Thursday, August 30, 2012

The *Right* Dress!

Look!  It arrived!  This is the dress that she wanted!  It's adorable and fits just right (yes, it's extra large...).  We ordered from a company called  Despite the rough start getting the wrong dress, they corrected it right away and Emma is very happy with this dress!

The one thing I'm going to fix on it is the "lace" around the elbows.  It's awful.  I'm going to the fabric store tomorrow and I'm hoping I can find a half-yard of wide lace and a spool of dark red ribbon.  The other odd thing is that the big bow on the front and another one on the back are pinned on with a big ol' safety pin.  I'm going to sew it on the back, add a hook and eye, and some snaps on the jacket.

She was really excited to have also received the gloves--she didn't think they were included in the kit, but perhaps they added that as a bonus?

They never did tell me what to do with the *wrong* dress.  It's still sitting in a pile in her room.  I'm going to have her hang it up and I'll see if I can find a garment bag to keep it in until we figure out what to do with it.

I have been working on a recap for the quilt show.  Just a few notes as to what was done well, what could be improved, and other observations.  I'm up to six pages.  Hopefully the next group who does the show takes some of my thoughts into consideration.

Ben is spending a few days with Grandma & Grandpa.  He left with them today on their way back from Lake Chelan.  It was a rather large pile of stuff--one small suitcase and two more suitcases worth of medical equipment and supplies.  I think the yurt takes up less space.  Cammie will go camping with me this weekend and Emma will stay home with Kelly, and I'll pick up Ben on the way back home.  I guess that I need to pack light to save room for all the medical crap and bring a booster seat for the little guy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Quilt Show Ends (I can breathe again)

We initially got together on Tuesday at the club house at Reneta's to pin the smaller quilts to sheets...a system we really need to revise to make it faster and easier to set up the show.  (These pictures are all from the show site, not the club house.)  There are a number of ways to do this, including dowels, fish line and S hooks; or pants hangers and some kind of chain system to hang them.  I arrived in town at about 9:30 and picked up Mr. L so Ben would have a playmate for the day, and Sharon brought Miss O for Cammie to play with.  Emma and Hollie went shopping for school clothes at the mall and Tara played taxi driver for those girls.

Emma met up with longtime friend, Christopher, and they sat in the food court for a couple hours having a long conversation and catching up.  They're sweet on each other, but not "dating"...maybe in a couple years...  He gave her a key chain and a stuffed sock creature that he made himself.  They were supervised by C's mom, who sat just a couple tables away.

We started organizing and pinning the quilts at about 10 a.m. and finally called off the event at about 5:30.  By about 2:00, I realized that things might go faster if there was a pinning team and a layout team, so I got to work laying a sheet on the floor, putting quilts on it that coordinate together (a group of Asian, or Christmas, or bright colors), making sure that they fit nicely.  Then I'd take the next sheet and lay it right on top, and lay out more quilts on top of that, making a quilt lasagna.  At the end of the day, we didn't have time to pin them all, so we just rolled them up into sausages and figured we could finish on Thursday when we set up the show.

After we wrapped up the prep work on Tuesday, I loaded up my two youngest (Tara still had Emma, Lauri had picked up Mr. L, and Miss O went home with her mom) and we drove up to Blaine to have dinner with Mom & Dad at a steakhouse to celebrate their 48th anniversary.  Yum!

Wednesday was a day off, mostly...karate and stuff.

Thursday was setting up for the show!  We had it at the local Boys and Girls club that had a large gymnasium.  And I mean LARGE!  Two basketball courts long and wide.  They raised the nets in the middle and those that they could raise on the edges.  The ones on the wall that you can see below were fixed to the wall...ah well.

I got there about 9:30 again and we got to work setting up tables to work on.  We finished pinning the rest of the quilts while Linda and her team assembled and set up the standards to hang them up.  We got the pinning done by about noon.  Most of the cross bars were laid out where they needed them and the quilts were laid on top.  Paper plates had the directions of what needed to be hung where, weighted down by canned goods (that were later donated to the food bank).  I needed to hit the road by 2 pm, and just before 1:00, I was getting tired of not having more than two quilts hanging, so I grabbed a victim...Nicole, a young lady whose mom dropped her off to help us out (she's a riot)...and we got a couple ladders and starting hanging the quilts up.  We got about 16 sheets and whole quilts hung up by the time I had to leave.  The team stayed late and got it finished, although I think we may have needed more a supervisor assigning tasks.

Ben, Cammie and I drove up (again) to the quilt show on Friday--Emma had her first day of school and I had forgotten that I wasn't going to have a babysitter.  I drove her and her bike to the school and we found a place for her to lock it up so she could bike home after school.  When we got up to Bellingham, Cammie went with Sharon and her daughter to run errands, so it was just me and Benno at the show.  He brought his DS and a charger and kept busy for most of the show playing quietly in a corner.  People were amazed at how good he was!  Near the end of the day, he was getting squirrelly, so I made him a scavenger hunt to find the names of the makers of the quilts that, "Was covered with hands..."

"Covered with hearts..."

"Something black and white and red all over..."


"Heron having lunch..."

"Count the Christmas quilts..."

This kept him occupied for quite some time.  I had intended to spend the night up at Sharon's, but since I didn't have all of Ben's medical equipment, I knew that we were going to have to take Ben home from the show Friday while Cammie spent the night at Miss O's.  Again.  They went camping the previous weekend and apparently still weren't sick of each other.  While she went home with Sharon, Ben and I decided to go out for sushi dinner...expensive and not very good.  I much prefer those conveyor belt places; we spend far less for better quality.  He ended up not eating the shrimp.  They soak it in ginger, so it's poisonous to me, and apparently they soak it much longer than other restaurants, which gave it a really strong flavor and Ben spit it out.  He said it tasted bad and I couldn't tell them whether or not it was good because I'm allergic.  He couldn't articulate what was bad about it. The manager was nice enough to take it off our bill after a discussion with them about how he normally eats it at other restaurants, and it's not like him to turn his nose up at it unless it tastes bad.

I got back up there the next morning and spent another day making 9-patches with the Community Service corner.  We must have finished almost 100 blocks over there, which will greatly help our community service group make quilts for our charity of the year.  Sharon printed up a big list of the charities that we have given to in the past, including a battered women's shelter, the police department, foster care, Red Cross, the churches we have had our meetings at, and many more.  I have several ideas for improvement for next time, but I will be keelhauled by the Pirates if I volunteer us again.

As we were packing up at the end of the show, KayLee gave us a gift of a box of Legos that her husband had when he was little.  They don't have kids, but decided it was time to have them go to another home.  He was going to just donate them to GoodWill, but thought it would be great if they could go to a home where they KNEW they were going to be loved.  The kids fight over them now, but it's hours of entertainment that doesn't include a TV or computer screen.  Awesome!

In the end, it was 600 miles of driving, 12 hours in the car going back and forth, and 34 hours working at the quilt show.

Now that I'm home, I'm reconciling the raffle tickets.  There has GOT to be a better way to do this.  3400 ticket stubs have to be accounted for, which means all these stubs that were stuck into the big bin to be shuffled and have one chosen at random has to be un-shuffled.  I see there are some problems with the current system, and I think we'll have to make some serious changes there, too...the biggest problem with the raffle was that we kept running out of tickets and three or four different print runs were done.  We should have just printed 3500 tickets right off the bat, and printed more IF we needed them.  We also had a raffle basket, but we printed 1000 tickets for that very late in the game.  We may or may not bother to do that again.  It's a cool thing, but it's too much trouble.

We finally got in touch with a pediatric speech and occupational therapist.  We called a bunch of them earlier this summer, including this one, and either didn't get a call back or was told they were completely booked for the summer, not taking new patients, or they were out of our network.  Great.  So we finally got hold of someone, now that we're just a week away from school starting again.  But first I have to fill out 20 sheets of paper.  I'm not kidding.  20 pages of forms.

Other than that, today (Tuesday) is all about catching up on housework--dishes, laundry, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Veritable Smorgasbord!

The last few days have been packed full of activities!

Thursday, in particular...The day started with a mysterious delivery in the mail.  It was covered with Kanji and the address was China, so I knew it could only be one thing...the dress we ordered for Emma from the Cosplay company!  We ordered it just a couple weeks ago, and I was surprised that it had arrived so soon!  They estimated 50-60 days to create this dress, and it's been...what...14?  Awesome!  I was glad that it didn't take nearly as long as they said it would, but Emma's sizes were perfectly "off the rack" for the XL size.  That's right.  SHE is an EXTRA LARGE.  Those Asian chicks must be really skinny since Emma's a size 6 to 8.  What a porker.

I ran up the stairs and said, "Emma!  A dinosaur egg arrived for you!"  She gleefully tore into the packaging!  The red satin peeked through the clear plastic interior packaging and she was really excited about getting her Elizabeth dress.  She pulled out the wig, the accessories, and unfurled the dress...

And it was a dramatic let-down.  It's the wrong dress.  Hmm.  I asked her what character this dress was for and she didn't know.  I posted this picture on Facebook to see if Heide or her girls knew what it was, but they didn't.  Emma called her friend, Miss E who was able to identify it as "Beatrice" from another anime that they don't watch because it's too scary.  Note the photo laying on the floor next to the dress--it's all red and white with a little pink on it; no black or gold sequins.  Not happy.

I emailed the company and asked if it would be possible to return it, and they wrote back (in broken, but understandable, English) to apologize for the mistake and verified our order and that they would begin to make the correct dress and mail it.  They didn't mention how to return the wrong dress, but they'll probably want it back since it's a $134 gown.  And that's the sale price!  If they don't want it back...well, then I guess Emma has a bonus anime dress that she can wear.

The quilt show is coming up very soon, so everyone wanted their quilts done, and they want them now!   I quilted three different quilts this past week--a small Japanese panel quilt for Michele (didn't get a photo of it--I'll have to get that at the show next week), and a "Lasagna" quilt for Donna, which was done in the same pattern as Sharon's quilt that I finished a couple weeks ago.  For this pattern, they take 2 1/2" wide strips of fabric and sew them end to end (at 45 degree angles).  Then you fold it in half and sew those together and cut it at the fold.  Now it's half as long, but twice as wide.  Repeat process until it's about equally long and wide.  Instead of the bright colors that Sharon chose, Donna chose slightly more subdued, but still wild, colors.  The fabrics are the more modern Amy Butler or Kaffe Fassett type patterns that are all the rage now.  There were a lot of florals and leaves, so I quickly quilted it with loops and leaves.

Another large quilt I did was for a woman named Joy.  This quilt top she put together to go up for auction at her church.  While Joy's quilt isn't going into a quilt show, but it's going up for auction on the 24th--the same day as the quilt show.  I did two different quilts for her Mom a few months back--one was actually a repair from another quilter's work, and the other was a top for a wedding gift, I think--and I'm really happy that she gave her daughter the reference.  I still have to take some photos of the quilt before she comes to pick it up!

In order for two of the quilt owners to get them bound before the show, I made a trip up to drop off quilts and the pins and other supplies for our Pinning Party on Tuesday.  While I was in town, we went to the fair!  On the hottest day of the summer!  During the hottest part of the day!  We stopped at the needlework barn first; I thought that I would get it out of the way and have the kids spend most of their time seeing the critters and enjoying their fair food.  I enjoyed this Harry Potter quilt most and after a few minutes of searching, found the pattern...A FREE PATTERN...on a web site.  I also got a chance to talk to a few guild members, which was too boring for the kids and they ended up dragging me out of there within about 15 minutes.  Ah well...

We headed over to the cow of my favorite places.  I love cows...they're big and gentle, make great things like milk and butter and delicious steaks...and they don't stink as much as pigs.  Clearly an important aspect of my admiration.  This is part of the birthing center at the cow barn where this baby cow was born about four hours before.  The mama next to her was due to deliver that day, but we had lots to see and didn't want to spend the whole day waiting.

We wandered over to the beef barn where Ben started to wonder why we had to kill animals to eat them.  The thought seemed a little upsetting to him, but he got over it fairly quickly.  Cammie was introduced to the idea of the FFA and will have to look into clubs around here.  Of course, here we are living in the big city with nary a farm to be seen.  I ran into Tonya, from the quilt guild and chatted a bit about the upcoming show and our staffing issues...I assume everything will fall into place.

Connected to the beef barn was a live animal auction that was going on.  Ben got a kick out of how fast the auctioneer was talking and asked how anyone could understand him.  I totally get that.  They were auctioning pigs off at the time, and I wasn't sure if they were selling them by the pound, by the hundreds, or what.  He kept saying "one-seventy-five, two dollars..."  Maybe it was $200.  Doesn't matter...I don't like pigs.

After that, we looked at goats and sheep.  We saw little signs that said, "Wanted:  Dead or Alive" on all the pens, and then had their crime:  "eating tin cans", "escape", "ramming farmer", etc.  It was very cute!  While we were enjoying the furry critters, up steps my friend, Chris, whose boys were showing their goats!  It was so good to run into another good friend.

We wandered back to the main area to look at the rides, which we discovered were too expensive--they wanted $1.25 per ticket and each ride was at least 3 to 4 tickets, so $5 per ride per person.  The kids were disappointed, but understood that finances were not conducive for dropping $30 a kid for the infinite ride wristband.  We got some cotton candy and sat in the shade, which was also conveniently located next to the drinking fountains and the bathroom for hand washing, while the sun beat down on the was 97 degrees that day.  I dumped a little bit of water on Ben's head to keep him cool, and we stopped for water at the drinking fountains several times, but we still got pretty dehydrated in just a couple hours.

Cammie and I shared some poffertjes from the Dutch bakery, but we missed out on the ice cream sandwiches (the "Moo-wiches") from the Dairy Maids.  After just a little more wandering, we decided we'd had enough of the heat and decided to get some ice water and lemonade from Dairy Queen and drive over to see Tara's new place (she wasn't home or we would have stopped in).  With the air conditioner on full blast and large ice waters, we soon cooled down enough to be comfortable.

We had dinner with Sharon, who explained in more detail about the mass-layoffs at the office earlier that day.  Everyone in their department was sent home after the office manager's secretary announced that the grant money had run out.  Uh...they didn't see this coming?  Apparently the boss had a head-in-the-sand technique for dealing with the upcoming money issues.

So a couple weeks ago, I got to the peak of frustration with my dishes.  I originally bought 12 place settings and I'm down to 8 plates, and a couple of them have chips in them.  While the smaller plates and most of the bowls are fine, if we have more than a couple friends over for dinner, we're going to be out of stoneware pretty quickly.  I went online and found that Macy's was having a huge sale on Fiestaware, and if you buy $50 or more, the shipping is free.  How could I resist?  I got plates in twos in scarlet, paprika, marigold, shamrock, turquoise, cobalt and plum.  This goes with the small cereal and serving bowls we already have that have withstood quite a lot of abuse in the last five years.  We broke one bowl when it crashed to the floor, but considering we bought the last set of dishes just over a year ago and lost four plates already, and I know several restaurants use these plates for their services, and friends who have recommended them, I am confident that they'll last a lot longer than the cheap Gibsons that I got before.

The Sounders played a game against the Vancouver Whitecaps this afternoon--part of the Cascadia rivalry that has endured for decades--and as a special surprise, Kelly bought two tickets in the front row at the stadium.  If you buy them at the last minute, you can get a really sweet deal on them.  Front row is perfect for short people like me and for kids who want to see the game without having to stand on seats (and probably still not be able to see).  He would have bought just one in our area, but Emma is staying with Miss E for the weekend, and I dropped Cammie off with Sharon and Miss O for a camping adventure until Tuesday.

Although we had three seats paid for, one of the seats was on the other side of the stadium, so the adults sat on the seats and Ben sat on our laps.  It was a great game and we won 2-0.  Everyone got free sunglasses and a photographer for the MLS took pictures of Ben holding his scarf over his head like the rest of us.  He's just so totally adorable!

And for my friend, Dave from Boston, I give you the Sporty Edition of Fant-Ass-Tic Days!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Mountainous Adventure

St. Helens before...

We have wound down our tour of Western Washington's most magnificent mountain...Mt. St. Helens.  This famed peak blew its top on May 18, 1980 after a couple of months of earthquakes and a large bulge growing on its North face.  A massive landslide filled the bottom of the valley and raised the water table on the lake below, burying campsites and recreation areas in its wake. 

St. Helens after...

Our trip was much less turbulent, leaving town on Tuesday and traveling south to Olympia to visit with Kelly's sister and kids (her husband was out of town for work), and we let the kids run and play with the critters on the property.  Two llamas, three goats, and a small flock of chickens keep the family busy and give them a steady supply of eggs. 

In the morning, we packed up and headed south to our next destination, the grocery store in Chehalis!  We stocked up on supplies for lunches, dinners, and s'mores!  Then headed 70 miles to the camp site, just outside of Randle, WA at Iron Creek campground.  The sites were secluded and surrounded by lots of really big trees.  There were pit toilets but they kept them very clean and treated them to keep the smell at a minimum.  They also had water spigots and garbage cans nearby.

My tree huggers...

Unfortunately, there was no power all.  This caused a minor inconvenience for our medical needs, which we had been able to prepare for, but we still fell short of our minimum for the night feeds.  We thought the battery for the night feed would last two nights--it lasted 1 1/2 nights (unless it wasn't plugged in the previous night at Crystal's, which means it actually lasted 2 1/2 nights, but it wasn't fully charged when we left).  Kelly ran his c-pap on a marine battery and Ben and Emma did their medications from an outlet plugged into the car's power source, although we had to run the car to provide enough power for the machines.  Medications for Ben include two nebulized medications and a vest therapy.  Luckily, it only took about 30 minutes to do all medications.

We set up our tents, moved the picnic table slightly to make a more comfortable setting, and settled in. Our first night started out pretty well--until a bit past midnight when I started to realize that the air mattress seemed to be sagging slightly.  Kelly pumped it up with his C-pap (running on a marine battery) and we settled back in.  About 30 minutes later, it was sagging again.  He thought maybe the cork in the end wasn't seated correctly, so he unscrewed it, and put it back together, pumped it back up, and we settled in.  Only 15 minutes later, I realized that this was a losing battle and we were going to have to come up with another plan.  Laying on the ground is not something that you can really do when you reach your 40s, but we were going to have to try.  It hurt.  I tried sleeping in the back seat of the van.  The bench seat was too short (even for me).  I tried the front seat...nope.  Went back into the tent and *luckily* the night was warm enough not to require sleeping in the sub-zero sleeping bag, so I folded it in half and tried sleeping on top of that.  Then folded another blanket and tried sleeping on top of that as well.  It still hurt.  Eventually, I got about four or five hours of sleep, which was as much as I was going to get that night.

After breakfast, Emma and I took a trip back into town (yep, 70 miles back to town) while Kelly took the other two kids fishing, and we got another air mattress.  $35 and a full tank of gas later, we headed back to the camp site.  Upon arrival, we ate a quick lunch and headed up to Mt. St. Helens to view the old girl.  We went up two years ago to Johnston Ridge, but it's been 24 years since I was at the Windy Ridge observation area.

May 17, 1980...


Photo I took in September 1988...

Photo I took in August 2012 in nearly the same spot...

The Forestry Service had people up there giving hourly talks about the history of the mountain and the activity of the volcano, told stories of some of the people who measured the movement of the bulge in the weeks prior to the eruption, photographers who circled the mountain in an airplane moments before it blew, and the natural recovery of the immediate six or eight mile radius--I don't remember the exact numbers--which they have designated as a scientific study area as to how nature recovers after a devastating event.  More information from a couple years ago can be found here.

We decided to take a hike up a neighboring hill, which was an established path up to a spot overlooking Spirit Lake, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. St. Helens.  It was a long way up.  I asked Ben to count the steps, but he didn't.  I tried to count on the way down, but I lost track a couple times.  I know it was over 400.  Note how tiny the cars the upper right corner area is the small amphitheater where the Forestry gal gave her talk.  Ben was more interested in finding out more about Harry Truman, the man who ran a group of cabins on the edge of the lake at the base of the mountain.  He knew things were moving and that an eruption was imminent, but he decided he didn't want to move.  He and his cabins are now buried under a couple hundred feet of dirt from the landslide that preceded the eruption.

Interestingly, the last major eruption was in the 1800s, and artist Paul Kane painted this in 1847, documenting the eruption.  Note it's not at the top, but to the side, near where the bulge presented itself in 1980...

File:Mount St Helens erupting at night by Paul Kane.jpg

How about this handsome guy?

Cute kids on the mountain...smiling, even!  Spirit Lake in the background still has logs floating in it, 32 years later.

Following our hike up this mountain, we headed back down the hill and cooked up some steaks and burgers and slept pretty soundly on a new air mattress.  The next day, we packed up the car and headed south around the mountain and took in some beautiful views on the winding roads.

We ended up at Beacon Rock, named by the famous Lewis & Clark on their 1804 expedition across the continent.  Initially, it was called "Beaten Rock" from its weathered look, but was later used as a beacon, being a very unique rock formation, and the name altered to Beacon Rock.  In 1915, Henry Biddle bought the rock for $1 and built some paths up to the top.  It's about 600 feet high, so it has a mile of switchbacks to get to the top.  After he finished building the paths, he donated the rock to the Washington State Parks.  I guess they have other hiking and camping areas in the neighborhood.  We didn't check it out, though.

In a word, exhausting.

After that hike, we went up the road a mile or so to take a look at the hydro dam and fish ladders (no fish climbing the ladders this late in the year), and then crossed the Bridge of the Gods and stopped at the fish hatchery, which really didn't have a lot of fish there.  They had some big rainbow trout that you can feed pellets to, but they were shipped in just for tourists.  Then there was a tank with a few salmon and a couple large sturgeon, but it's really murky.  We found one set of tanks that had little fry in it, but that was it.  Not terribly interesting this time of year.

Finally, back on the road...and remember, we've been camping for two days and nowhere near a shower we finally make it back to civilization and check into our hotel which turned out to be inexpensive, and not really worth what we paid.  The first bad sign is that we arrived and reminded them that we requested a rollaway online, and they said, "We don't have rollaways."
I'm sorry...What?  We have five are we going to sleep all five of us in a room?
"You can have one person sleep on the floor."  WHAT?!
We should have left right then...but we didn't.  Then they say, "Is a second-floor room OK?"
I guess.... Oh. There aren't any elevators.  Remember all the medical equipment we've got?  Yeah.  Great.

We get in the room and we all need to take showers.  Desperately.  I turn on the light switch and I'm looking around for the bathroom fan.  There isn't one.  But I noticed there was some mold on the ceiling...ew.  And then I notice that there's only three towels.  It sleeps four in the room, we checked in five, but there's only three towels.  I called the front desk for extra towels.  They brought them pretty quickly, along with the extra bedding.  No sheets, though.  Kelly went down to the car and brought up the camp cot and dressed that up for sleeping.  We had to draw straws to figure out who was going to be sleeping on it--this was Cammie's idea, and unfortunately for her, she ended up drawing one of the shorter straws.  She accepted that fate with grace and took the second night on the cot.

After cleaning up, we went down to get some dinner from the on-site restaurant.  The food was pretty good, but the service was underwhelming when it became clear that that were seriously understaffed.  There appeared to be one waiter for about ten tables.  He forgot to bring a salad for Kelly and the guy never came back to see if we needed anything, and I had to flag him down to get the bill.  The guy at a neighboring table went to go get the water pitcher himself.  When I mentioned to the waiter that he forgot the salad, he apologized and took 25% off our bill.  That was nice... :)

We settled in for the night, looking for a movie for the kids to watch on Pay Per View, but the only "family" videos available on the TV were toddler and pre-school 30-minute cartoons from Nick and PBS, like "Arthur", and given that they're on PUBLIC television, it was ridiculous they were charging $3 an hour for these shows.  The rest of the movies were horror, drama and other adult subjects.  Kelly and I wanted to let the kids settle down and go on a mini-date get a drink in the bar, but after sitting there for 45 minutes and not getting any service, we gave up and went back to the room.  We snuggled down for the night and found that the air conditioner wasn't working properly.  It was pretty hot in the room, even though the machine was set for 60 degrees and running full blast all night.

The next morning, Emma and I went to visit with Sharon & Jeff at their home--the remodeling of which is looking fantastic.  Kelly had dropped us off and then he took Cammie and Ben to a water park and airplane museum in McMinnville.  We made a trip to Fabric Depot where I picked up a couple of things on their 25% off cotton print sale and their 40% off clearance room.  We then picked up some burgers for lunch while Jeff made a fresh salad from their garden.  Delicious salad!  The burgers looked like they were run through the wringer first...

That night, we met up with Mike & Laura and had sushi at their favorite neighborhood Japanese place.  We were the last ones out of the place, and unbeknownst to us, Kelly dropped his keys on his way out the door.  Luckily, someone picked them up and turned them in at the restaurant, where we found them the next day.  Whew!  Replacing those electronic keys for the cars is an expensive thing, and going to work without the office keys can be a little awkward, too.  At least I had copies of the car and house keys, but I don't have copies of his work keys.

We returned to the hotel to find they had cleaned up the beds and took the wet towels, but only left us three towels again.  I took an evening shower to cool off, so that left two towels for four people.  The next morning, I called down to get more towels, and they brought us one.  I told her I needed two more, so she went to the room next door and took one (presumably it was unoccupied), and said she'd have to go get another one for us.  We never saw her again.  As I was opening the door for her, the swing arm security latch had caught on itself, and I struggled to free it for a second, but didn't look at it too closely at the time.  After she left, I took a look at it and the knob part of the security latch was hanging there by a metallic thread...I popped it off easily.  Totally useless.  I set the broken piece on the table next to the coffee maker.  Hopefully they won't bill us for that since we didn't break it.

Arrangements were made to have breakfast with Mike and mama-to-be Laura (who is due February 2nd), but the restaurant on site closed at 10 a.m.  It wasn't clear, but lunch may have only been available in the lounge, which is 21 and over only.  Lame.  We went to their favorite place, Wild Abandon, where the owner knows them by name.  They have amazing breakfast potatoes!  After breakfast, we said our goodbyes and we headed North...just a bit.

We only went as far as Heide's, where we stayed the night visiting, did some of our laundry and watched the closing ceremonies for the Olympics.  We spent a lot of time trying to figure out the purpose and focus of the closing show...we agreed that the ceremony was just weird, like a walk through British music from the 80s, but it must have been a great a private concert & 360-degree show for the Olympic competitors.  Madness singer, Suggs, sounded really awful...too bad, really...but Pet Shop Boys, Annie Lennox and several others did really well.  The costumes and props were just...weird.

The next morning, we got loaded up in the car, grabbed a quick lunch, and got home by the middle of the afternoon to find my new dishes on the front porch!!  I was a little concerned because the box it arrived in was not in the best condition, but I was glad to see that they were wrapped pretty well inside and there were no broken bits.  A few flaws in the paint, but given the price, I'm not sure I care.  The plates were originally marked at $17, but they were selling them for $9.34, plus free shipping.  The last set of dishes I bought (Gibson stoneware) have been breaking and chipping rather regularly over the last year, so I decided to invest in some dishes that many restaurants use.  If they can withstand the beating at a busy cafe, it can better withstand the abuse our dishes endure at our hands.  I wanted a variety of colors, so I got two of each in a rainbow of colors, plus two white plates (which were back ordered, but should be arriving in the next day or so).  Oddly, I hadn't intended to get every color in the just worked out that way.  The colors include scarlet, paprika, marigold, shamrock, turquoise, cobalt and plum.  I figured that at Christmas, we can use the green, red and white; at 4th of July & Flag Day, we can use red, white and blue; on St. Paddy's day, we can use green, orange and many combinations!  I opted to get only plates at this time and I can get salad plates and bowls at a later time.  I have a few smaller cereal bowls in sunflower and turquoise already, and a couple serving bowls in plum and...something else...turquoise, maybe?  I forget.  Anyway, I can add to this collection as time goes on.  I like the idea of buying only what I'm going to use, rather than full place settings--I never use all those little coffee cups that come in the sets, and ended up donating the mugs that came with the last sets I got...they were just taking up space in the cupboard, and I really only use the 20 oz cups for tea.  I may just donate the rest of the dinner plates I've got, and keep the pasta bowls, smaller plates and mismatched chipped platters until I can afford to replace those as well.  The pasta bowls are $17 each and the platters run $35 each....yeah, that's gonna have to wait.

Back to the grind tomorrow, although I'm going to be finishing up the Midhaven Ithra and a big quilt show in the next couple of weeks.  After that, I'm not going to volunteer to do anything for the quilt guild least not for a while.  School is getting close to starting again, so there is still some prep with getting supplies and clothes, which we'll have to take care of in the next couple of days.  Oh, and Girl Scouts should be starting up again soon.  Gack.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic Cleaning

Kelly has made arrangements for us to go camping at Mt. St. Helens this month.  We went a couple years ago and had a great time (although the campground we chose for the first night was abysmal), but he wanted to go to another campground and do some fun things...there's some kind of waterslide that is built out of airplanes or something...kind of the aeronautical engineer's fantasy family vacation.  Not sure what all the details are, but it'll be fun.  Also not sure what we'll be camping in since our 8-man tent really isn't fit for more than 3 beds, and the 4-man tent barely fits 2 beds...and not very comfortably.  Maybe I can look to see if I can find an inexpensive 8-man tent for the kids to share.

After the camping expedition, we hope to visit some friends and family in Portland.  Of course, there's never enough time to see everyone, but I hope we can get a few hours in here and there.

I haven't gotten much done in the past couple of days in terms of sewing, although I did cut some fabric leftovers from the baby quilts I was working on (pile to the left), and I am going to make a few more 9-patches to add to the three that I made at the quilt show so that I will have another quilt top finished for the guild's charity quilts.  They give these quilts to area foster kids and to Seattle Children's.  The gal who is running this charity committee has a daughter who also spent a lot of time at Children's, although she's now an adult and expecting a baby in just a few short weeks!  I know I have way too much fabric, and using it up to make charity quilts is something useful I can do with the surplus and I know it's going to a GREAT cause!

My neighbor, Gordonna, came by to see my beads that we had talked about several months back.  She grew up in one of those little countries sandwiched between Greece and Italy and loved the evil eye beads.  I said that I was fashioning some of them after the traditional Turkish beads, and she said, "Oh, don't mention those people..."  We both thought it was funny that after 700 years, her people still have that reaction to the Turks.  She loved the beads but refused to take any when I offered them.  Maybe I need to learn how to make bracelets or necklaces with them and give them away since it's harder to refuse a finished gift...especially around birthdays and holidays.  First I need to clean them--the holes are filled with dried ceramic that keeps them from sticking to the metal rods--but I don't know how to do that.  Isn't that amazing?  I can make all these beads and I have no idea what to do with them.

I also started cleaning Cammie's room.  I've been asking her to do this for MONTHS, and give her small goals like "Pick up just dirty laundry" or "Pick up and put away 10 things."  Clearly it hasn't made a dent.  I found lots of dirty socks & three towels, which I stuffed into the already-full bin, and several dresses, shoes and slippers that are too small, so it was time to pack them up for donation along with a few toddler items that she no longer needs.  I also sifted through some papers, put books back on the shelves, and put the seasonal clothes and costumes away.  After about 90 minutes, I took a break to have lunch, then it was karate, dinner and more karate.  By then, I just sat with a cuppa tea and watched some of the trashy TV I taped and looked at some emails.  There's still a long way to go on the room, but I'll put in some more time tomorrow and see if I can't get a vacuum in there.  By the time she gets back from her cousin's house, she'll probably not recognize the place.  The trick is to thin out the stuff and hope she doesn't notice.  She loves playing with the blocks--building cities and houses with them, which you can see over by the fan--and then moving in the little creatures and dolls and creating stories with them.  This creates a bit of clutter in her room, but it's managable.  It's the broken crayons, papers, wrappers, strings, and other garbage that doesn't seem to make it into the garbage can that turns it into insanity.  To further the insanity, she's got a rock collection that is scattered everywhere.  Once I get the floor cleared, I can start sifting through her drawers and pull out clothes that are too small.  It'll give me a better idea of what she needs for the school year once I can see the gaps in her wardrobe.

titleI've been enjoying watching some of the Olympics, although I'm not as happy with the coverage this year as I was with the winter Olympics in Vancouver/Whistler.  They seem to be more spotty in the coverage and some of the "episodes" we've recorded have not actually recorded--it says, "Sorry, video not available." And then, of course, people are posting results online before I get a chance to see it.  My favorites events are men's gymnastics (there's some beautiful back muscles on those guys...)  and swimming.  If I were to have become an Olympian, it probably would have been in swimming.  I was actually part of swim team for a couple of weeks in my freshman year, but I found that pool chemicals make me sick to my stomach, especially after swallowing so much of it during practices.  I did become a lifeguard later and worked at a pool one summer, but competitive swimming was not for me.  The women's swim suits look really uncomfortable, though--they keep tugging and stretching them across their chests like they're not be used to that particular style or cut of suit.  I can see why--with the width of the chest and shoulders on these athletes, it looks like her boobs are about to fall out the sides.  That would make me crazy, too.  I think the suit designers need to keep this in mind when putting out styles--these aren't beach bunnies, guys.

I also didn't realize that equestrian events were still included in the summer games!  How did I not know this?  It really makes me want to sign up for regular lessons nearby.  I still have to take the Girl Scouts out again this summer...the two outings we've had already have been very poorly attended, and we're very rapidly running out of summer...August always slips by so quickly.  I need to get out and enjoy it a bit before it's over.  Starting....tomorrow.  Oh wait...I still have to clean.