How I Spent My Summer Vacation

First off, let me make this perfectly clear, it does NOT feel like we’ve had a summer vacation.  We went nowhere.  We didn’t learn any new skills.  No novels were written, or even read, for that matter.  That all being said, we did stay busy.  

I had a very small garden, which is still producing tomatoes, herbs and a few zucchini. Enough of the latter was grown that for the first time in a decade I made zucchini relish.  I still need to send some to my brother in law.


I continued to do volunteer work every Tuesday at Furry Friends cat rescue. I do love working with the kitties and I hope to keep helping out for a long time! 

The backyard squirrels had babies, who, in turn, began showing up as teenagers, to the backdoor for peanuts. A whole flock of young Stellar Jays and Blue Jays also appear regularly for meals.  IMG_2591

The event marking the end of each summer for us is Kumoricon.  This year we made the jump from attendees to volunteer staff members.  The month leading up to the convention was still a whirlwind of sewing, building, glueing, etc. that left the house in disarray and tried everyone’s patience.  Some of the costumes the girls cosplayed in were old favorites with updates and tweaking. While there A1 introduced her bf to the world of anime’ and even convinced him to dress up!  A2 and A3 participated in panels, one of them was in a “dating game” and both were in cosplay chess.  I didn’t get many pictures, but here are a few random shots taken both before and during.  


A3’s TNT bomb for use when she played a Minecraft Creeper in cosplay chess


A1’s Ariel dress, complete with the bulbous, banded snarfblat and dinglehopper.


I made A2 a recon corps cape from the anime’, “Attack On Titan” and there was just enough material left over to make a mini cape for Thor.  He sports the recon corps badge too. 



Both the boots and the items in the second picture were used in my Grell Sutcliff cosplay.  The boots were from the Goodwill and I painted the suede with red leather paint.  The “teeth” were made out of a Tylenol bottle and nail polish.  A2 wore them one day and I used something else though.  A lady at a local bead store helped make the skull eyeglasses holder. 


A1’s BF wore a white apron and carried this prop flour sack so he could be Peeta Mellark while A1 renewed her role as Katniss Everdeen. I do not have any pictures of them from this day.


Me posing with some fellows who promised to give me cookies if I joined their club.  Sorry about the awkward pose, I cannot lift my right arm.  It still bends, it just doesn’t go up from the shoulder (Calcific tendonitis). 


My DH in the bright green shirt, working the registration line.  Between the staff and attendees there were 6,824 badges sold for Kumoricon!  Not everyone was there all at the same time though. 

10419033_10204824624638537_8615806615314969991_nA1 and her BF as Ariel (the Little Mermaid) and Prince Eric. 


A2 as Levi and A3 as Eren from “Attack On Titan”.  A2 made her own blades.  I made the green cloak and A3’s jacket.

The school year is off to a rough start.  Offices in most districts didn’t open until the last week of August, so making changes was a mad scramble.  I wanted to register them in a hybrid program that is part homeschooling and the girls would meet up several days a week at a campus.  A2 was accepted into one of these programs, but it’s about 30 minutes away, but because of her grade level being full, A3 had to return to her former public school.  On September 15th I have a meeting at a closer district that offers a similar program.  I’d love to get both of them in the same school, or at least in the same town. A3 is still working as a nanny.

Not much of a knitter lately, mostly because my right shoulder is messed up and it makes my arm and hand hurt. I did start a shawl, but I’m not really feeling a connection with it. It’s future is iffy.


I have requested surgery to remove the calcium build up.  Hopefully once that is fixed regular knitting can resume.  I miss having something to do.  Cheers!


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A2 took some amazing pictures of the Super Moon last night! 


Lunar influences turned our house upside down.  Here are A3 and I practicing voodoo in the kitchen.


Just kidding!  We were up to antics, but not of the gory variety.  A3 has this strange ability to sit with her shoulder blades protruding from her back above her collar line, so when her head is bent she could easily pass for Ichabod Crane after his run in with the headless horseman.   No decapitation occurred, but her long, thick tresses are now a stunning shade of red!  She has so much hair that two boxes were almost not enough to cover it.  Her eyes look really green now, but she wouldn’t let me photograph her straight on.


A3 wasn’t the only family member to undergo a transformation.  A2 grew tired of darkening her hair so we had it lightened professionally at a local salon.  This is pretty close to her natural hair color (it was almost white when she was little).  Again, another side shot because my girls do not like pictures being taken.


It’s cool because now I have a brunette, a blonde and a redhead!

Before the temperatures climbed too high yesterday I nailed together a new tomato bed, re-planted the tomatoes and then stuck about 100 little trees in around the tomatoes.  This is just a foster home for the trees and I have about 400 more folded into damp towels until I can find temporary spaces for them as well.  I pulled all of the little starts out of the neighborhood road median a few days ago.  I’m hoping that most of them will survive and grow a bit before this fall.  A dear friend of mine has requested that 50 people each plant 50 trees for her 50th birthday.  I hope to provide a bunch of the little seedlings to put towards her goal.


Still knitting on the afghan.  I’m in that stage where no matter how much I knit it doesn’t seem to be growing, so I refuse to take pictures.

I’m on a temporary course of steroids for non- Multiple Sclerosis health reasons and they are wreaking a moderate degree of havoc with me, so I do not predict an exciting week full of hair-raising adventures; however, I’m still hopeful that a meet up with my parents at a lake several hours away can happen and my DH has suggested taking the girls up to Seafair in Seattle to participate in a Cosplay entry in the torchlight parade. 



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Little Hot Happies

Reaching temperatures in the 100 degree Fahrenheit range is not unheard of in the Pacific northwest, but just like when it snows in the winter, any time the mercury rises above 90 in the summer, weather makes headlines and dominates the news here.  I’ve no idea why. Heat in the summer and snow in the winter… it happens.  We do have air conditioning at our house (it’s a medical necessity for me), so the heat isn’t a big deal as long as I stay inside.  Being trapped inside during summer isn’t fun for the girls though, so excursions to water, not contaminated by e-coli, which also happens often in our local lakes, is high on the agenda.  But we can’t always head to the lake or river, so on those days we seek more mundane sources of joy and entertainment.

My husband’s little red car sports a wickedly nerdy sun visor.  I LOVE this!  He’d drive with it, if possible.


The squirrels in our backyard enjoy little pans of ice water and flattening themselves against the cool concrete in the shade.


Another summer perk includes garage sales.  I just love finding a bargain!  I do bring my own water bottle so I have an excuse to not solicit tykes selling lemonade and Kool Aid by the glass, but I usually donate a quarter to their cause.  I’m not terribly picky when it comes to types of food and drinks, but thinking about little grubby hands mixing my drinks is cringe-worthy.  I always think of Vacation!


I love that series of movies. They’re always good for a laugh.  Hope everyone finds things that make them happy!


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Feels Like Summer!

The days have heated up nicely over the past week and it finally feels like a real summer. We celebrated a quiet Independence Day at home.  My DH barbecued, then after dinner we drove around and looked at the fireworks.  We had a sack with some sparklers and ground flowers that we discovered when we moved, so we lit those up following the drive and called it a night.  Others in the area blew things up in grand style, so sleep was intermittent due to the Earth-shattering KaBooms.

The argyle socks were set aside for now because they demand attention while knitting in order to avoid an undue tangle of yarn and frustration. At the top of my WIP basket was the afghan I’d started several months back.  Reasons for procrastinating on this particular project were two-fold.  First, it was too bulky and awkward to take places and second, I just didn’t like it.  The pattern looked fine on one side, but the back of the blanket was extremely unattractive.  I frogged the whole thing and decided to begin anew, but this time I incorporated a reversible cable pattern so the blanket looks the same on both sides. I work on it during the evenings and hope to be finished with it within a month.



On Saturday we all went to the zoo.  The last time we’d all gone together was in 2007!

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A1, A3, A2 with the seals, December 2007, I took this picture


A3, A2 and me, 2014, taken by A1!  The seals were nowhere to be seen though.


A2 feeding nectar to a larakeet.

The heat kicked the garden into full-on grow mode and the zucchini plants are now up above my waist. Steven insists on supervising each watering, fertilizing and weeding session personally.   


There are a lot of green tomatoes on several of the plants, but others aren’t thriving as well.  They’re all being grown in pots.  Earlier this year I unearthed some random boards in the yard and I may try building a narrow bed and sticking them all in there so the roots have a little more room.  Moving plants mid-season isn’t the wisest of choices, but the poor plants are really crowded.  



We’ve eaten several zucchinis and the plants are sending off lots more squash.  I’ll let a few get really big for shredding and baking.  If we get enough then I plan on making a small batch of relish too.


We have an abundance of small branches collected during yard clean-up, so I’ve woven several small trellises for the peas and cucumbers.  Right now about 10 baby cukes (about 2 inches long each) are growing on the plants and there are a lot of blossoms.


Last month I made strawberry jam and now I’m just waiting for raspberries to come into season to make some jelly.  I’m glad to finally be growing and putting up some food again, even if it’s on a small scale.  Next year I hope to have twice as much growing space.  My DH is insistent on not getting any chickens, but maybe someday, if we move, we can get a few ladies to keep around for eggs.

The cats, dog, fish and squirrels are all happy and over-nourished. I’m trying to coordinate a trip to my parents’ house, but finding a time there my DH, A1 and my parents are all available is a bit tricky. Cheers!


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At The River

Tuesday the temperature soared into the sweltering range.  Depending on the neighborhood, reports of local temperatures ranged from the low 90s to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  My DH was working but because A1 had a day off from her job we decided to pack up the girls, several friends and visit Frenchman’s Bar Park for a few hours. 


There is always so much to look at while there. Foreign ships sail to and from exotic places, tugboats chug along up and down the river and recreational vehicles abound!  We witnessed people drifting past quietly on sailboats, ski-boats skimming the water with music blaring and quite a few people enjoying their jet skies. Watercraft aside, the people viewing is delightfully varied.  Common sights included young families with babies, groups of teenagers, people (old and young alike) squeezing into spandex stretched almost to its breaking point, lots of dogs doing meet and greets while owners hold guarded leashes while hoping for good behavior and the occasional gym rats strutting up and down the shores showing off bulging muscles (often having their hard work ignored by people just there to cool off). 


The ship in the background of the above picture came from Panama.  Several times we spied sailors on the deck, all dressed in white.  


My five charges, warily eyeballing one another. A dropped guard often resulted in severe splashing.


One of the young men patiently tried showing A3 how to turn your hands into a water cannon.  She learned to do this by age three, but she feigned ignorance, 


then let slip the dogs of water war when he was least expecting it.  He is a very good-natured young man!


A2, A1 and one of their friends.  That water was cold!


A random tug boat chugging along

I brought an afghan that had been frogged earlier that morning, so basically, yarn.  After knitting almost a foot of the previous afghan I spread it out and realized that it was over 7 feet wide.  That’s a ridiculous width and explained why skeins of yarn were disappearing at an alarming rate.  The new version is about 5 feet wide, which is still generous enough to nap under.

Our river visit was only several hours long because A1 and I both had volunteer work at Furry Friends. While at F.F. I met the lead volunteer for the location and officially went through all of the procedures with her (A1 had already done this).  Happily, two cats, a brother and sister, had been adopted since the previous Tuesday!  Today is a stay at home, laundry catch up day.  We used lots of towels at the river.  Cheers!


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Cosplay Picnic

This afternoon my DH and I took A2 and A3 to a Cosplay picnic at Peninsula Park in Portland.  None of us had been there before.  Not only was it extremely easy to find and quick drive from Vancouver, but the park is breath-taking.  Literally, the perfume from the rose gardens smelled heavenly!


The park was also extremely well-kept, with no graffiti or garbage strewn about.  I love the brickwork and classic styling of the fountain, hedged gardens, gazebo and walkways.  


Immediately to the north of the gazebo is a baseball diamond, a large open field, a playground and picnic shelters.  At the far north end of the park is a community center and pool.  To date, this is my favorite park in Portland.  But today wasn’t about public venue ratings, it was about the meet up.  

Characters in the following pictures are identified to the best of my ability, but please forgive me if someone is inadvertently misnamed.  


All from the anime’, “Soul Eater”, Medusa, Death The Kid (DTK), Soul Eater Evans, Professor Frank N. Stein.  I do not know who is dressed as Medusa, but second from the left is A3 as DTK, A2 as Soul and yours truly as Stein.  ps, I’m supposed to look bored or slightly crazy… or both.


DTK and a casual version of Ciel Phantomhive.


Dragon Ball Z Character.  This athletic young man was able to hold this pose for several seconds at a time for pictures!



Random roses


Soul Eater Evans exploring the garden maze


A distant shot with lots of characters


Silly Titanic reenactment with A2 (Soul) and A3 (DTK)


Sailor Neptune (From “Sailor Moon”), Thumbelina, from the movie, “Thumbelina” and Sailor Uranus (also from “Sailor Moon”)


Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas”


Original Character.  This lady’s husband created this for her and it was his first time making armor!


Close up of her armor.


From left to right: A hipster Jean from “Attack On Titan” who is wearing a swim team jacket from “Free”, Kenny from “South Park”, DTK, Luigi, Casual Ciel Phantomhive wearing a unicorn hoody and Levi from “Attack on Titan”.


skies to the east

Storm clouds threatened all around us, but only a few small drops fell during the three hours we were there. I packed about 20 sandwiches, bananas, apples and water bottles.  Before most of it was eaten I packed up a meal for a homeless man who was searching through garbage bins looking for cans and bottles to return for money.  My DH said that he most likely threw it all away once out of our sight because most people just want cash.  He looked like he could use a meal and the fact that I had a giant screw going through my head and stitches criss-crossing my face didn’t seem to phase him too much, although he did seem a bit apprehensive when we first approached him and struck up a conversation. 

Now that we’re back home everyone is napping.  I envy their ability to sleep during daylight hours!  A1 has been busy with friends and work since graduation.  Two rows on the Argyle socks were knitted! Cheers!


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The Following Has Been Brought To You By…




Productivity is not possible without several morning cups of coffee.  The smell, the warmth on my hands as they encircle the heavenly cup, the first delicate sip, that warm, tingly rush of caffeine awakening synapses from sleep… coffee isn’t just a beverage, it’s an experience.  Even at bedtime, as I drift off to sleep, I’m anticipating my morning coffee… almost as much as I anticipate the hot bath that ends each day before I’m even up, dressed and active. I’ll not dwell or expound on my evening soaks, but they are lovely!  These small rituals content and fulfill me.  Should society fall to anarchy and chaos, disrupting the flow of hot water and the importing of coffee beans then I’d seriously reconsider existence. Reliance on these habits enabled me to transform the front of our house from this…


into this.



Changes weren’t made overnight.  During the interim months, roses (planted by a real gardener long before we moved here) grew and bloomed.  The lavender bushes transplanted from our old house filled out and blossomed as well.


But as with all good things, the roses lost their petals while sending thorny branches to the eaves of the house and the lavender buds started opening.  So three days ago I downed my coffee, gloved up and began pruning and cleaning.  The late-blooming roses were clipped, but not so artfully arranged, and brought inside, while the remaining stalks and leaves met the compost pile.



The naked, exposed porch railings looked so drab and shabby that I painted them to match the door trim.  In turn, that made the garage trim look grungy, so it got a quick up-grade as well.  It looked cleaner, but now stark, glaring whiteness (the paint wasn’t really white, but it looks white outside) blinded me from all angles. Although they cannot be seen in the second picture, there are lots of colorful annuals and a few perennials now planted in the flower bed.  The American Flag was replaced and bunting hung for the upcoming holiday (US Independence Day).  

Now I can sit here and indulge my addiction.



The meager garden planted in the box next to the garage grows at a snail’s pace. A few miniscule zucchini finally appeared.



Some potted tomato plants struggle to produce as well.



Unfortunately, during the past 24 hours monsoon force rains have flooded the flower beds and I don’t know if anything will survive the new lake or if the wee plants will drown and rot.

Today’s plans include cycling through a goodly portion of Mt. Laundry, making three batches of strawberry jam and trying to finish a few rows of an Argyle sock.


Knitting socks flat seems counter-intuitive.  There are tutorials for knitting Argyle in the round, but I wanted to try the traditional method.

Elsewhere, I’ve been attempting more volunteer work in the community.  I hope to contribute mostly time, or at least food and clothing, twice a week this summer.

The DH, girls and critters are all well. Cheers!




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