Saturday, February 27, 2010

family: ... if they say that it's so...

L, stretching in her black pants leggings
(image from K's camera, though I may have taken it)

excerpts from a conversation with L:

L: Daddy, what color your pants?
me: Blue. They're jeans.
L: They jeans?
me: Yep.
L: What color my pants?
me: What color are they? You know.
L: Geen.
me: No. Not green. Black.
L (looking down at her legs and then correcting me): They leggings.
me: Right, they're leggings.
L: What color my leggings?
me: Black. Your leggings are black.

Sadly, because I'm partly color blind, I can't always tell what the correct color is. And that means I can't tell if she's mis-learning her colors because of me, or is just jerking my chain. I suspect the latter. In fact, I'm nearly certain of it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

other: ... misty water color....

(this is pure nostalgia, spurred on by the news that Mosi Tatupu died. if you don't care about him, or even more, about old, now gone buildings in Honolulu, you can safely skip this.)

Honolulu Stadium

Going to Punahou in the late 1960s and early 1970s meant (as a boy at least), among other things, being aware of those cool guys that played football. They were big. And strong. And scary. Everyone seemed to treat them with respect. Football mattered. In fact, in Hawaii, with no real pro teams, high school (and UH) sports really mattered a lot. And it seemed like we always had a good team, so that added to their appeal. Moreover, in those days the ILH included both private and public schools, with great rivalries: Kamehameha, Damien, Kalani, Roosevelt, Iolani, Farrington, McKinley.....

Then there were the pre-game pep rallies. I'm not sure what they did in the upper school, but in the Winnie Units where us peewee kids struggled with our school work, we had pre-game pep rallies at lunch time the Friday before the Saturday games. The cheer and song leaders would come from across campus from the "Academy," dressed in their blue and yellow pleated skirts, to lead the kids in cheers and songs ("Strawberry shortcake, huckleberry pie, V I C T O R Y..." which, when I think about it, is an odd cheer for an island school -- I doubt I had any idea what "huckleberry pie" was.) They sold small ribbons with slogans like "Bomb da Bulldogs!" for... I don't remember who the Bulldogs where... Farrington? But that's one ribbon I bought and still remember, and possibly bake sale items. And general enthusiasm was had by all the small kine kids who got a distraction from less important things like times tables and reading and spelling.

The games were held in Honolulu Stadium, which was called the Termite Palace even then, because it was supposedly honeycombed by termites and other pests. But who cared! We gathered, rain or shine (and in many of my memories it was raining -- after all, the stadium sat not far from Manoa Valley down which the "mist" came), and cheered on the team. One memory is being dropped off by mom, wearing new Addidas shoes, getting soaking wet, thoroughly enjoying myself. (Did we win? No idea!)

And what a team! The song and cheer leaders were enthusiastic and pretty upper class girls, but it was the players that mattered. Those guys in helmets and pads and the dark blue uniforms, looking so.... real, so grown up, so important. The two I remember best are Arnold Morgado and Mosi Tatupu. There were others, obviously, but these two were the stars for me.

Arnold came first and has since gone on to politics. Mosi was one year ahead of my older sister and set rushing records that lasted for over 10 years. He went on to play at USC and then at New England with the Patriots. (In an odd convergence, his son now plays for Seattle, spending his time on a team that probably couldn't beat one of his father's high school teams, but that's a different issue and one I don't really give a rip about.)

I just learned he recently died, which got me thinking about things I'd not thought of in years, including the pep rallies and the games, and the stadium itself.

Honolulu Stadium was built of wood, which meant it not only was susceptible to termites, but that it flexed in ways exciting to kids but probably not quite as enjoyable to parents. I remember participating in foot stamping cheers that seemed to get the entire stands bouncing up and down. Now that's good sport! I also remember that the seats were 2 planks of wood, and it was easy to drop something down underneath them. Money could fall out of your pockets, or drinks spill in the excitement. I think the bathrooms were down there, but I made it a point to avoid going under the stands -- it seemed to risky with all those people, potential droppers of things.

In addition to the high school games, the stadium was home to the University of Hawaii teams and to the Islanders, our triple-A baseball team.

It was the Islanders my family cared about, after our high school football teams (mom went to Roosevelt, so she probably had a soft spot for the Rough Riders, but dad was Punahou all the way, so as a household we tended toward the Buff 'n' Blue). We went to baseball games, ate peanuts and cheered the players on. We listened to games at night, on the radio. In "simulcast" which meant that the announcer was getting and reading an account of the game, pitch by pitch and play by play, and was then reading this as if he were at the game. There were sound effects (bats hitting balls, crowd noises) and as a kid we didn't know at first, and then didn't care. It was exciting, listening in the dark of a bedroom to the team playing in exotic places like San Diego!

Which leads me to a digression, but this whole thing is digression, so it doesn't matter: one of our regular announcers (along with Chuck Leahey) was Al Michaels. Of ABC TV fame. Back then he announced high school football on the radio, and one of his pet phrases was "3rd down and a manapua to go!" I remember when I first saw him on TV and felt as though a personal friend had made it to the big time! And there he was, talking us through the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco during the Bay Area World Series! Big time!

I remember flying bugs at Islander games, drawn by the bright lights, buzzing around us as we threw our peanut shells on the worn wood beneath us and watched our team.

And I remember one July 4th game, after which there was going to be fireworks. They had a hook-and-ladder firetruck from which they were going to hang a boatload of firecrackers. After the game. And....

And, dad made us all leave early, to avoid traffic. It's a memory that has stuck with me, and which I consider whenever I'm with the girls and am tempted to duck out of something to avoid traffic. We missed the fireworks because dad didn't want to sit in traffic! You can imagine how that went over with us kids.

So, note to self: Stay for the fireworks. Always try to stay for the fireworks. At least until the kids are out of the house.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

photo thursday: ... in the old gum...

.... wall?
(apropos of nothing at all)

the "gum wall" in Pike Place Market
past which I walk when I'm walking north

This spot has long been a place where folks stick their gum, but recently there's begun to be a crowd of tourist-looking people gathered and taking photos, every time I pass by. It must be written up in some "underground Seattle" tour book or on some cool web site. Odd to see folks crowded around and viewing....

paddling: ... two of us going somewhere...

(this is going to cover 2 different workouts, so you may just want to skip it.)

It's possible for me to get into a zone where I can keep up a certain work effort for a reasonably long time. Tuesday night was one of those times.

date: 2.23.10
miles: 10.34
time: 1:43

That night we ended up with 8 paddlers, so I went out in the OC2 with DougN. Our workout: 9x(1min off/9on). The OC6, with DougM steering, ended up doing only a partial workout, so mostly we were by ourselves. We headed out toward the University Bridge for warmup, and then when we hooked up with the OC6 (they had some inexperienced and/or newly returning paddlers) we started back to Lake Union for the meat of the workout. It was blowing slightly from the south, but not too badly.

We crossed the north end of the lake and went down the ship canal toward the Ballard Bridge, circling back to the OC6 which had stopped short of the bridge to do some stroke technique work. At that point they were heading back, so we turned west again and continued our workout.

Doug looked at his watch and said, "that was 3 (the third set). We've got a workout ahead of us!"

I wasn't sure what to expect, but we were moving smoothly and it seemed like things were going well. We paddled down to the locks, swung around and started back east toward the Ballard Bridge and beyond. It's hard to remember where we were for each set, but I know that we started #8 east of the Aurora Bridge, with Doug predicting that we'd finish it about the time we got to the bridge. We actually were farther along, already heading south along the west shore of Lake Union when the set was done. So, 2 left. We finished #9 as we were approaching the south end of the lake, and then turned for Gasworks Park to do the final set.

I felt like I lost some focus and concentration around #7 and didn't really regain it until we were on that last set. In addition, we were heading into the wind for #9, so that was a slower split. We did the final set and were within a few hundred feet of our new (temporary) beach at the Harbor Patrol location just west of Gasworks.

Here are the track and details of the workout:

(And, a "catch up" recap of the workout last Thursday (2.18.10))

date: 2.18.10
miles: 10.74
time: 1:36

This one was interesting for me in that it seemed hard, it wore me out. We had 7, so one OC6 and the OC1. Our workout: 8x(1off/8on/1sprint). Which seemed ambitious to me. 8 longish sets, and with a sprint ending each one! Okaaaaay......

We paddled out to Lake Washington and along the 520 bridge a bit, but didn't go far because it got lumpy (north breeze reflecting off the bridge) and because Rob was in the OC1 and we were doing some circling to keep together. At some point (halfway through the workout) we did some seat swapping, which was good because it meant I moved from 1 back to 2, and that helped take a little pressure off.

Each sprint leg was hard, with an increase in both rate (number of strokes per minute) and effort (power in each stroke). But we managed it, and I didn't feel too terribly ... terrible. It was hard work, no question, but good hard. Except that my body has been feeling a bit run down lately. (And, in fact, on Friday night I had a sore back that combined with a temp that topped out at 103.6, so I skipped practice the Saturday practice the next day.)

An "interesting" aspect of the workout was that we came close to 2 buoys near Gasworks Park in Lake Union.... before actually hitting a third one.

I'd been in seat 1 before, when we nearly hit a buoy, but this time we actually did hit one.

We were near the end of our workout and were pushing south near Gasworks when a buoy marking part of the seaplane landing area (?) suddenly appeared right at the middle of our iakos. DougN and I were up front, so we both should have seen it, but it was DougM (steering) who yelled "hold water" (jam your paddles in to stop the boat). We hit the buoy as we were slowing down, and luckily it was small enough and light enough so it bumped down and under the front iako, then as our momentum carried us forward, down and under the rear one, and we were sitting there, slightly stunned.

It probably shouldn't have been as much of a surprise as it was, given that just a few minutes before, a companion buoy to this one had appeared suddenly out of the night gloom about 3 feet to our right, moving harmlessly past us as we continued on. And a few minutes before that, we'd had to make a quick left turn when a big cone buoy materialized out of the dark right in front of us.

All I can say is, we were lucky that the 3rd buoy wasn't the first one, because if we'd hit that one, it wouldn't have moved, and we would have hit hard (at about 6 or 7 mph). So we would have either broken an iako, or hulied, or....

I don't think either DougN or I have particularly good night vision. I know I don't. But I try to keep an eye out. One key here was that we were at the end of the workout, and were all pretty tired. The other key is that we probably weren't paying as much attention as we should have been. And it's nearly impossible for the steersman to really see past everyone ahead of him.

On the plus side, our sprints were very consistent, with our mileage for each being .12 - .13mi:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

family: ... i got a driver, and that's a start...

Sharing something fun, December 2009

This weekend was beautiful in Seattle, with sunny cool days and blue skies -- more like June than February, which has me thinking June may be a classic "Junuary" this year. But that's months away and we filed our taxes last night and it was sunny, so things are looking up!

The weather meant that we could all get outside for a bit and blow off some steam, relieving cabin fever that has built up over the course of the winter. "Get outside" meant pulling all manner of toys from the studio to be used for upwards of 5 minutes at a time before being cast aside for new distractions.

At one point we had in the yard:
  • the water table (filled with sink warm water) and assorted associated toys (cups, fishes, duckies, etc.)
  • 2 trikes
  • 1 bike
  • 2 bike helmuts
  • 1 wagon
  • multiple soccer/basket balls
  • 2 spray bottles
  • several trowels
  • 1 bucket
  • 1 horse (spring-mounted)
  • 1 dog (paw-mounted)
  • 2 girls (foot-mounted)
  • 2 parents in the yard (espresso loaded)

Eventually K wanted to ride her trike on the sidewalk because our yard is lumpy grass and bumpy gravel paths and so very hard to ride in, but the trike/sidewalk thing wasn't something I was particularly interested in having her do, which makes me a lame-o dad. We live on a street with a slight slope down to a crossing street, and I had visions of her freewheeling (this particular trike will do that) down in front of some passing car. A crash into a tree or a neighbor's front steps would be acceptable, but not the car-trike combo.

Luckily, M was willing (she's so awesome!) so she took charge of K and I followed them out with L riding queen-like in the wagon, also hauling the dog on a leash for a non-walk-walk. And it all went well.

learned how to put out her feet to stop on the sidewalk when she got going too fast (which for her was maybe fast walking speed), and L enjoyed her wagon ride though she had some firm ideas about where she wanted to go, including down a very steep street to the beach some quarter mile below. I refused, she cried, and we moved on. ("Go Dow-en!" "No, it's too steep." Waaaaaaa!!!!!!!)

K even learned to ride back up the (gentle) grade. Sample conversation early in the learning process:

M: K, you can do it.
K (not pedaling): No! It too steep!
me (handing over wagon and leash): I'll push a bit.
M: Don't screw up your back.
me: Ha! Never! K, you're pedaling. You're doing it.
K: No!
me (pushing): Sure you are. Your mama can ride up this hill!
K: No she can't!
M: Man, I've got to do a bit more showing off!
L (pointing at the cliff-like street dropping to Alki): Go down they-ah!
me: It's too steep.
L: It not too teep!

Eventually I started just pushing occasionally, and K started pedaling and found she actually could ride uphill. Victory!

But all of this got me remembering and thinking about when I was a kid.

When we moved to Honolulu from Maui, we moved from Puunene onto a ridge above Waialae, and in a moment went from a flat dirt road (bordered by an open irrigation ditch) to a cement subdivision road that seemed like it had a 30 degree slope. The steepness of the street was the least of our shocks as kids, coming as we were from a sleepy plantation into the "big" city, but it factored into our lives.

I occurred to me that here I was nervous to have K riding her trike down the gradually sloping sidewalk, and yet as a boy I had no hesitation about riding our wagon down that steep street. I suddenly felt a sympathy for my parents, and for my dad in particular because he tended to be the worrier of the two.

Now, I don't know how steep the street really was/is, but here's an image I stole from Google Maps (what did we do before the "internets?!?"):

Looking makai from approximately 1996 Alaeloa St.
(our house, 1994, would have been either the
first or second on the right)

You can maybe get a small sense of the angle by looking at the drop along the wall that runs beside the sidewalk. Or look at the garage further down. The edge of its roof is horizontal. And if you follow the street down, you can see where the concrete turns to asphalt. This is where the slope flattened out (before taking a left turn and a further drop to stop sign, after which, it was all down hill to the bottom in a winding, back-and-forth kind of way). It was also where the ride got kind of boring.

Also note, and this is entirely beside the point, the view: That's Diamond Head in the distance, and Waikiki off to the right, and we watched the sun set into the water most nights. Wonderful, right? But it still wasn't our quiet plantation house tucked into a flat, kid-friendly yard in the quiet plantation town on the quiet rural island.....

In any case, here's how we rode the street in our wagons:

  1. clothing: t-shirts, shorts (or jeans), and rubber slippers ("rubba slippa")
  2. posture: straddling the wagons, holding the handle folded back against our chest, just under our chin
  3. technique: sweep back and forth, switchbacking down the street
  4. braking: slippers dragged on the pavement
It was as simple as that.

And for a kid it was so straightforward and "Dad, come on what are you worrying about?!?"

Now, I'm thinking: What the H#@$ were we thinking? Where were my parents thinking? Can I sue now for poor judgment?!?

On the other hand, we all survived, and I suspect it wasn't a bad experience for us to have.

My big concern as a parent is that I won't be able to give K&L the latitude to do this kind of thing. M is much better at giving them some slack on the rope.

I hope I can get better at letting go. Or at least get better at holding my tongue and hiding my wincing. (I think that's the approach Mom took, as evidenced by my discovery after the fact that she didn't particularly approve of my riding freight trains from Colorado to California and from Colorado to Oregon. But she didn't react so negatively at the time. She asked about it, as if curious to hear more. Dad just gasped and stuttered and I never felt he trusted my judgment. But that's all probably a different set of stories.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

family: ... too little, too late....

(I tend to be late with just about everything important. I don't mean that I'm late on a daily basis, but rather that I'm a late bloomer. I didn't really take to school until it was almost over. I didn't really take to computers until I'd missed the first wave. I didn't really expect to be a parent until... well until I was just about the age my mom was when I was going off to college!)

So, in the spirit of lateness, and to honor the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts, I offer this photo of my future eagle scout dad in front of his "Best Tent":

Dad, August 1938

This would be somewhere on Oahu, but I have no idea where. It's one of many photos* we never saw until after Dad died.

I have mixed, relatively negative feelings about the BSA. I was in the Cub Scouts back when I was a grade school weenie. Can you imagine anything less fitting than a bunch of island kids learning helpful tips like looking for moss on the north side of a tree when lost in the forest? Um... moss? On coconut trees? Um.... which way is north? I know mauka and makai, but north? I know Diamond Head and Eva, but....

(historical digression: shortly after martial law was declared in Hawaii following 12/7/41, No Parking signs were installed in downtown Honolulu. Apparently they were initially posted saying "No Parking East of here" and "No Parking West to corner." Dad told me that no one understood what this meant and that they had to be replaced quickly with phrases islanders could understand: "No Parking Diamond Head of here" and "No Parking Eva to corner." It just doesn't make any sense on an island to do compass directions. You go down the coast 10 miles and even though you're still in the same position relative to the water and the mountains, you go from heading west to heading north....)

In retrospect, what a great opportunity for BSA to custom tailor the curriculum to the local environment -- why not teach the kids about Hawaiian culture, the water culture and the mountain culture and the natural environment of the islands....

Add to this cognitive dissonance the fact that by the late 1960s the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts had started looking a bit like breeding grounds for little fascist Nixonian minions. At least they did to me. Here I was listening to Country Joe's "Fish Cheer" from the Woodstock soundtrack, and yet I was expected to dress in my pseudo-military uniform (w/ shorts!) and pledge myself to "god and country, to be square (you can imagine how that went down in 1969!), and to obey the law of the pack." Cripes! I hate packs! I distrust large groups of people, especially people trained to obey someone higher up rather than to think for themselves! Let's just say I figured out pretty quickly that I wasn't cut out for the military, and from my perspective back then, the Scouts seemed pretty close.

Our big moment as a "den" was when we were part of the crowd control for an LBJ visit to Honolulu. I remember standing in the sun for hours, and then standing along the street holding hands with other little 8 and 9yo scouts, until the motorcade was safely past. I'm not sure what they expected us to do in the event of some disturbance. Luckily nothing happened.

I quit after a year or so, shortly after our Den Mother switched from a self-proclaimed "witch" to someone I assume was more socially/politically acceptable.

In retrospect, I wonder how Dad felt about my rejection of the Scouts? Was he disappointed? Did he wish I'd gone on to be an Eagle Scout too? To his credit, he never once complained or pushed me (that I recall). One other interesting thing to note: my father-in-law was an Eagle Scout as well.

The other (current) issue I have with BSA is their policy regarding gays. They don't take 'em. Way to go Scouts! Way to reach all kids and to teach good American values!

* Here's another wonderful picture of Dad, this time playing an accordion. Who knew?:

date unknown, but Dad looks younger than the 1938 photo.
(note the night blooming cereus in the background.
this must be in Manoa, possibly even on Punahou campus)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

photo thursday: it's been a ... warm, reasonably sunny winter...

Where we live:
Downtown Seattle

On our way home at the end of the day, caught by surprise when the sun unexpectedly slipped out from behind the afternoon clouds.

paddling: .... i'm so tired...

(bonus thursday posting to catch me up, since we'll do another workout this evening)

On Tuesday we had enough paddlers to take out the OC12, which I generally don't like to do. But with the group we had, we got the boats moving, and even managed to get down to I-90 and back (13.34 miles) in just 2 hours. I think that's the first time any of us have been that far in the the OC12, and on a school night too!

What was noticeable for me about this particular workout was just how badly it beat me up. Others in the boats said things like "it actually didn't feel that bad" but for me it was a body-beater.

The only other workout I remember feeling this way was a 4men in an OC6 workout that we did last year, with DougN steering, and me, Jasen and Murray paddling. In that one we went down along the 520 bridge to the east side of the lake and back, and I did some seat1 paddling. On this particular day Doug told us not to try and move the canoe all by ourselves, a comment that helped me think about paddling hard when it feels like we're not moving. And this is the difference between that workout and Tuesdays -- in the former it felt like we weren't moving.

On Tuesday we felt like we were cruising! It felt good the way the canoe was moving. But it took a lot out of me. And I'm not sure just why that might be.

I'm fighting off a cold (the same cold the girls had last week) and that's probably a factor. I'm also dealing with some lingering back pain, an on-again/off-again thing that started after our trip out to the coast and was rekindled last weekend when I spent an hour with a small sledgehammer and a cold chisel, busting up an old walkway.

But enough whining. This evening I expect we'll have enough paddlers to fill an OC6, so at least I won't be trying to keep up with the Dougs.

Our Tuesday track:

Once again, note DougM's razor-straight (did I just make that up?) steering.

Our stats:

And for those of you with a data deathwish, our splits:

The key thing for me is to see how well we managed to keep even on the 1-mile segments. Did we do them in the same amount of time throughout the workout? Or were we taking longer and longer? Looks like we started doing 1 mile in just under 9 minutes (8:52) and finished our last one in 8:35, our fastest one. (The longest one took 9:03.) Not too shabby!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

paddling: will we go 'round in circles?

Last Saturday we did a paddling workout with a twist: 3 of us "novice" steerers sat in seat 6 and wielded a steering blade. Not at the same time. We took turns.

And we did not hit anything! (We did, however, do 2 unplanned donuts.) I think once each of us got a feel for the momentum and the responsiveness (or not) of the boat, we did reasonably well.

Luckily it was calm and we had a good crew of paddlers. No one leaning out away from the ama, no one taking it easy while everyone else was working.

One thing that was obvious quickly: the canoe is more responsive when it's moving at a good pace. When it's moving slowly, it doesn't turn well. And once it starts turning, it doesn't "unturn" very easily. Thus, the 2 donuts!

One of the donuts, just off Gasworks Park

I have some nervousness about steering, largely (I realized) because I don't like to do anything poorly. I want to be capable of something before I try it. Not a particularly good or admirable trait. It's the kind of thing that keeps a kid from learning to ride a bike, or to body surf. You've got to be willing to fall on your ass in order to stay upright.

Semi-related aside: I can clearly remember my first winter at Colorado College, when I decided after 4 or 5 times of clinging to the side of the ice rink, that I was going to just learn how to skate, even though it was bound to mean I'd spend a lot of time on my ass. And I did. I went one evening and fell (a lot) and got back up and learned how to skate crossing over. In one night I went from being obviously from Hawaii, to being better than some of the mainland kids. I need to remember this more often.

One complication in an OC6 is that a novice steerer is responsible for not only the bruises on their own ass, but also the asses of the other 5 people in the boat, not to mention the boat itself (~$10,000). So it's not quite the same thing as going to the ice rink and taking your lumps until you either learn or give up. But there's no way around it -- practicing is how to learn and I do want to know how to steer. Not necessarily because I want to be the one in charge and/or want to steer, but because it seems an important set of skills, and it seems to me that knowing how to steer will help, no matter where I sit in the canoe. It strikes me that if you have paddlers in 1-5 who understand how a canoe steers and what seat 6 is dealing with, they can help when needed.

Here's our track, as registered by my new (second-hand) GPS:

And some detail from the ship canal:

You can see the wobble in my track (I was steering on the lower part, coming back east (to the right). Jocelyn was steering the straighter part, going west).

I'm glad we did this (thanks for pushing us Melissa!), and I'm almost looking forward to doing it again. Of course, there are all kinds of things I wonder about and wonder about getting experience for, like wakes and headwinds and swells and and and.....

Steering makes me appreciate even more the skills of those who know what they're doing, like Sabine and the Dougs. Seems like a long way away for me though.

family: ....i do believe it, i do believe it's true...

K&L, with lioness in background

Monday, in a traditional attempt to honor our country's various leaders, we went to the zoo. Where we saw some animals and rode the carousel and waited about 20 minutes too long so that the melt-downs began while we were 25+ minutes from the south gate and our car. (K: Van daddy! It a van!!)

It was a foggy day, and for some reason not many people are up and out of the house by 9.30a, which leads me to suspect that not many people are up and eating breakfast by 6a on a holiday. But I suspect Geo. Washington and Abr. Lincoln would have understood our being there right as the zoo opened. And it was gloriously uncrowded for the first 45 minutes.

First stop: zebras.
K: They like horses!
L: Like horses!!
M&me: Yup. Striped horses. That you can't ride.

I'm not sure just how much the girls got out of this stop. They both wanted to see the zebras, but once we were there, they didn't seem to be that interested.

Next stop: hippos
These were more active than I'd ever seen before, and a keeper tossed in this log (seen above) which he said they like to chew the bark off of. For a second or two we thought we might get to see 2 hippos arguing over one bark-covered log, but then the keeper went and got a second log and the excitement was over.

Brief fly-by: giraffes (no photos worth posting)

And then: lions

This male was wandering around in the fog, roaring with a slightly cough-y sounding roar, and M and I both stared for a moment, having never seen/heard this before, then turned to each other and said at the same moment, "Hairballs!"

me: Wow, this is cool. I've never seen them walking around roaring before.
K: I never seen them do that either.
L: I don't like it. It 'cary.

In deference to L's feelings, we moved on, to the elephants, siamungs, orangatangs and then beat feet for the carousel, where K rode a horse* that went up and down, while L chose one that didn't move. When the ride was over, L didn't want to get off. So she started to scream and we caved and we all rode a second time (the only ones on the thing -- any connection between L screaming? Nah....). And when that ride was over, L didn't want to get off. So I carried her, screaming (her, not me), under my arm and out into the clearing morning and we started our trek back toward the south gate.

Happy birthday, George&Abe!

* each horse on this antique carousel has a brass plaque with its name on it. And one horse was named "Bob Dylan." Sadly, K didn't choose this one. I try not to hold this against her. Her one valid excuse is that she can't really read yet. If she could she would no doubt have chosen Bob. The name plate included a quote (we assumed): "I couldn't be anyone but myself. Whoever that is." (rough quote from foggy memory).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

family: ... her name was vernon-i-ca

I haven't been able to figure out if having Saddle Club dvds has helped or hurt K's imagination. For every time she wants to sit in front of the TV and watch an episode ("2! After this one, one more."), there's a scene we reenact in the comfort of our own stable/kitchen.

This weekend it was a key scene in the final show of the first season, a show in which Lisa comes out of her coma (after Stevie and Carol bring her horse Prancer to the hospital-hospital security isn't the same down under!) just in time for Max and Deborah to go ahead and get hitched (ehem!), and Phil manages finally to express his interest in Stevie to Stevie in spite of Veronica's underhanded meddling.

scene: in the common area at Pine Hollow Stables
players: Stevie (played by K), Carol (played, variously by M or me), Pine Hollow (played by our kitchen)
props: torn "valentimes" cards and shocked expressions

K (opening up one of her valentine's cards and roughly quoting from the show): "I know you don't want to see me or talk to me, but..." Hey, it says "Phil!"
M or me (reading the paper, eating breakfast/lunch or dinner, wiping up spilled milk/yogurt/water....): "But his name is written in a different pen."
K (smiling): "Yeah!"
M or me (picking L up, clearing the table, wiping spilled milk/yogurt/catsup): "And it's torn off. It's only part of the message!"
L: It tored off!
K: "Yeah!"
L: Yeah!
K & M or K & me (looking at each other with sudden comprehension): "Vernon-i-ca!"

And... back to the top. Take 5!

We must have played this out7-10 times over the course of the 3-day weekend. And if you think that doesn't sound like often, feel free to come over and take Carol's part.

would love to have someone to share the shock of realizing that "Vernonica" has both forged Phil's signature AND torn off the bottom half of his original note to Stevie.

And here's a link to the synopsis, in case for some crazy reason, you don't recall exactly what the episode is about! And you can't quite figure it out from the above obvious retelling.

Friday, February 12, 2010

paddling: ... and I'm so cold...

I (apparently) own the distinction of having the first huli of the winter. And here's what I learned last night: cold black water motivates me to get the hell back on my canoe!

I think I was actually in the water for about 12-15 seconds. Enough time to flip the canoe back upright, undo my leash, duck under the hull to the ama side, and slid back up. Whew! Cold water sluicing off me. Mostly what I felt though was adrenalin.

It happened early in our paddle, while I was still getting the feel for DougM's OC1. He and DougN were ahead in an OC2 and I wanted to keep up (foolish dream!). I was focusing on rotating and getting a big pull up front, and I rotated and pulled on the right and then realized I'd leaned too far and the ama was rising up on my left and then I was in the water.

It was about 6.15p, Lake Union, night-time dark and the water calm, still and black. And cold. Did I mention cold?

The great thing was, once I was back onboard with the leash reattached and paddling again (the Dougs were out of sight ahead of me, heading toward Portage Bay), I warmed up pretty quickly. That's the benefit of all the expensive technical fabric (poly pro, etc.). When soaked, it dries quickly. And the combination of adrenalin and exercise warmed me too.

Casualties of the huli:
  • a blinking light DougM had attached to my shoulder
    (My other light had stayed on my pdf.)
  • my light-hearted joie de vivre

I paddled much more carefully after this, at least for the next 30-45 minutes, overcompensating to the point where my left butt cheek started hurting. It's a balancing act you do in one of these boats, and even though it was a calm night, I still have a lot to learn. Makes me really appreciate what the paddlers do in the Molokai channel and on the downhill run from Maliko to Kahului Harbor. I'd love to get to that point myself. This morning it seems a long way away!

Note: The Dougs were keeping an eye on me, and figured out fairly quickly that they'd lost me, so they turned around and came back. I was already up and paddling again, but told them I'd paused to do a huli "drill," which got some laughs and some questions about if I was going to be warm enough.

The "workout" we did was really a fairly light one. Both Dougs are going down to Portland to race this weekend, so they were looking for an easy 10 mile paddle. I was just working to keep them in sight. They'd paddle ahead, then come back around to me. We paddled around Portage Bay, then back along the east shore of Lake Union, down to the south end, then along the west shore and under the Aurora and Fremont bridges, heading down toward the Ballard Bridge.

The Dougs had said they were probably going to go as far as that bridge, then turn back. I said I'd follow and when I saw them coming back I'd turn around. They assured me they weren't going to let me get that far behind. Then a sailboat came through, heading west toward the locks, and I saw the Dougs tuck in behind it and (they told me later), catch it's wake, surfing it all the way down to the Ballard Bridge. I paddled on my own in the night, past tugboats and fishing boats, trying to get some feeling in my butt while not flipping again. I nearly made it to the Ballard Bridge before I saw them coming back toward me.

On the paddle back out to Lake Union, DougN taught me about drafting, telling me to tuck up close behind them, so close that my bow should occasionally bump into their stern. I found the hardest part about this was steering properly. My feet weren't particularly comfortable in the footwells, so steering the OC1 was difficult for me. But once past the Fremont Bridge I managed to actually draft off them a bit. And it makes a big difference, effort-wise. DougN said it was important to learn, as races can be won/lost using that technique. And apparently it's legal, at least if you do it with a boat in the same class.

By the time we rounded Gas Works Park and headed into Waterway 18, I was pretty well spent. And tight. The effort of trying to keep up, and trying not to huli, and cramming into what felt like a tight-fitting boat, drained me.

I don't think I went more than 6 miles or so, and certainly not particulary fast, but it was still good to get boat/water time, especially time in an OC1. The more I do that, the more comfortable I'll feel. And I think having the huli happen was probably a good thing, over all. Now I've done that and know I can recover. And I can play with the tipping point of the boat without worrying too much about landing in the water.

Oh yeah, I feel the workout this morning. In my back. And my arms. And my shoulders.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

family: ... I've been cwyin' in my sleep...

Monday's pickup from Miss Ronda's went something like this:

me (opening the door, which rings a quiet wind chime type bell): hello?

(the room is empty, but I can hear activity around the corner, where the kids have snacks after nap. And speaking of nap, there are a couple of mats and blankets still on the floor, so I know naps haven't been long finished.)

L (crawling toward me from around the corner and sobbing): daddydaddydaddy
me: Hey L.
L (sobbing, but now at my feet): uppyuppyupupup
Miss Ronda: Oh, L. You're going to make your daddy think you don't like coming here.
me: She's like this everywhere.
L (burying her wet face in my chest and wrapping her fat little arms around my neck): Go home!
me: Thanks Ronda!
MR: Of course. We had a nice day. Just 3 girls today. Bye L.
me: Can you say thank you to Miss Ronda?
L (still holding tight): (shakes her head)
me (embarrassed): Thanks.
MR: Of course. Don't forget to tell your daddy about the garbage trucks.
me: You saw garbage trucks?
L (tightening her grip on my neck): (silence)
me: She loves seeing them.
MR: I know.

Ah, L, our hugger. By the time we were out to the car and pacifier was inserted in her mouth, she had calmed down. By the time we were nearing home, she was telling me about seeing 4(!) garbage thrucks on a walk with Miss Ronda.

In L's defense, she's apparently got a cold so hasn't been feeling her best, but this is her M.O. Unlike K who would go to anyone at any time with a smile, L has been a "clinger" all her life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

photo thursday: okole maluna!

(actually, it's photo tuesday, if anyone is keeping score, but I couldn't figure out how to do a strike-out in the title)

It looks to me like Grandpa Van is giving a toast to Mom and Dad.

My parents at their wedding reception, 2/9/52.
Halekulani Hotel, Waikiki.

Left to right: RH VZ, Mom, Dad, Nina Biddle, Andy Biddle, Patty VZ

Monday, February 8, 2010

family: pvt parts, reporting for duty, sir!

our weekend:
L, contemplative

location: kitchen
  • L
  • me
and... action:

We're working at the stove, L balancing on a small child's chair, me at the cast iron frying pan and roasting pine nuts, trying to stay aware of her wobbles toward the stove and the hot pan.

L (leaning forward to peer into the pan): Them look like peanuts!
me (distracted): Hmm.... Yeah, sort of.
L: You have peanuts daddy.
me: I do?
L: Yeah, you have peanuts. With your pwivates.
me ( ... aaack! redirect!): What's your mama doing?

L, in last year's Halloween giraffe costume

Sunday, February 7, 2010

other: how not to impress upper management....

scene: weekday lunch at a seafood restaurant near work
actors: CFO, 3 developers and me

And... action!

CFO: What's going on in the company? Do you have any questions for me?
Devs: (various insightful comments and humorous asides)
me: Uh, nope.
CFO: How are things going on your side?
Devs: (various insightful comments and humorous asides)
me: (silence)
CFO: So, how're things going in the documentation world? What's new?
me: Uh, not much (brain screaming NoNoNoNo!).

Slick. Slick I tell you!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

paddling: working for the man...

miles: 13.1
time: 2:00

Our Saturday workout was hard for me. It wasn't the longest one we've done, nor the fastest, but I think my body was still recovering from Thursday night, and as a result, I found this workout to be one of the harder ones I've done lately.

What's interesting to me about the workout is how it revealed my competitiveness. We had two closely matched boats and it mattered to me that our boat stay up with the other one. I'm discovering that I don't like to be behind, especially if I feel like my boat should be keeping up.

This competitiveness seems like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's a good motivator. On the other hand, I need to be able to paddle my own race without being linked to someone else (and potentially thrown off by them). Just like in swimming. Which I was never tremendously successful at, though I enjoyed it quite a bit. Harnessing this motivation aspect could be important, especially if I can paddle enough to know what my own race is and how to stick with it.

We had 2 full canoes, plus (the "plus" went into the double-hull as part of a separate 12).

The Dougs steered and we headed east, warming up to Montlake Cut and then starting the workout onto Lake Washington where we headed south toward the I-90 bridge.

Our workout:
  • 1 min off / 3 on
  • 1 off /5 on
  • 1 off / 7 on
  • 5 times
I was paddling in #1 of DougM's boat and Jasen was in #1 of DougN's boat and my desire to keep up with Jasen is probably the other main reason this was such a challenging paddle for me -- I worked hard to stick with them (we all worked hard, but I mean I was motivated by that desire). And we did for the most part. The boats were surprisingly closely matched. I like that, even though it means we work harder.

In the early stages of the workout they seemed to be moving better than us and would gain a 1/2 length or so. Then about 1/3 of the way down to I-90 it seemed like we started to get slightly ahead of them. And for the rest of the workout we managed to stay with them or slightly ahead. (It's a little complicated, because before the last set DougM and I moved into the other boat, and DougN and Jasen moved into our boat. So at that point the Dougs were in #1 and Jasen and Maryann were steering. I moved to 2 behind DougM.)

We got through 2 sets and I-90 seemed within reach. We did the first 3min of the 3rd set, then the 5min portion and we were about 50 yards from the bridge, so we continued on during our 1min easy bit and turned and started back north on the 7min part of that set. I was glad to make it to the bridge, and slightly disappointed to not do so during the 5min piece.

DougM's track:
(Note: Because the GPS is on DougM's wrist and only he and I swapped into the other boat, this is "our" workout, but both boats would have done virtually the same distance/time given that we were neck-in-neck the whole way.)

DougM's stats:
(Again, not much different from what everyone else's would have been -- I think the big gap at roughly 1.40 is when we were switching folks and boats. After that we did our final set, and because we weren't yet through the cut, Doug called for more pushes, including several power 10s!)

family: daddy's home...

time: tuesday afternoon
place: our kitchen
actors: M&K&L&me (and Lucy-the-Dog, LtD)

I walk in from the bus.
M is on window seat with L bumping up against her legs and K sliding down onto the floor nearby in tears.
me: Hi?
M: Hey.
K (sobbing): I need (unintelligible)
L (seeing me and turning to run toward me): daddydaddydaddy!
me: How's it going?
M: Fine.
K (sobbing): (unintelligible)
L: uppyuppyupupup!
me (lifting L up): Need to get away from all this for a bit?
M (small smile): Yeah. Mind if I go for a quick run?
K (sobbing): I need (unintelligible)
L (snugging against my neck): K cwying.
me: Good. Go. What's with (nod toward K who is now lying in a heap on the floor)?
M (stands up): She wants a car seat for her baby doll.
me: Ah. You want a car seat K?
L (snuggling): K want car theat?
me: Sounds like it.
K: I need a car seat.

M went to change for her run (and came back downstairs looking sexy cute in her tights and running shirt). I set L down and picked up K who alternated between tears and insistence that she needed a car seat for her doll. Something I've discovered by reading Connected Parenting is that there are moments when K is pushing me away, upset and frustrated and near-hyperventilating, when wrapping my arms around her and holding her in spite of herself is the best thing I can do. So I try that at times like these. And sometimes it works. It seemed to work this time. (Other times she insists on getting out, and that's ok too.)

20 minutes later the car seat was "back-burnered" and the girls were busy riding their horses and discussing how to best lead a rocking horse around while someone was riding.

30 minutes later, about the time M returned from her run looking sweaty and tired and sexy cute, the girls were busy falling off their mounts, being Veronica in Trail Ride parts I and II (The Saddle Club, Season 1). K did a good job of falling and being unconscious ("asleep"). L threw herself off onto the hard floor until I suggested she "fall" the other direction, onto the rug (where K was landing).

And that was our afternoon....

Friday, February 5, 2010

paddling: ... where you lead...

miles: 9.93
time: 1:34

Thursday night I did an OC2 workout with DougM. That should pretty well sum it up!

This was my first OC2 workout, so I was nervous on account of that. We'd tried on several other occasions and I either misunderstood the details, or was sick. The Thursday before, we ended up w/ enough paddlers to take an OC6 out, and we made it to the I-90 bridge and back, a good paddle for a Thursday evening. But that was with 5 paddlers. This time I was on my own (DougN was not paddling). So I was especially nervous.

I don't know DougM well, but I know him well enough to know he's a strong and experienced paddler, and is in great shape. And I'm .... well, me. In other words, there was good potential for embarrassing myself.

A part of me figured that he probably didn't know just how lame I was going to be on the water and in a few short minutes after starting out he'd be wishing I'd called in sick. But another part of me wanted to do it, both for the workout and to see how bad it (and I) would be. I mean, what's the worst that could happen? Season-ending injury? February dark-of-night huli? Both?

So, I got to the beach and helped him rig his canoe and we launched.

He sat up front, where he usually sits when paddling with Sabine. That meant:
  1. I didn't have to worry about setting the pace, and
  2. I didn't have to worry about steering
  3. I could lounge behind him, taking in the sights, while he worked his okole off
Mild relief.

We started south down the east edge of Lake Union and warmed up until we reached the south tip of the lake. He set a pretty fast pace, but it felt manageable to me, so when he asked how it was, I said "good."

The workout:
  • 1 minute off
  • 4 minutes on (hard)
We started north. The water was smooth for the most part, and we had the lake to ourselves.

4 minutes isn't so long that I imagined I was going to die. I made it through the first set, and the second. I was apparently in good enough shape to paddle hard for 4 minutes. Whew!

We kept at it, and there were times when I felt out of sync and was certain he was in front of me thinking "what the hell is going on back there and why am I doing this with this clod?!?" and there were times when it seemed like we were right in rhythm. (Note: As the following paddler, any out-of-sync issues come down to me. Bummer.)

We moved down to and into the ship canal, paddling hard for 4 minutes then resting for a minute at a time, and it was actually a nice tempo of work/rest, just enough time to catch my breath a bit and try to stretch out my muscles. I was pleased to note that I wasn't feeling too crazy-bad. It was hard work, don't get me wrong, but I felt like it was hard work my body was up for, and that was good.

Doug seemed to be feeling ok about our progress as well, mentioning once or twice that he thought we were doing between 7 and 7.5mph, and that this "would be real good."

Here's our track:

And our stats:

To make the story shorter, the workout seemed to go fairly well, and ultimately I felt pretty good about the evening.

What's worth noting about the sets is that our speed/output didn't drop precipitously. The 4 min splits go from .48miles (6 times) to .47miles (6 times) to .46 (3 times). So while not exactly even, it was a slow drop and fairly even. Speed went from 7.1/7.2 down to 6.9 for the last 4 minute set.
Disclaimer: I don't really know enough to truly analyze this stuff, but Doug expected a drop in speed going back east in the canal due to current and the slight wind. He said if we were at 6.5mph he'd be pretty pleased.

So overall I was happy to have not only survived, but have acquitted myself decently. I think we did a good workout, and I don't believe I messed too much. I feel it today, but not in a bad way. And not in a way that's going to stick with me long.

Now that I'm over the hurdle of the first OC2 workout, I'm looking forward to more of them!

family:... cause honey, i need...

... somping.

scene from a bedroom
time: 4.43a
  • M
  • L (who somehow contrived to end up in our bed between 10.20p when I fell asleep, and 4.42a when I woke up)
  • Lucy-the-Dog (asleep on her own bed, but willing to get up if anyone else is getting up)
  • me

(in a loud "whisper" similar that a football coach might use in the face of a player just flagged for a touchdown-nullifying penalty): I want to go down thairs!
me (waking) : mmph.
M: L, it's still night time.
L (sitting up now, raising her voice): But I NEED to go down thomthing!

photo thursday friday: hats on to...

... our good friend and hat (and dress, scarf, glove) maker, Sheilam!

K in her "daisy" hat (aka, the hat that started it all)
(6 days old, 2006)

K, in her custom knit sundress
(and in the sun!, Seattle waterfront, 2007)

L(&M), in her custom "elf" hat, 2007
(K has a matching one)

L in M's awesome purple hat, 2008
(looking something like Bruuuuuuuce here ... or not)

L again,this time in a hand-me-down
Pumpkin hat from K, 2009
(3/13/10 edit: M has reminded me that this beautiful hat was actually made and given to Kate by another talented friend, Jocelyn. So the moral of the story, besides the fact that I'm not a reliable narrator, is that the girls have multiple knitters spoiling them.)

K, in her latest, a 2009 Christmas Ladybug hat

L in her 2009 Christmas Owl hat
(and a very characteristic pose)

(all hats and more are courtesy of Sheilam! Thanks!)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

photo thursday: drink like a tod-da-ler

Nothing much beats warm jammies and a juice box after an afternoon at the beach. Judging from the light outside, I'm guessing this was taking around 4pm. Yup, that's "night time" in January here 'bouts.

juice box, with L
(washington coast)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

family: it takes two when it used to take only one....

I don't understand how single parents manage.

If not for M, I'd be in bad shape, and the girls would be in worse shape.

I suppose kids are resilient. I mean, they have to be, right, because we're not perfect, we screw up. (My older sister once told me that the best I can hope for is that I don't screw up in the same way that our parents did. Which is not to say that I think they screwed up. They did the best they could. We had a loving family, and a relatively peaceful one. But our parents weren't any more perfect than we are. And at some point as adults we each have to realize that, no matter what happened as kids, we're responsible for ourselves now. So the fact that we didn't get those Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots that we wanted.... get over it! The slot car racetrack... get over it!)

It's amazing to me just how much difference it can make to have M in the house, even if she's busy with something else.

I've got garlic in the cast iron skillet, quickly going past golden brown to crispy black, L standing smack up against my left leg with her arms stretched high yelling "Uppyuppyupupupup!" and K is riding Belle, rocking back and forth like a possessed child, wailing all the while because she "needs" some boots right NOW like the ones that they wear in Saddle Club and nothing I can offer as an alternative will work, and Lucy is out in the yard barking her fool head off because someone had the nerve to walk past on her sidewalk....

Where's that bottle of.... whatever?

I've burnt the garlic, the smoke alarm is going off now, Belle is running away with a sobbing K and L is hugging my neck and weighing me down, wanting to see into the smoking ruins of the pan....

Then M walks in, home early from work, and ah....the energy shifts. L is down and running to the living room while K screams her footwear requirements through tears. Lucy is still barking but now she's at the back door, needing to come in.... and I've finally managed to get the windows open and some fresh air into the kitchen. So the chaos still surrounds me, the garlic is still smoking and the noise level has not changed, but it doesn't feel anything like as unmanageable as it did just 3 minutes before. Whew! M hasn't even had a chance to take her shoes off, but now she's reading L The Hungry Caterpillar one more time and I have a chance to wipe out the pan and rechop garlic and things are looking up! We still haven't found boots like the ones that Stevie wears, but somehow the wailing doesn't feel quite as critical, and I can even find some empathy for my disconsolate rider.

So how do single parents manage? How do parents with partners off in the military or traveling for work or simply absent do it? I don't know. I think one of the things we've lost as a culture is the closeness of community. I think that it really did take a village and that we've lost the village (except perhaps for some really active church communities, but I haven't yet seen household chaos extreme enough to drive me to church). But I do know I'm extremely grateful for M's company and help and for the basic balance she gives to our world.

Which is my way of saying that I'm pleased that we went on that date*, 10 years ago today. I wasn't thinking kids, or parent-partnering at that point, but it's been gravy, that balance she provides our family.

*Any Given Sunday - don't bother.

paddling: ... you can't call me lazy

Last night we had a good paddle, 2 OC6s (11 people total), with the Dougs steering. Our workout: (1/3, 1/6, 1/9) x 4.

The night was calm, the water glassy, and though it was not warm, it was windless and that meant we could go out onto Lake Washington. I love heading out to Lake Washington. The other option on these winter nighttime paddles is to go down the ship canal to the locks and back, sometimes circling Lake Union before or afterward. That's fine, but not nearly as interesting to me as going out on the big lake.

This time, instead of heading south toward I-90, we went north towards Magnuson Park. Because we had 11 people and 2 canoes, one was short a paddler. I was in the canoe w/ 6, so we had a bit of an advantage over the other canoe, but for the most part it wasn't particularly difficult for us to keep together.

Here's our track:
And our stats:

I've been having a few back issues, mostly courtesy of sleeping on an old and unfamiliar mattress out at the beach, and lugging L around. On Monday I wasn't sure how well I'd be able to manage paddling, but Tuesday morning things felt better and I decided I'd give it a try. I felt it a little, but managed to both semi-ignore it and not make it any worse. It helped that I was paddling in #1 and had to focus on keeping as steady and smooth as I could.

I'm starting to enjoy sitting in 1 -- there's no one to have to match up with, there's no "dirty" water from other paddles, there's nothing but my own stroke rate. That's the trick, to find a rate that feels right for me and for the boat, and to stay regular so everyone else can follow without too much trouble. I think I'm only just beginning to learn how to manage all this, but so far it's been ok, and no one has complained.

I find that I warm up slowly, so start at a slower pace and increase over the course of the workout. By the end I'm using a rate that feels pretty fast (for me). I'm not sure what the strokes per minute might be, but according to Sabine, it's most important to be using a rate that feels comfortable to me.

Last year, my first one paddling, I tried to focus on technique over anything else. Technique means both individual paddling technique, and blending technique. It seems like the minimum a paddler should aim for is to "do no damage" -- that means being in sync with everyone else in the boat. That's the baseline. Even if you're not pulling hard, not strong, if you can keep in the rhythm of the other paddlers you don't cause any harm (or not much). After that, having a good personal technique means making the most of your pull, actually contributing to the forward motion of the canoe rather than simply not holding it back.

Now I'm working to get in shape, to improve my conditioning so that I can work harder all through the races, and contribute the entire time. Along with conditioning there's the challenge of keeping technique when tired. That's what I focus on late in practices when my shoulders are complaining and my breath is ragged. I try to lean forward, to maximize the forward part of my stroke, and to stay in time.

One bit of excitement: we nearly hit a large buoy as we were working through our last 9minute segment. We were heading to Montlake Cut, pushing hard, and suddenly this buoy loomed up out of the night in front of me. "Buoy buoy buoy!" I yelled. Nothing else. Nothing useful like "11 o'clock" or "25 feet away!"

DougN called out "hold up" and we dug our paddles in to slow down. He turned the canoe right, and we slid past it. Then it was "gogogo!" to get back up to speed from 0 again, and we were off once more. There was a bit of nervous laughter in the aftermath, but mostly we kept it together and managed to return to cruising speed fairly quickly and fairly well.

I don't have super night-vision anyway, and having our bow light immediately in front of me and ruining my night eyes makes it hard to see in the dark. I'm just glad I noticed it in time. It would have caught us right in the iakos and probably flipped us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

other: where we live

Smith Tower and Ferry, Sept. 2008

One of the things I love about my summer commute is the water taxi I take from West Seattle to downtown. There are always opportunities for photographs, so I try to keep my eyes open and my camera ready.

Monday, February 1, 2010

family: walk on water...

K, with bucket
(Because, who doesn't love a warm sunny day at the beach?)

Back from a weekend at the Washington coast. This is our... 6th? 8th? annual visit to the same run-down beachfront motel house place. And we keep going back because they take dogs. And we have a dog. They also take kids, and now we have kids too. But we had dogs first.

We go with our good friends who also have a dog, but no kids. They don't know what they're missing. Or rather, they do, once they get out to the coast with us. Every year.* Then they remember why they have a dog. They can keep on a leash. And who sleeps on her bed quietly except when she's begging. Our girls don't sleep quietly on their beds. But then they don't really beg either. At least not right there at the table, bumping up against our legs while we're trying to spread brie on crackers. And drink dirty martinis.

This weekend was a full moon, and also the first time we've ever been out there during a razor clam season opener. Which meant that on Friday afternoon as the tide was going out, truck after truck and SUV after SUV drove up the beach and parked facing the water, and men, women and children climbed out wearing hipwaders and other going-to-be-standing-in-waist-high-cold-dirty-water gear. We watched from the house in amazement as the normally quiet beach became more and more crowded.... weird visual here in Washington in January. Lines of folks, like detritus washed up in the surf...

Not Still Life w/ Clammers
(Artfully dark lighting
PNW January)

weekend recap:
  • number of times someone got carsick: 1
  • number of times someone said "we almost thea?": ~257
  • number of (adult) books read: 0
  • number of books read: 5
  • number of bottles of champagne drunk: 3
  • number of meals canceled due to food-overload: 1
  • number of sandpipers seen: ~25,000
  • number of clammers seen: ~24,000
  • number of tennis balls found: 1
  • number of "Dora" shovels found and claimed: 1

* Disclaimer: They keep coming back with us, so they only have themselves to blame.