September 2020 Part I

For more pictures, click here or on the dewy web above

Actually not a lot to say for this half of this month.

School started. That’s traumatic enough for a post on its own.

Well, that’s not really true, it just sounded good in my head. For the most part, school started pretty uneventfully. (All of Chilkat’s Days 1, and all of Chilkoot’s Days 1) We got computers and desks and mice and headphones for the kids. It’s been six weeks now, so the details of the first two weeks have lost their sharpness, but now the kids mostly know when they need to be where they need to be, and occasionally have some kind of a computer problem. So the mechanics of “getting to classes” is basically figured out. But Chilkoot still thinks the reason that we’re staying home is to help him with his schoolwork, and he doesn’t notice (or he thinks we won’t notice [and by “we” I mean “KrisDi”]) when we’re in a meeting. He’ll walk up and ask questions and talk at her even when she’s running a meeting, and then be upset when he’s told to go away or that he did something wrong.

My friend and former coworker Brenan and his fiancee Chelsea came over for dinner and whisky. I had intrigued them with descriptions of Beef Wellington, and they had expressed interest but lack of experience with whisky. Two things to remedy in one delicious night. We set up a table outside and spent most of our evening out there. We tried I think just over half of my whisky collection, 21 different whiskies. I bought two new whiskies (Springbank and Glenkinchie) to cover more regions of Scotland.

We got a lot of smoke coming in from fires that were (mostly) far away. California and Oregon sent us banks of smoke that made everything smell like campfire, blocked out the sun, and made breathing hurt.

This peaked on or near the weekend we went to Whidbey Island with the E-Dubs family and Les & D. We got a huge and cool AirBnB on the western shore. I was all excited to play with camera equipment, maybe catch a cool sunset…but all we could see was smoke beyond one or maybe two hundred feet away from the house. Within that range, we did get to see dolphins a couple times (some people thought they might have been orcas, but I think we couldn’t see far enough for them to appear this small within visible distance or resolve marginally well in my camera). Some otters frolicked by as well. And some herons.

We drank beer and ate food and celebrated my niece’s 5th birthday and my nephew’s 7th. The kids played in a hot tub. We played some tasteless party games and watched some Jim Gaffigan. I went shopping with KrisDi at a nice little beer store.

We were there from a Saturday through a Tuesday, so two of the days were school days. This is a neat thing we can do with remote school: We can do it from other places. The kids went through a day and a half of school at the AirBnB, and a half day in the car using KrisDi’s phone as a mobile hotspot.

Random stuff:

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Weird dreams

A few nights ago…

Chilkat, Chilkoot, KrisDi, and I were driving somewhere together. We stopped at a Wal Mart. We were parked near a corner of the building and not many people were around. A few guys came running out of the building toward the car next to us. Apparently they were thieves or something, except they weren’t exactly making a getaway.

Somehow, we ended up being their hostages or something. They “made” us (though I don’t remember any force or threats) go with them back into the building, where there was a living space (a pretty decently sized apartment) on the ground floor in the back corner of the building, which is where they (we?) were going to hide out for the night. We obliged without any real complaint, ducking down behind furniture whenever there were lights or signs of movement outside. Everyone eventually fell asleep, except for me. I had trouble sleeping.

From the time we had gone into the Wal Mart apartment, I had a mild feeling of dread or anxiety, but it seemed to be more about getting caught than about the bad guys doing anything actually bad.


Night before last…

I was on a boat. I think the family was with me. The area reminded me of the canals and channels or whatever near Punta Gorda — lots of long narrow strips of water. Anyway, our boat was getting into a long line of boats, and there were some orcas a little ways off in the distance. Then some orcas came up close, and then there were some swimming immediately in front of us and immediately behind us.

I had forgotten about the dream by the time I brushed my teeth, but yesterday Chilkat said something that reminded me of it. Apparently he remembers Sea World and wants to go back.

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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…

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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