Sunday, July 29, 2012

Two weeks later...

I can't believe that it's been 14 days since I posted anything.  I don't usually go this long without sharing my stuff, so I guess I better get busy!

I finished the tunic for Tyrssen.  It looks pink, but it's really salmon colored.  I had originally made it with straight sleeves, then remembered what a pain in the butt it is to have big sleeves, so I tapered them down.  Hopefully, they're still large enough to roll up over his forearms for working/cleaning/cooking.  I made it with a slightly simpler design--no armpit gussets--but used long gores on the sides that essentially incorporated the gussets.  Fewer seams, less fuss.  I sent it to his office so he'd get it sooner and he was so excited, he put it on as soon as he got work...including the cap I made.  He said he got a lot of funny looks, but he's very excited and wants to order more fabric and have me make more tunics for him.

See?  Not pink like the washcloth.  Aunt Melinda suggested it might be "antique red."  She's a funny lady!  This is the coif I also made for him to cover up his "bed head" after camping several days in the hot fields of Pennsylvania.

I made a bunch of beads for gifts for Their Majesties of the Kingdom of Northshield (black, white and yellow) and Their Majesties of the Middle Kingdom (red, green and white).  This is part of the Lampworker's Guild for An Tir (for which I somewhat surprisingly was joined--Sophia just signed me up and I didn't object).  There are somewhere around 18 Kingdoms, and the rest of the members made beads for the others--we divided the work up amongst us.  Note how these beads do not have the problem with the colors getting all burnt and smokey?  Yep...I got a new hot head for the torch and things dramatically improved.  I'm very happy with this and want to try to make some more designs for myself and to make as largesse for the Kingdom and the Barony.  Other than the torch head, the rest of the materials are pretty inexpensive.  I'll need to order some more white for the base colors.  I go through a lot of that.

I put the beads onto dental floss and folded them into a square of muslin with two of my SCA business cards (it has my SCA name, titles, and contact information...Vista Print will give you 250 cards for free...just pay shipping.  Sweet deal!).  Last week Friday, Cammie and I hopped into the car with the yurt and our clothes and some bedding and headed off to July Coronation!

This is the yurt when it's all broken down (canvas not included).  To give you size perspectives, the door frame there is 5' long and 3' wide.  The circle is the "smoke hole", called the tono; the larger bundle directly under it is a giant baby gate (the khana) that stretches into a 12' diameter circle; the smaller bundle of wood are rafters (uni) that connect from the walls to the tono.  It fits very comfortably inside my car.  Some people actually have a door frame that disassembles for even easier transport!  The ropes hold the frame to the walls and the tension cable wraps around the top, keeping it from splatting outwards.  It's an amazing feat of engineering.  It sleeps two people quite comfortably.  We had two cots and a 3' x 6' table (granted, I could have used a table half the size) that we used for the Coleman stove.  Given the smoke hole in the top, it was a well-ventilated area that I felt safe using the stove in.  We really only used it to cook dinner and then heat water for tea and washing.  We had another small table (TV tray size) that held a 5 gallon jug of ice water for drinking.  We could have used some kind of floor covering, like a tarp and some rugs, but otherwise it was very cozy.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures of it set up.  I'll have to do that this week...

The kids have been keeping themselves occupied and enjoying the summer weather.  They couldn't decide between playing in the pool or on the why not both?  They moved it, filled it, and played for hours.  Clever little monkeys!

Today was spent largely at the quilt show for my guild.  There are a number of amazing quilts hanging up there, including MINE!  My job there today was to volunteer for their charity quilts area.  I didn't realize that I was the second-in-command for the charity quilts that go to Children's Hospital (somehow an email went astray) and many things went wrong.  Not disastrously wrong, mind you, but I used fabric from the wrong donation pile (I didn't know they were segregated), and I signed in for my volunteer hours in the wrong spot.  Next year we'll have it down to a science and we'll trade off hours so it'll work more smoothly.

After I got back from volunteering there, I started making pants for SCA wear as part of my Olympic Costuming competition.  One of the things I discovered was that I really only had one pair of Medieval underwear (bloomers, if you will) and I needed to make more.  The image above is of one leg...the skinny part on the left is the ankle, and the wide part on the right is the waist.  The triangle makes part of the crotch gusset.  It's a great pattern because of its simplicity and it uses every scrap of fabric.  I bought this rather inexpensive cotton fabric and sewed up two pairs for myself.  I also made a pair too big, so I'll finish those up for Kelly.  I used some of the leftovers to make a pair for Cammie, but they were too small for her, so they'll be for Ben, and I still have a scrap left over to make another pair for Cammie.  I'll have to figure out something else for Emma....

Olympic Costuming is a spin-off of the Olympic Knitting competition that occurs during the winter Olympics, so I'm starting my own Olympic Costuming for the summer Olympics.  During the next 2 1/2 weeks, I am going to see how many garments I can make from my seemingly endless stash of fabrics.  I need to make new tunics for the kids, for Kelly, and a couple of key garments for myself.

One of the things I've been wanting to make for myself is some kind of warm night garment.  Maybe something like a Medieval bathrobe, night tunic, and warm leggings...with feet.  I'd like to be able to get up out of bed, slip my feet into boots and go to the privvy without freezing all the way there and back.  There are also several occasions when I was so cold I couldn't sleep.  These things must be remedied.  Of course, the only night clothes I can find in images are simple long tunics, and they're usually of sick people, so they're covered up with blankets.

Here's one that looks like it has a quilt on it...although it could be woven.  She's wearing a full dress and head scarves.  That would probably be uncomfortable to sleep in.  Note the dog licking its balls.  And who said that Medieval art wasn't sophisticated?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

It was a dark and stormy night...

OK, it wasn't dark, and it wasn't night...but I woke up with the sounds of storms out the window.  I don't often experience storms out here, so it was kinda fun and nostalgic to have a storm going on.  Usually these things last 10-15 minutes and it's all over.  Today's storm lasted for hours...booming and flashes for 30 minutes or more, then it cleared a little.  A couple hours later, it started again.  It went on like that all day.  At 7 pm, it started up again and rained really hard for a few minutes, and eventually cleared up.  The storm clouds were still on the horizon and as the sun set, the rays shone around the thunderheads.  It was really quite remarkable!

The day was rather slow-paced today.  The kids did their chores, including Ben mopping (most of) the kitchen floor.  He likes the wet Swiffer mop, which he calls the Swiper, and also likes doing laundry.  Emma likes folding laundry, but no one likes doing dishes.  Ah well.  Every little bit helps.

After many of the chores were done, I sat down to get the quilt top done for Diana and Miguel as a gift for their new baby, Valentina.  I had a lot of problems with the borders and getting the white pieces the right size, and after a lot of struggling, swearing, running out of the first fabric and finding a substitute, I got it all pieced together.  Finally.  I have to quilt it up this weekend, if I can get Tara's finished, or at least done enough to remove from the frame...which is just about at that point.  I could do a LOT more on Tara's quilt, but it's taken so long already that it's holding up progress on other projects.

My leg muscles are finally starting to feel normal after the long hike with the Scouts.  My ankle still hurts a little...not like a sprain, but just a little achy like I tweaked something but not seriously.  I'm just trying to take it easy on that ankle for a few days.  My toe joint is also a little sore--I wonder if this is one of those things that is developing due to age...

Tomorrow is more of the same.  Quilting, chores, and maybe a trip to the grocery store.  We don't have any big plans this weekend, but since Emma is having a weekend at her friend's house, we can cook all the things she doesn't like to eat. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Takin' a Hike

Today was a Girl Scout day, taking a hike up to Wallace Falls Park in Gold Bar.  We did this hike as a family last year but didn't get as far as the falls due to the sheer distance and lack of fitness of our family.  We didn't really know how far it was to the lower falls (the maps were really quite bad at telling you exact distances) and the classification of "easy" is relative.  We had followed the Woodsy Trail along the riverside that time and by the time we got just beyond the bridge over the river (about 2 miles), I was done.  I couldn't climb any further and we turned back before reaching the falls.

On this trek, there were three girls from scouts--including Cammie, Miss J, and Miss E--and three little siblings--Ben, Miss S, and Miss K--with three moms, one dad and one dog.  Mr. and Mrs. C both teased me for getting us lost once and for poorly estimating the difficulty of the trek.  Hey, the web site wasn't very clear...nor was my memory of last year!

We started at the trail head at about 11:30 and headed up the path.  We opted to take the easy trail up to the Lower Falls where the picnic shelter was.  Easy is still relative--it was longer, but the first 3/4 of the hike was a smooth railroad-grade path that steered away from the river and switched back to a connecting trail that met up with the woodsy trail just before the bridge at the river.  We took in the sights on the way...what we could see at the time, anyway....

(This amusing sign reads, "Olympic Skyline" and it has arrows pointing to all the mountains in the distance...that can't be seen due to the usual overcast skies of Western Washington)

It was about around 3 miles each way, and the last half-mile was the trickiest--steep, lots of rocks and roots sticking out, and a narrow path.  I tripped often and slipped a couple of times, twisting my right ankle a little...not enough to require a medivac, but enough to slow me down a bit.

There was a lot of interesting foliage, mushrooms, and critters on the route.  We saw slugs, centipedes, a garter snake, and a deer track.  No cougars, bears, or rodents, thankfully.

We finally reached our destination...the Lower Falls!  We had a quick lunch at the shelter, packed up our garbage, then headed back down the hill.  The trip back was much easier as it was mostly downhill (except for the cutoff trail back to the railroad grade path), and I only slipped and fell on my arse once.  We were back at the car by about 2:45 and after a brief rest and two bottles of water, we hit the road around 3:00.

Two weeks from now is our scheduled horseback riding trip.  I have to call the farm and make sure we're on schedule for it.  Then I have to figure out how to get the bookkeeping straightened out after my treasurer put in her notice (she recently moved and her daughter is transferring to another school).  Given the level of participation in Scouting, I think I'll end up being the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer for this troop.  Luckily, I've arranged to co-conspire with another troop leader to have our troops meet together to do activities and badges and share the burden of leadership.  She's much more in tune with what the guidelines for scouting are and how to fulfill the aims of the badges.  I've been flailing around trying to figure it out for myself, and not always hitting the target.

Now I'm done for the night...I took enough Advil to kill the throbbing so I can get to sleep now.  I hope that I will be able to move in the morning.  I'm looking forward to doing a sit-down kind of project tomorrow, like working on the baby quilt for Diana and Miguel, whose daughter was born this morning!  They named her Valentina and the photos they posted are beautiful.  I'll post pictures of the quilt tomorrow when I get the borders attached.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

There's a Disturbance in the Force

So I got Judy's quilt done and I'm pretty happy with it.  I had planned to do an all-over pattern of daisies, but realized that it was going to take a lot more effort than I had expected.  I decided to do an all-over pattern of leaves in the center instead, but did daisies in the outside border.

I got it off the frame and then put a quilt of Tara's on the frame that I started a long time ago.  It's way five years behind.  I started it before I had the long arm machine, and I had a variety of thread colors that I used on the blocks.  Unfortunately, most of those threads were used for other projects so I'm down to using light grey, dark grey, white, and whatever else I can find.  It's been a really big bear to work on since it's partially quilted and covered with pins, which I have to take out as I go, and then try to be creative with quilting around the various blocks.  It's taking FOREVER.  Sadly, I started this project before I started my business so I don't think I can charge for it.  Tara could treat me to dinner sometime, though...right?  Right, Tara?  Hello?

A couple days ago, someone sent me a link about a guy who lost a lot of weight doing yoga at home.  It's an interesting little YouTube video...and it's only a couple minutes long.  Take a look.  I'll wait here while you do.

Back?  Wasn't that amazing?  So I said, "Dang, if HE can do yoga, even incorrectly, *I* should give it a try!"  So, I get back on the amazing YouTube machine and find someone who does an introductory yoga video.  Unfortunately, it's only 10 minutes long, and only a portion of the whole thing, and I can't find the link now...not to worry, it was all sitting on a bath towel and breathing.  I could have messed around with finding all the other links to get the rest of the vid, but I decided to go my own way and find a web site with a few poses and beginner directions.  I found one on a reputable site at Fitness Magazine and it has 12 poses for beginners.  Or it says 12, but it's really 11.  I thought that was really weird.
tree balancing yoga pose

(image stolen from the Fitness Magazine web site)

I work on these poses, trying to stand on one foot and stretching this way and that, trying to look like a warrior or a tree or a mountain...and it felt like I wasn't doing much.  It's probably more work than it feels like but other than my inflexibility, it was pretty easy.  I noticed an odd side effect--by the time I got to pose #5, I was feeling pretty gassy.  Must be doing something, I guess... ha ha ha!  Good thing I'm all alone in here!

Seated spinal twist yoga pose

The only one I really couldn't do was the seated twist (#7) where you cross your foot over your knee and twist yourself the opposite direction.  I've never been able to cross my legs comfortably so that position was pretty much impossible, but I gave it a shot.  Who knows, maybe in a year I'll be able to.

To make this extra hard, I was doing these poses while watching the Sounders game on TV, so instead of gazing longingly at the ceiling, I was watching Flacko make his first goal of the year and Eddie earn his paycheck (still kinda ticked about them trading Fucito and Nagle away, but Eddie usually tears his shirt off when he makes a I guess it's worth it).  It also helped me keep time for how long I should hold each pose, and got my heart rate up while they won (wooo-hoooo!).

I went to bed late feeling pretty good, but woke up this morning with a heck of a gut ache.  Not to go into any gory details, but I had to go to the bathroom several times before things calmed down.  I didn't feel very hungry, though, so I had some toast and tea, and didn't eat a real meal until dinnertime.  Out of curiosity, I went online to see if there was any relation to yoga and gastro-intestinal distress.  Here's what I found:

Gastric disturbances are very common side effects associated with yoga. Some persons may feel flatulence, changes in stool content, passing out of more gases, feeling acidic while practicing yoga etc. In yoga experts’ view these symptoms will occur in the initial stage of the exercises and will diminish with time and moreover these are good signs for your digestion process. Like when you are passing out more gases or your stool content is increased that means your gastric system was problematic and now the yoga exercises are fixing the problems. Feeling acidic while doing Yoga means that yoga has activated your digestion process and so the food which was not being digested before is now in the digesting phase while doing the exercises. 

Well, shit...

I think I found the 12th pose...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Girl Scout Beach Day

The day before Independence Day was the full moon.  This means extreme tides.  The low tide was at a convenient 11 a.m., and a -3.19 tide, so I suggested we take the Girl Scouts out to explore the beach, get some lunch, and then come back home for some trampoline and/or a trip to the park.

We arrived to find the tide WAAAAAY out...far enough that you could walk under the ferry docks quite a distance, where we found some soft corals and starfish clinging to the walls.  One of the divers from the underwater park (yes, that's what they call that dive area) came back to shore with a unique find...he had found a tiny octopus.  It's hard to get a perspective on this, but this is a one-gallon bucket, and this octopus was about the size of a marshmallow.  He was SOOOOO cute!

We walked along the beach, looking at shells, dead crabs, seaweed, and finding lots of weird rubbery things in the water.  I didn't know what it was and to me it looked like garbage.  Most of them were much more grey--almost black.  Later, after I got home, I found out that these are the egg casings for the moon snails.  The snails sit in the sand and squirt out this mucus which mixes with sand and sandwiches the eggs inside.  The sand in this area was quite dark, so logically the egg casings were darker (this is a borrowed photo from the internet).  The beaches were littered with these things.  I suspect there will be a booming population of these things in future years.

We walked further along and eventually found some clams--a couple of really big ones.  I picked one up, thinking it was an empty shell and it squirted at me, which surprised me.  I also found one live moon snail.  These things are dang cool!  This thing was bigger than a softball and weighed a couple pounds.  I found directions online that tell you how to remove the snail from the shell by boiling it or simply cutting it out, but it also said that they aren't very good eating.  Edible, yes, but not that good...kinda tough.  I didn't want to take the snail just to kill it for the shell, so I put him back.  His foot was all folded up and he was tucked back into the shell a bit, but I put him back into the little pool of water that I found him in so he could go live out his snaily days eating clams and whatnot.

Ben found the starfish fascinating and we picked up a few off the sand to look at them more closely, pointing out to the girls where their mouth is.  Starfish are particularly odd--you think they're going to be all mushy and floppy like gummy worms, but they're really quite rigid and rough.

We stayed for an hour or so and the tide began to creep back in, and our stomachs began to let us know it was time for some lunch.  We collected our treasures and headed up to a pizza place and had lunch.  Back at the house, they jumped on the trampoline, then walked down to the park to play for a bit and it rained on them a bunch while they climbed the trees.  They came back to the house, toweled off and had some hot chocolate and watched "Megamind."  At about 4:00, Miss G was picked up by her mom and we walked the twins back to their house, which I didn't realize was so close--about five blocks away.  On our way back, Cammie and I found a dozens of snails creeping across the sidewalk.  I hadn't seen many snails in the first 20 years of living here, and now I see them everywhere.  The one on the left was one of the bigger ones, about the size of a quarter, but we saw dozens of little baby ones, smaller than my pinky nail.  There are two different species, I've learned--the brown lipped snail and the white lipped snail.  They were all hanging out together, so part of me thinks that it's merely a recessive trait or something.

Hope you all have a safe and festive 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

King Tut's Treasures

Today Ben had an appointment to get his G-tube replaced.  This wasn't out of some disaster, but a quarterly equipment change; they wear out after a while, so they should be changed every 3 or 4 months.  The fit for the unit was a little snug, so it was a little uncomfortable to get out, but with a little lube and some painkilling goo, the nurse was able to remove it and get the new one in with his assistance.  The next time we do this, around October, we will be able to do this at home.

After the doctor visit, since we were in Seattle anyway, we decided to get some lunch and then go to the Seattle Science Center.  Kelly had been thinking about getting a membership there again.  Although they don't change out most of their displays, there are some things that are worth looking at again and again, and new IMAX films to see as well as other exhibits.  While we were there, we also looked into the possibility of going to see the King Tut exhibit that is going on now, not thinking that we'd have a shot of seeing it today (I figured they were sold out for days/weeks/months), but they had openings for the middle of the afternoon.  We chose a 3:30 slot for the five of us (at a discounted rate for members!) and went about finding things to do for an hour or so until it was time to start the tour.

I love this...I like to think of this as Hagrid's dining table.  Just needs some rock cakes and buckets of brandy and tea.

The butterfly house is always a huge hit--it's hot and humid in there, which is what the butterflies really like, but it's so worth it to see these gorgeous, delicate creatures.  One of them was really taken with Kelly's jacket.  One of the wings was damaged, so you can see the outside of the butterfly--brown and grey for hiding in the trees, and the inside--bright blue, perfect for hiding on Boeing jackets.  I think he liked the color in order to use it as camouflage!  It stayed on there for several minutes and several of the other patrons thought it was really cool.

We also spent some time looking at the honey bees, a display which has a tunnel linked to the outside so the bees can go collect pollen and bring it back to this plexiglass hive.  We spent several minutes trying to see if we could find the queen.  I thought I had, and then Kelly found another one that looked like it could be a queen, too.  Two queens?  That doesn't usually work, does it?  I don't know enough about bees.

And so, in no particular order, I will post a few of my favorite images of the King Tut display.  I don't know if the museum has a policy about posting images of the stuff in the collection, but they didn't have a problem with photography (as long as you didn't use a flash), so I can't imagine that there would be a problem with posting my images anywhere I see fit.  I will say that it is TOTALLY worth the $20 per adult to see it in person (this is the discounted rate for the annual membership at $100 per family...admission is a little more for non-members), and I plan on going back (sans enfants) to see it again.  My friend, Bekah, really wants to go see it as often as possible, so I know I have a standing date to go again.

We headed over toward the IMAX theater first to see the Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs film.  It's a 40 minute movie about some of the history of the Pharaohs and the tombs in Egypt, who discovered the tomb where many of the Pharaohs had been stored, hidden from various thieves and grave robbers during those lean years.  It was sometime around 1880, and their recovery of the mummies some believe were part of a master plan by the gods since the cave collapsed a few years later, which would have destroyed all the remains and they would likely have been lost forever.  More recently, they have been trying to figure out the ancient methods of mummification--an art that was lost centuries ago--and the studies they have been doing on their DNA.  Oddly, the focus of the studies has been to find out more about diseases then to help us find cures for diseases today.  Not sure about that theory...but anyway...

Ben picked out a book from Half-Price Books several months ago about Egypt, mummies, and pharaohs, and of course, he's been hearing Bible stories about Egypt and its history, so he was really looking forward to seeing this exhibit since he heard about it coming to Seattle.  He couldn't quite grasp the concept of it never coming to North America again.
"Why can't they bring it back?"
"Because the pieces are very old and fragile."
"But they could wrap them up really carefully."
"They did...but things sometimes still get broken."
"But what if..."
These conversations go on for a long time.  Sometimes you just can't convince him that there are reasons that things cannot be done.  I assured him, however, that they will be in a museum in Egypt and he can go there to see them and a LOT more stuff, including the pyramids, when he's older.

So, then the exciting part.  After the film, we got in line to see the exhibit.  They ushered us into an entryway for another short video--this one was about five minutes.  Ben was particularly excited when he heard that the video intro was being narrated by Harrison Ford.  "He plays Indiana Jones!" Yes, Ben.  Yes, he does.  And Indiana Jones is an archaeologist and spent some time in Egypt.  Yes.  He wants to be an archaeologist now.

He went around the various rooms reading everything.  He was fascinated.  They had a few rules about photography; one being no flashes, which is common.  Another was that you were not allowed to pose alongside the items.  I'm not sure what that is about, but I suppose it's kinda tacky to be smiling next to a 3,000 statue of a dead Pharaoh.  However, I couldn't help it if I wanted to take a picture of this piece and my son just happened to be standing in front of it, reading the details.

Other than having to hang on tight to him, he was very well behaved and soaked it all in.  Emma zipped through it and feigned interest in the whole trip.  Afterwards, we asked her if that was interesting and she shrugged--we take that as a teenage "yes".  Cammie went through somewhat quickly, but came back to look at things again.  She was having a lot of difficulty reading the signs (and I can understand why--I can't pronounce several of the Pharaohs' names), so I was helping her understand what the pieces were and how old they were.  It was absolutely fascinating!

Afterwards we struggled to get out of Seattle (it was 5:00 when we emerged from the certainly didn't seem like 90 minutes!) as we were driving home with everyone else who was leaving work at the same time.  I hopped on Aurora Ave (with extreme difficulty) and found it was much faster and smoother than getting on I-5 with the rest of the population.  We went to a restaurant called Ram, which was a brew pub type place with steaks and seafood and a kids menu.  Kelly and I both ordered the peppercorn sirloin with Gorgonzola, and it was phenomenal!  Emma got salmon (her other standby after cheeseburgers), and the other two had fish-n-chips.  Drive home, medication done, bathed, bed.

Overall, a really good day!