you can do it, but We still have this giant chunk of root that I couldn’t effectively cut into smaller pieces.

Chilkoot’s scout pack had their bridging ceremony, and he’s now a Wolf cub. Everyone wore masks and no one congregated for the ceremony. Several of the kids stuck around to play at the park where the ceremony was held. I was amazed at how many people were at the park, how large and close together the groups were, and how few were wearing masks.

Random stuff:

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 2 comments