July 2020 Part I

Click here or on the decorative explosion above for more photos

KrisDi and I had a night to ourselves when the kids stayed at Nana and Papa’s house. We went to The Bine for dinner and beer. No indoor seating was allowed. The city had blocked off the street to allow local businesses to set up tents for more outdoor seating. I think no parties of more than five were allowed or something like that. Everyone was supposed to wear masks except when actively eating or drinking. We weren’t supposed to stick around waiting for one of the tables opened up. We wandered over to the nearby Hop & Hound, where they were allowing one customer (or couple, or similar) into the store at a time. We had to wait six feet away from the door for a few minutes. We shopped a little for beer, got a call for our table, paid and zipped back to the Bine. After dinner we took a longish walk to a shitty liquor store because I had heard they still had 2018 Bourbon County variants in their fridge; this rumor was accurate.

For the Fourth of July, we took the kids down to Nana and Papa’s, ate some smoked meat, drank tons of a moderate amount of beer, let them ignite mild fireworks and watched the unregulated neighbors (both near and far) light the sky on fire. No one was severely burnt this year. We left the kids down there for the night.

KrisDi prepped for Chilkoot’s birthday; more on that in the next post. She also wallpapered the accent wall in our bedroom and replaced our curtains to match. Les came over to help, and Chilkoot actually helped, too. I sat on the couch, if I remember correctly, possibly writing the posts for June.

Mom came down to visit the weekend before Chilkoot’s birthday and birthday party. It was the first time we’d seen her since before the shutdown in March. We mostly practiced social distancing, we wore masks when we weren’t actively eating or drinking, we were unable to avoid occasional hugs. I shared a Pliny with Mom, which was nice. We treated this as Chilkoot’s birthday celebration with my side of the family. Mom made him a “Mr. Bean Man” stuffy and a drawing of a frog (in line with his frog themed birthday party).

Random stuff

  • Our Oregon friend the trucker has been more regularly making it up to Woodinville (twice a week) for work, where he has to stay a night alone in his truck before heading south again in the morning. I’ve picked up dinner and beer and had a roadside picnic with him a couple times, and will probably do it again next week.
  • We saw three deer in our neighborhood in the morning the other day
  • Chilkat impressively freehanded some portraits of Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants
  • We decided to mandate that the kids would read with parents at least twenty minutes a day over the summer, so Chilkat and I have resumed “reading club.” We finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and have moved on to The Magician’s Nephew.
  • For Father’s Day, E-Dubs took Les out fishing on a chartered boat. They didn’t get to keep any salmon (apparently Les caught one that was a half-inch shy of acceptable), but they brought home some rockfish. KrisDi prepared some for us at home, and it was delectable. Possibly the best fish I’ve ever eaten. The kids liked it, too!
  • The latest casualty in my “clean up the liquor cabinet” quest is a battle of Dassai 39 sake — this is actually a quite good sake, although I opened it a long time ago and didn’t finish it until now, so it was a bit oxidized, or whatever happens to a bottle of sake that’s been open too long.
Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

Coffee + Couch + Computer

It’s Saturday, I usually wake up earlier than the rest of the family; have coffee, surf the net.

This morning in my routine perusal of my ~15 “glance at this every day” websites, I found Amazon offering a deal on a book called Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb. I thought to myself, “That title and author sound familiar — I have I read something else by her?”

After reading the summary in the Wikipedia article, I realize I have in fact read that exact book. I have no idea when, except that it was long ago. I have no idea why, either.

I was tickled enough by it to actually get on here to post about it, when my WordPress admin panel notified me I had gotten a comment from someone who *gasp* wasn’t Mom or other family, which immediately evinced “This must be spam of some sort” reactions.

After suspiciously digging around a little bit, turns out it’s my German friend Robin, a programmer I met through work who is (aside from a very tall and cool human being) a great photographer who has built his own website with a gallery of his photos. It’s easier for us ignorant, unilingual Americans (or those of us who can’t read German anyway) if you use Google’s translation capabilities (most easily through the Chrome browser).

Posted by snaotheus in Stuff I remember, 1 comment

June 2020 Part II

Click here or on the photo above for the rest of the pictures

Father’s Day was nice. KrisDi gave me a bottle of whisky (a week early because she has a hard time enduring anticipation), on the day of they made me breakfast in bed with homemade country fried steak, eggs, bacon, and cafe granita (an iced coffee + booze + cream drink). She made a caramel pecan apple cheesecake pie at my request. The kids made cards, including this digital one with two sloths in a canoe under the moonlit night sky sharing a beer with a SIP Fest 2020 logo on the glass. They gave me two bottles of barrel aged maple syrup. Later that day we went to celebrate the same holiday with KrisDi’s dad Les, and had delicious Italian beef sandwiches. A few days later some delayed Heady Topper hot sauces arrived.

Our kids are done with school. They grew a lot (boy, girl). They spent a significant portion of their school year at home, locked away from their friends and a fully school-oriented environment with a designated teacher, instead trapped with grumpy, distracted adults with other obligations. Somehow I feel they still managed to learn stuff (although we’ve definitely had some problems and seen some regression in some areas).

For the three weekdays after school, they participated in an online theater thing with Kettleworks. They both practiced their parts and their singing and dancing and recorded them. It’s kind of amazing how the Aladdin experience clearly helped Chilkat; Chilkoot was pretty early in the learning and adjusting curve. But, it kept them occupied for a few hours during three of our work days. It did, of course, take planning and setup from the parents at an inopportune time, since they each needed to have two devices, snack, water, scripts, craft materials, be signed in and ready at 9 AM.

KrisDi had to dress up and physically go to work to meet a high muckity-muck. She says her colleagues followed imperfect pandemic procedures; everyone wore masks, but most people pulled them down to talk, for example. That was well over two weeks ago and KrisDi hasn’t had any symptoms, so that must have been ok.

Surfing the internet looking for places that are shipping beer due to the pandemic, I discovered Russian River was shipping, but only within California. So I shipped two cases of Pliny the Elder to my brother and told him to keep one as payment for shipping me the other. He labeled it as “artisanal vinegars” and also had his daughter put red footprints all over the box. His shipment to me was supposed to arrive on a Friday, which was fortuitous because I was hoping to take some camping with me the next day.

The UPS guy came to the door at 3:34 PM on Friday with one small package for KrisDi (Ring doorbell video shows this) and walked away. UPS’s website updated to say that they attempted to deliver my package but no one was there to receive it. Total bullshit, we were home all day. It’s a fucking pandemic! I waved at the driver when he was parked outside my house!

UPS customer service is total garbage and has never, ever, ever offered the slightest hint of assistance; nevertheless, KrisDi *ahem* encouraged me to try it. Fruitless, as anticipated. Shortly thereafter, my brother got a call from the driver. Secondhand paraphrase: “Uh, this box has really good beer in it. I mean, like really really good beer. And I don’t want it to go to waste. It can be picked up at <specific UPS location> anytime before 8 PM.”

That location actually closes at 6:00 PM. But the door was unlocked when I got there at 7:15. Even though the box had been opened and closed again, and someone wrote “requires ID, contains alcohol” on the box in marker, they gave me no shit and I was able to cool my case of Pliny overnight and put some in a cooler the next morning.

Which brings me to the next adventure, our extended-family camping trip to Cape Disappointment. We hadn’t been camping with E Dubs or P Dubs since July 2010. Before any of us had kids. Les and D had never been camping before.

On our way to the campsite, we stopped at Buoy Brewing in Astoria for lunch, our first dining out experience since March. I think they were limiting their occupancy to 20 people including staff; they had four standing tables set up (inside — they also had some outdoor seating); bathrooms were limited to one person at a time; plastic shields up in front of the ordering stand; no one allowed at the bar. Generally I felt they did a good job implementing and following reasonable safety measures. Buoy is known for their lagers and I have been mostly interested in IPAs and stouts and sours for the last 15 years or so, but I’ve recently started to pay attention to lagers again, and I really enjoyed theirs.

We were never all in the building at the same time. Once I got done eating, I went out and wandered for a while and took pictures of random flowers and bridges and buildings and stuff. After L&D finished, it was E Dubs’ clan’s turn; etc.

We got two really big sites next to each other. P Dubs and T Dog set up their tent on our site, E Dubs’ clan and L&D set up on the other site. At the end of last season, we noticed significant wear and tear on the bottom of our tent, and ordered a replacement. We used our new tent and let L&D borrow ours (which is ridiculous, because it’s way bigger than necessary for a family of four, let alone a couple). It kind of drizzled off and on that day. We did walk to the beach, planning just to look around, but the kids quickly decided to soak themselves and roll themselves around in the sand in their regular clothes. Luckily this campsite has free showers (actually has the nicest campground bathrooms I’ve seen).

Other than that, mostly we just had campfires and cooked (Kenyan Beef Samosas) and dealt with some light rain (and tried to find places to hang the kids’ soaked, filthy clothes).

The next morning, I woke up early (like I usually do), and wandered around with a camera. I witnessed a raccoon fight up near the top of a tree — I heard weird sounds and when I approached the area in the trees from which it was coming, I saw occasional little paws and a flash of a striped tail. I took a ton of pictures using humongous zoom lens, but it was pretty deep in the trees so I couldn’t get a clear line-of-sight. This is one of the very few pictures I got where you could see anything but blur or leaves.

After that, I walked down to the beach and wandered around. I saw a hawk slowly glide over me and found a view of one of the two nearby lighthouses (called the North Head Lighthouse).

During breakfast (inside out biscuits and gravy), three woodpeckers were looking for bugs near L&D’s campsite. Chilkoot and A Dubs biked around our loop over and over again (the perfect practice for Chilkoot to get to independent competence).

We went for a fairly long hike — about 5 miles round trip. We saw salmonberries and wild cucumbers and cormorants and a turkey vulture, as well as the other lighthouse (this one’s the Cape Disappointment Light).

Chilkoot griped the whole way, and on the way back proclaimed that his legs were broken. Until they found one of those stationary radar speed signs, when he, E Dubs, P Dubs, and D all took turns trying to get the highest speed. Chilkoot beat D, with 7 mph. Amazing he could do that with broken legs, right?

Next up was lunch (Punjabi samosas), and then another visit to the beach (this time we were prepared for water). I was beat from the hike so I didn’t last long on the beach, and went back to hang out at the campsite in my zero gravity chair. When they got cleaned off and dressed, the kids started climbing trees. Chilkoot helped with the fire, dinner was calzones,

I went back to the beach early the next morning. This time, I was pretty surprised to find an otter splashing along in the surf. Chilkat and I climbed some nearby rocks later. Chilkat managed to take decent pictures with the giant camera and the giant lens! Chilkat, I think jealous of the attention Chilkoot had been getting, borrowed Chilkoot’s bike and rode a few laps of her own, and once we got home she took her own bike for a spin.

Overall, it was a good camping trip, I enjoyed myself, we ate and drank well and there really wasn’t much strife.

Random stuff:

  • KrisDi ordered some Spicy Veggie Straws and the kids decided they liked them, despite the spice!
  • During SIP Fest, KrisDi drunkenly ordered some cheese online, which arrived and was delicious.
Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

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