June 2020 Part I

Click on the text here or the cake above for more photos…

Two unusual cases to start today — one, photos taken last month but not available until recently: Chilkat’s headshots for Aladdin; and two, the photos mentioned in the last month when Chilkat released butterflies in the yard.

Chilkoot’s birthday is coming up. When we asked him what theme he wanted, he said, “Ummm….basketball!” But…he has never watched or played basketball as far as I (or KrisDi) know. Eventually he settled on frogs. Not basketball. He claims he loves frogs and his nickname for his sister is “Froggy.” Some frogs arrived in preparation for the party, and the kids made them a bus and a hospital.

KrisDi’s work hosted a socially distant drive-through barbecue. KrisDi made about a hundred cupcakes, the other managers made other stuff, and they all stood out in the sun with masks on, recording and sharing little videos of them saying cheesy lines, and handing individually packaged food out to employees who drove through. Krisdi took the kids with her, they wore their little masks and helped hand stuff out. If I remember correctly, they liked the smoked chicken. KrisDi brought some food back for me; it was actually pretty darn good.

The two main stories for today’s post are Chilkat’s Aladdin performance and KrisDi’s birthday celebration.

For KrisDi’s birthday, because the Washington Brewers’ Festival was cancelled due to Covid-19 (a traditional birthday activity), I decided to create her own private beer festival: Shelter In Place Beer Festival 2020. I made a logo, I had it printed on sample glasses, I got blank wooden tokens and had the logo turned into a rubber stamp to un-blankify them (ittook two tries, first rubber stamp was too big), and I made four tickets (two adults and two kids). I bought 7 root beers and 19 exotic beers on www.craftshack.com. The kids helped us make pretzel necklaces.

After I bought the beers from CraftShack, we found out Untappd was holding a “virtual beer festival”, for which they were selling and shipping a box of 11 beers and hosting two streaming sessions with the brewers or other interesting representatives on the same weekend I planned to surprise KrisDi with SIP Fest. And she was interested, and I didn’t want to disappoint her…so that turned into 30 beers, ranging up to the mid-teens in ABV and 750ml in volume. No problem, right? We took Monday and Tuesday off.

All told: Monday the 10th and Tuesday the 11th, Chilkat recorded her parts for Aladdin. Friday the 14th was the first “performance”; it was also opening day for SIP Fest. Saturday was the second performance, and the second day of SIP Fest, and the first session of Untappd virtual beer festival, and the day I started her cake. Sunday was more Untappd, more cake making, and more SIP Fest. Monday was completion of the cake, and continued SIP Fest, and KrisDi got the stomach flu. Tuesday was KrisDi’s birthday, serving of the cake and presentation of cards and whatnot, and the day I made pretzels for her because her stomach was crappy. So, there was a lot going on.

Let’s break it down by activity.

Aladdin

I think I’d mentioned before that Covid-19 destroyed the possibility of having in-person rehearsals; eventually it destroyed the possibility of having on-stage performance as well. The kids had already been rehearsing 2-3 sessions of 1-3 hours per week via Zoom, and they decided to record the parts and stream them as a video.

For the recording, KrisDi helped Chilkat with makeup, we set up a little stage downstairs with an iPhone on a jury-rigged stand. Chilkat stayed downstairs and did her part (and came upstairs upset and crying once when the camera responded too slowly to record her line), while KrisDi, Chilkoot, and I huddled upstairs in a room and tried to be quiet.

Because of Disney licensing, they couldn’t just record it and distribute DVDs to the families, they had to make it a one-time-performance of some sort with a limited number of viewers. They did the recordings and played them over zoom and allowed each family to invite two other locations to each of the two showings, one on Friday and one on Saturday. For the Friday showing, Krisdi’s parents came to our house to watch it, my older brother and niece watched it in Guam, and my mom watched it from her house. On Saturday, P Dubs and T Dog came to our house, Dad watched it in Florida, and E Dubs’ family watched it in Gig Harbor. For both of them, video lagged audio something horrible, though at least audio remained fairly stable throughout the whole production.

I’m very proud of Chilkat. It was hard, and took a lot of time and effort, and she was frustrated fairly often, but she stuck with it and completed it. By the end, she had mixed feelings about it being over. I’m glad she did it. I wish it had turned out to be a normal theater experience, but I think overall it was good for her to endure and survive the adverse situation. Also, although I’m not totally happy with how it all turned out, I think the director worked her ass off and did the best she could in a shitty situation, and I appreciate that.

Birthday Food

As mentioned, I made some foods for KrisDi’s birthday. She asked for a Lemon Bavarian Cream cake with six layers and 34 steps. It took me three days to make it (it would probably take KrisDi an hour and a half). Generally I’m pleased with how it turned out, although the bavarian cream is lumpy and the cake is maybe a touch dry.

Once KrisDi started feeling sick on Monday, I heated up some leftover frozen turkey broth from previous turkey dinners for her, and made her a batch of pretzels from scratch (first time I’ve cooked with dough that required rising).

Beer Festival(s)

SIP Fest was fun. Lots of interesting beer, and no worries about driving or sunburn or anything else. Generally we ordered food delivered (at the real beer festival we would have just eaten at the food trucks). We never ran out of tokens, because no one was seriously collecting them and we could just re-use them anyway. Once KrisDi got sick, we stopped going through those interesting beers and I started falling back on my more standard IPAs. Finally, the last beer of the extra-long weekend, on her birthday, KrisDi felt good enough to drink another beer, and we had a bottle of Cantillo Gueuze, which will always be special to us.

In the midst of all the madness, we had the two Untappd tasting sessions, which were less targeted to KrisDi’s or my tastes. They included lagers and a tripel. It was (in my opinion) pretty nice. I liked listening to brewers talk about the beer they make, why they make it and why they like it, how they got started, where names came from, etc. Session 1 and session 2. Session 1 overlapped with the Aladdin production, so we had to stop at a certain point, watch the production, and then watch the streaming recording of the rest of the Untappd session.

Finally, by the end of the weekend, after some augmentation of our beer selection by P Dubs, we had an embarrassingly impressive lineup of empties.

Miscellaneous stuff

  • I managed to actually catch a shot of a goldfinch in the greenbelt behind our house.
  • One of KrisDi’s cutting boards, assembled by gluing fairly small pieces of bamboo together, came apart. I rigged together a complicated clamping contraption and tried to apply new glue. It stays together (barely), but should probably never be used for food again.
  • A cute duckling in the pond along the path behind our neighborhood.
  • I spent a bunch of time sanding this dowel so the kids could operate the Playfort’s “latch” again. I had to remove something like .030″ for it to work, after water made it swell a little.
Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

May 2020 Part II

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We had our 11th anniversary. I made KrisDi a flight of White Russians: Regular, Vanilla Cardamom, Chocolate Peanut Butter Marshmallow, Salted Caramel, and Horchata. I made a peanut butter sauce, a marshmallow sauce, the horchata, and the whipped cream I put on top. It was a lo-o-o-ot of booze at the end of the day and super sweet. I don’t think we were able to finish the whole flight. KrisDi also made another fantastic Beef Wellington, which we enjoyed with some fancy scotch (not at the same time as the white russians).

I killed a little (375ml) bottle of blended scotch the Pope got for me in a blister pack from the impulse buy section of a convenience store in France. I used it for a beverage similar in nature to an Irish Coffee. I also killed a another unknown bottle of Asian liquor by simply dumping it out. It had grown chunky and tasted terrible.

The kids tried to sleep in the Playfort. We padded the floor with blankets, put sleeping mats out there, put sleeping bags on top, let them take stuffies out there, they each got a lamp, they both got to take their iPads and auxiliary batteries to bed with them so they could message us if they needed something (it’s within our wifi coverage)…we put them out there a little before 8:30. By 10:30 it was pitch black and started to rain, and the noise of the rain on the roof (and whatever other noises or distractions) was enough to scare them into calling for help and retreating to their bedroom. Here was their message:

Miss K’s birthday occurred, and we still couldn’t go hang out with her. So I used Total Wine’s home delivery option to provide her with her first bottle of scotch (Aberlour 16) and as an added bonus her own bottle of peanut butter whisky. Response to Aberlour: “That smells…[sip, long pause, fairly well-masked grimace]…not bad actually.” PB Whisky: “This one smells like…like uh…buttered popcorn jelly beans! [sip]…Whoah! Hoo hoo! That’s like candy! That is dangerous!”

Skylar and Gerald’s egg hatched. The kids decided if it was a boy, they’d name it Bob; if a girl, Lavender. Since none of us have any idea whether it’s a boy or a girl, we have named it Bobender. Again, due to line-of-sight challenges, with additional “freaking out the bird” and regular old timing issues, it was really difficult to try to get any pictures (many tries, standing on a stool on the precipice of a stair…). Eventually I got a few good pictures of Skylar (or maybe Gerald) feeding Bobender. A day or so later, I stepped into a digital photographer’s nightmare:

When I went to get the pictures off the camera, my computer could not read the memory card. I tried multiple disk recovery options and file recovery options (several hours of work). KrisDi did, too. Eventually gave up, and tried to format the SD card — but couldn’t even do that. I’ve never had flash memory completely puke on me like that before. That meant the last couple days of pictures were totally lost.

It gets better, though…I grabbed another SD card out of a different camera, took some pictures, and then I couldn’t physically remove the card from the camera! Wiggling, tools, pushing and pulling, etc. No dice. Googled around and discovered the technique of bending the tip of a sewing needle to slide in next to the card, turn to get the hook behind the card, and pull to get it out…

Only to have the bent tip of the needle break off inside my camera.

I eventually got the second SD card out by sliding a thin flexible metal spatula (not a kitchen tool) in beside it and wiggling around. I discovered that the case of the SD card had cracked, separated, and the resultant ridge was catching on something inside the camera’s memory slot.

On to SD card number three…scraping the bottom of the barrel in the memory department. We lent out DSLR #2 to a friend before the lockdown, took the SD card from DSLR #3, and now we were on to the cheap, crappy SD card from the little waterproof point-and-shoot camera. Next step down is whatever random ancient cards litter the bottoms of the drawers in my desk.

And the camera couldn’t read, write, or format it. Laptop could, though. On a hunch, I looked very carefully down the SD slot, and saw a little silver speck trapped under what looked like a copper or brass strap way at the bottom…using four hands and another sewing needle, I dislodged it and got it to come out, and then everything was working fine. And we ordered three new SD cards (for a total of like $20). This tiny little speck of needlepoint disabled my $1200 camera + $1100 lens and nearly gave me a god damn heart attack.

I did eventually get some replacement pictures of Bobender and family, but I don’t think they’re as good as the ones I lost. I like this one of just Bobender, though.

We decided to take a moderately controlled risk and and visit P Dubs at his new place in Gig Harbor. Big D and Les came, too. P Dubs grilled, we had a flight of heavy stouts, we walked around the neighborhood, I played with the camera, it was fun. I tried to stay a little distance away from people I don’t live with. I’m not totally sure anyone else really did. Although Chilkat broke down completely at the end and couldn’t resist giving Papa a hug.

We also used it as an opportunity to give P Dubs and T Dog some stuff: our old mower (now replaced with an electric one), old lumber, old cordless drill, old crib (although I think that actually went home with Les and D), and their portion of our home made whisky barrel stave taster flights.

Their new place is nice — a little older, but in a pretty neighborhood, nicely isolated from neighbors, short walk to pretty views, lots of nature and/or nice landscaping.

In general chores, we finally broke down and used a weedkiller in our backyard, raked up some detritus, and spread some seeds around. Hopefully by the end of the summer it will look a little better (believe it or not, that’s already an improvement); we’ll need to keep on top of weeds coming up.

Chilkat got some kind of a butterfly kit, I think for her birthday. Caterpillars arrive in the mail, you take care of them until they turn into chrysalises; transfer them to a net cage sort of thing, and wait for butterflies to emerge. In Chilkoot’s ongoing quest to destroy everything out of sheer carelessness, he cartwheeled into the container with the caterpillars, got yelled at (this is by no means an isolated incident, he gets yelled at for not paying attention to his surroundings all the time, and told over and over and over again that “sorry” is too late and doesn’t fix anything).

After the chrysalises were in the cage downstairs, he cartwheeled into them again (I’m not joking about the cartwheeling, he just blindly cartwheels around the house). He got yelled at again, and I think he panicked (I hope it was panic), because then he picked up the cage and with both hands over his head chucked it back into the corner. He sure got screamed at a lot for that, by everyone. I despair that kid will ever learn.

Luckily all the butterflies survived (except one that disappeared — the kids theorize he was eaten by the others). We kept them for the prescribed week and then let them go in the yard. One or two posed nicely. They didn’t all leave the same day. Oh, and the butterflies forgave Chilkoot.

As Chilkat’s increasingly digital production of Aladdin approaches (now they’re planning on recording all the parts at the actors’ homes and digitally putting them together into a production), they wanted to take headshots for the program. We went out to the home of one of the castmembers’ family and got pictures taken in the garage, exchanged various props and/or decorations for complicated logistical reasons, and failed to stay six feet away from the director (though the photographer was pretty much fine). KrisDi curled Chilkat’s hair and even did a little makeup. Part of the exchange was equipment to turn bedsheets into backdrops. This was a huge pain in the ass to do, and I only helped with one — KrisDi did like four or five.

Finally, we had another half-assed attempt at socially distant socializing. We went to Bonney Lake for D’s birthday. P Dubs and T Dog as well as E Dubs and his kids came out, too. Birthday visit to Bonney Lake for D. More barbecue (this time smoking some chicken), more beer, and a tiramisu cake made by KrisDi (delicious, of course).

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 2 comments

May 2020 Part I

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Well, we’re still stuck at home. Not much has changed in that area. Except that we did have our first social engagement, in which we attempted to remain socially distant. Chilkat’s school friend’s family came over for tacos al pastor and drinks, we ate at opposite ends of a six foot table, and the kids were instructed to stay 6′ away from each other. They didn’t do very well, but they didn’t do terribly. Chilkoot was using a tape measure. We sanitized the downstairs bathroom and designated that as the guest bathroom; sanitized it again when they left. We had a good time. It was nice to be around other people.

School from home continues. We’re getting more and more frustrated in particular with Chilkat’s teacher, who apparently doesn’t understand 3rd grade math (yes, Ms. Teacher, you can actually divide a square into eight equal triangles) and isn’t very good at communicating.

We had a robin nest in the bush behind our back window. The kids named her Skylar. She laid an egg. The father seems to be hanging around as well — the kids named him Gerald. The nest is located in a spot that happens to be visible through the screen in our window (and consequently super hard to photograph), and hard to get line-of-sight from outside (and consequently hard to photograph). More on Skylar’s family in the next post, I think.

After being introduced to it in a previous visit to the aforementioned friends and discovering that Total Wine does same-day-delivery in this brave new world, we got a bottle of peanut butter whisky. It is more “peanut butter liqueur” than it is “whisky”. It’s actually pretty good on its own. Anyway, KrisDi decided to make a chocolate peanut butter white russian using that and some chocolate liqueur — and it was fan-fucking-tastic. Delicious! Very sweet, though. Also…a ton of liquor. If you’re curious, her recipe is:

Fill a pint glass 1/3 full with ice. Cover with vodka, add a few shots of kahlua, a few shots of chocolate liqueur, about twice as much peanut butter whisky. Top with whole whipping cream. Stir and enjoy.

One of our weekend days, the kids decided they wanted to have a tea party with us and a bunch of stuffed animals. So we broke out the china, made some tea, laid out plates of finger food, and had a tea party for lunch (Chilkat, Chilkoot, and snaotheus). The kids even made place cards. There may also have been some mild shenanigans.

We continued work on the Playfort. We just about finished it, I think — we’re at the stage where anything further we want to do is pretty optional. I cut little bits out of the siding material to continue the outer walls up closer to the roof, built and (KrisDi) painted and installed trim, caulked a bunch, and installed a fancy sign. Looks pretty nice. Oh, KrisDi started painting the floor, too, and she didn’t quite finish that in this time frame I guess.

Mother’s Day was not particularly original, but it was nice. The kids made KrisDi cards, we bought her some nice flowers, she bought herself some nice flowers, we cooked her breakfast in bed (French toast, bacon, eggs, and mimosas). We had planned ahead to have an “easy dinner” requiring no cooking by ordering a bunch of cured meats and cheeses from DeLaurenti, but we didn’t have nice little loaves of bread to go with it so she made some herself. We actually kept eating meats and cheeses for meals for like a week after that. Always tasty and interesting.

I don’t know much about this, but Chilkat decided to paint some rocks and go deposit them in locations around the neighborhood and on the greenbelt path. She didn’t realize that people would pick them up and move them around or take them home — she was a little upset when we went back on the walk the next day and a bunch of her rocks were gone.

Chilkoot also had reason to walk through the neighborhood — for the Boy Scouts. All his Scouting get-togethers have been digital or canceled, including a nature hike. So we did one as a family. We talked about plants and animals, and the kids showed us a mystery jawbone they found.

We were supposed to take pictures on our hike and share them with his troop, but Chilkoot was ornerier than usual about playing nice for photos. and then he was upset when I told him we’d share his crappy photos with the Scouts. Then he was willing to pose nicely, including trying to straighten this heavily leaning tree — which fell over a couple days later.

In my ongoing quest to purge accumulated marginal liquors, I finished a little bottle of a Japanese whisky called Chita. This wasn’t a “get rid of this crappy beverage” kind of situation — I like this whisky. I just drank it neat. We also managed to conquer a big bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label — this isn’t terrible, but it’s not a whisky I like to drink straight, so KrisDi experimented with a bunch of mixed drinks like whisky sours and old fashioneds. Also, I’m not sure why, but KrisDi decided to take all the liquor out of the cabinet and photograph it. Here’s the whisky section.

As previously posted, KrisDi was making macarons as a thing to do. My boss’s family has a thing for macarons (one of his kids got engaged at Lady Yum), and I dropped off a care package of macarons, giardiniera, and home made hot sauce on his doorstep early in the morning. In return, we got some homemade chutney, raspberry jelly, and masks (me, Chilkat, Chilkoot). Boss’s wife is very sweet.

Cinco de Mayo happened. KrisDi made chile verde burritos (delicious again) and margaritas. Coronavirus Environment saved the day — we realized around lunch time we didn’t have enough tequila for margaritas at dinner, and we were able to order online from Total Wine and get it delivered by three.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment