Monday, November 28, 2011

Backlog: The rest of July

Now that I've written a novel about the the first four days in July I'm going to finish the month out as quickly as possible.

Weekend 2: Thao and Mirah, West Seattle Fair, and Clothing Swap

The second weekend in July I saw Thao and Mirah play at the Crocodile, the first time I'd been there since they revamped the space. Justin, some of his friends and I started the evening at Local 360, my new favorite restaurant in Seattle. Inexplicably, I wore blue eyeshadow:

The desserts (like everything else they serve) were divine, and I still salivate over the carrot cake whoopie pie:

Led to Sea opened and I loved the music so much I bought the CD. Thao and Mirah were also spectacular and their album has been more or less on repeat on my work computer ever since. But, why does there always have to be one drunk asshole who ruins it for everyone else? One of the reasons I usually don't see live music; the fans ruin it.

That Saturday I went to the West Seattle fair with Jacob on a sunny Saturday. We got a lot of compliments on our matching hats:

The Sunday of that same weekend I hosted another wildly successful clothing swap, which is getting bigger every time and turning into a quarterly affair.

Weekend 3: French Crawl and Cabbage Battles

The next weekend, Robyn and I went on a “Bastille Day” French bar crawl on Friday night. Then I spent the entire weekend, unexpectedly, at K, M, and Toddler J's house. We spent Saturday in the garden, combating aphids on our cabbage. Then I went back on Sunday to make experimental kimchi with all the cabbage we couldn’t rescue (after doing a thorough job of cutting out all the colonies and then blasting each leaf with water). Here's K displaying a colony:

It was our first time making kimchi, and one of the writers of the many recipes we consulted said the only containers she had that were big enough were the drawers from her refrigerator, an idea we borrowed:

After a lot of research and hemming and hawing over which method to use we ended up making two kinds using a 'salt brine' technique.

They were delicious and I made batch after batch of kimchi fried rice with it:

Weekend 4: Wedding Planning and Beach Party

The following weekend my friend Annie was in town for the evening and I decided to make all her dreams come true by throwing her a dinner party and letting her invite whoever she wanted, a true gift for a girl who collects people in every city she's ever breezed through. I invited Casey and Joseph and they brought their charming friend Jordan as well as a random out-of-towner (the older brother of one of Joseph's friends I think) whose name I forget, and Annie produced a hodgepodge which, much to my surprise, ended up being a terrifically fun group. We moved my dining table into the living room and used the leaves for the first time to make a giant table using the couch as seating for one side.

The guest of honor and host:

Dinner was delicious, much wine and champagne was consumed, and we stayed up quite late chatting until I literally had to kick the last 3 people out so I could get some sleep for my big Saturday.

On Saturday Morgan, Jacob and I trekked to the Tacoma Art Museum to do a site visit for Morgan and Nathan’s pending wedding which I helped plan/coordinate. That day started productively with a huge breakfast at Fresh Bistro, a quick drive to Tacoma and a thorough meeting at the museum. As we were driving home we all decided the best thing to do once back in Seattle was get drunk, which we did through a combination of booze at my house and happy hour tequila (plus nachos) at the Saint. It ended sillily with Nick and BK crashing later on to play some drunken/giggle-filled Catan. Highlights included getting up onto my roof for the gorgeous view (since locked down by management), group intonation/chanting, and Morgan snorting water from her nose (twice).

The next day my friends Brandi, David and I decided to have a beach party at Magnusson park because summer had finally hit. I dragged along my co-worker Regis and Jacob and BK came too, plus a bunch of B and D's friends. It was a gorgeous, relaxed day with some float-toy action in Lake Washington and plenty of snacks. Regretfully I have no pictures from this entire weekend outside of Annie's dinner.

Weekend 5: Courtneys and Kurts and brunch

The following weekend (5 weekends in July!) was Morgan’s highly-anticipated bachelorette party in which we fulfilled one of her dreams from college: to have a pack of Courtney Loves running around town. So, we all found wigs and appropriate costumes in the weeks proceeding and dressed up as Courtney during a prefunk at my place. This picture is deceiving since I look kind of cool in it; rest assured I was a hot mess.

Here we are during a photoshoot at Cal Anderson park. Lots of people stopped to gawk; one woman asked to take a picture with us, who we happily obliged.

So artistic:

We hit several spots on Capitol hill including Bimbo’s for drinks and dinner, the Rock Box for hilarious private karaoke, and finally Barca where, much to Morgan’s surprise, a pack of Kurt Cobains was waiting for us!

It was a really fun night.

The next morning we celebrated Joseph’s birthday with a delicious brunch prepared primarily by Casey including piles of bacon and their favorite pirogis. I didn't take many pictures since we were all still recovering from the night before but it was a very pleasant way to spend a fuzzy Sunday.

That was on Sunday, July 31 so that officially wraps up July.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Let the backlog begin: 4th of July camping

I have quite a few posts I want to write that date back to July (don't even mention Mexico, maybe for the one year anniversary of that trip I'll finally post it) and I'm going to just start WRITING THEM ALREADY. I'll start with my only camping trip of the summer in July and work my way to the present.

Olympic Peninsula Trip

Somehow in my nearly 30 years of life I have never been to the Washington state rain forest. To rectify this gross oversight, Adam, Nick and I went camping on the Olympic peninsula over 4th of July weekend. We stayed at Mora, a gorgeous campground near Rialto beach. We left Thursday after work (Nick drove so the Matrix did not come on a road trip with me for the first time since I got it) and made it onto the 5:30 ferry. It was dark when we arrived and we were worried about getting a spot since it was first come first serve, but the grounds were half empty and each site was large and quite private. They all filled up by Friday though. Even in the dark we were very selective about our site.

It was well-chosen! We had this fascinating nurse log in our site:

We got the tents set up, made a small fire, and hit the hay fairly early. The next morning (Friday) we all commented on how well we'd slept, something that never happens for me when camping. We started with a delicious breakfast, complimented by this ingenious toaster:

We then made an unexpected decision and drove to Cape Flattery, the most Northwest point in the continental U.S. It hadn't even been in our plans but somehow that morning we were all on the same page about it.

First, though, we had to drive though Forks, which has been consumed by Twilight fever. It doesn't seem be as booming an industry as they might have hoped, considering many stores had fully changed their names (with little imagination, admittedly - see below), every single place we went - even museums - had cutouts of the characters, etc., yet the town still seemed mostly empty. It was semi-disturbing.

We got a few last-minute supplies in Forks and got the hell out of there. The day started overcast but quickly burned off to sun and intermittent clouds, and we were excited that our weekend was off to a decent start - the forecast was a lot of rain.

Although Cape Flattery was about an hour and a half away it was worth it for the view and for the bragging rights of having been to an extreme corner of the country. Here's Nick on the short trail to the viewpoint checking out a huge, fungus-covered tree. I think they're called Chicken mushrooms, the ones that look like little shelves.

As we rounded the corner of the trail we were met with this stunning view:

The water crashing in and out of these natural caves was mesmerizing:

We enjoyed the view, made salami sandwiches at a picnic table near the trail, and then found our way back to camp. We passed this beach along the way and the boys obliged my desire to get out, tromp around on the rocks, and look for crabs. Adam was especially helpful in turning over the larger rocks and every time there would be a dozen or more tiny black crabs scurrying away. I hollered and jumped away like I was surprised each time.

We got back to camp in time for the ranger talk on grey whales, and grilled a whole salmon for dinner.

Saturday started with gorgeous sunshine, so we spent it entirely at Rialto beach just a mile down the road. After a breakfast of salmon scramble and potatoes, we made the short journey and spent several hours chilling out with the giant driftwood.

Wes, our weekend mascot, was especially glad to work on his tan:

The beach was filled with perfectly smooth, round rocks. Since I'm terrible at skipping stones, I made a tower of them instead:

After lazing about, reading, napping, and soaking up some unexpected sun, we returned to camp for lunch – Nick’s tasty African stew – and then went back to the beach for the remainder of a low-tide, clouded-over afternoon:

Adam and Wes went back to the same great driftwood-encased spot we'd scouted earlier that day to read, while Nick and I set off on a long beach hike to see Hole in the Wall, which Wes wasn’t allowed to do (no dogs past a certain point). We used this opportunity to test out the walkie-talkies I'd gotten, which have a fairly decent range it turns out.

Rialto beach is beautiful, with giant rocks jutting out of the water like an artist placed them there intentionally:

Nick and I had never been to Rialto before and were under the impression that Hole in the Wall was a lot farther than it actually was, so when we came to this formation after what seemed like only a few minutes of walking...

...somehow our two college-educated brains decided this huge hole in the wall couldn't possibly be THE Hole in the Wall, so we continued our hike for quite some time, which was OK with us because there was a lot more to see.

The sand at low tide was formed into these parallel ruts that I couldn't stop admiring:

There was also a lot of worthy marine life to explore, including tons of anemones, this strange pink algae, and starfish everywhere (though not in this photo):

Here we are well past Hole in the Wall; we probably went another three quarters of a mile, including scrambling over some giant rocks and through ocean water that hadn't quite left with the tide yet.

At one point after this I gave Nick my fleece since I was hot after the rock climb and my camera to put in his bag, and then we separated for awhile so he could advance to see if HitW was in front of us. Unfortunately this meant I didn't capture any of the next 30 minutes, which I spent in absolute, incredible isolation on vast swaths of rocks covered in mussels and barnacles. I walked out for what seemed like a half mile from the shore, trying to step carefully on bare patches of rock, finding small blowholes where the ocean was spouting up between breaks in the rock, inhaling some of my favorite smells: sea salt, decaying seaweed, shellfish, rain; in short, a beach in the Pacific Northwest. I was so grateful to be so alone with all this beauty... for about 20 minutes. I spent the next 10 shivering cold and cursing Nick for having wandered so far ahead of me, leaving me no choice but to wait until he decided to return of his own accord. As we walked back it started raining but we found Adam in a pleasant mood considering we had left him for probably an hour and a half longer than he'd expected and the weather had turned.

We got back to the campsite just in time for that night's ranger talk, which left me with the inescapable knowledge that the acidification of the oceans is (among other horrors) preventing shellfish from attracting calcium carbonate to make their shells, resulting in 'functional extinction' for many species and a strong likelihood that our oceans will be dead in our lifetimes. Depressing doesn't begin to describe it.

(There were actually a lot of people there, just sitting in the back rows.)

I had gone to the talk alone and left Adam and Nick to prepare dinner, and when I got back a baked potato, fresh ear of charred corn, and a perfectly cooked steak awaited me. After that I insisted on making s'mores, one of which Adam begrudgingly ate so I didn't have to eat alone. If I had known his dislike for them was so strong I would have eaten his but it was a nice gesture. We stayed up really late that night and at one point noticed the sky had cleared so we walked to a nearby open meadow and laid looking up at the stars until we were too cold to resist our sleeping bags.

Sunday morning - the 3rd of July - Nick made us a healthy breakfast of yogurt, granola, and fruit (plus coffee - what is it about camping coffee that is so great?) before packing up camp and heading home via the Quinalt rain forest. We had decided on Quinalt since dogs are restricted from national parks but not national forests. Our first stop was actually the best part of the whole day, a sweet, small rainforest walk we had entirely to ourselves called Maple Glade. Wes had to stay in the car for this one. Here are Adam and Nick admiring some trees:

It's so hard to capture how lovely this place was, but this moss-covered tree shows some of it:

It was an interpretive trail so every few feet there were signs pointing us to a section of the brochure that told us the history of that particular spot. This meadow was formed by something really interesting that now, months later, I sadly can't remember. I could probably dig up the brochure if I really wanted to...

Sunday was by far the most beautiful day, and we took out all the remaining food for a "what's left?" lunch at a picnic table in a wide grassy meadow near Maple Glade. By the end of eating I was as close to hot as I got all weekend. Then it was on to Quinalt proper. On the way we passed the ocean and had I known that the highway cut inland after that I would have insisted on stopping to enjoy the few sandy beaches WA state has. But we carried on and did two short hikes in Quinalt, one in an area that suffered extreme damage during a famous storm about 8 years ago. It was interesting to see how nature had been affected and how it was rebuilding itself.

The next stop was the World's Largest Spruce tree:

Apparently there's another one almost as big in California but this one has the official honor. We took the obligatory photos, and that concluded our trip! We hightailed it back to Seattle and were in town by about 6 pm, with plenty of time to prepare for our nation's birth the next day. (I spent it gardening at K, M, and Toddler J's and then watched the Lake Union fireworks from the roof of my building that night.)

Not bad for my first trip to our state's rain forest. I can't wait to go back again soon, hopefully next year, and check out the Hoh and everything else I didn't get to this time around.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Happy Halloween!

This year’s Halloween started on Saturday with Robyn and some of her friends. I was impressed by the caliber of our costumes – no one punked out!

Amanda was the "Toof Fairy" and made a terrifyingly authentic chola, which I hope isn't wildly offensive, I think actual cholas own the term so I'm saying it with respect here and this is clearly an admiring tribute:

Last year I tried to be Diana Ross but when I curled my hair I ended up with cute pin curls and went as a silent movie star instead. This year I wore the same amazing gold and black pantsuit but got a bonafide Diana Ross wig to make it happen for real:

We headed down to Norm’s in Fremont pretty early (7:30) to secure a table. Unfortunately the Sounders and Huskies games were both on so that early in the night it was all sports fans and no costumes. But we snagged the best table in the house and settled in. Soon the costumes started pouring in and again I was impressed with people’s effort. I’m not sure what was in the air that got people in the mood but this year seemed like an especially good year for costumes.

There was a big group of Star Wars characters with an impressive array.

Professional Chewbacca costume this guy was really tall so it made quite an impact:

This girl’s Death Star took a week to make:

Hans Solo frozen in carbonite was my favorite:

I also really loved these girls’ hand-made Black/White swan costumes, which happened to be one of the “trend” costumes (we saw at least five of them but they were the best):

Other trends included lots of Star Wars (even outside the group) and an inexplicable number of Where’s Waldo. I saw at least seven.

I was the DD and after giving the group rides home around 1 am I was headed back to my place when I saw a very sad-looking team of Angry Birds at the bus stop outside Robyn’s house. It was clear they had just missed their ride so I shuttled them down to their destination, Dick’s on lower Queen Anne, and told them to do a random favor for a stranger to keep the good karma going. They were funny and very grateful, and somehow I ended up with a devil’s tail in my backseat; not a part of any of their costumes or anyone from my group. Perplexing!

I decided to take a pass around Capitol Hill to see what was big among the gay, hipster, and fake-ID crowds. The only common theme was skin (oh, slutty Halloween), though I did see an impressive trio of Tetris blocks and a funny female Hugh Hefner with a very tall male Bunny. After that I called it a night, doused my face in olive oil to remove the fake eyelash glue and gobs of liquid eyeliner, and slept like a champ.

On Monday I wore the wig again but put on a black dress with red socks and a red belt and went as Little Orphan Annie's evil twin. We had a pumpkin carving contest at work and my department was robbed - look at how scary this thing is! We even had a mini strobe light in it which created these freaky light effects:

It actually looked scarier 4 days later:

That evening I went to see Toddler J as a bumblebee (he ran around yelling "I'm a bumblebee!" which was cuter than the costume) and give candy to the very few trick or treaters that came by. We ate most of the good candy ourselves.

All in all a respectable Halloween.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

From jungle to nursery

A few weeks ago I decided to do something about the jungle growing in my living room. I went to Lowe’s and bought potting soil and tons of pots and started splitting the hell out of my wandering Jew, peace lily, aloe, and spider plant. So far this project has spanned two weeks and about 20 hours of labor. Can you see why I put it off?

I started with the unwinding of the wandering Jew. It had cascaded almost to the floor but it’s clever enough not to touch; instead it starts snaking its way back up in a tangled mess, so that when I did get it unwound some branches extended nearly six feet! The only thing to do is cut it into sections and root it in water, which can take as little as a day – these roots are feisty! I feel guilty doing this because I end up discarding a significant portion of the branches, but they start to die at the top and it gets unsightly and out of control, so it’s really best for both of us. This is not the best picture, but by the time I finished unwinding and cutting (two hours later) there were probably 200 individual strands strewn about my apartment:

After that I separated most of the baby spider plants from the offshoots and rooted them in water for several days. This is a painless process since they are actively seeking a place to root and are only too happy to be separated from the mother. How cute are they?

Next up was the lily. The poor thing hasn’t been repotted in I don’t know how long since it came to me from a friend, and it took me half an hour just to get it out of its pot. My bathtub was the loser here:

I ended with the aloe, another guilt-inducing project since you literally have to pull the babies from the mother and sometimes they don’t want to let go. But I have a lot of practice splitting this aloe, which started as limp plant someone at the gym where I worked in college brought in one day. Since then I’ve probably split it at least 6 times, making this round the great-great-great-great-great-granddaughters of the mother plant.

And now I have this to deal with:

  • 8 spider plants
  • 5 Jews
  • 4 aloes
  • 3 lilies
  • 5 combination aloe/jew; lily/jew, spider/lily pots
  • And, 2 parsley plants reclaimed from the outdoor garden before it got too cold
What am I going to do with all these plants?? I considered setting up a bootleg stand outside the farmer's market and selling them but it was rainy on Sunday and I didn't muster up the enthusiasm to load them into my car and try to hawk a bunch of plants that I prefer go to good, loving homes - after all, I've had them for generations.

I do want them off my dining room table, though. I'm open to suggestions and requests - a modest donation gets you as many lovingly, freshly-potted plants as you can handle!