Friday, July 31, 2015

Sequalitchew Creek Trail

The Sequalitchew creek runs through DuPont down to Puget Sound through a beautiful gorge.  I just found out about the trail a few weeks ago, and we had to go check it out.  It starts just behind the DuPont City Hall.

It was supposed to get up to 90° so we wanted to get an early start.  We got to DuPont just before 9:00.  (We arranged to meet some friends, but they were a little behind, so we started walking.)  Kate spotted a little snake that went by too quickly to get a picture of.

This deer checked us out for a while and then ambled casually across the trail. 

The gorge was just beautiful--lush and green (a lot more deciduous than I'd been expecting).  The trail is paved for part of the way and then goes back to gravel again.  

At the end of the forest there's a tunnel that goes under the train tracks, heading out to the beach. Actually a pair of tunnels--one has old tracks running through it. The kids had to go through that side, of course.

Looking back (through the other tunnel). Love the light!

Kristi Timme and her girls caught up with us right before we hit the tunnel. We headed down to the beach together.

The tide was out pretty far. There were lots of creatures to find.


The girls tipped over some rocks and found some sea stars, and these strange green creatures which on closer inspection appear to be some kind of isopod. (We made sure to turn the rocks back over afterwards.)

The view! There's also a shipwreck (an old cement ship grounded on a sandbar), in the other direction, that I hear you can walk to when the tide is completely out, but it was pretty far away from where we were. Perhaps we'll do that some day.

On the way back we had to stop and get a family picture in this gorgeous lighting. This one cracked me up--Andy gazing off into the distance and Kate making goofy faces--yep, that's our life. (This was really the best of the lot--the others were all blurry or had Kate doing some sort of pained zombie impression.)

We made it back up to the top of the trail right around noon.  It was getting hot by then, and it is uphill all the way--not terribly steep, but still tiring.  (Kate ended up riding the last half or so in the Timmes' amazing double-seater all-terrain stroller while the littles were carried.  We parents got a workout!)

We went through Lakewood on the way home and stopped at House of Pho.  This was planned in advance--we brought along Kate's training chopsticks.

Kate communes with the fish.   She and the big one were making some funny faces at each other.

A successful outing!  We'll have to do it again sometime.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Portrait Attempt (Acrylic)

Dawn, who got two pencil drawings last year, asked if I could paint her. I told her I wasn't sure how it would come out, but I was willing to give it a shot. I've been doing pencil drawings for years, and I've painted a few things (giraffes, Hogwarts....) but my non-pencil portrait experience has been pretty limited.

I'm reasonably happy with how it turned out. I'd say the hardest thing was trying to match the skin tones. And then just deciding how much attention to pay to the background. (I do like the flowers on the left. Those came out nicely.) Also, no one should ever have to paint teeth on their first attempt. So, all in all, not fabulous, but I'm not completely put off portrait painting for eternity. I'd like to give it a try again sometime, with a better photo. Something with higher resolution and more interesting lighting. After all those other projects on my list.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

In Which My Blog Turns Ten

My blog is ten years old today! I've put together a little something to commemorate the event.

Ten most-viewed posts

It turns out that my most-viewed posts are the ones that are informative in some way, or end up getting linked from somewhere else.

Digi Dots
Eyes on Dr. Seuss
Typing Practice (ν•œκΈ€λ‘œ!)
Cream Pineapple Crochet Sweater
Giraffe Painting
Picture books on Kindle
Crochet sweater, red
Kindle(s) in the house
Time Capsule (High School Art)
Pineapple Crochet Shawl Sweater

Ten personal favorites

The Adventures of Mr. Penguin (a tale in Chinese characters)
My Daddy, by Kate, age 4. (Happy Birthday!)
Want a bag over your head?
little brother (and sister, too!)
Kate's Dragons
Kate's Rescue Mission (story by Kate)
Painting Fiona's Library
Mender of Soles
Grimmie the Wandering Wesen
Korea Calling

Ten random photos

Ten questions from friends

Do you still scrapbook?

I think the short answer would be "Not at this time." I still love playing with paper. And I do whip up the occasional digital layout, but it's been a while. I imagine that I will scrapbook again at some point. Not sure what form that will take.

Would you like to visit Korea again and what areas would you like to visit?

Absolutely! I'm saving up my opera painting money. So many places I want to go and friends I want to visit. I was entranced by this picture of Daewonsa temple. I need to go there. In the fall. I'm not sure how this will happen, since that's when the kids are in school. We'll figure it out when the time comes, I guess. I was actually planning a trip with my sister, but she changed her mind, so I shall have to find another travel buddy.

How did you get started doing art?

My parent bought me reams of tracing paper when I was little, and I traced everything in sight. I remember thinking, "If I can make it look like this, then I'll be a good artist." And I took a lot of art classes in high school.  Mostly just messed around with it a lot.   I still tend heavily toward realism, and I'm great at copying things, but not always so good with the free, expressive stuff. I'd like to work on that more.

What inspires you?

Visuals, I think.  I  love looking at things that other people have done.  I have a Mixed Media folder on my computer where I've been collecting things, and my Art Inspiration board on Pinterest.  I also find inspiration being outside.  And wool-gathering in the shower.

I have no clue why you lived in Canada for a while.

We were in Newfoundland for Doug's grad school for three years. Absolutely loved it. It's like nowhere else.

What's your fascination with language? I mean you always comment on how words are used and it makes me wonder.

Language is fascinating! (Hmmm.... might have something to do with my dad being an engineer. I have the picky gene.)

I wonder what you are doing with your art these days.

Painting for Tacoma Opera, pretty soon! And I have a couple other projects in mind. I want to try gelli printing on a skirt. And I may be ready to start that mural in the bathroom.

I've known you since our long ago dMarie days, when you lived in NL. I've watched your kids grow up, into adorable little people. My question concerns Andy, if you don't mind...I know you explained once about his 'disability', for lack of a better word, could you describe it again and how his progress is?

Andy has hyperlexia, which is often accompanied by autistic behaviors but not always (and sometimes they grow out of them, but not always). He figured out how to read on his own before he was three, and has always been fixated on letters and words. Verbally he does a lot of echolalia (repeating things that he's memorized) and not much synthesizing, though he does often find something contextually appropriate. (One time I was calling him to come over, and he said, "What is it, Mother? Why do you want us?" which he learned from He does chatter and sing a lot (he also has perfect pitch, we've discovered), and he's very affectionate and good-natured. He hardly ever refers to himself in the first person--if he wants something he'll say, "Do you want a ____?", though lately he's been coming up with more convoluted constructions like, "We have a pineapple juice!" And right now he's sitting on my lap reading everything that I'm typing.

Here's my question as a long time blogger myself, how often do you blog, and how do you keep your blog fresh? Do you shy away from revealing too much about yourself, or do you feel you're an open book?

I don't post as much as I used to. It's kind of shocking to go back to earlier years and see months where I was posting almost every day. I think back then blogging was more of a thing, and people would visit each others' blogs and comment more. Now we just post on Facebook and get immediate feedback. But I still like keeping my blog, and having the record. (And I don't post everything... some stuff doesn't need to be shared!)

What does success mean to you personally?

I had to think about this. I think for me feeling successful often involves outside validation. When I finish a set painting and get to see it used in a great performance, that feels like success. When Creating Keepsakes magazine called and said they wanted nine of my scrapbook layouts for their travel book, that felt like success. (Seriously... I was so excited I couldn't sleep for about three days.) I like being productive.  On the other hand I'm also a huge procrastinator. On a personal level, I suppose success as a mother will mean raising kids who are decent human beings and can perform the necessary tasks of life. We've got a long way to go on that.

Ten favorite things about blogging

Okay, I don't have ten favorite things about blogging. But I do have one particular favorite thing--being able to back-date posts. I have stuff from June that I'm still planning to post but haven't gotten around to yet. I didn't know about this feature at first, so I would often be posting things dated months after they actually happened. This way I can create a post long after the fact and still have it show up in the correct place in the timeline. Is that cheating? (Best chance of something actually getting posted would be within a day or two after it happens. Odds decrease significantly after that. But I do get around to the important stuff, eventually!)

My least favorite thing is that stupid image verification on the comment form, where you have to prove you're not a robot by choosing the salad, or the pizza, or some such tomfoolery.  I always thought the word capcha was annoying, but this is way worse.  If anyone knows how to get rid of it, let me know!

Me and my favorite ten-year-old!  


In ten years of blogging, we've been through births, weddings, funerals, moves, and milestones. I've made over 1,000 posts, and who-knows-how-many photos. I've enjoyed all the comments from friends and the exchange of ideas, but most of all I love having this record, being able to go back and look at our earlier selves, or read to Kate something funny that she said when she was little, or enjoy her cute artwork. It's been a good ride

In closing, I will direct you to my Ten Long Years post, in which Doug wrote something very sweet for our tenth anniversary.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Painting Party

We had  friends over for a painting party!  When Sara and kids dropped us off last week, they came in for a bit and Melody saw my painting stuff.  So we made some plans. 

I (being uncharacteristically on top of things) made some challa, and since the girls were painting at the kitchen table we got out one of our little Korean tables and sat on the floor in the living room and had challa with butter and cheese.

It was time for the baby to go home for a nap, but Melody wanted to stay, so I said we would bring her home later. We brought some toys out to the living room--our wooden train tracks, and the Schleich animals, and our wooden castle. None of these things have been played with for a very long time, so it was good to see them getting some use again. Kate and Melody seem to have a similar make-believe-play style.

Once there was more room at the table, I got out a painting that I've been working on, to make a few minor tweaks. (It might be done now-- not sure yet.) Melody kind of popped back and forth between painting with me and playing with Kate.

A good time was had by all!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Day Downtown

At the top of this fountain is Theater Square, where we had a picnic lunch. (Photo by geomorph--I didn't have my camera with me.) When Kate saw it, she squealed, "A water feature!" And later, as she was gazing out over the railing eating her sandwich, she said, "I know who owns the castle--it's the pigeons!"

We went downtown with my friend Sara and two of her girls (I navigated and didn't botch it up too badly).  We parked across from Freighthouse Square and rode the LINK, went to the Children's Museum for a while, ate our lunch in the square, and  enjoyed all the fountains.  (I had to keep pulling Andy away from them--his idea of enjoying fountains is more, shall we say,  immersive.)  It was a lovely day for a walkabout.  And while waiting to cross the street we ran into Noel Koran of Tacoma Opera, who told me that they've got me down for all three shows this season.  A great day indeed.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bagging Blossoms

My tomato plants are huge and happy, seven weeks after transplanting. Every morning I get up and take a shower, and then I have a few minutes to go out and visit my plants before it's time to get the kids up.  Especially since it's been so hot lately, I love going out early while it's still cool, tying up stems and pinching suckers.

Originally I was planning to keep each plant down to three stems, but that didn't last long. I felt like the smaller-fruited varieties could stand to produce more, and those potato-leaf types can be really sneaky with their suckers. So things have gotten a bit unruly.   I have been supplementing the trellis with stakes.

Several people have asked me what those white things on the tomato plants are. I've bagged some of the blossoms.  Tomatoes will self-pollenize, but cross-pollination does happen. If you plan to save seeds and and want to make sure of getting the variety you want, bagging is a way to isolate the blossoms and avoid surprises.  You put the bags on before the blossoms open, and leave them in place till they've finished setting fruit. (And then mark the truss before you take off the bag, so you don't lose track of it!)  I used wedding favor bags from Michaels.

It does feel a little weird to put bags over your tomato buds.  I couldn't help thinking, "But what if this doesn't work?"  Once the flowers opened I would go out and jiggle them every day, to help them pollinate.  Some of them are still a bit behind, but others have set just fine.  I should be taking this bag off soon. 

Blondkopfchen grows huge, crowded clusters. There are probably 200 blossoms on this thing.  ( I did not try bagging anything on this one!)

Chocolate Cherry blossoms, trying to escape over the neighbor's fence.

Pollinator hard at work.

We've got a ways to go before anything is ripe, but I do have lots of little baby tomatoes.  They are so cute. 

We're hoping to have lots to eat and lots to give away!  Tomato party!